Mark Versus

Blurring the line between self improvement and self punishment

Category: Weeknotes

Weeknotes for 26/9/2011 (On Failure and Optimism)

Adrian Peterson

This week the NFL team I support, the Minnesota Vikings, continued their season-long losing streak making it 0-4. They are a pretty stinky team right now.

What has marked their previous defeats apart from this week is that for each of their first three matches they built up a lead by the end of the second quarter that suggested they may have been demonstrating some form. Each week the lead at the half increased and each week the team managed to let go of it and lose.

This week however they found themselves trailing by a few points at the half.

What interested me about this position was that far from taking such a position as further evidence of their lack of game I managed to transform it into an optimistic ‘Perhaps this will inspire the team to rally, and a win’. Alas, it did not.

My support of the Vikings was fairly arbitrary to begin with. Upon falling for the sport and deciding to follow NFL this season I looked for anything to inspire a sense of loyalty to a team and with Minneapolis the home-town of a very close friend I adopted purple and gold. I knew they were not very good last season, despite having two of (in my humble opinion) the greatest players in the League right now, Adrian ‘All Day’ Peterson and Jared Allen. But I was also aware that the coaching staff were new and the Quarterback would be new (and maybe even an untested rookie). They were a team built on optimism. And I have a lot of time for that.

So I will extend to the Vikings the same courtesy that I am trying to allow myself. That is, to frame these losses as something more valuable and useful.

I am currently applying for jobs. I am applying for jobs that will take me away

from the direction I have spent the last 5 years heading in. 5 years before that I did almost exactly the same thing though, then, with more optimism. This week I have been summarising my actions and achievements over these past 10 years, trying to frame them in a way that other people, potential employers, may see as valuable. In doing so I realised that I have not been viewing them as valuable. In viewing them from the perspective I have been able to enjoy and be proud of them for what they were and what they meant, and still mean, to me.

I may even have felt a little smug.

I am aware that I have a tendency to view these changes of direction as failure. I view the neglect of a few weeks’ Weeknotes as terminal. I try to remember that they are not. Otherwise I wouldn;t be able to be proud of them in the future, and I hope I will be.
I believe in the value of being transparent and accountable, hence the publicness of these Weeknotes (which are usually more self-critical);I am also aware that I am writing this post having publicised the site to a number of potential employers. I hope this doesn’t prove a misstep. But with that in mind I will point out two things:-

  1. This week I got more that 1200 pageviews for this post demonstrating a productivity tip I wrote. Which made me feel great.

Weeknotes for 11/07/2011

Things at the moment feel much like a reconstruction. I am rebuilding habits and enthusiasms. I am trying to restore some old, best practices and create new ones. Most of all I am trying to work out what direction to go in and how best to do so.

The positive aspect of the week of this week is that all of the steps I have been taking (small as they may have been) have felt like they were in the right direction.  This, after recent weeks, is a substantial victory, for no less reason than it makes me want to move them forward.

There is still a lot of filtering and prioritising to be done, but a cloud is lifting.

What it does leave me thinking about is how long I can allow this process to take. There are pressures. Financial pressures. Pressures from the people who have also been involved in those projects. Personal pressure to see these things (and myself) succeed.

With these pressures (of their varying degrees) how much time do I allow myself this reconstructive process? I have always believed in preparation and doing things right first time out, but there is precedent of this not working. I need to maintain a momentum throughout this process. Hopefully the small repetitive tasks I am setting myself, including the increased activity on this site, will have the effect they are designed for. That being exercise for the work muscles that have lost their definition.

The end of a positive week though.

Weeknotes for 04/07/2011

Man in bed with a coldThis post will not contain details of all achievements since the last Weeknotes and today. That would be difficult and silly and force me to make up a large amount. However, in keeping with the intention of the earlier posts I will give a little context to the absence of any post Weeknotes or otherwise.

In the gap between the last summary and this one I have found myself subject to an occasional but potent lack of focus that has managed to undermine all attempts at productivity that I have made in the last few months. On many occasions I have tried to kick-start myself back into something (usually with the idea of starting by catching up on Weeknotes) but this has not lasted more than a few days, sometimes hours. I am not certain of the root of this but at the moment it feels something like a virus that I keep treating with medicine only for it to come back having developed a resistance to the treatment. Each time it does I look for another way do fend it off and the cycle repeats. From now on I shall give my virus a name – Failpox.

Were this not a metaphorical bug but a real one, how would I go about treating it? First things first I would try to keep myself healthy. Eat and sleep well and exercise regularly. This practice applies without amendment IRL. I can try to eat and sleep better and exercise some (because I do zero exercise at the moment). I am sure that this will improve my spirits. On top of this I can exercise within the scope of the analogy by creating a trivial and repetitive ‘work’ exercise that I carry out to put me back in a work zone. More on this as I refine it, but for now I am going to call it 250 words a day, every day, on this site. I will put a specific tab under the blog menu item for them. If isn’t effective I will see how I can improve upon it.

I am also back to keeping a work journal (part of the reason this Weeknotes has actually materialised) which has already proved effective. Not that there is a huge amount in there for the week, but I am at least aware of what I am occupying my time with and when. At the moment I am feeling at a loss for accountability. I am a terrible boss to myself and an even worse employee. This will allow me to be specific when I am kicking myself. Or rewarding myself.

