Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The Eye of the Sahara

The Richat Structure, known as the Eye of the Sahara, is a massive volcanic structure in the west-central Sahara Desert. You can learn more--and see more pictures--here.

Here's a cover of Hello, Again by JubyPhonic to enjoy while you read. Some of the lyrics feel apropos to the situation at hand, and it's a nice listen.

I meant to make this post several days ago, but getting sick caused me to delay it. I've made an ongoing commitment to honesty and transparency in the AW project, so I want to talk about my situation rather than try to gloss over it or pretend nothing unusual is going on. It's not a technical issue or a problem with AW, it's more of a personal problem on my (ThaumX's) part. However, this is affecting my portion of development (Besty is still working admirably). 

I'll go over the details and plans to fix things below, but first I wanted to let you know that the version 0.23.0 release isn't going to have all the content that was planned. In all likelihood, the version 24 won't as well, and there's a good chance that version 25 won't either. And while I don't think that there's much I could do differently or that could have prevented this, it's still my responsibility.

While these next few versions may not have the typical giant amount of new stuff, Besty will still be working full time. I'll be contributing as well, of course, but my output is probably going to be less than usual, and it probably won't conform to the normal plans for what I should be working on. We've still got some cool stuff for you in version 0.23: The long-awaited medical district and transformatives are making their appearance :D

If you'd like to stop or reduce your Patreon or SubscribeStar funding I understand and hope you'll rejoin us after the summer. Of course, Besty and I would appreciate it if you stick with us! (Also, AW is Besty's full-time job, so not having to dip into savings would be great, lol)

So, What's Going On?

To over-simplify things, it's basically a mixture of burnout, writer's block, and stopping ADHD medication (temporarily). Not all of the items are equal in terms of impact, and there's some interaction between them going on. I think the easiest thing to do will be to cover each individually... so here goes.

As many of you are probably aware, I worked some insane hours on AW for over a year. I fell out of touch with normal life, but worst was probably the impact on my health. This is something that I've talked about before, so I won't go into a lot of detail. I do think it's something that I've gotten a better handle on over the last six months or so. My health has improved a lot, particularly my heart, and I've been on a healthier 40hr/week AW work schedule.

I think that I've gotten over the worst of it, and I've started to recover more of my passion for the project as well as enjoy working on it more. I'm still struggling with some of the more administrative and less creative work like answering questions, replying to various messages, and even writing basic blog posts. This is mostly a non-issue, but it does increase the difficulty of the other issues.

The Plan: There isn't really a new plan for what to do here... It's mostly just staying the course with a healthier work schedule. It has seemed to be working, so I'm going to stick with it.

Writer's Block
Writer's block... I've always wondered if the various treatments it's gotten in sitcoms and other media has been the result of writer's block. Like "Man, I don't know what to do for this episode... hey, why don't we do a writer's block episode?!" 

Normally I have some go-to solutions to writer's block, depending on the exact variety of block going on. Because of the other issues, it's like I'm experiencing some new type of block. The lack of concentration makes the techniques I've tried seem to fail to actually get me through whatever is actually going on. I can write, but it's agonizingly slow. Too slow for my goals, which are asking for thousands of words per day instead of hundreds. They say the average novelist averages between 500 and 1,000 words per day, but that kind of speed doesn't work for my plans.

The block that's going on isn't related to ideas... I know exactly what is supposed to happen, and how it's supposed to happen. I have the main story plotted out, and I already know everything necessary to write what I'm supposed to be writing. Instead, this block is like some sort of failure in the process of actually writing. It's new to me. Everyone has their own sort of process and mindset when it comes to writing. For me, I enter what I call "the flow" where I translate the planned ideas into words.

I can't seem to get into the flow. It might be because of the medication, some lack of urge, or just difficulty concentrating on the actual writing. I'm not sure... But turning the ideas in my head into exposition and dialog is... not happening the way it "should". Instead, I have to deliberately take things word by word, and slowly construct things in a way I hope isn't totally awful.

I suppose the only interesting side to all this is that I've written some really strange stuff. Looking back, I feel like I should have saved some of it because it was like aliens pretending to be human talking to each other. 

