Aaron Dembski-Bowden

Don't worry. None of this blood is mine.

40K Forums

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.

November 3, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized | ,


  1. Huzzah!

    Comment by Nik Vincent-Abnett | November 3, 2011 | Reply

  2. Wow man, four months left to go? I remember how that big day creeps up on you and how long nine months SOUNDS like it’s going to be.

    Best of luck with everything dude.

    Comment by Raziel4707 | November 3, 2011 | Reply

  3. Get what you mean. I go in fits and starts with forums and range from really enjoying the interaction with others who share your deep interest, to occasional “zomg someone is WRONG on the interwebz” through to being sick of it and taking a break. And I have no skin in the game in terms of work out there to be criticized and misunderstood.

    Admired how you do engage with fans, and hope to see you posting on B&C or wherever, but reckon I’ll be in the majority in not begrudging you spending time with your wife and en-route-child instead and WRITING MORE BOOKS FASTER!!! 😉

    Comment by Aegnor | November 3, 2011 | Reply

  4. No worries man, I think we all understand you need to shift you focus.
    And to be fair, 2-5 hours arguing online… no-one wins in the end.

    Comment by binkythebomb | November 3, 2011 | Reply

  5. Ah, crap! Now I feel really bad for sending waffley emails about nothing in particular. 😦

    Comment by Xhalax | November 3, 2011 | Reply

  6. It’s cool man, we (the fans) love your efforts to engage with us on internet forums, but those of us with more than two brain cells realise that it must take a lot of your effort and focus from everything else you do… including, but not limited to, writing the books we love so much. We totally understand if it’s got to the point where you just can’t do it any more.

    …this means the new book will be finished by Christmas, right? 😀

    Comment by bittermanandy | November 3, 2011 | Reply

  7. Forums are massive time sink, sort of addictive and not terribly good for you. Nice to hear you’re cutting back on them.

    Comment by edfortune | November 3, 2011 | Reply

  8. But what about the PANDAS?

    Comment by Martin | November 3, 2011 | Reply

  9. Sounds like you need to put blocks on those sites! If only wording can be put for the blocks.

    But I definitely know how you feel, though for my work, it’s me trying to sneak in forum-going throughout the whole day, while my thirty minute lunch glued to forums. That would be over two hours of me sneaking internet use on work time, and it is buggery for all of it.

    Definitely a bad feeling when you get the realization. Good luck though, Aaron. You will need it to fight the addiction that are them forums.

    Comment by Lord of Insanity | November 3, 2011 | Reply

  10. Why argue with morons?
    Just pretend you’re in Walking Dead and grab that shotgun.
    Think of yourself as a Shane, and not so much as an Otis
    (because apparently, fat people don’t get any love in doomsday scenarios)

    Comment by neamtzu_rau | November 3, 2011 | Reply

    • No no no! Guns make a lot of noise and will attract others!

      Comment by Xhalax | November 3, 2011 | Reply

    • Rule number one: Cardio 😉

      Comment by Bigwill | November 4, 2011 | Reply

  11. Telling a Forum Moron that thier brains are wired up wrong is like telling your dog iabout CSI Miami.

    It is a waste of time.

    Keep up the books dude- it is what we love you for. And the blog. And the beard.

    Oh and yes “moron” can be viewed as offensive. Then again so can “dog”.

    Comment by @nigeblack | November 3, 2011 | Reply

  12. I knew this blog post would come eventually after I read that Aurelian thread on Warseer. You did your best bro. It was nice to be able to talk to one of the authors while it lasted, but people take things for granted after a while. You’re right, you should spend your time creating the work that people love you for rather than engaging in internet tar pit debates.

    You can’t please everyone all of the time. You’re an exceptional writer and I look forward to reading more from you soon.

    Comment by Dan K | November 3, 2011 | Reply

    • For the record, that wasn’t much of the reason. It contributed, but even that thread wasn’t as time-consuming as others last week. Self-esteem-wise, it was actually ace: despite the title and the original post of the guy who found Aurelian average, the thread was then full of people saying he was wrong (just like every other forum has threads saying they loved it).

      I admit, the grind of several people missing the point and devolving into “My fave primarch would win” is annoying, but overall that thread wasn’t one of the worst contenders.

      Bit draining though, yeah. No argument here.

