The Siren Song of SHIPtember 2016 [Volume 4 of 4]

It’s the last Matango in Paris, constant reader, the dream of SHIPtember is over for this year.  I realize there is still about a week left on the calendar but it will not be enough time to make any meaningful progress.  I spent the last week hammering on the build, trying to adopt one of Pico’s designs, but it just lead to greater frustration.  I can’t really blame the failure on lack of parts availability in orange, the challenging subject matter, or even the divided time between building and blogging.  At the end of the day I simply lost interest and became ambivalent about the model and that is the death of any creative project.  The comments both on the Manifesto and Flickr gave me a boost of energy last week, but it quickly went south when I couldn’t find the right way to push the design forward.  Sometimes models just don’t work out, and you have to know when to cut your losses.

Many of you suggested I abandon the time restrictions of the contest and proceed at my own pace, to value the ‘art’ over the collective experience.  That’s a reasonable take on things and normally I’d be on board with that course of action, but SHIPtember is all about embracing restrictions and going through the same pressure-cooker as everyone else. What I’m not willing to do, however, is push forward a piece of crap just meet a deadline.  I chose what Simon calls “the hard road” but my orange Ford Pinto couldn’t handle the action and it sits broken down on the side of that hard road.  Matango definitely had potential and I’ve saved the legs with an eye towards revisiting the concept some day, but for now it’s back to the bin and back to the blog.


So in the end I chose the Manifesto over the Matango, and that has me thinking about the future of both activities as it relates to my free time.  There is no way I could consider another project the size of say Bucharest and remain committed to this place.  Right now I don’t have a strong urge to build, so running the blog is a nice way to stay connected to the hobby and indulge my interest in writing.  Long term though, I’m not so sure how to strike the right balance.

Best of luck to the rest of the SHIPwrights who are still in the fight!  I applaud your perseverance and I now I’ll have the time to encourage you from the sidelines.

22 thoughts on “The Siren Song of SHIPtember 2016 [Volume 4 of 4]

  1. You do realize that we got your back whenever you want to take a break, right? I hope you are not afraid that the blog would die without you (like mine did).

    As a second note, I can really identify with your situation. I have a LUG display in three (3) weeks and a diorama to build. Still only a baseplate and some water.


    1. I don’t think the blog would die without me, but I would definitely lose much of the small audience I have built up in these last three months. People (quite naturally) wander off to other places and entertainments when the content dries up. I think the blog could survive a brief hiatus and I may take one near the end of the year, but if I take too much time off, it will be an uphill battle when I return to blogging. I appreciate you having my back Deus, that’s good to know.

      Deadlines suck when it comes to building for a contest or a convention, it is the enemy of artistic expression but a necessary evil if you want to participate in a community driven event. Thanks for the comment!


    1. You’re right, the legs were never that practical and I probably would have added another pair before I was done. The entire design is a little too tall and top-heavy and I would definitely have to address that as well. I’ve never seen that Mead design before, it’s very cool! It’s definitely food for thought if I pick it up again, thanks!


  2. Quelle damage, mon frere! I am sorry to see Matango! in the bin but I applaud all your decision making. While I’ve managed to make some sizable MOCs in my life I’ve not yet tackled a true SHIP during Shiptember or otherwise. Perhaps next year we fight together, no?


  3. Personally, I think this blog is a bigger contribution to the community than any MOC could ever be. You can always do smaller projects on the side for now.


    1. I think that’s the way to go for now, at least until I get the urge to tackle something large again. I didn’t mention it in the article, but I think part of the reason Matango failed is because I’m still a little burned out from Bucharest. It was a blast, but those long projects (especially with a convention) always drain the batteries and I may need a little time to recharge.

      I’m not sure what to say about the blog contributing to the community. The stats say it’s a very small group of constant readers, and it’s shrinking each week. I do appreciate the sentiment though, I’m glad the Manifesto is appealing to a certain segment of the hobby and I’m I appreciate all of the comments. I think the comments are a greater indication of ‘success’ than the number of views. I don’t see this kind of communication taking place on any other blog, and very few groups or forums. Thanks for the feedback, I appreciate it!


