It's been a while since I posted anything on here, owing to a few factors, ranging from the end of my MA, some turmoil in my life and the realisation that I have 'takes on too much' as a character flaw. So, aside from working there's been a bit of reassessment and working out where I go from here.
It felt great to hand in my Final Project, I'm just getting over the sense of having nothing I need to do (mostly because I'm aware how false that is; there's lots to be getting on with). It also feels strange to have finished the course, I can say hand on heart that the last two years have been the most interesting and gratifying of my adult life, bar things like getting married and adopting the cats. I've learnt a lot and feel that now, with work and luck, I can actually send things out to agents with confidence.
The Goth travel book, Dark Adapted Eye is out doing the rounds and I'm working on a collection of female focused sword and sorcery short stories in The Forest Brides, prior to returning to the vampire ruled future of Fatal Thirst. I'm making notes for new projects but they are all very much on the backburner until the books I'm already writing are done; ideas are too easy to get, and I can make a bonfire of the vanities with the concepts I already have without adding any more. I'm setting personal deadlines for myself but, at the same time, I'm throwing anything that isn't these few projects onto the 'maybe' pile in an effort to get rid of the sense of having too many things to do. At the moment Forest Brides is slated for completion by the end of October or mid November and I think I can do it.
It does feel a bit like the mountain path has come to a halt and there's only cliff face above (to possibly overtax my mountain climbing metaphor). I just have to hope the ropes and crampons my studies have provided are adequate to the task of climbing up.
As part of my cutting back on things I do, I've decided to leave roleplaying for the foreseeable future (yes, the never ending saga!). This is a decision that's come from a number of sources. First, the fact that I don't really enjoy the more wargame aspects of the hobby anymore (I was never that attached to them but over time it seems like they've taken centre stage and the stuff I do like; plot, character, and atmosphere, have fallen away). I've realised too that I've probably taken to overcompensating for things that come up in game, like players being bored or triggers being tripped through GM ignorance or arrogance. The third thing is that I just find it too stressful to try and get people into the same place at the same time these days and it feels as if I have to battle to get an idea of what players actually want. I left my old group at the start of January after a game I wanted to play was deemed too difficult and the player in question gave no idea of what alternative would suit her. Out of a collection that easily fills two of Ikea's Billy bookcases, I found myself with a grand total of five games I could run and quit the group because the situation just pushed me to breaking point.
Having flirted with an attempt to come back to gaming, I've decided the hobby is too much for me at the moment and I don't want to bother with it, which has upset my wife a fair amount (in the meantime I watch her getting stressed because of the things that wound me up and, at times, I just want to tell her to walk away). Hopefully in a few years time I'll feel less stressed and negative about the whole thing but in the meantime I'm selling up any game I'm don't love unless I bought it in the last year, and planning to focus on other avenues of human contact for the next few years. A friend of mine has already poked and chivvied me about keeping in contact with people and not just becoming a ghost; something I find hard as I so often feel that I'm an 'observer amongst apes' (no offence).
I'll still be building Sharoban, since that's at least partly a gaming setting and have plans for a second world building project once it is complete; set in a city that's fallen prey to deindustrialisation, where real life troubles are bracketed by the growth of supernatural ones. But other than that, that's it for gaming for now, I'm afraid.
The other thing is that, after feeling frustrated and stressed about huge chunks of my life for the last few years, I've finally decided to seek some help and referred myself to a mental health unit. The diagonsis I've had is promising in someways, if only because the doctor's don't think I have depression only depressive tendencies, but their recommendation is a course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. So I should be starting that soon (well soonish - this is the NHS after all). In the meantime, I'm doing relaxation exercises and trying to keep a mood diary, as well as trying to make silly lists of the things like what I like about myself and so on. As part of the stress etc is caused by my job, I'm also starting to martial myself for a quiet move towards getting something new and to making more money from my writing.
That's where things are now. One very good thing has ended, as long as I pass the final assessment and I've got the next part of the mountain to climb. In the meantime I have to learn to move on, to be focused and to change how I see the world and myself.