I’ve been procrastinating. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a fairly productive couple of days: I solved all of Advent of Code thus far, either in Carp or zepto; I contributed a few things to Carp; I wrote a snake clone in it; I produced an unusually torrentous amount of art; and I’ve been more active on this blog than I have been for a long time.
But I haven’t made any progress on what I’ve set out to do: make a ring. I want to explore why that is in this blog post, for I think it’s a fairly common phenomenon in the projects I’m working on, and it’s entirely unhealthy, both for me and for the projects themselves.
The fear is real
I’m an angsty person. Regular readers of my blog will know, I’ve always been upfront with it. I’m lucky enough to have a readership that either enjoys reading those posts or doesn’t care and just waits it out until I write about Lisp and C and weird hacks again. I’m also lucky enough to not having to monetize this blog, and so I can just write what I want, and if people enjoy it, that’s great, and if not, no hard feelings.
This is not true for a lot of other projects I’m working on: people depend on them, or they pay me to work on them, or, most recently, it is a token that our primitive cultures require for a bond. I’ve been assured that it’s not a problem if I don’t get this ring done, but my conscience cannot be fooled by even the most masterful sleight of hand.
I regularly abandon projects; they pile up behind me, not unlike lost lovers or estranged friends. My code is very close to me, it feels closer than some of my human relationships: when I leave it behind, it’s always a goodbye.
That’s utterly unprofessional, and yet I cannot help it but think of the things I have begun and not finished, like I think of people I know from high school, asking myself what they’re up to now. The only difference is, for the code I know the answer; it’s still in the dark, damp cell I left it in, slowly bitrotting.
I really wish this was more of a hyperbole. I really wish that I didn’t feel this way in my dark moments, because I not only feel like a failure, I feel disgustingly treacherous, a tech-savvy snakeoil salesman.
And so I present these little visual distractions instead, in an effort to make this seem like I’m being productive. This is what I do: if there is a project I really have to finish, chances are that I won’t finish it properly. I’m too afraid of not getting it done, and I’m appalled by the manual work, the trial and error required to really get it to work.
Right now I should be trying to get the 3D printer to work, to print some sketches, and then generate a good 3D model that my fiancée and I can wear to see if what I did was a colossal failure. Instead I’m telling you about my angst, making you complicit in this game of procrastination. How does that make you feel?
I’m annoyed at how manual 3D printing seems, how much of it is just wait and see and recalibrate. I could rant about that, but that’s really not what it’s about: it’s about my inability to do anything that isn’t fun. That’s not healthy, and it is only getting worse. As my career progresses, and I’m slowly getting a reputation, and I’m building projects, I more and more get to pick and choose and I lose my ability to bear anything.
(If a recruiter happens to read this: this is what you’re trying to sell your clients. Better stay back.)
My parents didn’t spoil me, and I didn’t have a lot of money until I started working in tech. Now that I do, I can feel it corrupting me. But this is a story for another day.
There is so much here that I could talk about more, and I want to talk about none of it.
So now for the happy ending: I’m still fairly happy with my output, and I’m learning to live with my conscience. But this is what I think in my darkest hours, and in a spectacular case of bad judgement I decided to make it public. You’ve probably read my stuff, you know how I am. Don’t worry, I’ll be fine.