February 11, 2010


“It needs something,” Duncan said.

“Something what? Something light, something open, something close, what?” I asked.

“I don’t think we need to define it for you. You need to figure that out on your own,” Rumiko put in.

“Well, ‘something’ could be a purple people eater for all I know.”

That didn’t fly. No, that didn’t fly well at all and I apologized. But I didn’t mean it, so I felt bad for lying. I felt bad for not feeling bad because I wasn’t sorry. I didn’t understand what the “it” was, let alone the “something,” but the apology smoothed ruffled feathers and we were able to backtrack and at least define the “it” and what the “something” should do, if not what it is, precisely.

I wrote a lot last semester about the design process and the friction between myself and my professors. Today we had a particularly rough critique, though not for any design based reasons. The project is coming together, well into its final stages, moving from design development to production. No, the rough edges this time were all internal. I’m simply becoming very tired of feeling like my hand is being held.

It not something either of my main mentors, Duncan and Rumiko, are doing. It’s just things they point out in the design that often seem fairly simple, like “Oh, I should have seen that,” yet it hardly occurred to me. Or if I did notice a problem, it was a vague amorphous thing I wasn’t able to even properly articulate let alone put a solution to. Yet I do not see. It is right before me and I do not see. This has happened week after week.

I thought at first I would learn, but after so many weeks, I am tired. Right after the review last semester I set the Windhorse Project aside and there I left it for four whole weeks. When I returned I could see. I made three large changes and then fretted that they would not pass muster, but they did. They were intuitive, and I fretted that I would be unable to justify them, but never that they were wrong, but my mentors accepted them. I felt we were closing in on the final design, and we have, but these last three or so critiques have been so stodgy and incremental, full of little things I did not see.

Perhaps I ask for too much, but I do not recall this trouble in prior projects. I felt more in control. That seems like such an awful thing to say, “in control,” but even on those projects when I did not have answers I felt confident in my ability to find them because I knew what it was I was going for. I don’t feel that in this process.

I wonder now if this is a byproduct of the process itself, which I have long felt was imposed upon me, and not one of my own making or own inclination. Which leads me to question whether or not I am resisting, subconsciously or not, in order to validate my own preconceptions as to what the design process ought to be or if I am not suited towards this process at all. Duncan and Rumiko seem to be in agreement regarding it, therefore I have subsumed my will to theirs, hoping to learn enough to be able to move forward on my own within this framework. But that has not happened and I grow impatient.

Rumiko and Duncan’s process is what I call “concept first.” Whereas mine is the “soup process” (I wait until I see). And though I still wonder if that is the whole problem, that one process is “mine” while the other is “theirs,” I must also attempt to play to my strengths. A left handed person can learn to hold a pen in their right, but it will never be natural or easy and their work will never be as neat or clear.

It is too late to go back, but I think I am approaching a conclusion. I have suspended my doubt for quite a while, in order to move forward, but I think in the future I shall go back to the soup process. Perhaps it will result in no better products, but at least it is something I understand to do. Duncan and Rumiko won’t be there to hold my hand forever.

The training wheels have to come off sometime.

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