Obsessions and change

It's been hot, at least it's been hot for us in the UK. An uncomfortable, muggy heat that really drains you.

I want to blame this for not writing much lately but I know it's only one factor. There has been an apathy stemming from other matters (read work) and a change in focus.

I've been struggling with the "book" for a while (apologies for the lack of updates to those subscribed to my newsletter, I must remedy that) since it started heading in a different direction to how I set out. But, again, it's my ongoing problem with not being able to do "big things."

Work, or rather the commute, is wearing me out and while I want to use that time constructively I'm not usually in the right place to do so. I'd love to get a job closer to home but I'd be looking at a step down and losing about 30K a year. Not an option. The step down wouldn't bother me but keeping a roof over my family's head does.

I deliberately don't play any games on my phone because they are a time-sink (and I get bored of them very easily) but re-subscribing to World of Warcraft has been like hooking up with an old friend you haven't seen in years, instantly rekindling that old relationship as though you'd never been apart.

It's just so easy to get lost in this other world, to escape into something else away from the dissatisfaction. It's a bit hypocritical that I eschew mobile gaming but dive so headlong into this.

Now, it's not all pleasure - as I mentioned before we're working towards the launch of a channel on Twitch and an accompanying site - so it's partly business. While I won't be a primary streamer (I'll usually be at work during go live times) I had an idea for a specific feature that would include posts and possible videos. This has also distracted me from day-to-day blogging.

I get obsessed with things, almost to the point where nothing else matters. When an obsession strikes I can lose myself to it, disappear into it and forget there are others around me. It's like entering a mental "flow" state. My wife has said for years that I'm probably a bit autistic and I have other traits including a degree of social awkwardness that often holds me back.

I'm introvert but when in a socially awkward or unfamiliar situation can grossly overcompensate, become excessively extrovert, almost as a shield or defence mechanism.

My obsessions, however, tend not to last. Just like with mobile games I'll dive in, completely absorb myself in something until I burn out and have to move on. I think this might have happened with the book.

I've always had a low boredom threshold; an obsession can hold this at bay for a while but I still reach the point where I just have to get out, let it go. When blogging I normally have to finish something in one take or I struggle to go back to it.

It's like flicking a switch, something inside me says "nope, had enough of that now" and I have to move on.

I can't control it.

That's why I've always struggled with longer writing and why I've always struggled with seeing things through. I want to finish the book but it's like my mind won't let me right now.

Re-working and tweaking the blog over the past 18 months or so has definitely been an obsession but one I realise is coming to an end. It's been fortunate that this has coincided with the current move towards ownership that has pervaded the "post-social" web, I've had a lot of people come along for the ride.

I know this is a personal blog and it's therefore up to me what I do with it, yet I worry that my obsessions, my shifts in focus, might make it an unattractive prospect. I write for myself but I am well aware that I have an audience - even if only small - and worry about alienating it because of a sudden shift.

I love to see the whole person behind the words rather than focusing on a single topic but fret when the shoe is on the other foot, when I am that person but the words have suddenly changed. I worry about building relationships based on context only to feel like I'm letting the other person down when I flip.

I think that's why I've had breaks from blogging in the past, why I have moved to a different medium (little m and big M) or platform - so that I can start again with a fresh audience. It's as though I would rather sever ties with them completely than risk going in a different direction, wondering if they'll follow.

I've been lucky over the past 18 months, lucky that others have shared my obsession and lucky with many of those I have met on the way. I have gotten to know some truly wonderful, intelligent, insightful people. People I don't want to alienate because of a change in obsession, almost like I'm a completely different person.

There is an inherent contradiction: while subject to an obsession I abhor change, fear it, but when that switch flips I want nothing more, I'm compelled to seek change and it's the status quo that terrifies me.

My mind is already racing with the possibilities of what I could write or do with my next obsession but this spark is tempered by the knowledge that, in six months or a year, it could have burnt out, exhausted. I face it with a good dose of trepidation but know I'll dive in all the same, consumed by a passion, blinkered to almost all else.

Perhaps this is as much a warning as an explanation.

    1. Colin Walker says: #
      Thanks. It’s great while it lasts – the focus it can give is intense but makes it hard to plan long term.
  1. jhull says: #
    @colinwalker for what it’s worth, I’m feeling the same kind of malaise. Not sure if it’s the heat, July, or something more profound, but I found myself nodding along with a lot of what you had to say.
    1. Colin Walker says: #
      There’s definitely a malaise of sorts burnt goes deeper than that, it’s something core to what I am, how I’m made. But it’s good to know I’m not alone.
  2. “It’s as though I would rather sever ties with them completely than risk going in a different direction, wondering if they’ll follow.”

    I can totally relate. But when I’ve made changes to my blog or newsletter or whatever in the past, you’ve always just encouraged me to go for it and be myself and not worry too much what anyone else thinks. I have a feeling most of your current audience would say the same. Risk away!

    1. Colin Walker says: #
      Thanks Chris, that means a lot. I’m the worst for taking my own advice.

      I’ve been meaning to drop you a mail for a while, I’ll try to do so today.