Hmm. Need more coffee.
It is…what, January 4th? 4 days into the unknown forests of the two-thousand-and-twenty-first year of our lord and savior baby Christ Jesus amen.
I’m sitting here and laughing because the only word – er, sound – that’s coming to mind right now is: “Ugh.”
For those not immediately connected to the Dancakes crew, in the last few days, we’ve begun a developing Covid scare at the Dancakes studio; two of us had our power go out, and I’m currently bundled under 3 layers of clothes while I wait for a technician to come and fix my furnace (my poor nekkid cat has claimed the heat blanket). The company is still treading water and we have a few things coming up to bring in some income, but it seems we’re probably operating at a loss right now. In addition, the world has this rude habit of continuing to spin at a breakneck pace whether you’re dealing with difficulties or not, and it’s really easy to look at the long winter darkness outside my window at 4:30pm and think, “Wow. I’m tired.”
At the same time, though, I’m also feeling really…light?
Yeah I know it doesn’t make any sense.
But in the last few weeks, months, years, I’ve learned a lot about myself. I’ve learned that I probably have an undiagnosed mental illness – anxiety, depression, ADD etc – and that, well, that’s fine. It’s fine for me to need to leverage my other gifts to make my way in the world. It’s fine for me to need to hire others to do things, ask others for help, and, well, to need help in the first place.
As a “self-esteem kid” I grew up barraged with affirmations of my future greatness. I think for a lot of us those affirmations ended up being pretty damaging – creating the expectation of this enormous mental reward for doing menial and mundane things, which grew into serious executive dysfunction later on – but it’s not like those affirmations were all bad. Double-edged sword I guess. What I’m trying to say is that too much encouragement and congratulation as a child turned into both an unshakeable belief in the validity of my own ideas, and a crippling inability to manifest them by myself.
And that is okay.
I don’t know what it is about right now. Maybe it’s just…everything in the world is so exhausting, so depleting, that my subconscious no longer has the resources it needs to summon up ‘give-a-damn’ and make me feel bad that I can’t do things on my own. I’ve kept this self-loathing in my back pocket for years – around my inability to sit still and teach myself to code. My inability to sit still and dedicate intentional creative resources to the running and maintenance of Dancakes.
And I just…don’t care anymore.
Something that gets you with anxiety is this fracturing and amorphous ‘to-do’ list playing in the back of your brain. My brain is always coming up with impulses. I’m an impulsive person. I get struck by a wandering thought and have to grab my notebook right away and capture it. I get the urge to write something stream-of-consciousness and I guess that’s what I’m doing with my day, regardless of the list I made up last night. In some sense, these moments are the reprieve, the liberty, because in other moments I get overwhelmed with notions that “this is not what I should be doing,” or, “I said I was going to read today and I’m not doing that.” Often this paralyzes me. My brain has determined that my free-flowing impulse was not a good enough direction for my focus and that there’s something else I “should” be focusing on – but then when I try to focus on that, there’s something else. Even the initial impulse; it felt so good, so potentially transformative, that abandoning it like that feels to be a dereliction of my human duty to let the universe pass through me.
And so I sit on the couch and try to ‘rest’, beating myself up just below my consciousness the whole time.
…That is really exhausting. Add to that the seasonal depression that comes from the darkness, and the pandemic exhaustion that comes from having fewer good reasons to leave the house, and the economic stress that comes from not knowing how much growth lies ahead of the business you’ve built your life around, and then mix in an oppressive news cycle and the empire you find your whole reality rooted in coming apart at the seams as the country that has both enabled and thwarted your attempts at fulfillment starts to go collectively insane…
And it’s just like…man. I don’t care anymore.
I don’t need to teach myself to code. I don’t need to succeed. I’mma be dead someday, man. I don’t need to do anything at all. I’m not writing this because I need to. I’m writing it because I want to; because writing feels good to me. I’m good at it. And I don’t care if there’s something I’m bad at that I should be trying to get good at right now instead of writing. Screw that.
When I finish and publish this piece, I’ll be turning my attentions to my 6-year side-project, Anthromancer. Anthromancer is a board game-turned-psychospiritual odyssey. If that’s not what you’re into, that’s fine. It’s what I’m into. It has taken a long, long time to create, but it’s almost finished now, and I need to spend the next few days pouring myself into all these little meticulous bits and baubles that have to be in place before we can manufacture and release this thing. That’s the only thing my heart wants to do right now.
Lately I’ve been throwing around the idea of soliciting a business loan for the other company I co-own, Tetra Entertainment, which is in control of the Anthromancer brand as well as the successful kickstarter we ran last year and the patent that we were awarded in September. I want to turn Tetra into a proper game studio; hire all my favorite people under a collective/cooperative power structure and make the kinds of human experiences that people will never stop supporting. I want to make apps. Video games, card games, tabletop games, who cares. I want to create machines of fun.
Dancakes has never been my passion. I think most people who follow me closely have heard me say things to this effect. It was a never a goal, never a self-referential point of unending joy the way that Anthromancer is. I haven’t been paid to create this game for the last 6 years, and yet, I’ve spent tens of thousands of hours working on it. I’ve taught myself how to produce music, how to design in illustrator, how to build a business plan, and consumed about two bookcases of esoteric literature to better understand the aesthetics and the world of the product I wanted to make. I’ve gone into debt to hire talented artists, designers and collaborators and risked thousands on an uncertain patent process and like…
That’s passion, man.
There’s a path here. Plain as day. Strategy game apps tend to fare better than almost any other app category in terms of revenue. We’ve got a beautiful game with assets built and a community of over 300 people who helped fund its existence. Every year we see more indie studios rise to greatness with small teams of well-treated and passionate artists; Supergiant, Innersloth, Hello Games, etc. And hell, we’ve got a mechanical patent; a board game mechanic that legally belongs to us. We got something here.
I love Dancakes, and what it has done for me. I love that it has empowered me to have the time and energy to work on my real passion. I love the connections it has brought into my life. I love dearly the people I work with who are my found family in every way. I love that it has greased the wheels of inspiration for me.
But I’m standing here on this precipice of existential exhaustion and complete uncertainty and realizing that I have an opportunity to do something I really and truly love doing, instead of needing to be a breakfast jester to pay the bills. I gotta take that chance.
To be clear Dancakes ain’t going anywhere lol; I’m not that much of a fool. We’re gonna keep this baby afloat. We gotta. It’s awesome what we’ve done here. The studio, the livestreaming, the video editing; the preservations! Dancakes is badass and I hope to make pancake art until the day I die. I still want to start a restaurant and a live art studio. I still wanna make pancakes for people.
But…now is a really bad time to get into that game. So while we wait for our nations infamous bungling of a pandemic response to even out (in like thirty years or whatever), in the meantime…Would you like to develop my app?