I’m generally known as a capable guy, as someone who works efficiently and effectively. I always hit deadlines. I take on additional work with a smile. I generally produce above-standard results. I’m surprisingly adept at time management, despite my inability to keep appointments without my e-mail or phone shouting at me.
It should be no surprise to anyone that I keep multiple plates spinning at any given time. Writing articles. Making comics. Playing music. Terrorizing the interwebs. Recording podcasts. Throwing parties. Traveling. Planning. Rhyming. Scheming. And while this has been my default state since high school — and that’s a long time, kids — I kind-of feel like the plates are starting to wobble, and while none of them have quite hit the floor yet, I’m starting to get the impression that laying down some rubber might not be such a bad idea.
If you follow me on Twitter, you may have come across a few tweets yesterday ruminating over my perceived decline in writing quality, and theories that such a decline could be attributed to my attention just being spread out too thin.
It’s not an unreasonable hypothesis, and it’s also something I’ve explored — and acted upon — in the past. Long-time friends, both on- and offline, know that every few years, I seem to reevaluate my life, and more specifically, my internet presence, weighing the perceived value of productivity over the actual value of my happiness. I’ve been accused of being productive just for productivity’s sake, not because I’m necessarily inspired to create anything, but because of some inherent need to feed my megalomaniacal ego by constantly having my name out there. I’d like to think that’s not the case, but then again, my warped perception may be part of the problem.
I’m just bad at not doing stuff. I’m terrible to take on vacation, because I get antsy if I know there’s work I could be doing or needs to be done. In the past, I took “vacations” from jobs just to get work done on other projects. I obsessively check e-mails, messages, tweets, etc. The only way for me to get to sleep at night — assuming I don’t pass out on the couch from sheer exhaustion — is to play a mind-numbing game on my phone (the voices! the voices!). My poor girlfriend suffers my long nights in front of the computer, cramming in revisions on articles or last-minute coloring on a comic.
But is all of this drive to produce affecting the quality of the productions? Does my increasingly shortened attention span hold me back from excelling at, say, just two areas, instead of being mediocre in 10? At one point, I felt I could claim to be a good writer. Really good. But over the years, as deadlines have replaced the muse as my impetus for writing, I think I’ve started circling the rim of the hack circle, less a writer and more a guy who writes. Less a musician and more a guy who plays drums. Less a person and more a cipher.
I could be wrong, of course. Editors still hire me. The band hasn’t fired me yet. People come to see us play. My comics get read, sometimes they get purchased. But I wonder if I pulled back, if I spent more time developing the crafts, creating amazing works and putting quality over quantity, if I couldn’t produce something spectacular, something worthy of putting out into the world, instead of trying to just hammer my name into everyone’s heads by sheer blunt force.