Sometime in late March, I got my groove back. It was in a room, surrounded by nerds a lot smarter than me. It was a reach. I wasn’t completely sure what I was doing there, but—holy shit!—they listened. And then it happened. I felt it.
I was back, motherfuckers.
Was it burn out? Hard to say. I slept a lot in 2016. Felt like shit. Downtrodden, and worn. Doesn’t matter.
I don’t have any advice for people who are burning out. I can add little to the discussion that hasn’t been explained by smarter people. You hit bottom, then you keep falling. In the end, all you get is a story. Mine isn’t very interesting.
Running MartianCraft was never an easy gig. In 2015 it became a lot harder. I wasn’t the only one at the helm. I had help. Then we hit the point in the movie where the protagonist figures out how to save everyone, but there’s a cost; You can right the ship, and save your friends, but it’ll push you too far. You can’t come back.
Was I done? Hardly. I took the lemons, and made lemonade. Again, I had help. An awesome family, with more patience and understanding than I deserve. I have a badass job, that challenged me right from the beginning.
But, I wasn’t ready for it. I was wounded, and incomplete. And I had to learn to be a technician again.
In hindsight, this was the easy part. Like riding a bike. Stupidly, I thought I could be 100% working for someone else. I learned quickly why your best employees only give you 60%. It’s hard to go full bore when you don’t have all the information.
A lot of start and stop, only this time I didn’t always know why. How did I ever do this? Turns out, quite easily. Just needed some practice. So I dug in… and tried to remember how to run the debugger.
After binge-watching Netflix for the first few months, I noticed a hole, which wanted to be filled. What do normal people do in the evening1?
I started writing more, started exercising regularly. Reading too—lots of novels, and keeping up on current events. And then in the Fall, I finally sat down to write my novel. There were a lot of fits and starts, but nothing stuck. I would stumble, and couldn’t maintain any momentum.
I had lost my edge.
At first, I didn’t take it seriously. I ignored it. I have a fulfilling job. I have a loving family, and I spend much more time with them now. On the outside, life was good, and I wore a smile. But on the inside, I was still dragging ass. Still worn, and still down.
A job gives me purpose, but art gives me meaning.
I’m a builder, and I like to fix things. A problem solver. A technician. But I was never only a technician. I needed to put myself out there, throw caution to the wind, and risk rejection.
Which brings us back to that conference room, filled with smarty pants. I’m not sure how much convincing I managed. The jury is still out. But I convinced myself of one thing: I have plenty more to give.
April was a month filled with art. I tried things and experimented, with a confidence I haven’t felt in a long time. I explored some new, and rediscovered some old. It’s been a lot of fun.
Next month, I’ll have something new to share. I can’t way to show it to you. It has a good backstory.
See you in May.
Beyond the obvious: spending more time with my family. I’m a night owl, so I’m concerned about the time of evening after everyone else is in bed. ↩