Build Retreat Pt. 5
Sunday, February 13, 2022

More Like BUILT Retreat, Am I Right?

Build Retreat is over. Subject+Predicate is finished. Well, of course it's not finished finished, but I achieved my goal of completing the development of a robust beta product that I feel comfortable starting to share with an ever-widening group of people as I begin to think about the marketing/business side of things. Speaking of which, if you are reading this, head over to the landing page and sign up for the beta!

I wish I could say that the last days of the retreat were a calm, relaxing meditation on what we had all accomplished and what we had learned over the five weeks of living and working together. In reality, things were a bit hectic. Tom had one of the longest and most stressful work weeks of his life, Nate started having a minor crisis of confidence about the direction of his efforts for his fledgling start up, and I spent a frenzied five days trying to iron out networking bugs, implement user accounts, and set up a landing page. Add to all of this that our "local" (more than 30 minutes away) grocery store seemingly stopped selling fresh produce altogether, forcing us all onto a strict diet of frozen vegetables, peanut butter sandwiches, and protein shakes. Tom even had to take a work call from a landline at one point.

Tom talking on a landline

But the week flew by, and by the time that I disassembled my workstation for the last time on Friday night, the stress and frantic energy of the week already felt behind me. Just a few minutes earlier, I had pushed one final bit of code to my server, and then, for the first time in weeks, had simply closed all of my open programs and turned my computer completely off. I was done, and I had accomplished what I had set out to: finish the game, and put it online. A few minutes later, Nate and I were in the car on the way to the town of Port Jervis for a celebratory dinner.

Nate and his burger

While we were eating and reflecting on the previous month and what's to come, Nate aired an interesting supposition. "I feel like you aren't going to touch Subject+Predicate for a while after this. You are like a sprinter. You give 100% to a project for little while, but then you finish and you move on." Although I'm actually more of a distance runner than a sprinter when it comes to actually putting foot to pavement, I think Nate's point is an accurate one with regard to my work habits. After five weeks of working on one single project for most of my waking hours, I am not ashamed to admit that my eyes begin to gloss over a little bit whenever I see those blue and maroon subjects and predicates moving about the screen.

Working on Subject+Predicate

The retreat is over, and along with it, so is my iron-grip focus on all things Subject+Predicate. Other projects and interests are going to grab my attention again and pull me this way and that. I'm totally resigned to and accepting of this. But at the same time, I don't want to lose too much momentum with the project. I think the game has a lot of potential, and I would like to keep improving it and working to get it into peoples' hands.

So one of my goals for this next period is going to be navigating the integration of this project and its continued development into the rest of my life, as I move on after the retreat. I'm not going to be able to spend 12+ hours a day at a desk, working feverishly and single-mindedly anymore. If I want this project to be a success, I'm going to have to find a way to keep my interest and energy up, while not burning myself out. Something that I'm historically not very adept at—but here's hoping I might be able to figure it out! But at least for a little while, I'm hoping not to spend too much time in front of a computer screen...

Moving on

It's Sunday afternoon and I'm currently below deck on my sailboat in Deale, Maryland, right on the Chesapeake bay, about an hour from Washington, D.C. Until now, I haven't touched a computer in almost two whole days and it has been wonderful. It's 30 degrees and lightly snowing outside, and the marina is almost completely deserted—an eerily different space from the one I left back in November when I finished winterizing the boat, clamped the padlock shut, and walked away.

The boat is alive

If it weren't so cold that my typing fingers were already beginning to disobey me, I would love to take a nap down here right now. I'm exhausted from a long morning of chopping, hauling, and stacking firewood on the property of my friend Sandy, who offered to put me up last night as I began my transition back to civilization. Sandy, who lives in a self-built, nautical-themed house at the end of a remote country road on a small island on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, is herself somewhat on the "outside" of things. So I thought it a great place for me to start before jumping right back into city life.

Even though I only left the Build cabin yesterday morning, it already feels like a distant memory in some ways. Last week I wrote about how quickly we adapt to routines and become accustomed to ways of life, and now, this week, I'm realizing with what rapidity we can forget and move on. I'm conflicted on whether I find this fact merely sad and regrettable—some kind of failure to actually attach and appreciate—or whether I feel grateful to be in possession of the ability to so fluidly pass in and out of different situations and segments of life.

As for the boat, she has apparently done alright throughout the admittedly mild mid-Atlantic winter. She's still afloat, there's hardly a mildew smell at all in here right now (well, not more than the baseline usual one that you just have to expect from 40 year old sailboats), the batteries have remained charged, and everything above deck seems to have held tight. I'm excited for it to warm up in the coming months so that Jacob and I can return to the boat and begin working on boat projects again!