Inbetween

I’m finding myself ‘inbetween’ a lot at the moment.

I’m inbetween projects.  I worked on a Resist Jam entry and I know I need to go back and fix some bugs, but by and large I want that behind me.  I have some bits and pieces of ideas for other things but nothing is grabbing me at the moment.

I’m unsure what kind of thing I want to work on next.  My last two games were, unintentionally, very similar so I want to do something different, but I still feel constrained by my abilities.  I have an idea for a narrative noir text mystery, which is probably the most achievable, but I’m still figuring out the story.  I played around a bit earlier with the Corgi Engine as I purchased that on a whim ages ago and not done much for it.  Again, I have an idea but I feel its a bit derivative as it is and I need to figure out a different approach.

I think part of the problem is feeling like I have to do something.  I feel that since I got back from Cuba I’ve not really done any work and I’m telling myself I have to do something, but on the other hand I don’t have much inspiration at the moment and I don’t think forcing it will help.

I like coming up with my own projects, but right now I’d like someone to ask me to work on their thing…

I’m also inbetween different states of my life.  I’m doing some temp part-time work and they’ve asked if I want to stay on to cover maternity leave (not checked, but assuming its for 12 months).  I also have a strong desire to leave this country and go work on my own stuff elsewhere while I have money saved up and while I know I still can within the EU (i.e. go somewhere without having a job in place).  However, some family health issues is filling me with guilt as I’d feel bad for “running away”.

So yeah, stuck in the middle.

2017

2016 was a big year for me personally/professionally.  I left a job that was draining me in February to pursue video game development.  I said at the time if needs be I’ll find some kind of work come January, although in June I got offered some part-time work that was still not in a field that I wanted to be in, but helped keep a roof over my head.  Two steps forward, one sideways.

However, I did release my first game (Robbing HUD) back in August.  Work on it started around May and I decided to try and do a simple self-contained idea to start and finish something.  It was a great feeling to finish that (even if I never got round to the Mac port as I don’t own a Mac) and it taught me a lot about aspects of Unity, but also general project planning.

Since then I’ve begun working on a visual novel with some friends.  Making decent progress with the programming side of things and we’ve pretty much got the story side sorted.  We’re writing it in Ink and I’m trying to build tools to then more easily build interactive fiction stuff in the future.  Had an idea for a small game recently and might try and do that soon.

In 2017 I’m hoping to release the games mentioned above and I also want to do more art.  Spent a lot of the last few years on the programming side of things but I want to try and do more art.  I’m out of practice and I know I’m going to be self-conscious about that, but I need to rip the bandage off.  Similarly, I’d like to do more writing.  Did some for the game mentioned above and felt great to exercise those muscles.

One thing I did achieve in 2016 is to keep this updated somewhat regularly.  No more posting every year saying “I should post more”.

All in all 2016 wasn’t too bad for me personally (let’s ignore what happened in the world), and I hope 2017 will be the year things really take off for me professionally.

Balance

We often talk about balance as only having two things to maintain; work and life, good and evil, credit and debit.  In terms of pursuing creative interests that is often unnecessarily reductive.  My life isn’t just about balancing the work I want to achieve with everything else, it’s about balancing all those components.

Life isn’t a scale of two equal containers that you try and level out, it’s one of many containers of various sizes that change frequently.  At presently I’m trying to balance the creative work I want to pursue with actual paid work along with trying to learn Italian, socialising/networking, exercise, resting (be it sleeping or just chilling out), general adult responsibilities and other responsibilities.

I have a tendency to try and do it all, to try and push ahead to do all sorts at once.  It leads to burn out and its where I’m heading to at the moment and guilt pushes a lot of it through.  I know things need to give, and unfortunately at the moment that’s primarily exercise and sleeping (the latter isn’t necessarily intentional as much as it is a consequence of being a bad sleeper anyway).

I constantly feel like I could, and should, be doing more to achieve my creative pursuits.  It’s an inferiority complex mixed in with impostor syndrome – look at that person, they’ve achieved so much and are younger because they work harder/smarter.

My “paid job” (as it gets known) recently asked if I want to extend my contract through to the end of July.  It’s easy work, well paid and flexible and part-time so it’s silly to say no, but every time I take on something like this it feels like I’m taking away from what I want to do.  It feels like I’m admitting failure.  “Oh yes, I’ll do this work because I’ve not been successful with the work I wish to do instead”.

I know this isn’t true.  I know that we often don’t see the toil and work people go through and focus on the end goals and the logical part of me can tell myself this, but there are still weeks where I look at what is ahead of me and how much time I’ll have to do my own stuff and feel guilty; guilty about having other plans, guilty about not doing enough.  It also doesn’t help that I’m still learning and still at the development stage of projects so there is little tangible output.  Little I can post for #screenshotsaturday and it doesn’t sound particularly exciting when someone asks me how my personal work is going if I say “not bad, managed to figure out how to parse particular phrases from a JSON query which I’ll then use to trigger actions”.  Even though this is an achievement it fails to look as impressive as a nice shiny gif.

I’m trying to take responsible steps to ease my workload and to keep my mind in a positive position, but self-doubt is a hard one to squish.  I guess I’m just typing this out to acknowledge how I’m feeling and where I’m at.  I’m my own biggest critic after all.  Since starting this pursuit I’ve been thinking a lot about mental welfare when it comes to creative pursuits.  There’s still this toxic attitude that success has to come at a cost to one’s state of being.  Suffer for your art.  Crunch is essential.  It will be worth it.

I guess I need a support network and even just thinking that makes me wonder how one would go about setting that up in the interest of the creativity community and I have to stop my mind from thinking about all of that.  I get distracted easily.  I have a desire to do too much at once.  I want to prove I can.  Prove I am as good as I want to be.

Schedule and balance

Since finishing Robbing HUD I’ve been trying to pause for a bit while also finishing off a few things I’ve been putting off for a while. In doing so I’ve been thinking a lot about my commitments and how I’ll try and balance things going forward.

At present I’m currently:

  • Working 24 hours a week (with another 3-5 hours travel depending on mode of transport)
  • Learning Italian (an hour a day typically)
  • Various writing responsibilities (time varies)
  • Gym (around 3 hours a week)

Then of course there’s sleeping, socialising and that kind of stuff.

So between all those I’m trying to progress what I wish to turn into a career. There’s a lot I want to do and I often find myself alternating between feeling like I don’t have any time to do it and cursing myself for ever giving myself a break.  Quite often at the end of the day I’ll feel “I could have done more today”.

It’s a tricky one to balance; the drive to progress and the need to look after yourself.  Maybe it will become easier with time, or maybe I’ll become more successful and can leave work behind (one can hope!)  I’m trying to think what I can cut, other than sleep which is kind of needed.  I might swap the gym out or cut down on my Italian.  I’ve had quite a progressive pace in the six weeks since I started it, but I don’t know how sustainable that is going to be.

I’ve always been one that wants to skip to the good part.  That’s not to say that I don’t put in the hard work, I just grouse as I do!

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