Wednesday, May 28, 2014

In a Slump

Blog followers, you may have been wondering what’s going on with the lack of activity at Castles of Tin.  Indeed the blogosphere is studded with blogs started fired with enthusiasm only to halt with some random post, leaving you wondering why the blogger just walked away from it. 

The truth is, I’ve hit the wall.  I’ve painted hardly anything for weeks, finished some of the Deetail knights but couldn’t muster the enthusiasm to photograph them. I haven’t looked at my blog nor anyone else's. In hindsight, it wasn't a good sign when after designing and casting a nice 40mm French infantry figure, I couldn’t summon the motivation to finish even a battalion of them.

I look at the accumulated clutter of half-baked projects in my hobby room, try not to look at unpainted piles of lead and plastic, games & rulebooks stashed here and there in the closet or the garage, thinking of the money I’ve wasted over the years.  I won’t say wasted the time because I enjoyed nearly all the painting.  Hence there is a legacy of a sorts, although an unfocused one.   

The thought of trying to recoup years of hobby indulgence in small transactions on eBay is nearly grounds for despair.  One step at a time I know, but I just don't feel like dealing with it at the moment.  Although I know that sooner or later I must.  I'm resisting a nihilistic urge to hurl everything into the trash: simple and cathartic, but too wasteful and ultimately selfish to send things that others might enjoy to be bulldozed into landfill.  

Where to from here ?  I don’t know.  I’m hoping the recapture the muse sooner or later. For the time being, I’ve fallen back on building some 1/32 race car models, still something to do with the hands and relax the mind. Castles of Tin will resume at some point, although I can’t really say when.


  1. Sounds as though you and I (and it would appear lots of other people) are in the same boat. Though your case seems worse than mine withal: I'm still managing to get stuff done, however slowly and piecemeal. I think I can at least put a finger on my own lack of energy: lack of gaming space. The plethora of unfinished projects is no help.

    Possibly that very multitudineity of projects begun was itself symptomatic of the malaise that eventuallly catches up with us.

    Stay with what you feel comfortable with until the urge returns...

  2. Hi Steve,

    As a frequent hitter of that particular wall I know exactly how you feel! It will pass in time but that feeling of 'oh my God how much money have I spent and left lying around in half finished heaps!' is not a good one to have to shake - it manages to combine guilt with a sense of somehow failing to deliver. My only advice would be to consciously step away for a week or so and let the urge resurface by itself. Tackling something small and mundane tends to work for me because not only have you done something tangible but this usually leads to revisiting something almost at random.

    The last time this happened to me I reorganised and tidied my man cave and it worked a treat.

    Manage your expectations and try not to let them manage you!

    I hope all is well soon.

    All the best,


  3. We await the return of your muse with keen anticipation. Hope the cars help and are a pleasure in the meantime...

  4. One of the drawbacks of this hobby is that it can be a bit solitary and introspective especially for those of us who don't have a circle of like minded collectors/gamers to meet with regularly. Add to that the butterfly tendency to flit from one period or genre to another and you have all the ingredients for a fine old mess of lead and plastic. Oh how I envy those rare, gifted individuals who have the focus and discipline to stick to one project and see it through to the finish.

    When I hit the wall I get some big plastic storage boxes, fill them with all the unfinished conversions and projects and stash them away, clearing the space always makes me feel a lot better and out of sight is out of mind. I have many such boxes.

    Don't throw anything away though, the money is spent and you enjoyed acquiring the stuff at the time so don't feel bad about it. If you have the chance take a table at a show and sell stuff or give some away, it's so much more satisfying than trying to sell on ebay.

