ABS: always be starting

It’s a motto to have when you’re a scanner.

What’s a “scanner” you ask? It’s a person who, wait.. let me look it up…

Scanners are people who like to explore everything, try out many different careers and, as the title suggests, who “refuse to choose”. A scanner type personality has a hard time focusing on one single occupation, hobby or career.

Barbara Sher wrote a book called Refuse to Choose about this type of person she called a scanner - and no, I did not read the book. But I work with someone who did, and she told me enough to know all I need to know from the book.

I have too many books I want to actually read without adding to the pile so the brief synopsis was plenty for me!

While Ms Sher seems to be thinking in terms of a career, I think this “type” can be broken down to all the projects people like me start and maybe, appear to never finish. Yes, “appear” to never finish. Because in my wise old age I’ve figured out why I am like this - I am puzzling out something and when my question has been answered, there is no need to continue to the end. I am, actually “at the end” because my question has been answered:

  • How do you join fabric together to make a quilt?

  • What are the steps to screenprint t-shirts?

  • How to you centre clay on a pottery wheel?

  • What is involved with creating a website?

  • Um, um um what’s involved in keeping rabbits?

  • Okay that last one was a stretch, but do you get my drift?

I’m sure you’ve read some non-fiction books that seem to repeat their premise over and over again to span the pages of their book. I don’t see the point in finishing a book once the general premise has been answered, or if it’s fiction, you’ve figure out the plot and you’re a) probably not wrong and 2) who cares anyway?

So ABS: always be starting, is me. Or in the words of that damn brainless fish “just keep swimming, just keep swimming” (didn’t finish that movie either btw). I like figuring things out, learning how they tick, figuring out a plan of action, schedule of events, shopping list of materials, timetable of events, and then I’m done, proof of concept, and then most of the time, I’m done.

I have often been accused of having “too many hobbies” but I really only have one: finding out stuff. I like to know how things work, I like to understand a process or set of steps to an outcome. I don’t particularly like making 200 clay platters after I made two and proved the process.

Big hard things take time to prove like drawing, and community building, and documenting the support information the people at work need, and weight loss (yeh I hesitated there because that’s not what I mean.. fitness probably.. because for me that’s tricky and complicated).

One of the biggest, hardest problems I have yet to prove is that it’s okay to be like this. It’s okay to move onto something more interesting when you find it. It’s okay to squirrel down a rabbit hole of information until you know everything there is to know to satisfy your k-pop itch. It’s okay!

Scanners would like to do everything at once or, at least do everything at least once.
— Sebastian Martin, Medium

I’m saying this on the eve of Inktober. A month-long art project I have previously proved I can do and have found extremely frustrating and satisfying in turns. I have my prompts, and I have my sketchbook and I have my mindset - and I understand that it’s okay to not do Inktober at all, or quit halfway through, or quit half a dozen times during the month, or to do it out of order, or to not post on social media or all those things. It’s okay to love what I do, and it’s okay to not do it at all.

It’s just who I am. I’m a scanner. And I can’t predict where my attention is going to land, or standstill, or stick.

Useful links

PS: I’ve been fantasising about having a podcast called Scanners. I have researched all the equipment I need, the location, the potential topics, the unexpected tangents it might take, how many episodes might constitute a series or compilation. I think that might actually be all I need to do to satisfy my podcast itch.

PPS: current fascination is with my ability to study a university-grade subject while working full time. I wonder if I could do that….