Two years ago when I decided to go indie I had a few motivations behind it. Part of it was that I needed to work on my own thing for a while, but most of it was just that I needed to get the heck out of the tech industry; everything in that industry is so toxic and based around everyone being “passionate” about doing everything for a company with an incredibly asymmetric relationship. I was working myself to death (often literally) and putting myself deeper into intractible chronic pain, which never felt like it was enough and employers kept on demanding more and more, while being less interested in my own physical and mental health.
So I went indie, because I had a bunch of projects I wanted to work on, such as Publ and my games. And I thought I’d be able to make a little niche for myself making music for other peoples' games as well.
Well, it turns out that I’m my own worst boss. When I’m working on my own projects I get just as passionate, obsessed, and self-injurious as ever, and I also managed to burn myself out on all that. And when it came to working for others, well, I had a hard time finding people I wanted to work with who would be able to give me anything approaching a steady income. I was also feeling impostor syndrome like crazy, like what right do I have to be trying to do this when I (feel like I) can’t even get everything done?
In case you are looking at this some time in the future when that Patreon page no longer exists, here is the text I wrote there:
Today is #ThankYouPatrons day. I started to make a little animation for this but it turned out to be beyond my abilities on such short notice (especially with all the other stuff going on in my life right now) but just imagine a critter dancing to this tune. I don’t make a lot of money on Patreon but I do value every bit of support and feedback I get through here. Thank you so much for keeping me going with my creative pursuits.
On that note, I have accepted a full-time job doing systems support at a research lab! These past two years have been an interesting experiment for me but I’m happy to go back to this being just a part-time support sort of thing rather than hoping it’ll become my primary source of income. By day I’ll be helping out researchers to crack the code of HIV to find better treatments (or maybe even a vaccination or cure!) and this will leave me with enough energy to continue to do what I’ve been doing by night, without the pressure of having to continually grow my fanbase for the sake of basic survival.
I will keep this Patreon going since it’s a pretty simple tip jar for people to use, but I am totally fine with people reducing (or dropping) their support entirely.
So, this Patron Day is a little bit different than what Patreon was expecting me to do, but that’s okay. Since when do I do anything typically?
So, pretty much I intend to go back to a variation on the life I had two years ago: working full-time for others, and then hopefully having the time and energy to work on my own things after-hours, with a steady paycheck to rely on so that I don’t have to, like, burn myself out on everything trying to get an audience or clientele or the like.
This time the job will be very different though! It’s not in the tech industry, it’s at a non-profit research lab at the university, and while the work itself isn’t going to take 100% of my everything, that’s okay – because it leaves that around for me to enjoy on my own pace. And the day job work has the potential to be beneficial to society in ways that tech jobs can only pay lip service to. It’s nice not being beholden to investors or market forces or whatever.
I don’t know if this will be a forever thing for me, or if in another two years I’ll be re-evaluating and trying something else, but for now this feels like the right thing to do.
Anyway, the new job starts December 3 (assuming all the bureaucratic processes can fall in place in time).
Also, if you follow my Novembeat output, you might have noticed it’s pretty much stopped. I’m trying to treat the next two weeks as a little vacation before I start working again, and maybe do a better job of managing my pain so I’m not in total agony when I start. Also I feel a lot less pressure to actually produce Content now, since I don’t have to think about My Fanbase or whatever. It takes a lot of pressure off of me and I suddenly feel okay with not doing everything and then some, all the time.
Going forward I do still have plans of things I’ll be working on in my free time, with way less pressure to actually get anything done or devote myself 100%. A short list:
- Still making music for others (just not treating it as a full-time job anymore)
- Still working on Publ and its related tooling
- Hopefully building Subl as well
- And working on games (and augmented reality), but just for fun, and like, I’m probably not going to do game jams anymore either because the impetus for me to Network and Be Prolific no longer feels like a priority either
Anyway. It seems like my jobs usually last around two years on average, and so why shouldn’t this one do so as well? And the best part is this doesn’t even feel like a failure to succeed, it’s just another waypoint on my journey.