May Appraisals

Hello I am back! After two weeks of nary a peep, I’m writing in my blog again with a fresh start. I consider it an achievement when I usually jump in and out of my blog in years, maybe months if I’m being generous. So now it’s June, and it’s time to reassess my performance for May.

Sadly, I didn’t manage to complete any of my goals for May. When things get too much for me, I have this bad habit of retreating into a corner and burying my head in the sand. The project I’m doing looks really daunting and nowhere near finished, my finances aren’t doing great, and everything just looks like a fail.

I did a lot of thinking though, took a lot of walks… And if there’s one good thing that happened, I didn’t fall into the usual trap of hating myself and focusing on my failures. I resolved to try better next month, aimed with lessons I learned during May. I realized the reason why I didn’t want to touch my project was despair at the HUGE scope. I made it too big again! If I want to finish this game, I have to scale it down, reassess, rewrite. And that by itself was a burden off my shoulders.

Another good thing was May rekindled my love for drawing. I’m drawing so much more and I’m really happy! I have decided that I loved VNs because I can share my art and stories through this medium. I’m not very fond of Programming, I realized, and it’s one of the reasons for my discouragement. Thinking of the programming along with art and writing made me feel stretched thin, and it just made the huge scope of the project seem hopeless. I’ll try to focus on things one step at a time next time. It’s probably not going to be easy, but at least I know I’m moving in that direction.


Early to rise

Today I woke up earlier than I normally do. I usually get up at around 9 AM or so, but now, three hours early, I am confused on how to spend it. I’ve made breakfast, tidied up the apartment, meditated, watered my plants, watched a bunch of youtube videos and it’s still only 8:15. It’s almost like I was stepped into a weird dimension time warp where time trickles by at the speed of dripping honey.

I wonder why waking up early gives you an impression of having more time in your hands? Maybe that is the subtle magic of mornings. Everything is slow and graceful. The sun’s rays are gentle and nurturing, not beating on you like a hot-iron rod. The traffic outside is mellow. I have time to chew my food properly. I could almost swear I’m getting more nutrients.

I have always had a weird cat-like relationship with Sleep. I didn’t want it when I need it, but would cling to it when I don’t. Teenager me would wake up at 2 PM on a weekend, following my schedule of 5 AM sleep or later (earlier?). Oh yeah, Mondays were hell. My body clock was so out of whack, I’ve developed panda eyes at the sprightly age of 15. It had never left my face. Even throughout most of adult freelancing life, waking up late always made me feel like I was crammed for time. 9 AM is not nearly early enough. After breakfast, it’s already close to 10.30, and after daily blogging, it’s already around lunch.

It felt a bit… Unsatisfactory.

Of course, time spent is still time, no matter how you choose to spend it. This is me speaking as a normal person and not in anyway an enlightened guru. I’m pretty sure every life coach worth their salt will expound on the benefits of waking up early. More energy for one, that illusion of time I’ve discussed is another. I’m running on fumes of a 5-hour sleep here, and I still feel like spring chicken with all the limbs attached. Then again, I’ll probably feel the effects later in the afternoon.

So maybe I’ll give it another shot. Maybe tomorrow I’ll try waking up early and watch the sun rise. I’ll let you know if the benefits are still there, or if it was simply shell shock from a sudden change of habit. Maybe I really did step into the Twilight Zone. Find out more tomorrow!

The Moil of Life

Yesterday I posted about the terrible curse that is to be scatterbrained; to be see-sawing between two or more different interests. I posted it up on my art/writing community, asked if anybody had advice about the soul-crushing crisis of getting stuck. They pulled through. The suggestions that came out of the conversation were enlightening and inspiring. It was a much needed salve for the creative soul.

So before I even start, the first suggestion I’ll impart is pretty telling. Find a community. The creative life is racked with potholes of despair and self doubt, and it helps to know you aren’t doing this alone. I’m lucky to have people in my life who are not only creative, but gracious with their knowledge. My S.O. also helps me a lot. An encouraging partner is such a blessing. His constant faith in my own gift gives me strength to face the challenges of a creative life. I cannot stress it enough. It is beneficial to be part of a community. Struggle and succeed with other people. Share with them your joys and failures.

The next advice discussed was for writing. I’m happy to know one of my activities is already conducive to a healthy writer lifestyle. The daily blog! I’m not as faithful to it as I want to be, but this is the longest I’ve kept a blog running semi-regularly. I post on it at least once every week; every day or every other day if I could, and having this daily writing habit has helped loosen up my writing. It has made it easier for ideas to flow. It may not be for a project, or for a story, but any writing is writing practice. The skill of writing improves with practice. This blog will keep me going until I am ready to write my story once again.

