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.

 

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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.

 

Romance the Metaphysical Thousand-Eyed Angel of Doom

 

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Have you ever had that experience when the more work you should be doing, the more you procrastinate? *Arms raised* I gained that lovin’ feeling recently. Every since yesterday, my focus have been smacked around like a rag doll, thrown at any shiny thing, and suddenly, I’m playing Plants vs. Zombies again. Holy hell, this is serious.

Between the little air pockets of time I am able to reflect on my activities, the Doom Gong roars, the angelic trumpets scream to announce the Apocalypse, and I feel my soul getting judged by the metaphysical thousand-eyed seraphim–

–Is when I’ll hit the Return button and start playing Plants vs Zombies again, and everything is fine. Fine. I-I’m just fine.

The fear is real folks, and when you’re scared, your instincts push you to run away from the scene of the crime. Scared of that existential dread of “wasting your life?”, escape to the beautiful, care-free world of Twitter arguments, where you could trick yourself into thinking you’re learning current events from a guy with a Jason Vorhees avatar. Terrified of that impending doom of deadlines? Come and lay down on the flower-carpeted gardens of mobile games. We love you here. Have some dopamine. Have another. Oh you’re so good at that! Have another.

It doesn’t change the fact that the fear is not resolved, nor does time stop whenever you engage in such proclivities. They simply file up, one after another, like a stack of plates you refuse to wash for days. And kids, this is really what being an adult is like. There are dishes in the sink and nobody else is going to wash them. Frame it. Live it. Internalize it. It helps sometimes.

So I have an idea. Why don’t we romance that fear instead? The seraphim probably bathes in the blood of the sinners, but like, maybe we go to the same coffeeshop? Maybe that Fear burdens me with the uselessness of my existence, but what if it is only trying to encourage me to move my butt? If I get to know the Holy Fiery Scourge of Adonai better, I’ll come to understand that they just want the best for me, and that they never meant to scare me. Instead of running, I’ll do what nobody else will do. I’ll turn around and smile at them when they chase me around an abandoned school. Their four cursed faces will blush in surprise. They’ll put down their sword of flame.

“You’re not scared?” they ask. Their six wings, made of the fingers of demons, flutter in the wind.

“N-No, I…” I say shyly. “I’m tired of running.”

They nod. They extend an arm of bronze, tilled by the former kings of Abram, and I take it tentatively.

“Don’t be scared.” Seraph-kun whispers. “It’s time to get back to work. Let me help.”

Grind in your own dungeon

I think we can all agree that one of the hardest parts of creating something is getting started. Dreaming up a project is so much better than actually making it. And I can understand that. There’s a magical feeling lost in the translation of apparition to physical thing, the fairy dust swept aside, the treasure chest unlocked to reveal the enchantment for what it is. And it is… *drumroll*

… dirty, sweaty hard work.

On all my readings and scourings on artists, musicians, creators, business people, authors, etc. It’s always the same thing. They worked their butt off. That is the secret sauce. Sweat. Yum. Well, I personally don’t mind that at all. It’s a relief to know it’s not an elusive unicorn like PR and Marketing (h-ha…haha… *nervous chuckle).

So we got the beginning part down. What about this long stretch in the middle, a.k.a. the “journey” itself? The “hard work” part? How do you get over the overwhelming feeling facing insurmountable tasks? That stone wall golem’s looking pretty darn indestructible.

During the little hiccups of time between work, my brain (thee I dub the mistress of pain), starts introducing little needles of torture in my system. Thoughts of stuff I still need to do, things I should be doing, things I should be doing better. Apart of the game itself, I gotta start sketching character concepts, preparing the programming, contacting musicians, making promotion materials, thinking of a kickstarter, putting money together to pay for assets, merchandise?, email youtubers??, make a website???

It just goes on and on and I… I’m only one person… It gets overwhelming at times, and I just can’t help but retreat to that usual dark corner of despair.

…But a wise person came along and slapped me with the best advice I could ever hope to receive.

“Grind in your own dungeon,” he said. “There’s no point grinding in Level 20+ if you’re Level 5. You’re gonna be taken out in one hit. You think you’re being cool, but you’re really just wasting time. Strive to be a little better than what you are now. Go for Level 7 instead.”

It’s a very good metaphor for the common knowledge “cross the bridge when you get there”, but with a little more sophistication. The advantage of working hard over a long period of time is you improve everyday, and with it, your tolerance for difficult things increases as well. I realized I was getting overwhelmed with things way out of my level and stressing out on things that I obviously don’t have the capability to solve. Of course I’m gonna get depressed. But I must see it for what it is. It’s simply another form of distraction away from work. No better than a twitter feed or a cat or a funny gif (Cats are pretty good tho gotta admit). It’s highly indulgent and requires ego stroking to appease. If I were really busy, I wouldn’t feel the need to gratify this craving.

So, every time I feel like I’m way over my head, I’m going to remember to keep grinding in my dungeon level! Gain better items, make friends with my people along the way. Little by little, chugging down that sweet level up juice. Gotta work towards that next level y’all (and maybe bang a couple elf dudes along the way)!

The regency of “That”

Here I am again with your daily scoop of Ame. I hope you’re not tired of me yet, even though my nutritional value fluctuates like the socially acceptable amount of mayo to put in your salad.

Last night I finished the chapter from my current project, Truth, and when I say finished, I mean that it is closer to the shippable finished product I can produce until now. I had a couple of friends read through it and the results are mixed. A friend called it vague. Another said it was pretty good. I’m not sure what to improve on, but I get the feeling it’s a skill issue than creative.

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