My high school yearbook said that I was likely to become a journalist. Aside from a brief foray into film reviewing (one of the best gigs I’ve ever had), that didn’t happen. Instead, I was sucked into software development as a way to tell stories.
There’s a huge gulf between writing code as a self-directed creative endeavor and writing it as an act of engineering as part of a business. I learned the former, and then I had to learn the latter all over again as a distinct discipline.
But, as it turns out, they’re not distinct. The act of writing software for fun can lead you down paths you never would have explored as a professional endeavor. Visualizations, hardware hacking, game-writing, toys and gizmos with no ROI and no reason for being at all except for fun give you skills and insights that could, if you wanted, also be used for work.
Play and work have an integral relationship. But play requires space that we don’t often think to provide: physical, temporal, and mental. You have to start with the intention to include play. At work, you need to make it an inseparable part of your culture. Particularly in highly competitive environments, that’s not something that people tend to think to do.
Highly competitive environments are counter-productive overall.
I’m in awe of people who have retained that sense of naïve fun: of building something for the art of it, whether to explore, tell a story, or reveal something about ourselves. Keeping hold of that sense of play is a hard thing to do when the world around you is urging you to be productive, to make money, to financially succeed. Those goals are ultimately empty, and yet.
I want to spend more time playing; making things for the art of it; exploring what might be possible. Art is one of the best aspects of human civilization, and making it is freeing. It’s innately human. And that’s something I wish more of us could spend more time being.
It’s a big deadline week. There’s a lot to keep on top of, and I’m doing my best to be helpful. The best way I can do that is by providing the right environment, and making sure everyone has the resources they need.
I also woke up this morning with a giant cold, so I need to also take care of myself. Lots of tea.
I owe so many people so many emails.
And I need to finish my Christmas shopping. But that should be fine, right? Christmas is a month or two away? Right? Right?
In the spirit of play, I want to restart work on Untitled, my fiction work in progress. I had to stop while driving across country - it was just too much - but I really want to finish the story.