The things I am most obsessed about tend to influence the content on this blog in strange ways. I never set out to blog about them specifically, but they colour every interaction I have with other people, and it is frequently a question or idea that someone else puts out there that sparks a moment of confluence and, lo, a blog post appears.
With that in mind, I figured I’d put this out there: a list of the current obsessions that are guiding my work over the next few months. The list is constantly evolving – some are long-term obsessions that lie at the very heart of my identity, while others are brief flings – but they all shape my method of engaging with the world in strange ways.
1) ART AND COMMERCE
We’ve spent centuries telling people that art isn’t commerce and that’s filtered down into every aspect of the way we talk about art, writing, and creativity. For someone who intermittently teaches writing, in addition to blogging about it, this presents an enormous problem: the amount of stuff you need to undo, before you can talk about smart ways of building a career in the arts, is incredibly large and deeply ingrained.
2) BUSINESS PLANS FOR WRITERS
An obsession that works in concert with the first. One of the great things about the explosion of indie publishing on the internet is the rise of a group of writers who talk about the business of what they do. This occasionally gets them into trouble when talking to people outside their particular tribe, since we’re so hard-wired to think that the art comes first that it’s easy to recoil from anything else, but I’m intrigued by the growing culture of talking about income and writing and how the two mesh.
3) SPACE MARINE STORIES
Aliens. The Doom movie. Starship Troopers and Resident Evil and a handful of others beside. There is a little-used branch of sci-fi in which a bunch of heavily-armed soldiers are sent into the metaphorical equivalent of a haunted house and get wiped out by something nasty, and they’ve been an obsession of mine for years. This interest lies at the very heart of my current writing project, and I may have banged on about them a good deal on the twitters in recent weeks.
4) PROJECT MANAGEMENT
Least exciting obsession ever, but it dominates a whole bunch of my reading since a) I now have to manage other people at work a lot more; b) I have an increasingly varied number of projects that need to be kept moving in both the day-job and my writing; and c) I don’t like being bad at things I have to do all the time. My to-do lists are getting increasingly detailed and I spend a lot of time unpicking why I move some projects instead of others, trying to figure out how I can make it all work.
5) RESEARCH FOR WRITING
I am not, by nature, the kind of person who engages in deep research for my writing. Which is weird, ’cause I know all manner of writers who go all-out in their approach, delving into topics and places in order to really flesh out their knowledge and experiences. There is some strange alchemy that goes on in their heads where things are transformed into stories, and I don’t truly understand it as well as I’d like. Which is problematic, since I’m starting to come up with project ideas that need a whole lot more research than ten minutes on wikipedia will provide.
6) SUPERHERO STORIES IN MEDIA
There have always been superheroes on TV and in movies, but it’s only in the last decade or so that the primacy of the comic book has been seriously challenged as the medium in which ongoing, long-term storytelling of superheroes heroes takes place. For someone whose been reading comics since they were eight, this is incredible – part of the appeal of comics has always been the complexity of the medium as an ongoing platform, and to see them play out on TV and Movies and look at the techniques they keep (and discard)…well, If you’re as nerdy about narrative as I am, it’s like being a kid in a candy store.
7) LONG-TERM DIETARY CHANGE
To say my diet went to hell when the apnea started getting bad is an understatement. I was always carb-and-meat heavy in my food choices, but as exhaustion started to creep up on me around 2012 I started substituting pizza for pasta and frozen pies instead of steak. I ordered in a whole lot, particularly as the take-out joints around me started offering better options than McDonalds.
Still, this is not the diet of a man who is making sound life-choices.
Also, not a diet that is easy to break. The habits and psychology surrounding food is incredible – almost as interesting as the habits and psychology we build up about creativity – so I’ve been going down the rabbit hole of looking at why we make the choices we make with regards to diet.
The science of hit. How to do it better. What should be changing in relation to your habits. The apenea means I spend a lot of time reading up on sleep and it’s effects, since it’s become so central to my life.
Those are my current obsessions. Now, how about you? What’s occupying your attention and research time at present? What do you find yourself getting incredibly passionate about when talking to others?