Andrey Listopadov

I might take a break

@Misc ~9 minutes read

Most of what I write here is about programming. Occasionally I do rants, book/game impressions, and other weird stuff. Looking at the Tags section, the most frequent ones are fennel and emacs-lisp. Well, I guess it’s not strange, eh, Fennel was a big part of my life for a few years, as well as Emacs. I’m actually a bit shocked that I got fourteen posts tagged clojure too, as it didn’t feel that I made that many posts about it. Feels like I should have blogged about Clojure more than I did, given that I’m using this language at work.

Yes, it isn’t shown anywhere on the site, but this blog had the “Non-Regular Blog” in the description from the very start - the very first theme displayed it, but then I moved to a different one, and it was gone but still stays in the configuration file. I don’t post on schedule, I don’t have a central theme, and I’m not doing it for other people, really. At some point, I tried creating a Patreon account, but I just don’t know what I can give people there. Someone was kind enough to actually buy a subscription there for a few months, and I constantly felt like I was not delivering anything of value. I made no promises, though, so perhaps it wasn’t that bad. Yet, I’m starting to feel that the lack of focus prevents me from growing. I’m not yet sure what this feeling is, but I think that I’ll take a break, and think about what I want to do with this blog, and, well, in general.

While we’re at it, the future is such a tricky thing. I’m past thirty already, and looking back at what I did I feel both proud about some things and sad about others. Still, nothing I did feels substantial enough to me. A lot of people I know at this age already accomplished something significant. In my eyes, they are, at least.

I may be hard on myself. Well, who else would be? We constantly pursue greater things, improve, and grow - that’s just human nature, isn’t it? Sometimes I feel that if I stop, I’m going to die. Not literally, but mentally, I mean - the decay of mind scares me.

From early on, I decided that I would write all kinds of stuff in this blog, as merely writing things helped me grow back then. The funny thing - the first post in this blog starts with a phrase saying that I decided to start writing because I finally felt that I was “clever enough” to begin. Looking back at it, I was naive and actually should have started much, much earlier. If I could give a piece of advice to my younger self, it would be “Don’t wait til you think you’re ready, just try”. Nevertheless, I think it was the right decision to start writing, as I have grown since January 2020 as a result. Gosh, this blog is already four years old. A lot happened during these four years, but sometimes it feels like it was just yesterday.

Eventually, though, I noticed that I can’t really explain what my blog is about, and why I write it. Sometimes it feels like I’m writing just for the sake of writing. Like I am right now, perhaps? I don’t know - maybe I just really need to write all of this here. Eh, I can say that my blog is about programming, but that’s still a bit of a stretch, I think. I don’t really teach programming here, I don’t do novel things or invent anything - I just explore ideas, often in the most straightforward way.

Long story short, I decided to take a break from lots of things. It didn’t happen right now - it was more of a process than anything. First, I started removing social networks from my daily life. That was indeed a good choice, resulting in lots of spare time. Then, I started restricting many fun activities I used to have to spend more time studying and then writing posts here, to capture what I’ve learned. Again, it wasn’t bad of a decision, but it started taking more and more of my time. Gaining knowledge became a goal, to some degree.

Even today, when I’m at home after work or during a weekend, I don’t watch TV or any other media - instead, I’m either tinkering with Emacs or with some other project of mine. Yes, I play video games occasionally, but usually only when I can’t do any programming because I feel burnt out. I get tired of games pretty fast, and if I’m not ready to get back to programming, I read some books. Then I usually recover and can continue coding something. One might think that that’s great - I have so much free time, and I can do any project I want! In reality, this is mostly procrastination. And these restrictions I put on myself started to show.

For example, even though I write a lot, I don’t talk too much. Err, well, I do talk, it’s just the topics I talk about are usually the same I write about, which isn’t interesting to most of the people I know. In reality, I prefer silence, maybe just because it’s hard to find a topic that I can share with someone. It’s harder and harder for me to find interesting stuff and people with the same interests. I became dull. Yes, I have a lot of free time to do all kinds of projects now, but are my projects useful to anyone?