      Comment by aarondembskibowden | November 3, 2011 | Reply

      • Sanguinius would win anyway so it’s pointless arguing. 😀

        Sorry, couldn’t resist. You may disown me now.

        Comment by Xhalax | November 3, 2011

  13. This reminds me of a great quote’ The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing’. I apply this as a dad, as a worker and as a husband, and in terms of prioritising the stuff that really counts, its worked well. It’s hard as we all have our favourite distractions, in the end if you dont work how to spend your time on the important stuff, you’ll let yourself down and the people you care about the most. Time is the only resource you can’t save for a rainy day so spend it wisely. Which explains why it takes me forever to do anything with my hobby, and also why I appreciate your work. I choose to read your stuff in my precious spare time as its up there with the best 40k fiction. Hopefully as a member of your fandom, your new found focus will ensure we get to read more of your great work and you’ll get more time to do the meaningful stuff, like keeping us appraised of Fuschia’s progress.

    Now back to work for me, I scheduled this in my break – honest!

    Comment by Richard Nixon | November 3, 2011 | Reply

  14. This is an awesome post, ADB! I’d love to hear about your Necromunda gang – any chance I can send you a few questions via email for our 40k blog?

    Comment by Michael Ovsenik | November 3, 2011 | Reply

  15. Re: Internet discussions-
    “Never argue with an idiot, they’ll only drag you down to their level.” It’s usually ascribed to Mark Twain, but as Abraham Lincoln says: “Most of what you read on the Internet is inaccurate.”

    Comment by G | November 3, 2011 | Reply

  16. We, the fans, just appreciate that you connect with us at all. It’s always been enjoyable for me and helped me feel connected to the hobby more by reading the many things you’ve said on the internet. Certainly no one will fault you for spending less time on the forums and more time with your family, work, and hobbies.

    Comment by Lord Tharand | November 3, 2011 | Reply

    • Here here, well said.

      Comment by AtrumAngelus | November 4, 2011 | Reply

  17. Forums are a lot like trying to develop an immunity to a poison or toxin: best in small doses. I stick to two: Bolter & Chainsword for conversations/Chaos-centric stuff, and Dakka Dakka for the Swap Shop. Everything else is redundant and therefore ignored.

    Comment by Khestra the Unbeheld | November 3, 2011 | Reply

  18. http://xkcd.com/386/

    As a forumite myself, I can wholly endorse going cold turkey. See you around the web.

    Comment by Mossy | November 3, 2011 | Reply

  19. Saw the Aurelian thread on Warseer, and I very much support you in your decision. Having to deal with the incredible amount of crap and webhate on the forums can’t be good for anybody, and no matter how great you are as an author, that webhate will still be flying. Better to ignore it and focus on the (sadly often less vocal) positive response you get! On that topic – bloody love your books.

    All the best,

    Comment by Andreas Uneby | November 3, 2011 | Reply

  20. By all means do what’s actually important. being able to reed your comments on B&C was always nice, but we’d be crazy to begrudge you wanting to spend time on your own life. I know you have to be all nice and say it politically, but thats just the nature of the world. You shouldn’t need to. You should be able to just say: “sorry guys, I’ve got more important things to do” and reasonable people should just shrug and nod.

    Good luck, especially once your daughter arrives.

    Comment by Filip | November 3, 2011 | Reply

  21. Hey Aaron,

    Im 32yo … Ive been reading WARHAMMER 40K since I was 10yo old. Yes I still own my 1st Edition Rogue Trader, I even have Ere We Go and the famous 40K Compendium.
    I have two book shelves full of Black Library books, codexes, and source books.

    In the last couple of years Dan Abnett has been my favorite writer but because of your excellent ways of bringing me into the story … twisting legend into fact seemsly and the touch of humor has me waiting anxiouly for your new book.

    Soooooo please what ever you need to do and finish ….


    Comment by Anthony | November 3, 2011 | Reply

  22. Well damn. That’s a shame. I loved reading your posts on the BnC.

    You opened my mind about chaos (warbands/legions), so it wasn’t all a waste of time.


    Comment by yogi | November 4, 2011 | Reply

  23. Oh man I could totally get the loss of interest in writing when idiots drags you away from the important stuff. I do agree that the comparisons threads are completely useless and we had a discussion about and then they had to come and rant “why the HAD to make them”. Seems so silly.

