It’s a wonderful weekend in the hobby. There’s a new boxed set out of a new edition of the wonderful game that is Age of Sigmar, with some truly inspiring miniatures in it. I popped over to the Friar Lane store in Nottingham today and picked up my set. Very excited for it, and I hope, if you pre-ordered it, you got one too, and that you’re giddy with glee that you get to enjoy it.
With all of that being said, I find myself again at a crossroads in my hobby. I have slumped. I am as far away from being a good painter as I ever have been, and I’m not even trying to regain the stature that I liked to kid myself that I had reached. Why? The simple answer is depression, but for the longer reason, read on.
I don’t want to make a big deal of this – it’s really not my style. But I have been encouraged to share my take on the state of me as both a therapeutic exercise and, perhaps, a way to help others who find themselves in a similar storm-tossed boat. So I am writing this for both altruistic and selfish reasons, and I like that, just because of how contrary it all is. But I’m afraid in the next paragraph (or so – to be honest, the whole post is a bit of “purse dump”), I need to overshare and be a bit cringe – if you want an excuse to leave, that warning is the one you should take as a cue for your exit.
A little while ago I put up some very cringe-worthy tweets on Twitter regarding myself and how I believe I am seen as a person (think Quasimodo without his Esmerelda). These have since been deleted, as has the Twitter app from my phone and even tipsy-me knows not to venture to microblogging sites to air my feelings. Drunk-me thought a pity party would be a good idea. Sober-me was embarrassed beyond anything. Whether or not the feelings in there are true or not, it’s unlike me to voice such things. I’ve not microblogged since, and I apologise for any concern caused.
But it’s all wrapped up in a spiral within a whirlwind within a helix. A little while ago, I was working at GW. It was better than ok. On days, it was awesome. And I got lured away (which allowed me to start up this blog again, which is great) by “more money”. Years ago, I did the same thing, and I regretted it then as I do now – from now on that will never be the reason I change jobs. I lasted 7 weeks in the job I left GW for before I called an end to my probationary period. Why? Well, it was a combination of two things really. On the one hand, I had not realised the toll lockdown and working during lockdown had taken on me (and the whole pandemic “if I get it, I’ll likely die” thing played into it). I worked the whole damn thing, and while I’m sure furlough was no cake-walk for anyone, I battled on through the whole thing, and my workload shot up and the stress shot up and as good as I am at compartmentalising such things, there’s only so much water my weakened dams can hold. And the new job made me feel like a fool. I went to a very big company in Notts, and while everything they promised me in the interviews sounded great, it was apparent in 2 weeks that my vision for what I could do (that had been confirmed in those interviews) was, within that organisation, impossible to do. There were nice people, but the practices and working standards and the fact that I felt I had very much been conned into taking the job, made me quit during my probation. Oddly, I’m very conscientious – if I don’t feel I can justify my paycheck, I’m more likely to leave than stay.
All of that happened, and a whole bunch of other stuff was heaped upon my broad shoulders (some of it self inflicted) and there were more than a couple of daggers through my soul as well, and in the end, those darkened tendrils of depression and self-loathing and nastiness trickled into my hobby and so my fate was sealed there and then I suppose. I painted the best thing I have ever painted, and I grew to loathe it. Had not my hand been stayed by reason then and there, I’d have snapped my brushes and binned anything I couldn’t sell. That’s the truth of it.
But in the darkest times, there remained a seed of hope. Presumably my brain knew that I would one day want to return and try again. That day has not yet come, though it tosses in its slumber even now, waiting for an opportunity to ride forth into the light again. There is no light yet, but I suppose it’s all darkest before the Dorn(sic), right?
So I have been “funemployed” for several weeks. I’m very lucky really, in that I can support myself and that I have tradable skills that keep me from the poor house. What’s more I’ve been sensible enough and fortunate enough with my money that I am not panicked for funds even if there is little trickling in. But even with that, my conscientiousness doesn’t like that I’m not contributing. And that all bleeds into every area of me and what I do like an oozing poison. I would not consider myself a miniature painter right now. A reluctant yet still excited hobbyist perhaps, but I am not what I once was. And even though I chose the path I now walk, with every justifiable reason, and more than a few comforts that not many could call on, being a fool still hurts. Making the wrong choices still stings, and considering I moved my entire life up to Nottingham to do one thing and then, the idiot that I am, I threw that thing away… it still hurts.
