Category Archives: Life

Things are looking up

It’s been a fair while since I’ve posted here, and it’s mostly because I’ve been busy with other projects. I’ve been formalising my various art pursuits into a legal and legitimate business. It’s all going very well, if a bit haphazardly. I’m still learning. I’ve had an exhibition, I have several commissions on the go, and I’ve just joined the stable of illustrators for an online SF magazine. So that’s a regular gig! Not much money but every little bit helps and is going into the new account to grow the business. I’ve had to learn a lot of things I didn’t know, and spend some money for set-up and production costs which otherwise might have gone to miniatures gaming.

I say might, because… well, my wargaming and miniature painting hobby is something that I doubt I’ll ever truly abandon, but it’s certainly waned in importance to me over the last few years. I’ve been much more likely to spend my money on art supplies, pizza, going out for a drink, pretty much anything but wargames. I’ve bought one rulebook in the last year (Aetius and Arthur for SAGA) and the only models I’ve bought were some GW Skitarii I got with money from selling some of my collection.

That said: how about that new Warhammer 40k hey?

Looks pretty great to me. I’ve been following the information released on the Warhammer Community page (which is surprisingly entertaining and informative) for a while now, and I have to say, I have not seen one thing that I didn’t like the sound of. Not one. The latest thing to make me happy is the knowledge that every army I sort-of-collect for 40k (Astra Militarum, Adeptus Mechanicus, and the Inquisition) will all be in one book at release, which is soft-cover and not too expensive, and so I can just pick that up and then paint my Eversor and Skitarii projects whenever I feel like it.

In fact I’m so enthused about new 40k that I’m feeling unreservedly positive about Games Workshop games for the first time in what has sadly been many years. I’m thinking I’m going to re-activate my old blog, Warp Signal. I started it when I was really positive about gaming, and I closed it when I started feeling not so positive, and now it feels right to go back and have a rebirth of sorts. I fell out of GW games, by which I mean I stopped buying books, in 5th edition. It’s hard to believe really – it’s been two whole editions since I’ve felt good enough about the whole thing to actually buy a book. And now I think I’ll buy this one, so that’s definitely… something.

Catch you here or there,

Jimmy

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Life, the internet and everything

Hi everyone,

This is going to be one of those long, intense posts that barely touches on gaming, so you have been warned. It’s also maybe the most personal thing I’ve ever posted so yeah… let’s see how that turns out shall we?

I’ve had almost a complete break from facebook for about three months now, and I have to say, it feels like eternity. It gets easier, but not much. Before I get back to that though, I want to write some background as to how I’ve been for the last bit. Basically I’ve been tangling with some powerful and elusive thoughts for almost a year, and now I feel as though things are slowly clicking back into place. The thing that has been hardest for me to figure out is my relationship with the internet and my friends thereon, both local and international (I’ve decided to use the term “local” in lieu of “real life” or something, as Von has often pointed out to me that the internet is real life). So I thought I’d try to work things out a bit by writing it all down and seeing if that helps. Continue reading

I ATEN’T DEAD

… just moving house; dealing with a difficult, law-bending landlord; coming out on top; starting a new job; editing two books; living with a two-year-old –  in other words, life has overwhelmed gaming, hobby, and blogging. 

I hope to be back soon(ish), but for the benefit of my international friends, I should reveal that Australia has the worst internet infrastructure (and price-gouging) of any developed nation.  Whenever one of us moves, we have to wait an elastic “ten to twenty working days” (which has been known to stretch to out to a month) from the day we move in before we can get broadband to our new place. We also get hit with a bunch of connection fees because one company owns all the phone lines and they have to grant a lease to your ISP of choice, which is passed on to the consumer.  Long story short, three hundred dollars and a month later and you can finally stop using your mobile (at 50c per Mb) for the net.  I’m in the thick of it now.

I’m seriously hankering for some painting though, and I have a thoughtful post in my mind about the relationship between art and what we do as modelers and painters.  So stay tuned…

James

Parcel of Tau

Wow it’s been a while since I last posted.  Preparations for the move are going well.  The landlord has calmed down a bit and now we are co-operating to get the best outcome for everyone rather than at odds, which is the way I like it.

In much more exciting news, I got this in the mail the other day:

taubox

It’s not actually a Devilfish – it’s a Hammerhead, some Fire warriors and a Crisis suit, so everything I need for my Fallingstar Cadre.  Thanks Warlock! By the way, Wikipedia told me the other day that there was an English composer called Peter Warlock.  Spooky.

I like his beard.

I like his beard.

