It’s the start of another sabbatical month. I’m taking a month off writing to try to reboot my brain, drain away the anxiety and tinker with other projects that have become stuck.
But what if I walk away from the site for two months? Or three? What happens if Electron Dance goes dark for six months?
Because that is what I’m thinking about.
The spare time I once had for Electron Dance has become incredibly squeezed. Administration, which includes keeping a social media profile that is active, has swollen in the last couple of years as I’ve become aware of the Things You Have To Do To Stay Relevant And Exciting. Trying to keep up with the latest chatter in the videogame ‘verse has become a chore and the amount of time to play all those lovely different games is minuscule. I’ve been playing The Talos Principle since the start of the year.
My children’s bedtimes are edging deeper into the evening and most days I only become free around 9.30pm. Inevitably it means I write tired, stay up later than I should thus get progressively more tired with each passing day. Eventually productivity degrades to a “life support” level and it stays like this until I take some time off.
But what’s really bothering me is… the book.
Separate article ideas dating all the way back to 2010 were eventually grouped as a series probably in 2011 under the title “warning signs”. After years of pushing this project around and working on a great big enormous launch video… I made the decision at the start of 2014 to convert it into a book called The Weapons of Progress: What the Economics of Videogames Tell Us About the Future.
While I keep gathering notes, compiling interviews and doing general research, the truth is the book isn’t being “written” enough. It’s a continuous flow of managed chaos, a battle of frequent re-organisation, because that’s all I can really do with a brain that’s been kneaded into mush. I was planning to release a draft of the first chapter as part of the five year celebrations, but had no time to polish it into shape.
The longer the book drags on for, the longer its stories and messages risk becoming stale and of no interest to anybody. Also, those who responded to my questions will feel like their time was wasted. In fact, if I let it carry on like this, the book will never be finished because for every step forward, I have to take two steps back to re-evaluate what has changed.
How much do I care about this book? It might destroy me if I manage to cross the finish line – destroyed by too little attention after all that work or too much, burning under a spotlight I’m uncomfortable with. But I care about the book. I care a great deal. It’s important to me.
Then he looks into your eyes. The words fumble and stumble from his lips. “It’s not you,” he says. “It’s me.”
I’ve known for some time that the book has been teetering on the edge of failure, but refused to come out and acknowledge the problem. It’s time to be honest about it – and recognise what needs to happen if I want to write this book. What I need to do is drastically reduce Electron Dance output for several months so I can break the back of the project and develop a weekly routine dedicated to it.
This post isn’t really about asking for reader feedback as I know the site audience well enough to anticipate the response to this post. But sometimes crafting errant thoughts into actual words is important. Once you do that, there’s no more pretending. The truth is out there.
Older information on the book
If this is the first time you’ve heard about the book, here’s everything I’ve revealed about it.
- When I asked readers to appraise the book idea
- Early list of chapters
- The #warningsigns video meant to accompany the series
- On the making of the video
- The barebones web site for the book
- A Twitter account where I occasionally tweet a link relevant to the book