And I was good. I painted several pieces before my demise of which I was hugely proud. My blending and glazing work was getting on to a new level, and my basing was becoming very sharp, and I was confident – perhaps over-confident – in my skills. If a Golden Demon had happened, perhaps, just perhaps, I might have snuck a bronze. Maybe. If several of the major players had been held up in traffic.
I’ve made no bones about that being my goal, and have said before that whether that takes me another 30 years, it’s still my goal. But then I painted the Skaven Bombardier (pictured above) and it all fell to pieces. Genuinely, it was the best miniature I had painted. I hadn’t relied on my penchant for ambitious freehand, I had played to all my acquired strengths and it was wonderful. I was so proud of the job I did. It was the last miniature I painted before I allowed my will, and psyche, and fragile ego to come crashing down.
So now I hate it. I love the miniature, and I’m proud of my paint job on it, but I hate it. Because it’s me at the best I can be but it’s not good enough. It’s everything I have learned and fought to produce and it still falls short. It’s the best thing I have ever painted, and perhaps the best thing I will ever paint, and it’s still not good enough for my own standards (as foolish as that sounds). Of course, the completion of this falling around the same time as the rest of my world being turned upside down (either voluntarily or forcefully) didn’t help. When one’s own ego is out to get one, all is nought. There is no light, there is no hope of attaining one’s goal, it’s all pointless.
Though I have grown since then. Slowly, my will to get back to that place is returning. I’m a long way from it, but everything is moving in the right direction. I have some freelance work coming up that I’m really looking forward to, my own business will happen soon, and I’m beginning to have fun painting as well. I’d like to credit Bobbie (@violetsun on Twitter) for some of that, though she doesn’t know it. Not only do I need to get my Heresy Vs Heroes piece finished for her, but I’ll be taking her on in my first ever game of 9th Edition 40k soon. I’ve got a list, and I’ve been working on my Necrons too – so excited to have a new army for 40k, especially as I’m not an Army Painter at all.
I guess the point of this post is to let you, many friends, followers, fans and well-wishers know that there has been a reason for my absence from the world, and that I will be back, but not any time soon. Also, to anyone else hacking their way through a dark forest, you need to know that there’s light. Don’t let your brain get the better of you for too long – down that path inky waters lie.
And if I’m being honest, don’t be brutal to yourself with a hobby a that should be fun. I set myself a high standard that I am still very far from meeting and I have to deal with that, but if that’s not you, don’t be tempted down that path. If painting toy soldiers makes you happy, hold on to that, and don’t let things change that. You’re awesome, and you’re having fun, so that’s what you need to remember.
I’ve also found other outlets that are not wrapped up in the pressure I place upon myself for painting miniatures. I’ve spent a couple of weeks working on fun projects with water colours and I’ve designed some t-shirts on commission and that’s making me feel great right now. Seems spending my creative time away from toy soldiers is doing me a great amount of good.
Lastly, I want to say thank you to all of the lovely people on twitter who sent me messages after my little outburst. I was dealing with some shit, and honestly, I didn’t get back to you because of embarrassment and not wanting to dredge through all of that shit again and make your lives any bleaker. Can’t promise you that I feel any better, but I can tell you I don’t feel any worse and that I’m sure, one day, I’ll be ok.
But until I feel happy and healthy and confident again, I’m still going to be a bit of a recluse on Social Media. Don’t expect me drunk tweeting about the music I’m listening to any time soon. I will be back though. I promise. Just need a little time and light and all will be well again. Until then, if you picked up Dominion, I hope you will paint many sneaky orruks and/or shiny Stormcast. I look forward to seeing them all. Be excellent to each other and please have fun as much as you can. Onwards.