Keep Moving Forward: An Inventory

A couple of days ago I wrote a post over on The Paid to Play Podcast about the passing of Monty Oum. Monty was the extremely talented animator who worked at web entertainment company Rooster Teeth, and in his time there he not only brought a new standard of action to their flagship series, Red Vs. Blue, he also created a whole new animated show, RWBY. When an unforeseen medical complication took him from his family, friends and fans at 33 years of age, he was doing what he dug as a full time gig, working with a bunch of people who shared his passion and overseeing the production of a whole video series that he himself had created.

Here I am at 37, still struggling to do anything outside my Day Job with any consistency.

In some cases, it’s because I’ve discovered that a thing and I aren’t a good fit for each other, and it’s time to stop throwing good money and time after bad. In others, I’ve let frustration and doubt take me away from some pretty darned good things. And I’ve never really known what to do about it.

Is that changing? I don’t know, but since discovering Monty and his work, I’m finding myself keen to make sure I Keep Moving Forward on the things that I’m truly curious about. And I think that the best way to do is is to keep moving forward small.

Still, a little planning never hurts, so I want to take a look at what’s on my plate and break it down into small, do-able items so I can feel like I’m making tangible progress.

Monty Oum’s Mantra and the Ten Minute Rule

One phrase that keeps coming up over and over again when those who knew Monty or followed his work is, “Keep moving forward.” It seems to have been Monty’s mantra; no matter what, he was always making progress on something (even if it wasn’t what he was supposed to be working on). That’s something I’ve struggled with.

Maybe it’s a personality thing. The Rooster Teeth team mention that Monty was a relentless tinkerer, who even as a child couldn’t be left alone with anything electronic lest he pulled it apart to find out how it worked. One of my earliest memories as a kid is asking my Dad to order an electronics kit that I’d seen an ad for in the paper; not out of curiosity about circuits but because one of the functions it supposedly had was “Lie Detector.” I had this image of putting my friends on it to find out if they were lying about stuff.

Lately, I’ve felt like I’m getting a better handle on how I’m feeling moment to moment. I’m starting to notice the frustration when I’m pressing ahead on something for too long, when my current ability isn’t matching Mister Be Right’s ideal of “Where I Should Be Up To”. As a rule of thumb, so that I don’t let myself get carried away in something (which is a sure fire path to frustration), I’m looking at what I can do in ten minutes. Even if I don’t have a specific goal in mind, it’s enough that I can say that I’ve spent time on a given curiosity each day, that I can feel like I’ve kept moving forward.

In that vein, I found myself doing an inventory on the things I’m curious about / keen on and working out what some small, ten minute things I can get done are.

Where Am I At On…?

The Foxy Lady

The Foxy Lady from the right (her un-scarred side).

Yep, this started a good couple of years ago now. I’d like to blame the crash of December 2013 on my general inactivity re. the Lady (my motor scooter) for the past year, but really it’s just been idleness (and the shame of telling my buddy rider Celia how little progress I’ve been making).

Still, I’ve had a few more practice rides, re-juiced the battery after it went flat thanks to a good chunk of inactivity (thank you for the charger, Anthony) and got the girl in for a service this weekend (thank you very much for your time and your ute, Karl).

The Paid to Play Podcast

Paid to Play sort of petered out a year and a half ago when I started questioning what I was really doing it for. I’m finally realising, though, that the real reason isn’t to make connections or advertise myself as a podcaster – though both are nice – it’s indulging my curiosity about interesting people.

At the moment, I’ve finished the clean-up of my recent chat with Paul Abstruse (and accepted that there’s not a lot I can do about the rampant audio issues in that recording). My next steps are to top and tail it, write the accompanying blog post and upload it.

That’s just one chat, though, and after that I have no more in the can. Still, I have the makings of an editorial calendar, so I might be able to give the Podcast and its blog some strucuture.

One potential guest asked for my listener numbers and demographics; the first I have, although they’re rather low (my average downloads / streams / plays comes to around 120 per episode, but I don’t know how many individual listeners that comes to), and the latter I don’t have and am not sure how to get.

Comics

A Daily TopicPushing to do three strips a week as part of the Shameless Challenge burned me out in short order, so now I’m taking it a bit easier. Still, I have around three or four sketches in various stages of completion and one inked but unscanned as yet.

The Vege Beds

The vege bed has long been a struggle of mine, and I think the main problem was simply that it was too darned big. Vickie and my stepson Karl wanted something sizeable, but I’m still very much a neophyte gardener, and biting off more than I can chew is a sure path to me neglecting something later on.

