Keeping the plates spinning

Several weeks ago now I posted that I was taking a short break from most hobby-related stuff.

Over the last few years, friends have mentioned to me on more than one occasion that that I may be doing to much (Dave Luff blames my usual complete inability to say ‘No’). I’ve tended to shrug these concerns off in the past – to be honest I was too busy rushing around trying to do everything to stop and take stock (Hmm, maybe they had a point). Having lots of plates spinning is all well and good, but it only takes one thing to upset the balance and the whole lot can come crashing down.

I can’t say anymore at present, only that ‘real life’ created a seismic disturbance which sent everything into a bit of a tailspin, and the only way I felt I could cope was to stop everything else that I was doing and try and deal with it.

As a result I put a halt to podcast recording, stopped writing (after a very understanding phone call with Henry Hyde) and stopped blogging…at least for a while.

The best thing about doing this was that I found that I missed the hobby, whether it was keeping up with Twitter, or checking the hobby news, or even painting(!) – which is why after a few days I started blog posting again.

handsHowever, I quickly found that the one thing that I didn’t miss was my column writing.

I’ve been writing a regular column for Miniature Wargames with Battlegames magazine (and Battlegames magazine before that) for almost exactly six years. Whilst that experience has been richly rewarding, it has also come with its fair share of pressures.

Writing is fine when you have a subject in mind and an idea of what you want to say. However, there were times (more so in recent months) when I found myself  staring at a blank computer screen, frantically racking my brains for something, anything, to write about whilst at the same time knowing that your editor was expecting your 3,000 word article, complete with pictures, 4 days ago.

It seemed to me that in that particular media format, I’d started to run out of things to say – at least for the moment. That, and the fact that I didn’t want to produce articles of sub-standard quality (readers simply don’t deserve columnists to ‘phone in’ their articles – if you will excuse the mixed metaphor), had started to weigh heavily on my mind. I didn’t realise quite how heavy that weight was until it was removed.

At that point I knew that a decision was in the offing – one that I was reluctant to make, but one that I knew would be of long term benefit. So a couple of weeks after initially deciding to ‘take a break’, I had another long phone call with Henry Hyde.

mw398If you have listened to Episode 172 of the Meeples & Miniatures Podcast, or read Issue 399 of Miniature Wargames, you will be aware that I have decided to stop writing the Forward Observer column, so my last FO (at least for the foreseeable future) was in Issue 398.

Henry Hyde wrote some very nice words at the start of this month’s Forward Observer column (which was written by my good friend and fellow podcast host Mike Hobbs). I’m not sure if I would quite describe myself as a ‘hobby hero’ – more like someone that tries hard and sometimes gets it right.

I’d like to express my heartfelt thanks to Henry for the opportunity he gave me (and indeed the risk he took) when he offered me the Forward Observer column. It was thanks to his encouragement and guidance (and no little amount of patience and long-suffering on his part) that my skills in the written word have developed over the years.

Henry, my friend, thank you for everything.

So what now?

I will continue to write the odd review for MWwB, and I’d also like to write some longer, feature articles. But, for the moment,  I’m concentrating the majority of my efforts in writing for this website and working to grow the podcast. I want to expand the content and perhaps revisit some things that I really enjoyed doing (Video anyone?)

As for those ‘real life’ issues? It will be a while before they are resolved, but in the mean time this great hobby is providing a much needed outlet and escape.

3 Comments on Keeping the plates spinning

  1. A pause is often a sensible decision. It’s a hobby, and it should be fun.

    Hope all turns out well with everything else!

    In your own time- go on!

  2. Sounds like a very wise choice. Taking care of yourself and family while finding some time for the things you love strikes a good balance. All the better that you have great friends who can support you!

    Hope you and yours as well as the folks you regularly bring into our lives are well.

  3. Good decision Neil. You may not see yourself as a hero but your podcast, blog and columns have done much to promote the hobby and introduce your audience to new periods, products and rulesets.

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