Back in Dobra

For those who are recent additions to the readership, Dobra is a tea house in Burlington, VT, just off Church Street. It’s the sort of place that serves their tea loose leaf, and their menu is book-length, filled with anecdotes about where they found this or that drink. You sit and read the book while relaxing music plays in the background, and when you’re ready, you ring a small bell, and they come and take your order. The entire experience is relaxing and meditative… and they have free wireless, so it’s a definite win. I would probably spend far more time here if I lived closer, but at this point I rarely make my way up to Burlington.

It just seemed appropriate today, for whatever reason. The meditation of thinking over a cup of fresh tea (Bai Mu Dan for those curious) is sometimes an invaluable one. There’s a lot of thinking to be done. As I’m sure many of you can attest, I’m a bit of a scattered individual. I divide my time into irrelevance between passions for games and art and the web and programming and speculative fiction and philosophy and writing and cartoons and music. Some I’ve managed to relegate to something which I enjoy passively, like music, and reading, whereas others still occupy central facets of my attention, like art of several types, and writing, and to some extent programming. All of these are things that if I dedicated myself to, I could refine my abilities and do for the rest of my life (or certainly for a while), and yet because there are so many, I’m left so scattered that I don’t really dedicate enough of myself to any of them. This is a problem, and has garnered quite a bit of thought that i’m trying to process.

Ultimately, I’m simply going to have to narrow things down a bit and focus on one or two, if only for long enough to gain a greater mastery of them than I have so far. Programming is something that frustrates me but attracts me at the same time. Every time I think I’m done with it (for a while anyway), something comes along that makes me think that maybe it’ll be different this time and that I should give it another shot (this time, it was watching the Ruby on Rails videos, which my friend Duncan showed me). There is a great deal of appeal, here: a knowledgeable programmer can effectively work in a mercenary fashion, or work for themselves, and there is in fact an element of creative “making” involved. That said, it’s the one that I’m arguably the least qualified for: my math skills, while adequate, were never all THAT stellar, and when getting into more complex stuff, my programming suffers for it. This could be overcome with diligence, but for now at least, it’s probably a sign that I should move on to other things.

So what next: I love art, I love talking about it, I love viewing it, I love participating in it, and I love making it. But in terms of many forms of traditional art, I have a great distance to go in terms of technical growth before I’d really be comfortable with it. Photography is the possible exception to this, however the kind of photography I feel I’m best at and most prefer doing is an extremely unsalable one. While this shouldn’t put me off from doing it as a career, for now at least, it does. I will likely continue to do photography in my spare time, but I do not think I’m going to actively pursue it or the mastery of it right now. I am mercenary enough, and (at the risk of sounding like I’m tooting my own horn), savvy enough that I could probably do alright doing photography as a career, it would not be the type of photography that is satisfying to me, nor what I feel I do as well as I’d like (it is this process that I would be practicing and refining) if I were to be charging someone.

The web: while there are people who are making good money as A-list bloggers, it is actually an incredibly small percentage, and I don’t feel the content that I write necessarily fits a fiscally rewarding model (especially these long rambly posts about nothing that have a light whiff of angst). But there’s more ways to make money on the web than that, like, say, doing web designs and maintenance for others. I feel that I have a fairly clear and solid design aesthetic (whether you like it or not is another matter), and once established, I could probably do it reasonably well. In fact, regardless of what else I do, I’ll probably put myself out there in this capacity, though just how much may vary. I’ve already got a rapidly growing list of projects I’m helping people with, in addition to the work I’ve done on my own site and Erica’s portfolio site. (Especially since some are still tentative, I’m not going to elaborate on these projects. In fairness, as they come to fruition, I’ll post about them.)

This all leads up to the one that I’m at least tentatively committing to working on for the next several months (and longer if it goes well): writing. What exactly this entails, I’m not precisely clear on. I know that I want to take several weeks to go into a self-imposed solitary to focus on getting somewhere with one of about a dozen ideas at this point. Some are fiction, meant for short stories, novellas, novels, and also game scripts, and comic scripts. Others are essays and reviews of games and books and music. Others still are grander ideas, where what I’m writing is samples and a proposal, and applying to magazines and papers as a columnist. All of which take time and determination and skills that range from prepared to rusty to untrained and needing attention. Why did I pick writing? Because it’s solitary, independent, and can be done anywhere with the materials at hand, all of which are things that are really important to me right now.

I feel a bit like a broken record, here. But it remains present in my thoughts, and each time I write about it, I keep hoping that by writing it out, I’ll stop dwelling on it all. Hasn’t worked yet. In the next week or so, however, I’ll (theoretically) be finished moving, which is one less block weighing on me, and closer to being able to act on my intent.