    Hope this helps, Brian

  5. I realise that your post is not seeking either sympathy or useful support, but I hope a little empathy is OK…

    As a lifelong sufferer from serious depression, I am well aware of the trap which hobbies (or any kind of habitual activity) can offer, viz:

    (a) I must keep myself active, busy - must create something enjoyable

    (b) oh God - look at all the stuff I've given myself to do…

    Personally, I have found your blog and the pictures of your work inspirational - a constant source of pleasure and a kind of benchmark for what can be achieved. I am not in a position to offer advice, but I have always found that it helps to do some of the things that other commenters have mentioned - take notes of where I am up to with the various projects, box them up in an organised way (get myself some room to breathe), put a few things on hold and - importantly - give myself a holiday in my reading habits - buy a book on something interesting which is nothing to do with my hobbies. I am of a mindset which easily disappears down spirals of over-study, and I know that, too, can generate more pressure - look at all these books I've got to read - look at all this stuff i once knew but have forgotten.

    It's important not to over-react, I believe - don't sell stuff or throw it away until it has been in a cooling-off place for a while and you're more sure about it - I've recently bought new copies of a couple of books i sold in a misguided purge a year or two ago!

    Nothing to do with me, of course, but I am genuinely very fond of your blog, and I would be sad to think you had fallen out with your beautiful models!

    Take care - best regards - Tony

  6. One suggestion that I have is to watch some movies set in a period that you like but may be "blocked" in.

    For example, I only have to watch something like "Zulu" or "The Wind and the Lion" to rekindle my Colonial enthusiasm . . . so think about that. Watching a movie is a fairly passive endeavor but it might well re-ignite your enthusiasm.

    -- Jeff

  7. If my experience of this sort of thing is anything to go by - and it has happened on and off for as long as I can remember - a break doing something else will enable your batteries (and enthusiasm) to return.

    I would caution you against getting rid of anything whilst you feel like this. I did that once ... and regretted getting rid of stuff that I could have found a use for some years later.

    Take a break ... and I look forward to reading your blog again in the near future.

    All the best,


  8. I can only wonder at what has sparked your block. Yes, we have all (most of us) been there. Please do not act in haste - my policy is THROW NOTHING OUT - EVER. This policy is not without it's cubic difficulties. I am desperate to get stuck back in but personal circumstances conspire to prevent me for at least another month. Your efforts and the content you share are fantastic. I'm a fussy follower but you are right up there. Hopefully, your doldrums will pass.

  9. Yes I also think it's time to take a break, and do something different. But I'm very confident that you will return to the flats, with recharged batteries, a little down the line! I always enjoy your posts.

    Best, Simon

  10. Thank you gentlemen one and all for your kind comments, suggestions and support.

  11. Late as usual. We all hit the wall sometime or other but if I may offer my advice, please don't get rid of anything. It may seem at the moment you may never look at another toy soldier again, but at some stage I'm sure you will be enthused and then they will be waiting for you. I only speak from bitter experience. I for one will be looking forward to seeing your posts resume again.
    kind regards

  12. My dear chap, your blog is one of the best, and I have always thought your painting skills to be marvellous, first rate. There's some good advice above, so I'll just limit myself to saying, 'this too will pass'. All the best!

  13. Thanks very much, Mike & AlFront. I do very much appreciate everyone's positive feedback and constructive suggestions.


  14. I've sort of held off commenting and now others have said it all for me!

    Pop around and say hi now and again and if/when you're in the mood to post, we'll be here and happy to see you.

  15. Just to say that I've enjoyed and benefited from your enthusiasm for flat figures (an interest we share) and the wonderfully inspiring photos you publish ... thanks for all that - it is appreciated.

    If it's time for a break, I'll certainly be looking forward to some future renewal, maybe something new. but good luck for the time being ...


  16. Yes, by all means take a break! I like pizza. If I eat pizza for every meal I soon get tired of it, So I refrain for a while. Fairly soon, I want some pizza!

    Variety is the spice of life so read a noir book or something about motor racing or design. If the gaming urge comes back your ready.

    Best of luck from another one who has been there.


  17. Indeed, we've all been there. The problem with most of us is that we get these "spur of the moment“ interests that don't last more than a year or two at most. We're all guilty of becoming "unfocused".

    As has been said, don't chuck anything out. If you must retrench then sell or donate, but maintain your core interests: i.e, your first gaming loves (as it were). The periods that you know deep down that you'll always return to.

    Also, as others have mentioned too, getting away from it all for a while and doing something else will help. A change is as good as a rest!