So late last year I took chunks of the vege bed apart to make three smaller, standing vege beds, not just so that I have smaller, discrete areas to work on but so that Vickie can garden without having to bend down (her knees have taken to arguing with her).

My Freelance Voice Work Project

MicrophoneOnStandI don’t know whether I mentioned it here yet, but a couple of years since I was seriously looking, a’Net friend got in touch; she was turning the heat up under a back-burnered project to create a web based TV series, and she wanted my voice for one of her characters! I recorded an initial sample a week ago (which she paid me for) and we’ve been chatting about the project and my role since.

My friend sent me an e-mail recently; as she starts lining up more work and works on funding it, she needs to nail the specifics of our partnership down.

Infinity Miniatures

perfection-01You may remember that I was painting up a couple of boxes of Infinity miniatures a while ago. Like many things, I lost enthusiasm when I realised I didn’t have anywhere to properly store unfinished miniatures, which meant flecks of paint kept getting knocked off them. It’s a bugger, as they were looking pretty good otherwise.

I’d been thinking about shelving them or giving them on, especially as I realised I’m not really interested in playing the game… but something in me just doesn’t want to let them go until I’ve got them looking tabletop-plus.

How Do I Keep Moving Forward?

The obvious thing is that I’ve got six priorities here, and even though one, the Foxy Lady, is soon to be done, I still have my day job, where I’m learning and adapting every day, and the house work to consider while I work out how to Keep Moving Forward.

And I think my wife and our fur-kids might actually like me to share some time with them in the midst of all that!

So aside from putting one or two things back on the back-burner, I reckon the trick, as I’ve been saying a lot lately, is to start small: Work in ten-minute chunks (and do my best to stop once the ten minutes are up).

Let’s see how that breaks down:

The Foxy Lady

  • Contact Top Rider and see if I can get in for their Friday, February 27th refresher course / competency certificate test.
  • Make sure I have the required $495 available.
  • Fill a leave form in.
  • Firm things up with one of my two potential buddy riders (or both, just in case).

Assuming I pass, all I need to do is take the competency certificate to the nearest Main Roads office and get my restricted motorbike licence! Depending on when the course finishes, I might be able to do that on the same day…

From then on (weather permitting) I’ll be a scooter commuter!

The Paid to Play Podcast

Paid to Play feels like the priority I want to pursue once / while I put the Lady to bed. It involves quite literally getting myself out in front of people.

  • Brainstorm my list of want-ons.
  • Pick a potential guest and prepare an approach.
  • Brainstorm the editorial calendar.
  • Develop a briefing document for potential guests. (A fellow podcaster showed me his guest briefing document and it’s a brilliant way to not only help guests get ready for the chat but alos show them that I know what I’m doing.)

Comics

  • Sketch.
  • Ink.
  • Scan, frame and develop dialogue.
  • Shade as approporiate.

I want to increase my sketching and inking speeds and accept that that means strips will be less detailed than I’d otherwise like. I think, though, that I need to finish faster so that I can clear the decks for whatever idea comes next.

The Vege Beds

This is one where the ten minutes a day is going to come in handy; it’ll get me into the habit of monitoring the beds, which is where I’ve fallen down in the past.

  • Weed.
  • Turn the beds over.
  • Fertilise.
  • Tend to plants.

My Freelance Voice Work Project

Now this is a complex moving forward, because now I need to start thinking about this not just as a hobby, but as a business.

  • Review my friend’s e-mail.
  • Review my work practises.
  • Develop considered, solid responses to my friend’s questions.

Infinity Miniatures

Of these priorities, this is likely the one that’s going to go back on the back-burner for the time being.

  • Find a place to store my miniatures that doesn’t involve chafing or knocking against each other.
  • Look my miniatures over for existing chips.
  • Prime a miniature’s chipped spots.
  • Paint over the chips colour by colour.
  • Re-shade as needed.

Following Through

Of course, this lot is easy to talk about, and it’s easy to talk on a blog. Plans are great, wordy things, after all; yhe trick is to keep doing items on this list consistently.

Still, keeping my activity limited to ten-minute spurts could help avoid my getting burned out on a project before it’s done.

Oh, and if you’ve not heard of Red Vs. Blue or RWBY, both are excellent and well worth your time. Red Vs. Blue is a fun-poke at shooter video games (Halo in particular), science fiction action and the unique frustrations within military life, while RWBY is an anime-influenced Saturday morning cartoon which I’d describe as Sailor Moon meets Harry Potter.

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