The reason that these particular bouts of Failpox have been so punishing is that I am currently not without abundant opportunity to succeed.  I have a some really exciting projects that require my time and energy. I should be able to muster more than I have been on the ideas alone. For some reason, however, I have found myself doing the opposite. Watching the opportunities and the energies slip away. Making bad choices and knowing they are bad when I am making them and not caring. I don’t know why this and I don’t like it, but I cannot rely on anyone else to get me to sort myself the eff out.  It’s not their job. It’s up to me.

All that being said, when you are sick it’s sometimes nice to have a person look after you and bring you chicken soup and fluff your pillow. It’s also sometimes necessary to have a person pull the blanket off you, crack a window, say you are stinking up the place and start running the shower. I’m more in need of the second someone, so boss me hereby authorises anyone holding an interest to dish out some tough love to employee me.

Together we can beat Failpox.

Weeknotes for 17/01/2011

I wanted to get something up here for last week, even if shorter and less detailed than usual, knowing that with this week as a shoot week I am not going to have a lot of time to think and type at the same time.

Last week involved getting back into a pre-production swing for these last few shoot days. As predicted last week it dropped me into a funk.  If there are things to take from this week just gone they will be to man the heck up! It rarely ever is, and proved not to be, as bad or as tough as I imagine it, and the negative vibes are generally the result of the last enduring memory of the previous period. That is – exhaustion. Notwithstanding my need to stop psyching myself out I want to point out that the hours are stupid in production and rarely feel like they offer adequate reward.

See, there it is again.

The other thing to take from the week is the reminder that time marches on. Not in a fatalist, closer to death sense, but rather to day that despite any hiccups along the way I have never been involved in a lost day on a film. Shit gets filmed whether you achieved your precise (and occasionally impossible) goals.  Let this not be an excuse to let things slide, but a psychological reminder that no failure is going to stop the world.

There is a tendency in pre-production to make everything feel crucially important. Everything. Experience (which I don’t have so much of) is the tool that allows you to sift through other people’s priorities and work out your own. If you are going to take the weight of a film on your shoulders it helps to have a good filing system.

Highlight of the week was a convergence with @taigmcnab and @manxmidge for a brief but appetite-whetting session of shooting-the-shit. This is shooting-the-shit of the best order, where fun seems productive. Like watching The West Wing – it may technically be recreation, but I feel the smarter for it.

Weeknotes for 10/01/2011

I am hoping that this weeknote will go further than to demonstrate the desire to maintain the process a little better, but will also mark a shift in the way the weeknotes posts are presented.  I am hoping that I can focus these summaries a little more on analysis than on purely listing activities. That kind of understanding of the run down of the week is useful but it is something that will happen anyway as part of the review. Something that offers a little more insight and hopefully prompts more comment.

This was the week that 3000 Miles Round (“3KMR”) went public.  It needed to go out a long time ago. The script is not ready to be filmed, but it needs to be seen, and judgement passed on it, and feedback given to move it along. I admit I have been doing the writer a disservice not having done it sooner.  The script has been seen by other people, and industry people at that, but always privately.  This should be a point of no return in the life of the film.  On a side note to that, I am disappointed that I am not in a position to make the details of the film as public as this post. I have thought as much about that last couple of films I have worked on but, as with those films, I have a responsibility to others (in this case the writer) to maintain a ‘traditional’ development model for 3KMR. I am continuing to feel that this manner of film-making is not the path I will be taking overall but this is not the project to enact my whims upon.  That will be another project and another time.  Ask me next week about ‘Freaky Mindbenders’. I have also decided to make public a hell of a lot more of the ideas that I am having on the site. I would like to see if eventually it becomes the default for my output.

The firing off of the script, and the re-jigging of are, of course, symptoms (or perhaps the treatment) of a general gloom this week about the course of things.  Further treatment involved making arrangements to catch up with people, ask about potential work and explain to people the possibility of moving to New York. Nothing has been mentioned on that on these pages about this yet but I am sure it will get a fair few words in the future.

The film that I was working on at the end of 2010 has started to gear up again. Despite not hating it for what it was I am afraid to say my appetite for it has disappeared.  I wish for it to be over and must remind myself to not allow this negativity to colour what is effectively only another couple of weeks.

I am genuinely looking for feedback on these weeknotes now so if you have any response please comment.

Weeknotes w/c 6/9/10

Generally done a lot of reading in the gaps this week thanks to the Kindle.  May start adding a reading list to this but for the time being the books on the go are: “Cognitive Surplus” – Clay Shirky, “The Django Book”, “The Python Cookbook” and “PHP – The Good Parts”. a few web tutorials to go along with it.

I started this week a trip to the library to proof the 3KMR script in preparation for people seeing it.  I have found that the library works well for stuff like that. Better than the flat at least.  I will have to wait and see whether it is very laptop/wifi friendly.  In the evening I had a meeting with the line producer of the new film to discuss what she needs. I have agreed to be production co-ordinator. It was indicated that this film is a bit of a sneak attack so I will have to be be a little thin on the ground with specifics again. Read the rest of this entry »

Weeknotes w/c 30/8/10

This week formed the first week of self-employment but was derailed
slightly by a) the Bank Holiday and b) a scheduled driving test on
Tuesday.  To get those out of the way, Monday was spent with Lisa, it
being the last real day of holiday that we would both be around and
concluded with Raiders of the Lost Ark at the Prince Charles Cinema.
Not work as such but brilliant.  Tuesday involved a mornings driving
lesson and then the test which was cancelled once I was in the waiting
room.  Incredibly frustrating given that, however little I enjoy
driving, I felt like I might just have made it.  Of course I can say
that now without having to worry about backing it up.  Test is
rescheduled for the 22nd September. Read the rest of this entry »