Sunday, April 28, 2013

Can a Guy Have Too Many Hobbies?

I’ve spoken a number of times about some of my hobbies: Warhammer 40k (both painting the miniatures and playing), writing speculative fiction, science fiction and fantasy movies and television (well, good television of all stripes really), among others. A short while back, I was having a discussion with some colleagues and the topic somehow turned to television shows, who was watching what and whether a series was worth continuing or not, to be replaced by an interesting newcomer.  This got me to thinking about hobbies in general.

We all recognize that we can only watch so much television per week; there simply isn’t enough time to watch **every** program that interests us.  So we prioritize our time based on whatever arcane or heuristic methods we convince ourselves of using.  The advent of PVR certainly makes things easier, but it can lead to a steady and daunting accumulation of shows to watch.  You have to make time somewhere to watch them.  So, if we extend this to all hobbies, creative writing included, at one point you just reach a critical mass where something takes a hit – we reduce or replace a hobby to make room for another, or we start permeating our hobbies into other parts of our lives.

My life includes a number of roles and duties: officer and employee for the Army, husband, father of two children, son to my parents, and brother to my sister.  I must sleep, I must eat, I must work to support my family, I watch television and movies to relax, write to express myself, play games to enjoy my time off, et cetera.  All of these come with an elemental requirement of my time.  Could I sacrifice some family time to devote more to my hobbies?  What about sleep?  Maybe I could sneak some writing time in at work?  Those certainly are options, yet at what cost?  Spending more time writing means more chances to complete the works, get those submitted more often, thereby increasing my possibility of success and recognition.  Less sleep makes me more creative anyways…. Unfortunately it affects my family time, my productivity at work, makes my appetite go out of whack.

I say all this because I spent some considerable time re-editing my fantasy manuscript and started getting it vetted over at the Absolute Write forums.  What a great venue.  Then I started hearing things about a couple of games from the local gaming store.  I checked out both EveOnline and Warmachine.  Let me tell you, these stoked my curiosity enough that I completely ignored the writing aspects of my life for about a week.

EveOnline is a futuristic, sandbox, real-time strategy game; the science fiction version of World of Warcraft.  The irony that I would be more interested in a science fiction game versus fantasy is not lost on me.  But it wasn’t the space combat, or even the levelling up and commanding great fleets that caught my eye.  It was the option to be the economic and industrial powerhouse, working the in-game economy and markets to your favour.  It is the function as the facilitator that appealed to me, the guy who moves the pieces from the background.

Warmachine is a steam punk tabletop miniature game whereby two armies fight against each other.  The differences between it and Warhammer 40k are relatively extensive and the models are, in some ranges, top notch and really support the steam punk genre.  That the objective is to ultimately kill the opponent’s warcaster and/or complete the mission objectives is a new and refreshing twist.  That it follows a streamlined system and is from a fledgling company that, to be honest does not have GW’s previous history of “questionable” decisions, is a significant point.

When I look back on it, there are a number of hobbies and other activities that I have simply given up for newer ones.  Just like TV programs, a number simply weren’t interesting enough to maintain my interest, while others went by the wayside for other reasons; the life of a bachelor is certainly different than when married, more so after you have children.

Examining the cloud of activities above, I can honestly say that time management is almost an activity in and of itself.  To say that creative writing will remain one of the primary activities is an understatement.  In fact, I’d say it has become the newest and primary of my hobbies.  With the fantasy manuscript finished and now under review, I’ve the follow-on novels and a few new projects I’ve committed with verve and enthusiasm.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Well March and Most of April was a Write-off….

…. and definitely not in the good sense.  Between work, my birthday, weekend activities for the kids and other various life-requirements that needed solving or attending, things just never happened as I wanted them to during March; heck, most of April too.  I was able to haphazardly get some writing done, as well as line up some beta readers to look over the first parts of my manuscript.  For the most part, my life has been consumed with yearly personnel evaluations – all 100+, which require my editing, at least once, sometimes through multiple iterations after I re-send them back for corrections.

I was very, very strongly leaning towards the third button

About the only thing I accomplished with any degree of certainty was delving into Warmachine, which is an absolute diversion from writing.  Assembling and painting models for use in a tabletop war game certainly allows the mind to take a break from writing; it is simply the time devoted into the process that I kick myself for.  Oh well, hindsight is 20/20, et cetera.  The local gaming group is pretty vibrant and I’m looking forward to getting into the game.
With the first manuscript under beta review, it’s time to dive into book 2.  I had previously written about a half-dozen chapters from a new character’s POV, I find myself cursing up a storm after accidentally deleting it – all of it, electronic chapter notes and all.  After slashing the first book’s manuscript by over half, I was going to have to trim down the klag (unnecessary elements and useless prose) anyways, so nothing unrecoverable.  Given what I remember, there was likely a significant amount begging to get axed.  I also have a few hurdles that I hadn’t planned for in the first manuscript that weren’t accounted for in the plot outline of book 2.  Thankfully, I started everything in a couple of notebooks, which I was able to drag out of my storyboard pile.
Well, it is April and I successfully navigated through April Fool’s Day, despite all attempts otherwise.  It’s time to buckle down and get on with it.  Chapter notes for book 2....