The video about the project is taking longer than the project.
This is a story about unfinished projects – some I might finish one day, and one that will never end.
About a year ago, I had the idea that I wanted to do an art project on my computer to make it more fun. I had this old refurbished PC tower that I bought to try to replace a dying old laptop - it was kind of urgent and not ideal. The choice of computer was a financial stretching maneuver where I was trying to get the most bang for my buck, and as a result, the bang went towards capability, not coolness.
Long story short, it was a super ugly computer. So ugly and embodying such a "GAMER PC" aesthetic, that eventually I was actually pricing out replacing it despite it working just fine – it was uninspiring and annoying to look at and that seemed like a serious enough problem to drop thousands of dollars to correct.
The thing is, I didn't actually want a new computer. I hate how disposable technology has become. There was a strong pull in the other direction to make the perfectly functional computer I have work for me instead of dumping it and buying new one because I was bored. When I saw the Teenage Engineering Computer 01 case, I realized that the solution could be to make my current computer more visually appealing, by putting the guts (the working part) into a new shell (the part I had a problem with).
That's not what this story is about, though. I did do all that – I made the computer look more fun and it was a challenging, entertaining, stressful, exciting process. And when I started working, I knew I really wanted to share that process with other people. So I decided to film the whole thing and make a fun video about it!
So while I worked on the project, I also filmed (almost) everything I did. I didn't really have a plan for what the end product would be – instead I kind of just "captured" as much of what I did as I could with the idea that, at the end of the project, I would sit down and edit it into a quick video that showed how I made it happen.
That was about a year ago.
I started the project around late March of 2022 and I finished it around Mid-June 2022. So about four months, with a few extended breaks in the middle where I needed to *use* the half-finished computer for work while it was in a usable state.
The video, though... that's been in the hopper ever since and I have no idea when it'll be done.
This story is about unfinished projects.
(Chapter 1 out of ∞)
In many ways I feel like my life is defined by unfinished projects and unrealized goals. In the archive of this very newsletter there is the record of my unrealized goal of learning how to make, finish, and release an independently developed video game. I just stopped doing that at a certain point and, while I still really want to develop future games, that idea is just kind of festering in the basement of my brain.
I have done a lot of other things. I have finished a lot of things. Lots of things I, at times, thought I would never finish! But in spite of that actual, factual record of successful completed work, I still might, on certain days, say that I'm "the kind of person who doesn't finish things." The unfinished things just stick more, you know?
So, why haven't I finished the video?
A lot was going on in my life while I worked on the computer project.
In hindsight, just doing that whole project in my spare time was a lot of work, so it's understandable that I didn't then immediately have the capacity to turn around and make a big video about it. But I tried to and I think that starting that video project with a recently diminished capacity from the main project might be part of why I haven't finish it yet.
That's not the only reason, though. In a lot of ways, I've come to think of 2022 not as the year I worked on a cool yellow computer project or any other projects. Instead it turned into the year I really tried to work on myself.
Around the same time I started working on the computer project, I also started to realize and quickly figure out that I probably have ADHD (and after working on it with doctors and stuff now I know I totally do have ADHD 🧠🎉). That was a bit of an intense realization. So, while I was working on a big project and thinking about all these other projects I haven't finished, it was hard not to re-frame that story with the perspective that, maybe I am just “the kind of person who doesn't finish things” ...not because I’m a bad person, but because of the way my brain works.
That new understanding of my brain felt pretty important. While I was ripping apart my computer and drawing robot faces to carve into it, I was also reading a bunch of books and listening to a bunch of podcasts and attending support and coaching groups to learn more about myself.
By the time I finished working on the computer (which I did actually finish… because I really needed to finish the computer… because I needed to use the computer – good external motivation, I suppose) my priorities had completely changed. I had a new project I wanted to work on and it wasn’t a video, it was: "okay, who the fuck am I and how the hell does my head work?"
How does my head work?
While that might be part of the story, I also know that a big reason why I'm taking so long on this specific video also has to do with some logistical things: having no plan, no deadline, no primary vision and allowing myself to get very sidetracked. I'll do things like animate a random little dude with a flower on their head because I want to pop that into the background of a shot, while instead I could be focusing on actually finishing the video.
But that kind of thing is fun and not a thing I see as a "problem." It's just another reason things take me a long time and I might lose interest before I'm done. These are all things I’m learning about how I think and work. They’re just variables that contribute to how likely I am to finish something – and now that I know that, I can try to play into that.
Passing a year since I started both of these projects – working on the ugly gamer computer and working on my fleshy head computer – I'm realizing that I think about my unfinished projects a lot differently now. I'll probably write more about that one day, but for now I think I'm just feeling a lot more empathetic toward myself for not finishing this video (yet). Not only was I tired from just finishing the already complicated project I wanted to then make the video about, I was also already in the middle of a new big project – I just didn't think of it that way until recently.
I'm not done working on me. I don't think that's a project that ever gets finished. But it does feel a lot less urgent and a lot more stable now. I think that's why I decided to start this project up (the one you’re reading). And it's also why I know I'll be able to finish that video soon.
Hiding the mess isn't the answer.
So... what's the conclusion? What's the takeaway? I don't really have one other than to remind myself to always go much easier on myself than I currently am.
You too. Be super super nice to yourself.
Finish things that you want to – abandon things that you don't. It doesn't really matter because the biggest project (yourself) isn't ever finished, right?
I think that one way we could all be a bit easier on ourselves (if you’re like me) is to stop hiding the unfinished things. Talk about them, examine them, explain why they were abandoned and don't be afraid to say you just lost interest.
That's what I'm hoping to do more, and that's what this story is motivating me to do.
To that end, I even deliberately imported the archive of that abandoned video game project from my old blog onto this Substack to keep the evidence of that unfulfilled project... unfinished projects are kind of everywhere in my life. If I'm going to be honest about my work then that needs to be visible everywhere I share my work!
Okay, I think that’s all I want to say about that for now.
Thanks for reading! Have a great day!
Lots of love,
P.S. Links & Thinks 🖇️ 🧠
Here are some things I saw/read/listened to recently that are fun or important that I wanted to share:
For my fellow Ontarians, The Wag the Doug podcast did a great, nostalgic and kinda sad episode on TVO. I really hope Doug Ford doesn't kill Polkaroo.
"for the third time since October, the Ontario government threw another curveball at six municipalities, forcing at least four to sprawl outward."
I think it's important to point out and remain fucking flabbergasted and enraged that our provincial government is just steamrolling the will of the people and the future of our planet in the name of helping their (blatantly obvious) developer friends profit.
It happened to us in Hamilton, and it’s continuing to happen across the province. It's shameful, obviously wrong, it isn’t actually going to help with housing and it’s only a sampler of how absurd things are in Ontario (and Canada, and the World).
I don’t like this and it reinforces to me that a lot of truly, deeply selfish, bad people run our province right now. So that’s fun! 😊
Finally, to be less regionally specific, here's an absolutely wonderful article by guest author Joshua Drummond on Webworm about how disappointingly mundane "AI" actually is. Everyone should read this – especially if you're very worried about or very excited about "AI."
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