Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Project Strategy for ADD

One of the challenges I face with this Noumonde project is -- well, frankly -- me.

This project was begun around 1995, when the immersive game Myst had peaked, and when my company was dabbling in doing 3D design for some of their education software. I'd decided that the many short stories and novels I'd been working on, stories which had all seemingly lost focus for me, were perhaps victims not of a poor writer but of the wrong media. Perhaps, I reasoned, these ideas would come together much more cleanly if the many variations on story I struggle with were all part of the same story, but the "reader" had some influence in changing the story.

(I'll tell you now that I rejected that notion on its face, because I didn't like similar games, like CyberFlix's "Titanic", where you were unaware of many other stories hidden under the surface, simply because you hand't hit a plot line at the right time. But the solutions I came up with, where I would come up with subtle and disturbing ways of showing the audience the alternate possibilities, turning the story increasingly toward the horror genre, are out of the scope of this little essay.)

After a while, the notion I was exploring was clarified and had grown into a beast of its own magnificent proportions.

This.... This, I would come to learn later, is a classic expression of my own ADD. I tend to get lost in the "neat" of my ideas, and soon, the neat is the be-all and end-all, the entire purpose of the project, and I don't have anything left over for the actual work itself.

See, at the time, I didn't know I was ADD. I did wonder, yes, why I was so often told how intelligent I was, and yet had problems finishing college. My wife has since suggested that maybe I wasn't smart at all! (I love my wife!) That perhaps they were just being nice. But more than simply being told I was smart, I felt like I was smart enough. I understood material, I got the notion of physics pretty well -- my mental model fit things pretty accurately. I understood the calculus problems well enough. I just couldn't solve them correctly on a test. Too many missing minus signs, to many mis-written numbers. Too many half-remembered theorems.

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