    You have given a wider depth of understanding with the comments youve given us and I must say its like teaching history. Even a thousand people would not care what you say, but if you at least get one person attention to listen, then youve done a great job and that is all that matters.

    Comment by Forkmaster | November 4, 2011 | Reply

  24. Sevatar – please kill Sevatar!
    Kill him the meanest way possible – not the way you want to do it now – i Know you want to kill him by the hands of Curze!
    And yes agree with everything that was said here – and i know that iam one of @that@ fans!

    Comment by Anakwanar | November 4, 2011 | Reply

  25. I figured Nick was getting on you for being on Forums when you could be chipping away at your deadline.
    While it is cool to see how a BL author sees 40k, You are so right about priorities,however if you want those armies finished you have about 3 months left until a two year hiatus, because very soon sleep will beat little men every time hands down 😉

    Comment by Bigwill | November 4, 2011 | Reply

  26. Great, now I need to come up with something other than hero worship to do on the Bolter and Chainsword… 😀

    Best of luck, and come back soon. Forums are like an unbreakable addiction.

    Comment by Chapter Master Ignis Domus | November 4, 2011 | Reply

  27. 1. Spend time with your family. This above all!
    2. Spend time writing. We love your work, appreciate the extra time & care you put into it, and want you to be able to afford food.
    3. Read, paint, play games. Please enjoy your life 🙂
    3. Don’t bother defending other authors, or wasting your time participating in childish or idiotic discussions. But if you do have extra time, we enjoy hearing about how your next novel is progressing, and what you have in the line up.

    Comment by Chinh | November 5, 2011 | Reply

  28. Still trying to build a decent Chaos army with the current codex? Good luck!!

    Comment by NIKT208 | November 5, 2011 | Reply

  29. Fan forums can get a bit dull. Unless its about the game or some new idea or FanFic (good FanFic, mind you) the rest is kinda bupkis.

    As for me, I don’t normally check out WH40K forums, but anxiously await your proclamations here on your blog :3

    Comment by Christopher Meyer | November 5, 2011 | Reply

  30. Very. Very. Good. Choice.

    “Why aren’t you on this or that forum? Mwueh mwueh come join the discussions.” I used to be, on one of the largest (“oooh a girl” was the initial reaction – I had been warned, yet didn’t think it’d be too bad…). But working (in what way, I will not divulge) for The Company of the G and the W just made me that much more irritable at all the incessant, unnecessary whinging and moaning going on (why be a “fan”, why be in the hobby, if all you can seem to do, is complain? Or argue, like a petulant child that got choose what candy they wanted and now whines that it wasn’t the right one? Isn’t this hobby supposed to be something fun? That’s why I started, anyway…), on the forums and elsewhere and… hang on. I really could be doing better things with my life!

    So I did.

    “Been there done that” doesn’t quite match, because I’m not a BL author with a family to take care of and so on, but still. Whatever good you got out of it, hopefully you will find elsewhere, or in another way. You’re damn cool regardless of whether you hang on the forums or not.

    Comment by Kyrie | November 6, 2011 | Reply

  31. Scratch WoW instead of forums! Don’t abandon Dakka!

    Anyway, getting your shit in order is indeed important. And if it speeds up HH novel releases, all the better :3

    Also, high five Fuchsia for me when she arrives.

    Comment by Jos Mertens | November 7, 2011 | Reply

  32. You’d have more luck telling him to scratch out his eyes 🙂
    Do you plan on checking out the new Star Wars mmo this Dec?
    I’m doing beta for it right now,it’s pretty good.

    Comment by Bigwill | November 8, 2011 | Reply

  33. I see where you’re coming from. Your arguments about Aurelian on B&C were pretty good. I like seeing that perspective from the guys who are writing the canonical (I take that word in 40k context with a couple kilograms of salt, always). But, if it stops you from doing your job, you obviously can’t do it a lot. Dan Abnett does the vidlogs, have you thought about just doing those on say, one day a month or something?

    Comment by TheSGC | November 8, 2011 | Reply

  34. Pretty much the reason I stopped using any GW forum since 2008. I buy and read the books and that’s enough for me.

    Comment by Jordan J. Lloyd (@jordanjlloyd) | November 16, 2011 | Reply

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