The trouble with doing refactoring work is, while it might be necessary, it’s the most demotivating possible thing you can do on a project – especially one you’re working on in your spare time.
It’s horrible to see progress stall – or go backwards in the case of a huge language rewrite – and it’s hard to keep wanting to pour your time and energy into such a big black hole.
Suddenly, all those old ideas and half-finished scripts you tucked away in a drawer years back, having decided they were impossible to finish, having decided they were stories that couldn’t be told, that the world wasn’t ready for, that didn’t actually make all that much sense after you’d stopped laughing at the name ‘Hester Cuppleditch’, suddenly they begin to look so appealing. You could put this monstrous behemoth of a project on hold and go back to that old idea, the fantasy novel that was mostly footnotes. That will be easier to work on!
Yup. This behemoth will be much easier to handle! Old Book Illustrations
You can see how this behaviour might be classed as a cycle. A particularly nasty one – vicious, if you will.
With November, the month of NaNaWriMo, fast approaching and the game code further away from my being able to release a demo, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t tempted to have a break, work on something else for a while so I can feel like I’m actually making progress.
I think it’s this feeling which separates the people who actually write a book or make a short film or design a video game in their spare time from the rest of us; it has very little to do with the idea or the talent, and a lot to do with just getting the thing finished, no matter how much you doubt yourself.
So – I’m sticking with it. While I’m going to switch gears from the coding to the writing side of things for a while (it just wouldn’t be Frantically Scribbling Adventure Game Nonsense November otherwise), I’m fighting the temptation to put baby in the corner.
But, for anyone curious to see what a fantasy novel that’s most footnotes looks like, don’t worry – I’ve got you covered:
This story doesn’t start with a Once-Upon-A-Time.
Once-Upon-A-Times only happen to the very, very fortunate1: the brave, the wise, the extraordinary, those noble few unafraid to grapple with adventure. Millicent Dobbins was none of these things. She was as far from fortunate as it’s possible to be – which isn’t to say she was unfortunate. She hadn’t bad luck exactly. She was more infortunate, in that she had no luck to speak of whatsoever.
1 Once-Upon-A-Times can, technically speaking, also happen to the very, very unfortunate – those who get wrapped up in someone else’s and can’t hope for a Happily-Ever-After. This is fairly common, especially among those clumsy enough to be born older brothers to extraordinarily brave and wise boys with kind hearts and gold hair and teeth that would bankrupt an orthodontist (which is famously, despite what the Tourist Board of Amsterdam has tried to claim, the world’s oldest profession), and still foolishly decide to venture out of bed in the mornings – but it’s best not to think about those people, or look at them in the street.
If you ever find yourself in the middle of someone else’s Once-Upon-A-Time, doctors advise that you: stop, drop, make your peace with God, and await your (inevitably gristly) end with as much decorum as you can reasonably muster.
Attempting to haggle with witches, outwit giants, or run into the nearest village screaming, ‘I’ll take you all with me,’ should be avoided (if at all possible).