Take, for example, the Fennel language. I hacked on the compiler a few years ago, and I made a lot of projects for this language, and I know, that many of these projects were beneficial to me because they helped me understand a lot of things far better than before. But I haven’t tried to make anything real with these projects - I made projects for the sake of making projects. I even said this explicitly some years ago - I like small projects with basically no ecosystem because I can just make the missing pieces myself. However, I do it mostly for myself, not for the community. Well, I know that some people use a few of these projects, but I think mostly because there’s no alternative available yet. I tend to over-complicate things for no reason. That also applied to Kakoune, before. I came into the community, made a bunch of stuff, and once I was bored I moved on to Emacs. People actually used my plugins though, and I know that some were concerned that I left the community, and my projects would stop working. Well, I tried to maintain the plugins I made even after the switch, but in reality, I was just lying to myself. Once the passion dies, I can’t force myself to do things anymore. I fear that this may happen with all other projects I have now, or will start in the future. In fact, it’s already happening and has been for a while.

Maybe that’s fine, though. Maybe, it’s OK to let things go, to move on, and do other stuff with your life. I’m sure it’s OK, I just did not allow myself to do so up until recently.

Except, sometimes it is really hard.

I’m not sure when I will resume writing. It may happen spontaneously, or may take a while before the next post - I don’t know. Right now I want to stop and think for a while.

This also means, that I’m likely will stop making projects for Fennel, Emacs, and other stuff too. Not sure if I’ll return to these, but most likely Emacs will still be a big part of my life because I do the writing in it, and use it at work. And I don’t think I want this blog to become a just-another-Emacs-blog, so I will not post about it unless I do have something unique to share. I liked my time with Fennel, but I feel that it’s time to move on and do something on my own.

Look, I had a few big project ideas in the past. Maybe It’s time to reevaluate these ideas and start working on one that’s the most appealing. Then the posts will probably come naturally, although I may still stay quiet for some time until I feel that the thing is substantial enough to talk about.

Let’s hope it won’t be too long, and I won’t lose motivation completely.

By the way, I feel it’s an appropriate time to say this - thank you for your feedback. During the years, I had a lot of emails from people reading this blog, and after I set up the “Comment” link for all posts I started getting even more. Your messages encouraged me to continue, to do new stuff, and to improve further.

Every time, I get a message, I’m excited, because so far, everyone has interesting things to share. Some pointed mistakes and suggested improvements. Others were just curious if I had the same problem they had and if I had a way to solve it. Many were supportive and genuinely interested in what I wrote. To every one of you - Thank You.

Aah, now I feel sentimental about the whole thing. This post starts feeling like an apology, but that wasn’t my intention. I just felt that a lot of things were buried in me, and I finally let them out.

Letting things go is a skill I think everyone should develop. Sometimes it’s better to say no, and stop doing what you’re doing, and move forward.

Right now that’s exactly what I need, I think.

I mostly emptied my backlog of posts for now too - there are no new themes I really want to write about now. However, I’ve been thinking about writing a book. That’s a whole different level of writing, and it may take all of my energy so I doubt that I will be able to write both the book and the blog at the same time. Blogging about a book is an option, but I’m not yet sure how I feel about that.

Gamedev is another area I still want to explore. Doing games in TIC-80 was fun, and I wanted to try out other game engines, like LÖVE, or maybe even Godot/Defold. Though, I’d rather like to do something more serious than a bunch of demos I did previously.

Honestly, bit-sized projects have only one issue, they are small and fun to do but they still steal a great amount of time. It’s like a little distraction - a seemingly fun activity, that often doesn’t really take you anywhere in particular. Our world today is filled with minute content, and I think I started viewing small side projects in the same way. Oh well, this post got distracted too. I need to wrap things up before I go on another long tangent about nothing.

That, being said, I don’t think I will stop writing completely. Writing has become a big part of my life over the years, and this part I’m not willing to give up.