Busy or Productive?

I’ve been a little subdued and quiet the last couple of days, and have generally put it down to post-Christmas and indeed post-work tiredness. Without the artificial deadlines to work to I’ve been allowing myself to not get worried about being productive, and therefore haven’t been plunging into being busy. I think I’ve fallen into the creative trap of actively trying to be productive and instead falling into making busy work that hasn’t really satisfied by the end of it. Whether that’s been attempts at drawing that I’ve given up on after a few strokes, or attempts at cleaning that have ended up just moving things around and solving nothing – its been frustrating because I’ve been putting the expectation of things on myself.

So, bearing in mind I booked this time off, I’ve been consciously giving myself permission to sleep – and to just be. It’s made me aware just how tired in my bones I’ve become, and how much rushing around I’ve been doing. Stopping a while has been needed.

With the stepping back from trying to wrestle my brain into a more creative space has come some actual creative work – like the sketch page presented here – which I have quietly developed over the last couple of days while we’ve caught up with tv shows.

The quiet grind of editing short stories has also brought some dividends too, with a growing number of more polished pieces amounting up to a respectable collection of pieces suitable for publication in the near future. I’m very carefully not putting a deadline on that happening, but in my headspace I have an expectation on how much more I need to do and it isn’t as daunting as that felt even a few weeks ago.

So, by stepping back from being busy, I’ve ended up being more productive – and I doubt I’m the first person to notice this or comment on the irony of it. Some people thrive creatively working to deadlines, others don’t – and some, like myself, perhaps are creative in different ways or find more satisfaction in pieces created when not pushing to be busy for busyness’ sake.

I’m going to go and play some games online now, and not feel guilty that I’m not creating something, or working on something, or worrying about some deadline that really doesn’t matter because I made it up and there’s no need to stick to it. The world keeps turning.

Frontline Quiet

I ended up running one of my libraries solo this afternoon as the person scheduled to be there was taken ill. It was quite gentle really, and in some ways reassuring that I haven’t quite lost my grip on the nitty gritty of customer service work.

It was good to be able to just talk to customers and be a simple friendly soul as a contrast to the plate-spinning expert I often have to be these days. It didn’t stop me processing recruitment paperwork and sorting out meeting with some potential partner organisations, but it was almost a spa day, returning to the basics like that. It was almost a shame how quickly closing time rolled round.

True to form, as you might expect, there may have been some doodling between phonecalls, customers, and bouts of shelvng:

I’ve left them to bemuse the staff due there in the morning.

Out and About

After a long day of work as one of the senior staff on duty, followed by my regular biweekly Saturday evening counselling session, I eventually made it up to the Novotel Excel for a little before midnight to join the rest of the household. It meant that I could be with them for day two of the Social In The City event – and while it just isn’t my thing, it was a delight to see how excited boy s, the niece and nephew, and the cub were. I did the coat holding and bag-carrying thing as my brain weasels were in revolt, and my stomach decided to flare up – but that didn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the people watching. If nothing else, seeing the hero worship reactions was both delightful and entertaining.

For her part, Lady M went into shameless networking mode with the youtubers and podcasters in attendance. Her positivity and directness looks to have nabbed a number of high profile LGBTQIA commentators to participate in future discussions, and I can’t wait to see what comes of those contacts. It was a rare chance to see her at work in that aspect of her passion project: namely, the identification and planning of future content, and ways to widen conversations and discussion. Her Two Women In Tech podcast (available all over the place but start with Spotify and Apple) and her wider TWITT projects are deeply personal, and related to her belief in building people up and opening opportunities. That’s why it was lovely to see and hear the enthusiasm on various people’s faces as she told them about what she was doing and invited them to take part. I shall await the results with interest

For my part, to settle my nerves and rest my aged aching body, I settled near the coffee stall and edited up an old sketch on the laptop in between retrieving lost children as they disappeared and reappeared without telling anyone where they were off too.

Yes, there will be a tshirt

Its one I did with a variety of metallic ink pigment ink pens a few years ago on black craft paper. I tried an edit at the time but could quite make the colours pop, but this time with some filter layers and light rendering on the filter layers I was able to bring more a vivid flame flicker to match the lines. I also resampled it in slightly different proportions as it originally didn’t quite work in my eyes. I’m much happier with the new proportions and resulting better clarity of facial features that have resolved while working on it.

I might not be feeling great, but I can take some measure of satisfaction in being able to create and produce images that catch the eye. It’s particularly enjoyable as a reclamation of skills I’ve not felt able to use in a while – and is especially warming when the act of revisiting an old piece I’ve discarded creates something better than it was when I started.

But I digress – we all got home and my body decided it wasn’t going to cooperate any more, so I’ve spent the best part of the late afternoon asleep and trying to settle after a broken night. I’m getting very tired of being ill so regularly. Hopefully the various investigations under way will pinpoint what the problem is so we can deal with it.

Back to Work

Ah Monday, and the inevitable panic after nearly two weeks of remembering passwords and hoping they haven’t expired. I did, and they hadn’t, so that was nice.

The first words one of my managers (and by this I mean managers working for me) said to me was: “have you lost weight?” – given the amount of time exploding from one end or the other I’d be very surprised if I hadn’t lost a few pounds. Always nice to see the sunny side of these things.

