It’s been a weird month. Not the good kind of weird.
Surprises, even unpleasant ones, are not necessarily ruinous to my workflow. Some of my best stuff happens when something blows up and I’m forced to improvise. When the horse throws me, I do my best to get back on the horse. But when the horse throws me, kicks me in the nuts, makes cruel comments about my appearance, has fifty pizzas delivered to my house at 4 AM and elopes with my dog, I start to wonder what was so fucking important about riding the horse in the first place. Especially since I own a car.
Pure bullheadedness goes a long way. I will not clean the Augean Stables in a day — in fact, having scooped more than my share of poop for minimum wage in my teens, I will postpone that gig as long as possible — but I will get around to it. And when stubbornness fails me, my cheerful willingness to throw propriety out the window usually takes me to interesting places. A nice cleansing fire will take care of those Augean Stables lickety-split. No one said I couldn’t.
I don’t worry about Getting Things Done, because there are always Things To Do and the time to do them is always Whenever You’re Ready, which is a wordy euphemism for Now.
I was chatting with someone recently about vision — specifically, the kind of vision people tether to technology when attempting to sound Important. “Technology has finally caught up with my vision,” these preening windbags announce, presumably with a straight face. Or “I have a great idea for a sequel to Metacritic Quest, but the technology to realize my vision doesn’t exist yet.” It’s the equivalent of “the dog ate my homework” and I can’t believe anyone takes it seriously anymore. People have realized all manner of compelling visions using crude and imperfect technologies. Vladimir Nabokov did some impressive work with a pencil. Conversely, how many times have you seen some World-Changing Technological Breakthrough used not to advance the art of storytelling, but to coat tired old clichés with a thin layer of shiny chrome? How many times can you sell people the same rusty Econoline van with a shiny new dragon airbrushed on the side? Where is the artistry in that — apart from con artistry?
Plenty of people have pointed out that in any creative endeavor — writing, game development, filmmaking, you name it — execution trumps inspiration. Having a great idea means nothing; what counts is the ability to turn an idea (great or otherwise) into something tangible and therefore valuable. Part of that value derives from how well one uses the available tools and materials, however primitive they may be, to create something unique. If you’re waiting for someone — or worse, for something — to do the heavy lifting for you, you’re blowing it. Ideas circle you all the time like hordes of the undead; the only question that matters is how many of them you can take out before one of them finally gets to you. You won’t nail all of them with perfect headshots, but even a sloppy kill is a point in your column. And a little unpredictability keeps things interesting.
With that in mind, I bid farewell to the wreckage of March 2013 and cast my eyes to the grandeur that is April, now just minutes away. It’s going to be interesting. I hope it will be the good kind of weird. I’ll do what I can.