Not Feeling It

The seasons are changing, and that typically means one thing for me - getting really tired while the temperatures fluctuate between warm and cool/cold. Between that and my children moving into a “fight for my right to stay up late” phase, I have less free time at night than ever before - and not enough energy to even take advantage of it all.

And that’s unfortunate, because I have so much I want to do. I’ve got models to build, games to play (including Persona 5 Royal, which is really starting to get its hooks into me), and even a couple shows I’d still like to watch. And, of course, I would like to write about all of this to some extent.

Something (or probably some things) has to give. If not, I’ll either damage my health by trying to stay up too late to get it all done, or I’ll go to bed each night feeling like there’s a weight on my shoulders from all the things left undone.

But it’s not as simple as just picking something to give up on. The mere fact that I’m having these thoughts, these “troubles” as it were, is remarkable.

It’s (supposed to be) Leisure

First off - why is this even a difficult problem? This should be simple - whatever brings me the most leisure during leisure time is what I should focus on, end of story.

Sure enough, the actual answer is simple, though its origins are not …

… For whatever reason, I feel like I can’t - or at least shouldn’t - be just a passive consumer of media. I feel compelled to maintain some sort of online presence where I talk about the things I’m doing, watching, playing, etc.

The reasons for this are complex, but a lot of it has to do with the amount of my life I’ve spent online, wherein I’ve watched all sorts of people rise up from being Internet nobodies to successful writers, podcasters, video producers, etc.

It’s not that I feel the need to achieve their level of success. It’s more like, when you encounter that many people creating content (or just sharing opinions) online, you trick your brain into thinking that you yourself have to do the same. That it is somehow the “default” state of things online.

But of course that’s just not true. And I’m not sure how to get my brain to believe that. To believe that it is okay to just play a game and tell no one about it. Or watch a show without doing episode by episode recaps1.

It’s not (supposed to be) Work

As a corollary, I also struggle to just write something and post it. I have to go find screenshots, and links, and do research. I insist on having it look somewhat presentable, and for the information within to at least be somewhat grounded in reality.

All of this takes work, and more importantly, it feels like work. What I’ve discovered is that my tolerance for doing it all is largely dependent on how the rest of my life is going. When my actual job is fulfilling, when my home life feels rich, and when my free time is engaging, I feel little to no urge to write, let alone spend time preparing a given post.

On the other hand, when work feels rudderless, when home life is a pile of stressors, and/or when my hobbies evoke no sense of joy, writing feels like a refuge. It’s like I the need to sufficiently exercise my brain every week. Writing comes into play as a way to get that mental exercise, but only as a last resort.

Right now I’m in a place where everything else in life is firing on all cylinders, which is why I have a list of unfinished drafts as long as my arm. I just don’t feel like prepping them for publication.

You know what they say about Hubris

I can’t help but think I’m being hurt by hubris. I can’t count the number of times in my adult life where I made some sort of prediction - be it about a real life famous person, or the trajectory of a fictional franchise, or the fate of a gaming console, or a pop culture trend - only to be proven right.

The only problem is that I have no actual proof, because I never write these predictions down.

Now to be clear, I don’t think my predictions are anything special. I think they are the result of applying a mixture of common sense and knowledge of history to make a fairly safe guess about what’s going to happen. And they’re usually pretty boring - 99% of them boil down to “this thing you think is great is going to turn out to be anything but”.

Similarly, there are times where my initial take on a show, game, film, etc is completely and utterly different than the popular consensus, but after a few years people begin to see things my way. Of course, since I don’t write these thing down, I can’t prove that I was ahead of the curve.

Hubris makes me think that if I wrote all these things down, that one day someone might stumble upon my writings and think “this guy is on the mark about everything!” And then maybe something - I’m not entirely sure what - good might stem from that. This is another (major) thing that convinces me that I have to keep writing, even when I don’t want to2.

I think it stems from years and years (and years) of feeling like (and in some cases, being told that) my opinions are weird or unorthodox or stupid. It hurts, even when these remarks come from complete strangers. And just once I’d like to hear the opposite.

Also, it’s frustrating when people trounce your opinions, then come around to my line of thinking years later, only to act as if they held their new opinion from the very start.

But again, I think it is hubristic to feel this way, and I’d like to stop. In the grand scheme of things, I really shouldn’t care about what a bunch of strangers online think about me.

