Memory Pressure and What It Is Like To Be Out of Stories

About 6 months ago I ran out of stories.  Completely out.  Oh no, I still thought I had original stories; I was wrong.  It turns out that 23 years of experience boil down into a year and a half of stories or about a month of interesting stories.  Someone had to point it out to me.

My wife tried, but I’ve been with her awhile so when she said, “Yes, I’ve heard this one,” I didn’t think anything of it.  Even when it got to “Oh my goodness, Dawson!  I know this one, alright?” I could ignore it even when it hit eye-rolls and zoning out.

Then it started happening at work.  I’d start into something and a coworker would cut me off with, “We know, and then  blank.”

I’d fume and end up spewing, “Daggsnabbit!” like the foul-mouthed 1800s prospector I am.

I’ve concluded that one of two things must be true, either I’ve wasted the first 25 years of my life or 25 years isn’t long enough to acquire all the stories one needs to be old and wise.  Either way I’ve committed one of my cardinal sins. I’ve become boring.

Fortunately, the condition isn’t always fatal.  Unforgivable perhaps, but not fatal.  Do you have any idea the kind of dread that comes with being a boring writer?  Boring writers rarely become authors and if they do it’s do the detriment of their readers.

So how do I become more interesting?  Life is usually enough to acquire stories, though not quickly.  I’m a programmer.  8 hours a day, I sit in front of the computer and type.  The potential for injury is low, but so is the potential for adventure.  My wife occasionally asks me if anything interesting happened in my workday.

No. Nothing interesting ever happens.  I build software.  I don’t pilot a SaR helicopter or manage a convenience store in the south of Indy.

I considered taking up an interesting hobby like skydiving or hunting people for sport, but ended up starting a garden.  Maybe the time has come to admit I’m a boring person.  Seriously, ask me what’s on my mind most on the course of a given day is something like money or credit ratings or the housing market.

I’ve tried to compensate by taking on projects.  I’ve always had projects to work on.  I’m building a new website, writing a new story, programming a game, etc.  Sadly, being a boring person, I’m going to have to explain the rest of this using computer metaphors.  All of these things exist in my RAM — that is they’re currently waiting in my memory to be completed.  Unfortunately, RAM is limited and when your limit hits you have to create a page file.  The more information is being pushed the higher the memory pressure.  When memory pressure is high everything slows down.

This is where I am right now.  I have too many projects pending and as a result they’re all going slowly.  Normally I’d recommend a restart, but being as that people aren’t computers I don’t think I’d like to die even if I was coming back in 10 seconds.  The other fix is to cancel a project.  Then all the work goes to waste.  This is also unfortunate.  Finally, I could just finish a project, but with so many bouncing around my head it’s hard to lock one down.

So let’s say I don’t pick just one.  Instead, I’m setting up good stopping points — ones that are coming up quick and easy to hit — so that I can put a few projects on hold to allow me to focus on the ones that are more important.

Because, and trust me on this, the guy that finishes things is way cooler than the guy with a half-dozen unfinished manuscripts laying around that “could have been an author” if he only had the time.  Likewise, the guy with a bunch of cool little games he built is way cooler than the guy who has a half-dozen open projects all 1% complete that he isn’t ready to show anyone.

I want to be the guy with a few things in his portfolio that he can use when he wants to prove he isn’t just a boring young man.  Oh no, I intend to be a boring young man who has built some cool stuff.

Posted in General, Writing.

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