So I was asked last weekend to write an article for a local news source, Go Local Prov, about why I moved back to Providence to start my company.
The deadline was Monday morning and I was told on Saturday about it, so I didn’t have much time. All considering, I think it came out all right, but a thought didn’t occur to me until after it was already published online and I was staring blankly at my all-too-professional-headshot sandwiched between my writing and sidebar ads for restaurants:
This technically means I’m published.
Why the “what”, you ask? All I used to do is write. Not that you can tell from my writing these days, but I used to be pretty hardcore into big-word-run-on-sentence fantasy and sci fi with, yes, all sorts of made up words and unpronounceable names and shit. Space opera, fantasy political intrigue, magic and mayhem, the whole nine yards. From the time I was about ten to when I was about seventeen, I spent nearly every free hour writing or drawing. Looking back on it, I feel almost envious of the endless fountain of creativity I seemed to have… Story after story came out of me, too fast to finish before I felt compelled to jump on to the next.
Then the stress of “oshit, I have to get into college” set in, and I forced a plug in the fountain to let myself focus on my grades. And when I finally went back and unplugged it, I found only a trickle left.
Now RISD, or art school in general, does interesting things to creativity. You’re shaping your creativity, giving it new tools, articulating and honing its expression. It’s like you take that wild fountain and you create rivers and dams, learn to control its flow and guide it to fill up your projects and solve your design problems. But when you come home and try and tap that fountain for something wild and open, it’s too exhausted to do more than point you to Netflix.
Twice, since high school, I’ve had geysers of writing. Once was right after I came back from studying abroad in Japan. This huge story just burst out of me, and I couldn’t type fast enough. But then it trickled out and I was left with three-quarters of a novel and characters who I loved but couldn’t understand. (That’s a problem with writing adult characters as a young writer: there are certain complexities of life that are hard to know until you’ve been there and back to tell the tale.)
The second time was when I was working at Microsoft and got sick for about a week and a half straight. I just decided to sit down and write, twelve hours a day. And I did- and a really awesome story came out.
But then work intruded. And I had to put it the wayside. Even now I have the characters still living in the back of my head, checking their watches impatiently while they wait for me to get back to them and their adventures.
But I don’t have the time, I never have the time.
So if you had told the teenager me “the first time you’ll ever see your writing in print is an article you’ll write about starting up a tech company in Rhode Island”, I would have squinted at you, made a confused chipmunk face, decided you were crazy, and dismissed you.
You never really know where life will take you. That’s for hella sure.
The Kickstarter project for my app, Glance, is now live! Be sure to check it out to see the hand-animated video!
So I’m working part-time at Brown University’s Graphics Lab while I’m getting Glance off the ground, and there was a huge deadline this past week. Because of some managerial difficulties up until now, I stepped in recently to help manage the team and catch up on these deadlines. The team was fantastic, the students were all really hard-working and enthusiastic…
but we had to pull an all-nighter Friday night.
You don’t know me and all-nighters, but I don’t do them. Period. Even my entire time at RISD, I never once pulled an all-nighter. It’s my opinion that having to do that is a sign of bad time management and planning, and as it usually results in shoddy work anyway, it’s often better to extend the deadline rather than be forced to do it. Yet this time, we had to do it.
This was after, of course, two full weeks of marathon 9-12 hour workdays. So this night was the crowning jewel. Or maybe I should put it more accurately: it was the final blow.
I died Saturday night, resurrected on Sunday morning to do a 20-mile bike ride, and attempted to get my feet back under me.
But it’s not working. I’ve heard sleep deprivation builds up, so I basically owe my body 8 hours of extra sleep, no matter the fact that I’ve been sleeping regularly since. Not to mention the fact that my body is clearly telling me that I owe it 8 hours of playing outside with my new bike, Silvia.
But I’ve got a lot of shit to do, so I don’t have time to get all that sleep. Or cycling.
So I’ve also noticed the sleep deprivation affecting my self-motivation and discipline.
It’s very easy to get discouraged when you feel overworked.
But then, like today, I meet with a great woman who’s doing awesome work with watersheds and tracking water quality, and we talked all about the app I’m making, and I got to see her eyes light up with interest. Whenever I see that, I can feel my heart get a little lighter- it tells me my work is worth all the long hours I’m putting in.
And maybe, I mean really maybe, it’s worth being inside on a beautiful spring day and letting Silvia mope in the hallways a bit longer.