Saturday, April 23, 2011

Slacking off has given me great life skills

I am not what you would call a person with a fantastic attention span. My mind is a constant whirl of ponies, bright colours, and 'I wonder if that tastes good on toast'. I do not think I'm a stupid person, but my attention span does wander to a great many subjects, and this means I'm constantly doing more than one thing at a time.

If I am watching television, I am often also reading or writing. Or drawing pictures.

If am eating breakfast, I am on the internet.

If I am drawing, sometimes I watch riveting programs like 'Friends' or anime.

I am easily distracted, I suppose. And while this trait isn't something to be proud of, and it annoys most of the people I know well, it has also given me some excellent life skills.

1- Video Games

I am not going to pass off some b.s. about how playing video games has given me great hand-eye co-ordination, because everyone who knows me has seen me perform at sports. I cannot throw a ball. Sometimes when I play soccer, I just miss the damned thing and fall down. Even games that require hand-eye co-ordination like the Wii are too difficult for me. This is not my point.

I am from a generation of roleplaying games. Games like Chrono Cross, Final Fantasy Seven, and the Legend of Dragoon. These games were excellent (obviously) but they also came with these short videos in between gameplay called 'cutscenes'.

A cutscene, for most people, is time to go make a sandwich, work on laundry or finally do your taxes. But I am patient. I can watch the whole damned thing. I just sit there and listen. I can listen to things I don't care about for hours and retain information. This has passed into my real life as well. I can listen to lectures about stuff that is completely uninteresting. I can feign interest in powerpoint presentations. I can do so much pretending. I know you are jealous.

2. Drawing

When I was 12, I started drawing seriously. (By seriously, I mean pictures of pokemon and Sailor Moon characters, but I thought it was pretty hardcore.) My mother's response to this was to try to convince me to find new hobbies, since drawing did not make anyone money and I probably should knock that off.

I did not knock that off. Not at all. I continue to doodle in the margins and draw strange pictures. I probably will forever. And it has paid off (just not literally).

By wasting my time drawing, I:

- got a mentorship position teaching comic book creation at Vancouver School board.

- have been in two art shows this year in Vancouver!

- finished a comic book

And I am typically just happier because it is hard to be unhappy when you are drawing silly things.

3 - Writing stupid RPGS

Around the same time that Sailor Moon was important to me, I started writing digimon and pokemon rpgs. My writing was horrible. Every character was overemotional, completely boring, and ridiculous looking.

I continue to write these silly RPGs, but only with one person, and I'd like to think our writing has improved quite a bit.

- Last year, I wrote a children's novel. I'm still editing it, but I think it's pretty good!

- I just got my first writing contract with the Canadian Science Fiction Review. They will be publishing my short story, 'Birdcage', in their next issue. And I will be paid for it, which is awesome.

- My typing speed is 90 words per minute. I write constantly. This has been really useful in job searches.

Being creative isn't really 'slacking off', but it is hard for others to see that, especially when you're just starting off. It's also hard to look at your own work and think it is valid enough to try to publish it.

I am pretty happy that I did all these things, anyway. I will continue to draw in the margins in my math homework, and write rpgs as well as short stories. Maybe I don't have very good math or social skills, but I do try damnit. I just have more fun writing stories about unicorns.


  1. Social skills are overrated, anyway. :)

  2. I really liked this piece. It makes me feel better about what I've been doing with my life. :)

  3. You can feign interest in PowerPoint presentations? Sorry. Don't know where you inherited that. I tend to call out boring presenters. Feelings get hurt. Egos crushed. I don't get invited back. Yay! I win!

    Anyway, good post! Keep drawing and writing and slacking off. I'm jealous...

  4. Hmm...I think I recognize myself in some of this. Okay, in a lot of it. Okay, all of it. I have an incredibly short attention span, unless (and here's the kicker) it's something I am very, very interested in. So, the novels of Connie Willis I will read from cover to cover and absorb every word. Lame presentations - nope, not so much.

    On the plus side, in my current role I now own the PowerPoint. And this, my friend, is where payback begins.

    I'm not sure if that was comforting or not. Oh hey, a squirrel....