Model Kit Perfectionism

I’m continuing to struggle to get anywhere close to my “two + kits a month” model kit pace. I’m currently at “‘one a month’ at best, but more like ‘one spread out across a few months’”.

The Master Grade F91 took up the last third of June, and pretty much all of July. The Messer was completed in August, but was started a few months before that. And while my posts on the Gogg are all dated in September, the build actually started in August. Basically, I’m at a point where even a High Grade build is taking me close to a month to complete.

Believe it or not, this is one area where writing isn’t a problem. I have no issues cranking out textual content for build posts. Rather, there are two different and distinct issues at play.

Problem #1 is that I’m having a problem with perfectionism. Maybe I’m spending too much time looking at professional builds on r/gunpla, but I feel compelled to add levels of detail that I never bothered with before. That requires more time painting, top coating, and letting it all dry, and that alone tacks on multiple days onto the length of a given build.

Setting aside from the sheer time commitment (which sometimes clashes with my patience levels), I find myself increasingly frustrated by having to do all this extra work. Yet I still feel compelled to keep trying to do the work. More specifically, I continue to feel obligated to add detail to parts of the model that most people will never see (including the bottoms of feet, the interior of shields, etc)

I have this foolish hangup where I tell myself that anyone who builds for as many years as I have must meet some certain threshold of proficiency. It’s not enough to just snap the thing together, throw on some panel lines, and call it a day.

And yet … there is no rule that says as much. In fact, it violates the very idea of “Gunpla is freedom”.

”But wait”, I then tell myself. ”It’s not just a matter of meeting some arbitrary level of efficiency. You’re also afraid that if you do quick, sloppy builds, that you’ll look back in regret one day, and wish that you’d have done a better job. THAT, more than anything, is what keeps you going”

That much is true, but here’s the thing - I look at my old models quite a lot. Aside from a few accident prone builds (like the Kampfer, and maybe the MK II), there aren’t any that I’ve looked at and said “I wish I had done more”. They all still look good to my eye. If that’s the case - especially if that’s still the case for my oldest builds, which really were “stickers, topcoat, and panel lines” - then exactly what utility will I get from going any further than that?

Model Kit Photography

Problem #2 is that I hate taking photos. It involves a lot of work. Getting together all the accessories I need, spending time setting the perfect pose, fixing limbs that fall off … it all adds up. I thought it might help if I spread it out over more than one night, but it turns out that my sense of impatience (read as my desire to start the next build) saps away my motivation. If I can’t get it all done in one go, I just put it off.

Of course, that is its own form of compromise, because if I rush to get it all done in some arbitrarily limited span of time, I’m less likely to get really great shots and poses.

It is at this point that I realize that pretty much all of my favorite Gunpla builders on Youtube - the folks who manage to always get excellent poses and shots - all make some degree of money from their work.

Which means that they treat it to some degree as a job.

And that brings me to another point.

Bottom Line - I Already Have a Job

That’s really what this all comes down to. All the things that are holding me back - that are causing me grief - are things like writing, editing, and photography. All of these are things that lots of people - including a lot of the content makers I’ve followed and witnessed over the decades - get paid to do.

But I already have a job. In fact, as a parent, I arguably have two jobs. Not only is there no need for me to try to add even more work onto my plate, but doing so is proving to be actively harmful.

So here is what I’m going to try and do:

  • Try to focus on doing the things I enjoy with my free time, without feeling obligated to post things about it online
  • I still occasionally get the urge to write about something. I’ll continue to create drafts, and if I ever get the urge to polish them up with screenshots/links/etc (which happens from time to time), I’ll post them with a backdate. You’ll just have to trust me that I originally wrote it around the time of publication
  • When it comes to Gunpla builds, I think I can still keep writing about them with the same level of detail, but not every build is going to end with lots of photos of the finished model. Instead, I’ll probably end up doing 3-5 simple poses, and if I later feel the urge to sit down and do a real photoshoot, I’ll do so
  • I’m going to either try and scale back the level of effort for each build, or I’m going to find some new approach to building that will allow me to maximize my time

We’ll see how this all pans out. But for now, I need to get some sleep!

  1. I’ve tried doing this multiple times across multiple shows. Most of these attempts have never seen the light of day, and none have ever been completed. [return]
  2. I really have written quite a few opinion pieces, but again, the only trouble is that I haven’t published most of them. [return]