For the last few days I’ve been trying to write the first Problem Machine post of 2014, and I’ve been running into a lot of internal resistance. I keep dodging, making excuses, procrastinating, and generally doing anything I can to avoid writing. I suppose that technically I did post a DevBlog, but I tend to think of those posts as being more of an extension of my game development work than as a discrete piece of content.
That’s somewhat revealing, isn’t it?
It’s all in how you think about the work. Is it a tedious chore, or is it a serene meditation? Is it a finicky frustration, or is it a complicated and challenging puzzle? This is true of all work, but doubly true of writing, the fossilizing process of thought. How we present the task to ourselves is of utmost importance – and which presentation is meaningful and effective to us changes with our moods.
We must custom craft a sales pitch for ourselves. We must cajole our stubborn brains with candy, we must conjure images of a future made better by the work, we must remind ourselves that it can actually be pretty fun, we must delineate the path between our platonic ideal of ourselves and the lazy reality that keeps staring at the page, and we point, and we say to ourselves, “what are you going to do about this?”
Let’s be honest, here. I wanted to kick off the new year with some 2000-3000 word masterpiece, but since I don’t have that done and since the pressure of that ideal is making me want to write less rather than more, I figure I’m better off just writing what I can. Better to write something small and imperfect than to perpetually shy away from writing something grand and perfect and unattainable. If I’m going to fail, I may as well fail up-front so I can spend the rest of the year not worrying about it.
Ambition can wait. I can suck on it like a lemon drop, wearing it down to a yellow disk, until it’s finally ready to be crunched into a sweetly sour melting dust. Patience is a virtue – albeit to approximately the same degree as impatience.
It’s important for me to remember that this blog exists as much for me as for you, to remember that these posts are the trepanations that keep my brain from crushing itself, and not to lose what I want to say behind my desire to say something.
There’s no answer to what I should be doing, what I should be telling, what I should be writing, waiting outside of myself. It’s so easy to get blown off course that I’ve been scared to take breaks from writing, and now that I have done so I wake to find myself lost under unfamiliar stars. But that’s okay, I think. I have food, I have water, and I can stand the loneliness, so being lost is just an adventure.
Even unfamiliar stars form constellations. It is for me to recognize those constellations, to name them, and to by their light set a new course which, though it may lead to destinations unknown and unknowable, at least reaches them swiftly and certainly.
It was only flawed and lying memories that made me believe that any land could be familiar at all.