Well, you might have noticed that I’ve not been writing as much as normal lately. There’s a couple of reasons for that, some more serious than others.
First up, I managed to fall over a couple of months back and lamp my ribs in. Whilst I’m picking up and I’m fairly mobile again, sitting at my desk for long periods of time is pretty much impossible still. Well, sitting at my desk for short periods of time too – the leaning over to type absolutely does me in and I haven’t found a comfortable middle ground.
I tend to draft pieces from the comfort of my bed and then tidy them up whilst at my desk later. So there’s that but it also means that with not being at my desk, I’m not anywhere near as plugged in to the game-o-sphere as I usually am. Which kind of means I’m not reading as much or even paying quite as much attention as usual.
I haven’t worked out if this is a better or worse state of affairs than normal, really.
There’s the pain thing too – it’s more managed than it was a few months ago (as in, it is managed somewhat rather than not at all) but I’ve only recently hit anything close to a vaguely medicated level with things. Unfortunately, rather than this wind down and go into remission for a while as I’m fairly used to – I’ve been riding this pretty much none stop since last October. It is simultaneously boring and irritating to have a lot of time taken up dealing with the pain instead of just about anything else.
Funnily enough I would sooner do anything else most of the time but it sort of is what it is. I try to fit stuff in around that but being a parent and a carer doesn’t leave me much time for anything else before everything kicks off again. Since December last year we’ve been having one fight too many on the financial front and family health front so that’s been a battle as well. Sort of used to it but it doesn’t mean I like it, obviously.
Then there’s the tired thing. Thanks to the joys of having a silly pain that you can set a watch to, well, it turns out this kind of leaves you knackered after a flare up. Which is not very nice! So again, it’s time taken up napping here over writing.
Right now, I seem to be accumulating drafts and stuff – I’ve got about 4 or 5 pieces which are ripe for turning into something more interesting and quite a few games I want to talk about. So it’s not like I’ve entirely got lost on this but there’s two other factors which are, right now, taking precedence over everything else.
I’m very burnt out on writing about games. A lot of last year was spent writing about really horrible things in games. I covered a lot of avenues and a lot of angles on the sheer chaos, hurt and upset that can come with being in games. It all sort of wrapped up in a piece for Eurogamer that brought a lot of these threads together and well, it was an incredibly stressful thing to write and prepare for. And, of course, you never know how this stuff is going to go down. You never know if this piece “will be the one”.
Anyway, turns out that repeatedly poking your head into The Bad Stuff for a year does in fact take its toll – not only am I struggling to muster the effort to talk about some of the more serious things that happen in games, I’ve sort of forgotten what it means to write about games without writing about this stuff. You know, like normal human beings who write about games. The ones that don’t stick their head into the videogame toilet at every opportunity for a very long time.
It’s not necessarily that I want to stop writing about that stuff, more that the money and support for doing so is entirely disproportionate to the emotional toll it takes *right now*. I’m not sure there is such a thing as ever enough money for doing it so I’m not entirely worried there and I do appreciate the support I have/have had but stuff like this, it’s hard to feel appreciated for. Not necessarily because doing it isn’t appreciated but the very nature of the work grinds you down so much that it’s hard to come up for air. It’s hard to see the good when you’re constantly knee deep in the bad, yeah?
And the other reason? Well. It’s keeping track of what I’m doing long enough to get to the end of a piece with a point intact. Normally, I employ a system of post it notes, remarks in drafts and whatever else to keep myself on track but between pain and pills, cutting through the fog has been exceptionally difficult recently. And whatever goes on, excluding pain and pills, already sees me struggle to keep track of what I’m doing, where I am or what my point was. That’s normal.
Just recently, it’s getting a bit more complicated and I’m having to check words more, spellings more, reread stuff to make sure it really does go from A to B. It’s a vast amount of more work than I’m used to. I’ve every intention of working round this over time but working through it is taking priority. I’m having to accept that maybe writing about games at the pace and wordcount I was doing so before is not sustainable. My health isn’t getting any better so quality and integrity (and something vaguely coherent) seem like smarter things to push towards as time goes on.
It’s all really complex and really messy and yeah, it’s not helped by the state of the world at the moment either. Just between health, fighting so many financial fronts, the huge amount of words on bad things I spent last year writing and my forgetfulness, something is going to have to give.
So with that in mind, I’m mulling over some changes to my Patreon over the next month or so – both to adjust expectations to what will have to be a slower output of words from me so I can use some of my spare brain power for writing a game and to offer something a bit more in return for the kind support I’ve been receiving.
I don’t know what yet and folks are happy to prod me on the Twitters over stuff or whatever. Or complain. I don’t know.
It’s a weird situation I’ve found myself in – I’ve been in increasing pain for years, I’ve had periods of exhaustion and burnout before now, I’ve had serious family stuff to deal with too, just very rarely all at the same time. I’m used to having to turn down travelling and this that the other but these past few months I’ve had to turn down stuff where the pay would have been nice simply because I cannot do it right now.
And as ever, I try and talk about these things to at least some extent as I know I’m invariably not the only person riding a wave of effluence out at the best of times and nor am I in the worst situation out of plenty of folks I know. But it is uphill right now. Everything sort of seems uphill right now.
And that’s all why I’m currently down to one or two pieces a month right now. Despite all this, I do sincerely hope you still find some enjoyment in them all the same.