The theme of new tech continued too, with a new work phone – so in between emails and phonecalls I’ve begun the solemn duty of subverting the kit to my requirements. Should keep me busy in downtime for a bit.

I’ve also been digitally painting again, taking advantage of the touchscreen and tablet mode offered by my new laptop – I have no idea what it is, but I’m rather pleased with how it’s going

I think it needs more eyes

New Tech Please

Lady M and I decided that Christmas would come early this year as the home IT setups were frankly ancient. My collection of ancient laptops are practically steam powered, while her desktop PC is a Frankenstein’s Monster of salvaged parts from my old kit and occasional extra bits bolted on over the last ten years. Want to talk about Theseus’ Boat? I have a modern-ish day example propping up a desk in the spare room.

It all rather got pushed to the fore by the cub monopolising the spare room with his PC, and my increasing frustrations with trying to run the gaming sessions through www.dndbeyond.com and www.roll20.net with a side order of www.syrinscape.com for good measure – there may have been regular swearing and frequent use of theatre of the mind to keep people occupied while waiting for things to load. By the same token, Lady M’s podcasts and blog work had been utterly derailed by the presence of our beloved goblin.

And so we went on to Lady M’s employee perks website to see what discounts we could find, set a budget, and smiled sweetly at the credit card. It is some measure of how far we’ve come in the ten years of our marriage that we have the budget to do this and not break down in sweaty tears at the cost and guilt of spending money on ourselves.

So, a little delayed from the initially promised delivery date, we’re busy setting up and engaging with various projects that we’ve had on hold for some time. The cub is serenading us from the other room as he plays Geometry Dash and makes up his own theme tunes, and its a pleasant backdrop as we sit in geeky, nay nerdy, bliss on the sofa.

It’s also a much needed distraction from today’s date and the many firework explosions outside. I’ll need to venture out later to retrieve boy s from his workplace as he’s on a late night covering an event at Thorpe Park – though Lady M has offered to do that as a kindness, depending on how rambunctious the cub is. I may take her up on it given how broken my sleep was last night.

Your friendly neighbourhood dodgy wizard, perhaps..?

Oh, one particular joy with this new piece of kit is that it’s a convertible HP Envy, which means I can fold the screen back and the machine turns into a tablet – it has even come with a stylus pen that I had to charge up earlier.

It felt rather rude not to test this and take advantage of the form factor, so I scribbled a little something earlier – the WIP version can be seen in the Instagram feed on this page, but the final version is here in all it’s dubious glory. Cheery old geezer with possibly a wand of some description, and the world’s bushiest eyebrows.

I’ve even updated Scrivener and transferred all my files over and it takes less than an ice age to open the app and documents now – so I’ll restart editing the short stories to get back into the swing of things – again, a good distraction.

I was tempted to have another crack at Nanowrimo this year but launching myself at the intensity of that straight from nothing would be setting myself up to fail – so short stories it is. I really need to get back into the habit of writing longer pieces than these blog posts on a regular basis. Trying that while also battling the black dog wouldn’t be a kindness, so while I don’t have a deadline I can move at a slower pace.

As the saying goes: what’s the worst that could happen?

And Now For A Break

As of this evening I’m on holiday, both to celebrate Lady M’s birthday next week, and for mental health self care. Admittedly this year its also to recover from last weekend’s shenanigans and anything else that decides to rear its head in the meantime.

We’ve got an early start in the morning so I can take Lady M for an eye appointment, while the cub is staying behind to look after boy s who is not enjoying his seasonal cold in the slightest.

In the meantime I’ve found an old sketchbook page that has tickled my creative itch, so I’m relaxing in mindfulness mode by adding to it

Probably not coming to a tshirt near you

Easing Into The Week

Today started a bit frantically as I picked up various emails from yesterday, but I soon got things settled, and had a conversation or two to address some not-so-hidden elephants. So all in all not a bad day.

Tomorrow will be busy with a variety of things, not least of which will be interviewing people who want to work for me, or at least are looking for jobs and don’t object to me being their manager (hello imposter syndrome) – oh and apparently there’s a photoshoot booked for a project launch in the building so there’s that too.

So to unwind I drew a thing this evening:

Monday Musings

My weeks normally start with a day off, but with the new job starting in a month or so I’ll be working full time so I want to try and use the time while I still have it.

So today I finally got round to catching up with Lady G for lunch, and the first pub visit since I can’t remember. As is traditional, we both waxed lyrical in our gossip about work and people we know – and it was just nice to see her again.

We both play (I use the term loosely as it’s a mostly zero-interaction game) Godville, so I got challenged to draw her hero and their animal companion – as if I need an excuse to doodle away – so thought I’d share the results here:

Meanwhile, I’m trying to limit checking on work emails while I’m off, but there’s an awful lot happening all at once so I did respond to a couple of them. The very minor issue that it has highlighted is the continuing tightrope I’m walking where I’m still substantially working in my existing job but am being called upon in the new role, while that new role is also still occupied by someone.

I shall have to have a conversation or two about how best to manage this over the next few weeks to both manage expectations and limit any treading on toes.

Gentle Chatter

I could tell that people were getting excited about the next phase of easing restrictions by just how many families came in to return books and browse for more. Its been a while since the library I was in today has had that kind of buzz of chatter and life. It was lovely.

I may be approximately as frazzled as this figure here