      1. Yeah the whole point of the blog as far as I’m concerned is the comments and the quality thereof. The silent, lurking majority may be disappearing, but you keep bringing in new commenters almost every post. And just looking at Friday Night Fights, most of them seem to stick around. You just don’t see this level of conversation ANYWHERE in the Lego community right now, so that’s why I feel this blog is more important than a few more MOCs. As Roundtree might put it, our community has a deficiency in Art rather than art.


    1. Yeah, you can never have too much orange so going over budget doesn’t trouble me too much. I’ll use the parts and Matango may rise again in some other form. It’s too powerful of a concept to be denied. Not sure about the pumpkin, you know who wants a super-stable.


      1. I have some blocky horses if you want to mix it up with the soft Friends ponies! Hehe.
        That’s a great orange, and knowing your affinity for the color, I’m sure you will create something cool.


  4. Alas, poor Matango. So much orange in a beautiful blue bin, almost poetic. I feel a little sad that Matango! will not fly; however, I feel this phoenix shall rise once again. Perhaps a piece in orange will come down from the Mount Legolympus to inspire you to imbibe in this delightful liqueur. It is still an amazing design that I know that everyone would love to see in brick. I applaud your commitment and decision and I agree with Christopher that the blog should take priority. And when a build is no longer fun, it should be bin bound. No point in wasting time on something that takes you away from something fun.

    On the upside, ORANGE!



    1. Yes, the upside is all the orange and a potential use for those giant tires. Matango will no doubt live again in all it’s ctirusy glory! I had not considered the possibility of our corporate overlords gifting us with a new orange part or two, that might be just the thing to ignite the embers.

      Fun is the key, and building for a deadline can be anything but fun. You have to embrace the madness or get off the road. I think it’s more important to get the blog a good start before I take a break, and there is always next year. Every SHIPtember needs a good flame-out to kep things interesting. If everyone wins, then it really does become the Special Olympics.


  5. Once you’ve reached the point that you really dislike the project you’re working on, and you basically dread looking at it (that’s how I felt 2/3 of the way through the ABS builder challenge) than its a good sign that you should step back, reevaluate the project, and ask yourself if you should actually finish it.
    What’s nice about LEGO is the fact that it isn’t like a model kit which can never be taken apart. Instead, its something which can be adjusted, and you can work on a project later on when you’ve got more energy, ideas, inspiration, etc.

    So its not fun when it happens, but its good that you’ve identified that you need to take a break from the project.

    You rock Keith!



    1. Thanks for the comment Joe! This kind of ‘failure’ happens all the time, I don’t typically post WIP shots so having the failure be so public is a new experience. Hopefully I’ll revisit the design, somewhere down the road. Whatever I build next won’t involve a deadline, that’s for sure!


      1. No problem man!
        Public failures only show that the project can be done another time, and that you know your limits.
        But you can of course break those limits when you have more energy/motivation. 🙂
        You did admirably though.
        Keep up the great building and blog! They’re both fantastic.


  6. I have a funny tradition of building miniatures of most of my unfinished Lego creations. I think it’s a recovery routine: when you get burnt out on the big, go small amd still finish the project. Maybe I’ll whip you up a little orange Matango! just for grins, especially since you made us all participants in this building adventure. Rest easy, Matango! Long live the Manifesto. (I’m glad to hear you are enjoying blogging Keith, and hopefully interest for that doesn’t end up in a blue bushel bin too.)


    1. That is a funny tradition, but awesome. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of someone doing that before. Sometimes people will build a micro ‘sketch’ of a build to inform a larger design, but never built exclusively for unfinished creations. I would be honored if you made a micro-Matango, but beware, she is a harsh mistress.

      The blog is fun, but I’m keen to avoid burnout. As I said either here or on Flickr, I plan on taking a hiatus during the holidays to keep it fresh. Don’t want it to end up in the blue, either. Thanks!


  7. Ufff, I have a bit of catching up to do. Sorry to hear it didn’t work out.
    All things aside, you can blame it on the difficult design you chose; I mean, come on, you chose a ship that is really bulky and would have ended almost 100 studs wide as well, if you were to stick with the design. Definitely not an easy feat.


    1. No worries, it was for the best, I can always give SHIPtember a go next year. I don’t see Simon quitting any time soon and if he did, I’m pretty sure it would go on. The difficulty level was high, but I think I would have struggled even without the deadline and part limitations. The only thing that troubles me about the failure of Matango is that I think it was beyond my skill level, and that’s never a good feeling.


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