Next advice is learning Time Management. My friend Lore linked this video which proved to be quite a helpful exercise. Listing down priorities and making time for every thing you want to do made me realize that I do have enough time in my day to do everything I want. Prioritizing is an oft misplaced skill, which is unfortunate because it is crucial. When I listed down my priorities, I was surprised to learn it really isn’t a matter of “I have too much to do” but really just “I need to get started.” I knew this deep down. Seeing it listed visually has left me without an excuse, and now I can start with simply doing.

There is a danger, I noticed, to get into the minutiae of the daily grind. You lose sight of the big picture. You get overwhelmed by each passing hour you waste. I found that if you plan your weeks instead of days, your months and your years, you step back from the grueling sludge. It’s refreshing to see the path sometimes. The map is a nicer view than the bramble of thorns you are currently stuck at.

So now with a fresh perspective, the moil of life is not so bad. I’m ready to get back to work.

The Multimedia Dilemma

I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather a couple of days now. I’ve finished all of the minor tasks on my checklists, but the major ones are all but untouched. May is trickling by very slow.

That said, I’ve finished my first ever complete artwork. This may not sound like a big deal, but I have a huge fear of finishing artworks, and I tend not to post them up for because they don’t seem good enough in my eyes. So this is a big step. I’m drawing again, I’m reconnecting with friends a lot more, completing my tasks, and wearing pants when I need to. I haven’t written a lot though, and I think that’s what’s ticking me off.

I haven’t written for a project (current or otherwise) for a while. Every time I start, I get distracted by other things I need to do, and I do those instead. And being my scatter-brained self, there’s always something else to do.  Sometimes it feels like I am divided between art and writing, along with gamedev and graphic design and being a functioning adult. I’ve discussed this wibbly-wobbly multimedia pursuits before, but it is pretty disconcerting to jump from one area of interest to another. There’s a feeling of getting stretched thin, and yes, I did say if I want to do both, then do both. It’s gonna be hard, but that’s the price.

This is one of the hard parts, I guess.  Trying to balance a number of interests so you don’t burn out or neglect the others.

So does anyone who juggle different interests have tips about this sort of thing? Do you have a schedule you keep? Do you do all your hobbies daily? every other day? weekly? Do you do it just when you feel like it? I need guidance on how to find balance in different aspects of your life.

Froggy Evening

My boyfriend and I were having an evening stroll when we encountered this huge grumpy dude:

I jumped out of my skin when I spied him. He would twitch a bit, but he really wasn’t moving that much at all. This is the first time I’ve seen him on our walking path, and I don’t think I’ve heard many frogs in the area before. It’s a total mystery how he got here (the walkpath is on the fifth floor of our building). Our best guess is he is a pet frog that somebody let loose on the park.


I dreamt of a Hallway

I had a strange dream last night. Apart from the vague ominous feeling that were wont in all dreams, it started normal enough, and got increasingly bizarre.

I was walking in a marketplace. Stalls littered the area selling clothing, knick-knacks, novelty baubles, etc. Sometimes the marketplace was inside my high school building, and there was a giant claw machine where the entrance gate used to be.

That claw machine didn’t have a tractable claw. It functioned like a vending machine, the goods piled up on top of each other. People pushed a bill inside a slot, and the claw would move on its own and drop their preferred item on the exit shaft. I didn’t have enough money to play, but a friend from high school suddenly popped into my dream and offered to buy me an item. I have never talked to this friend ever since I graduated. We were Facebook friends but have never chatted. Strange.

We walked around a bit and I met up with another friend. This friend was close was close to me, and the three of us strolled along the busy commerce, perusing items on sale. I was purchasing a pack of clothes for 70 cents when an empty booth caught my eye.

They had nothing on display. It was a simple wooden door painted white, and a guy in a tux manning the booth. There was a sign in front. Apparently the sign was supposed to inform customers on what sort of service this booth provided. In dreams though, symbols shift and shimmer, and I could not make out what it said. Despite this, I knew there was a magician inside, a soothsayer or a fortuneteller. The vaguely ominous feeling swelled as I opened the door.

You wouldn’t think it was the same booth from outside. The room was wider somehow, longer, like a hallway. There was a single table and a chair at the very end. No windows. The light bulb was cheap. I squinted at the harsh artificial blue that bathed the whole room despite it being the only light available light source. The chair was empty, but there was small, stout, squirrely man fidgeting by the table.

“You are here to see the master,” he squeaks, “I-I’ll go get him!”

He left and we were stuck inside the confines of this strange room. The master magician never came, and my friends and I exited the booth, confused.