I strongly suspect that a lot of this writer's block is actually my mind adjusting to my medication changes. Of course, the concentration issues also don't help anything.

The Plan: Keep working at it, try some new techniques to break through, and allow me to work on writing things that feel easier or more approachable rather than forcing specific content. My psychiatrist says that my brain will continue to readjust and I'll start to get better at handling things over the next month or two (the eventual plan is to take a new approach with medication starting in late July). 

ADHD Medication
ADHD is a giant topic all by itself. There's a certain stigma associated with it, ranging from people assuming it's basically autism (a high percentage of people on the spectrum also suffer from ADHD) to people saying that ADHD doesn't exist at all and it's simply laziness or lack of self-discipline. I have ADHD predominantly inattentive presentation (the condition formally called ADD).

It's worth noting that ADD isn't actually a thing anymore and that since the 1994 DSM came out, what used to be called ADD was included under the umbrella of ADHD. There was a good reason for this, partly that the impulsive element can be longer-fused, and that both conditions essentially result from the same sets of chemical cause.

There's plenty of places to learn about ADHD and other mental health issues online, so I won't go into a ton of detail. I personally had never been diagnosed until about 6 years ago, when I was already an adult with advanced degrees. It did make a big difference in my life and solved the other part of what was always still wrong after treating my lifelong depression issues. 

Because of the issues with my heart and overall health, I finally stopped taking stimulant medication in late April. I was on a lower dose since the beginning of the year, and that did alleviate most of the rest of the health issues I was having. Still, I thought it would be better to move away from the stimulants at least until I had a nice stable period health-wise and I got my blood pressure under control.

Unfortunately, I underestimated just how big of an effect this would have on me. I had learned how to deal with the condition naturally growing up, and I developed several coping strategies to help me. I expected that those would still be there, and it would just be some short adjustment to get used to how things were. After all, I was still successful and living a pretty normal life without any medication, so I expected things to return to how they were. A bit more annoying or challenging, but otherwise fine.

This is not how things went, lol. It was a bit like having the rug pulled out from under my feet. After nearly six years of not using those coping strategies, and not having to deal with the symptoms really, I got weak. I had forgotten entirely about little things I used to do like setting alarms for myself for important times at work, and using checklists during the day to make sure I remember to do everything.

I just talked to my psychiatrist about it, and she told me that it'll take some time for my brain and me to readjust. It's also likely a big part of my problems with writing and creativity in general over the last month (even my drawing/art has been affected, though that's way harder to explain). Right now I'm not capable of accomplishing the task of writing X thousand words of fiction that I assign myself.

The Plan: The good news is that I seem to be doing a little better recently and that I should continue to improve over the next month or two. The better news is that my plan isn't to stay medication free forever, it's to switch to a non-stimulant medication that affects dopamine and norepinephrine. This should be a more sustainable approach for me in terms of health. There's a newer medication on the market that my doctor has seen success with, so I'll likely be going with that. We'll be starting in late July. 

The non-stimulant medication does take longer to see the full benefit, much like when you start taking SSRIs or certain other medications. For that reason, we want to get to a nice stable no-stimulant baseline first to start setting the dosage of the new medication. It probably will take a few months to get things right, and then I'll be pretty much back to being a normal erolich. :D

TLDR: No New Fursuits!
AW will still be getting updates at the regularly scheduled time, but without quite as much new stuff as you're used to. This is a temporary thing while I get my brain working properly again. 
This is a reference based on the person responsible for Hentai Haven deciding to use all their donated server money on buying a new fursuit, which then resulted in them shuttering the site for a while. I don't think it's been updated with new videos since then, but the site is back at least. That's not the kind of thing that's going on with AW, obviously.

I think that transparency here is a good thing, and thus the giant post... I know that with some creators out there, actually admitting that there's a problem equates to cataclysmic issues, but that's really not the case here. I view it as more of a minor setback. 

Thanks everyone for all your support so far, I'm looking forward to bringing you more AW to enjoy!



No comments:

Post a Comment

The Happy Hucow Release v0.29 Changelog

Hello everyone, we're finally here with the version 0.29 release! We had a few last-minute issues with system interaction bugs b...