As recently as the last three weeks, I’ve hit a wall with how much I’m on 40K forums. This includes (but isn’t entirely limited to) Bolter & Chainsword, Warseer, Heresy-Online, /tg/, the Bolthole, the HH Facebook group, and Dakka Dakka.
I worked it out last weekend, and I’d spent almost as much time in October talking about 40K as I’d spent writing my novel. It was leaving me tired, irritable and pretty drained, let alone the fact it was eating up a massive amount of time every day. I write slow. I write really, really slow, with many an edit in-between when I should really just wait until the second draft for that sort of stuff. Most HH novels are written in 4-5 months. The First Heretic took me almost 10.
I’d abandoned the Bolthole a while ago, as I was largely cutting and pasting stuff I’d already said elsewhere (especially on my blog) and there was an increasing number of people who could get hold of me through other means. But the others (with /tg/ admittedly being a lot less frequent) were still eating up serious time.
In some ways, the frustration is born of the nature of writing, and by extension, my job. I was talking less and less about the game and lore, and more and more about books, the nature of GW canon, and so on. It’s increasingly circular, and pretty soul-sapping. To put it diplomatically, I wouldn’t swap my reputation online with any author working with my publisher, and my forum feedback is almost universally great, but even then, it can get disheartening after a while. In some ways, it’s the nature of the fandom itself that’s starting to get to me. The endless comparisons about which character is tougher than the others, and what “power levels” they rank up at; the amount of times people miss the point about canon or invent snide authorial intent and rage at each other over misunderstood “facts”.
These discussions… They’re not for me. I find them childish, and I think they miss the point. “Which primarch could beat X, Y and Z?” It’s not that simple. It’s not a matter of Paper always beating Rock, and Rock always beating Scissors. That’s why those “Which Primarch Is Toughest?” threads are so worthless. At their peaks, the primarchs are essentially the same, with things mostly dependent on circumstances. Fights are fights, with all the chaos of emotion, fear, fate, and the thousands of things that can go wrong. They’re not sterile events of “Well, he’s stronger, so he’ll always win.” No race or fight ever plays out that way. Don’t be allergic to nuance. That’s not cool.
These talks are getting everywhere, especially in Horus Heresy discussions. In a recent example over a canon debate (which was mature and awesome, but very time-consuming) there was me and a Forge World manager making the same points about canon, and still getting questioned about our take on it, because of common fan misunderstanding. I should note, I had those same misunderstandings until it was patiently explained to me 936 times by people in the company. And that was one of the better talks about canon. It just took eight million hours; that was the problem.
I enjoy being accessible to readers and fans. There’s (thankfully…) been no weird backlash against me or my work that’s making me write all this. What we’ve got here is a catastrophic fuckup in time management. The more I talk about all this, justify it, explain nuances, ins, outs and roundabouts, the less enthusiasm I have to write the books (seeing how many people assume the worst in any debate, rather than just think something through), and the less time I have to write, read, paint my own armies and suck in PvP on my level 85 Rogue. Working out my typing speed, I’d even spent about over five hours defending other authors last month. This is life, when you can’t shut up. This is existence as someone whose fingers hit keys before their brain is at the helm.
Funnily enough, when Jim and Dan and Graham warned me about the forums, I was convinced I’d prove them wrong. They avoided them like the plague, but I’d be the one who stuck it out. Oh, yes.
Little did I realise how much time I’d be spending on them three years later. To butcher my friend Chuck’s axiom, I was starting to talk about writing more than actually doing it. And that sucks – I’m pretty proud of not using forums as advertising; I was there anyway, before the whole writerly lark even entered into it. My career just turned me from a lurker into a poster.
This may seem stupid to you, but I’m not even kidding. I can waste 2-5 hours a day on those things. Imagine you spent that long not doing your job every day. That’s just not time I can spare right now.
Between Fuchsia arriving in four months; redecorating the house; trying to focus more on getting stuff done in WoW; trying to raise my 40K army, a Fantasy army and a Necromunda gang; actually updating my blog with something worthwhile; spending time with Cathy and actually getting my monstrous work schedule backlog cleared, I need to stop spending so long everyday messing about online. So I’ll be going relatively cold turkey on forums for a while, as I get my shit in order. Similarly, it’s one of the reasons I made the new Facebook page, to keep all my stuff in the same place. It was getting insanely messy with the daily feed showing me a million things all the time. I’m in the slow, slow process of checking Friend by Friend on my old page, and deleting several a day. It’s, uh… real fun.
You can still get hold of me easily enough, especially on Facebook or my blog. It’s more a matter of not spreading myself so thin across so many places.
My Facebook is here: http://www.facebook.com/aarondembskibowden.
My Twitter (which I’ve only just started using) is here: http://twitter.com/#!/adembskibowden.