500 Words Per Day

Monday, April 06, 2009

Waking Up From a Year of Fitful Sleep

The subject title is to be taken figuratively of course. I found myself having a sustained moment of clarity today. The first signs of a true spring surely acted as the catalyst to wipe my mind clear of a year-long accumulation of apathy. The sun was out and I could finally shed my wool-lined jacket. I felt focused and I felt good about being alive.

I often come back to blogging after waking up from long periods of slumming, for lack of a better word. I feel as if I've woken up from a most slummy slumber, like a crotchety troll finally emerging from his cave into the sunlight, blinded, stunned and exhilerated all at once. As the troll, a number of realizations dawned on me. I had slept away the past year being perpetually angry and agitated, petty and increasingly careless with my own life. And by that, I mean I didn't care about my life. Beyond the basics of holding down a job, entertaining myself and maintaing contact with a very small group of people, I just could not be bothered to care how my life would unfold beyond the next couple of weeks.

My body had dissolved into a slovenly load of fat. I was constantly getting sick. I had not been able to finish reading any books, no matter how low brow the material. Friendships were left to wither. Bills were left unpaid. Chores and other responsibilites were shirked or dithered. Constantly tired.

It's been quite regressive in an ironic sort of way, seeing as I turn 32 this summer and was probably severaly magnitudes more mindful about my well-being when I was 22 than I am now. What hit me hard today was realizing in full clarity how badly I was walking around as a shell of a man. I really wanted to avoid using cliches, but that's really my perception of my life of late.

I'm pretty sure I do not suffer from S.A.D (seasonal affective disorder) but the positive affect the sun had on me today was undeniable. I suddenly felt grateful for the things I had in life. Well, for the most part. I still didn't think very highly of my job but the prospect of going there didn't grate on me like it sometimes did. I felt a new level of warm fuzzies about my girlfriend (and no, her making breakfast for me this morning had nothing to do with it). Most alarming, I actually felt like I had the worth in me to go do something scary and different.

What kind of scary and different? While it had been percolating in my mind for some weeks now, it now seemed like an even more attainable and exciting. Well, here it is: I want go get back into the creative business. Not the web development that I've put myself through for half a dozen years. And while my friends keep egging me to pursue my love of writing, I took notice enough to see that my motivations to write still hold to a very casual level. I keep flirting with the idea of being a journo but have never felt compelled to follow current affairs or politics all that closely. Other, more specialized topics, yes, but in terms of the broad mainstream vein of journalism, I've felt little interest in it. More on this later.

No, when I say creative, what I really mean is going back to what really got me exciting about multimedia and web design in the first place. Using technlogy. Creating experiences. Making cool shit. If I've had a passion for anything these last couple of year, it's been with video games. Playing them for the most part, but also writing about them, reading about them, championing them, listening to podcasts and consuming every last scrap of news there is to be found about them.

Earlier this year I was brought on to write for a Canadian-based gaming blog and had the opportunity to cover my first video games event as press. It was the 3rd annual Vancouver Film School Game Design Expo. I mingled, interviewed a number of the industry professionals in attendance and wrote a short series of stories afterwards. It didn't cross my mind at the time, but I think I really envied all the industry vets that gave speeches, as well as all of the students, mostly youngsters, currently enrolled in the VFS game design program. A couple of the veterans inspired me because they were people who had done a 180 degree career shift, getting into game development later in their life after doing something completely unrelated. Could I make a similar shift? At the time, I banished such thoughts as insane.

Maybe. Now I've my day of clarity and it feels a lot more than just a few crazy hours of sun-addled delirium. There's a quiet, burgeoning scene out there, a scene where small independent developers ply their trade creating smaller games out of the mainstream retail chain. I want to get in there. It's an exciting place to be right now and especially for someone like me who has a rather slim chance of being hired by a company, it's a great place to learn and hone your craft.

Someone pinch me if they think I've finally lost it. I know there are several hundred steps ahead of me, but I know what the first few are. It's as clear as day to me now.