The surroundings have changed once we stepped out. There was a parade. There was fire and effigies, people in masks like carnevale di venezia. The mood was effused with occult gaiety,  vaguely ritualistic, vaguely religious.  My friends, who I will call Steph and Lila, waded through the crowd with me, our hands clasped together to keep us from getting lost. The street we were walking in was lined with houses like a hallway. The people walked forward, and so did we, towards something unknown in the distance.

The Biggest Challenge

I had a weird dream last night, the details of which I can barely remember. I know it includes the unraveling of a certain magic cloth, super-powered humans, and one of the latter giving me a Shia Lebouf style pep-talk in my sleep. Thanks subconscious, I love you too.

It occurs to me that giving up is never like we see in movies.  In the stories, the protagonist falls on his knees, looks at the destruction and demise surrounding him, and *gasp* loses hope. He retreats to a corner. He cries himself to sleep.  Maybe he’ll even grow a dirty beard. Until one day, a wise character gives him advice, comforts him, encourages him… And then he rises up with newfound strength, facing the adversary with belief in himself, inner strength intact.

In real life, “giving up” is too easy, too mundane. You don’t like what you’re doing? You can just stop and quit. You can change your mind. You can drop whatever you’re doing and start anew. I’m sure this doesn’t apply to all situations, but the fact is, if you don’t wanna be doing something, you can stop doing it. You get to a certain age, no one is to push you towards your goal but yourself. And if you’re feeling hesitant yourself, how is that going to work?

Well, first we got to acknowledge that “Not giving up” isn’t one BIG moment like a movie. It isn’t a test. There is no apotheosis. You don’t drop your sword in a dramatic slo-mo. In real life, “not giving up” is the training montage. You wake up, you do what you do, you get better, then you go back the next day to do it again. It’s the grind. Something terrible happens, you still keep living. You keep going. The world moves on.

I need to remind myself that, everyday. And that may be the biggest challenge yet.


My new BFF

I haven’t been doing much of my daily blog these days. I’ll blame that on my fangirling on Avengers Infinity War and trying to figure out the GUI designs for Truth. Both tasks don’t really mesh well together, and as much as I want to keep grinding on my UI maps, pictures of Tom Holland hugging RDJ aren’t going to reblog themselves, you know?

When I start spending too much time of Tumblr, that’s when I realize I’m procrastinating. I’ve been thinking too much about my tasks again. I’m falling into that same perfectionist pit, the one where I’m a regular. They have my name on the bulletin board there. I owe the bartender $5 bucks. Everyone knows who I am. Sit down, Ame. Take a drink. Take a lot of drinks. You’ve been at it again, haven’t you? No, no. Don’t even deny it. Procrastinating because you can’t help nitpicking on your work? Ahh. Take a shot.

It’s really hard to get out of. Reminding myself that Finished is better than Perfect is helpful, but not enough. Finished is better than Perfect. Repeat it. Finished is better than Perfect. I say, why is it always easier to wallow in this insecurity rather than accept your limitations and keep working? There’s this feeling screaming out “I’m better than this, I just have to be. No way this is all I can do!” Accepting limitations, after all, requires swallowing your pride. I’m not good with that dastardly thing. For one, my pride tastes like dirty beer and mucus, and for another, it’s been acquiring girth over the years. I’ve done a lot of work to reduce it to a manageable size, but putting a fat, smelly, slippery slug-creature inside my mouth is never fun. Yes, that’s my pride y’all. It looks like a Demogorgon baby.

I-It’s actually kind of cute.

And I don’t know how to get rid of it.

I’ve talked about this before, about the pressure that stops you from creating things because of the burden of imperfection. I guess I never discussed how to get rid of it, how to deal with it, how to defeat it. I, myself, am not adequate enough to silence the voices. Each person will have their own way, and we all have to simply shuffle along.

The only way I know how is to… get back to work. There’s no other way around it. Get back to work, push through and fail.

Just. Fail.

Fail so hard, it’s agonizing. Make it painful. Hit me where it hurts. Give it my best shot and realize how horrible I am. We need to fail more and get comfortable with failure. We need to make friends with it because honestly, Failure is a misunderstood guy. He probably smells like seaweed and onions. He probably has an uncomfortable mole. But I think he’s my BFF. He’s always there in the sidelines and giving me notes on what I could improve on. He’s an ass, but he knows me. He cares. Unlike Success who will only give me the time of day if I have 10k Twitter followers (probably). Failure is loyal, and I better get used to it.

So now, I’m off to fail, like all great people who have ever done anything worthwhile. Making friends with Success is overrated, but making friends with Failure is where it’s at.