Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Playing the Game...

I'm sitting at just over 25,000 words out of the 50,000 to finish NaNo successfully. Which is a really lousy spot to be when you don't feel like writing. Like not at all. I didn't write Sunday because I got busy. No big deal, I thought, Brent is still travelling so I can write extra Monday-Wednesday and just make it up and get that ahead push I want since I won't write for four days around Thanksgiving so I really need to be at over 40,000 by next Wednesday.

Now, why I thought I would write more when Brent had already been gone for 3 1/2 days at that point and I hadn't once sat down for a second writing session, but you know, I was totally going to do it this time, I have no idea!

Then yesterday I needed to take the car in to get service in the morning and I had a couple other errands to run so I was just going to flip my schedule and write in the afternoon. Then my phone freaked out and I ended up out again and then it was dark outside and my motivation to sit down and write was gone. GONE. I didn't even step in to the office to find a silver thing on my desk for my POD game I was playing in my head. 

And I thought about it. The writing. The number looming at me. The days I'm going to run out of here soon. And part of me was like, fuck it. Be done. You are three blogs away from your goal for the year and you can hit that easily. You have successfully done NaNo two other times so really there is no reason to do it again. And you know that you are making the big realization that you are never going to be more than a casual writer anyway so why stress out about it? Let yourself off the hook for this one. Be done.

But that's not the game I'm playing this month. Or more specifically that's not how to win the game I'm playing this month. The only way to win is write 50,000 words. So I will write 50,000 words. If I am stuck to my seat on the 30th force choking out the last few thousand I will be doing that. If you are going to play a game you better be playing it to win. 

That's a life philosophy. 

Christopher and I talked about this on Sunday. How important I think playing the game to win is. I also said the customary, also have fun, but honestly, winning is more fun so play to win. 

Now let me clarify a few things. Playing to win can mean a few different things. Some games have specific goals and that's what you are trying to reach, and some games you make up the rules so you can win and still have fun even if you have zero shot of actually winning. Confused?

Basketball. Brent and I used to play basketball against each other. We still would if we were closer to a court. Brent is a half foot taller than I am. He's also what we call athletic while I am what we call not. There is no way in hell in a one on one game I am going to beat Brent. It's just not going to happen. So I changed the rules. I can dribble if I feel like it and if I don't I can pick up the ball and carry it. He is not allowed to steal the dribble from me though I am allowed to try and steal it from him. He is not allowed to actively block my shots. He can stand with his arms up so I have to shoot over him but he can't do anything else. Because I would lose every time if he could steal my dribbles and block my shots. The game would consist of me having the ball for two seconds after he scores and them him taking it from me and scoring again. Now ask me if I have any shot of winning even with my new rules...yeah. No. But the game is to have fun and make Brent laugh at least once in the game so I can score while he is distracted. That's the game. And I play it to win. 

When C was little he learned how to play chess. I know how to play chess but I am lousy at it. I am too multi-focused to play it well. I forget between moves what my plan was. I never really got into understanding the theory of it all. But I know how to play and so I would play against him. He was pretty good. Did the whole chess team thing for a year or so in elementary school before he gave it up for more music. Now you don't really understand humbling until you repeatedly get your ass handed to you over a chess board by an 8 year old. I knew going in that I wasn't going to win, but I still played. The game I was playing wasn't to capture his king, it was to play with my son and let him practice something he found fun. I played a lot of games when he was little that were like that. The game I was playing was "spend time with my son" and I kicked ass at that game.

And it's not just set games or sports that I play. I am almost constantly playing a game. We will be out shopping and Brent will look over at me, "You're playing a game aren't you?" and most of the time he's right. I'm counting red things, or I'm seeing how long it will take the woman ahead of us to notice that her child is slowly unpacking her purse into the stroller or I am walking in a certain pattern, not avoiding hot lava, I'm not a child, but you know, only hitting the rectangle tiles and not the triangles like an adult! If Brent decides he wants to play a game too he'll take a stab at what I'm doing. At least that's what I've decided he's doing when he guesses. Imagining other people are playing games all the time is another game of mine.

My endless rounds of goals are games. Each one a new mini game under the master umbrella of the goals game. I have a calendar where I give myself stars for finishing certain activities and trying to match or beat the stars from the month before is a new game. My struggle with my weight is a bad game. But there is still a part of me that treats it as a goal and game even though I know I shouldn't play that particular one. And I know I shouldn't play it because it's not fun. And having fun is important.

Like winning.

I know, right? It's a total mixed signal. "Did you have fun? That's the important part." We are conditioned to tell our kids that when they are in sports especially. Did you have fun? You know what is more fun? Winning....Yeah I might be a little too competitive. But I want to play to win. 

I won't play a game I can win if it's not fun. And I won't play a game that is fun if I can't win. Even if I have to change the definition of winning for that game (like basketball and chess for instance). 

It's not a surprise to me that C grew up wanting to be a game designer. He had been playing games with me his whole life. Little ones and big ones. Structured ones and free-form. And it's no surprise to me that he plays games to win. And doesn't play games that he doesn't have fun with. He's not in to first person shooters. He just doesn't find them to be fun. So no matter how popular they are, or how pervasive in his industry he doesn't play them. Only play things you find fun, and once you commit to playing, play to win.

It's a life philosophy.

I want to have fun. If something is no longer fun I don't do it. I am constantly examining my life and what I am doing to make sure that I am still having fun. And I am pretty constantly striving toward a goal, a finish line, a win. So I need to hit between 2600 and 2700 words a day to reach my goal of finishing NaNo again. Winning is important. Now to figure out how to make it fun again...

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