I’ll get to work on these Tau when the move is finalised in a bit over a week.  Oh, and in other real-world news I have an interview at the Australian National University Archives next week.  I’m very well-qualified and experienced, and it’s 20 hours a week.  Perfect.  Let’s hope I make a good showing on the day.

Have a good one,

James

Bye for now

Just a quick post today. I’ve fallen into some difficult financial circumstances in the last few days. I’ve just found out that due to government budget cuts, everyone in my section at work has had their hours reduced by three quarters. Luckily I have an editing job on the side at the moment, and it pays well, but the project will be finished in a couple of months.

I’ve sent out a burst of enquiries to every non-government library and archive in my city, but it’s not looking good. All the universities have also suffered cutbacks.

What I’m getting at is that I am going to stop all blogging and gaming for the foreseeable future while I concentrate all my efforts on getting a stable income again. I’m expecting I’ll have to go back to night shifts packing shelves or picking and filling at a warehouse for a while. I’ve squirrelled away a bit of money for models once this crisis is past but my budget for fun stuff is now officially zero.

So I wanted to let my readers and my friends here, and on other blogs and networks like the House of Paincakes (hey, even on facebook), know that if I’m not around for a bit, this is why. I’m on a war footing, looking for future editing jobs and a day job I can rely on.

Take care,

James.

Goodbye old friends

I’m feeling a little sad today, because I just sold some of my Warhammer 40,000 Imperial Guard tanks, and was surprised to find that I was more attached to them than anything else I’ve sold before miniatures-wise.

The two chimeras oft-used by the officers of my 5th edition Guard army, the St. Arkham Rifles, joined the stubborn Leman Russ Anathema and the Banewolf Hell’s Breath, with its crew-painted skeletal artwork, and left to hopefully fight another day.  I loved those tanks.  They crushed many enemies in casual games, campaigns, and tournaments over about five years, and were heroically destroyed probably just as many times.  But they always came clanking back.  I couldn’t bring myself to part with my Leman Russ Demolisher Storm Giant – she’s staying with me, at least for now.

I got enough money to finally buy the few models I still need to round out my 300 points of Japanese Sectorial troops for Infinity, plus a starter box of Irish for SAGA to go with my Vikings.  It’s a pretty good effort.  I’m not a good enough painter for people to pay top dollar for my stuff, but I’m good enough that my paint jobs don’t actually detract from the value of the model! How much people will pay usually depends on how much they like my style.  So I’m happy to be able to get so many new models with the proceeds this time.

It’s still sad though; I’ve learned that it’s not the paint-job or how long I have had a model that determines how attached to it I am – it’s the memories of battles.  And, wierdly, I don’t have the same feelings for infantry models.  The tanks are where my heart is and I never knew until now.

(Not) working for free

Today I want to talk about something not directly related to games, but more to the industry, and to creative industries in general: working for free.

I’ve been interested in turning my creative writing into a career for a long time, though due to reasons of immaturity, arrogance, and general flakiness I never really tried all that hard.  In the last six months I’ve been doing some work editing and proofreading for various people.  I enjoy it and I figure that it’s all part of the industry, and something I can do while I also write and work my day job.

I’m bringing this up because I mentioned last time that I was doing some proofreading for a cyberpunk game.  I have since decided to pull out of this – even though it is enjoyable and a valuable opportunity to get a credit in a book – because the designer wants people to do this proofreading for him for free.

When I first started doing this editing and writing for real, I had the attitude that you have to do everything you can to get your foot in the door – including working for free.  I had done some paid work for a university before, have done some unpaid work helping my friend with his PhD thesis, and I am currently editing and proofing the work of two other friends gratis.  But I think there is a difference between working for free for a mate who is producing academic writing or starting out in fiction writing, and working for free for a stranger on a project that he intends to make money out of.

People often expect writers, artists, film-makers, editors – in other words creatives and their ancillaries – to work for “exposure.”  The reasons they give if pressed usually boil down to “you love it, you should want to do it anyway.”  I’ve been guilty of spreading this attitude myself.  But I have since had a change of heart, after talking to some professional editors and really thinking about it. 

So what if you love what you do?  I’m sure there are many people in the world who would hate going through a written work with a fine-toothed comb and proofing it, even if they were capable of the job.  Which brings me to my next point: this is skilled work.  With 43% of Australians functionally illiterate, this is not something anyone can just do.  If a plumber enjoys his work, does that mean he should do it for free?  Of course not.  For one thing he trained for years to know what he knows.

Working for free undercuts everyone else who is legitimately trying to sell their valuable skills.  The only reason businesses even ask creatives to work gratis is because people do it.  So I’ve decided not to.  I can see no difference between agreeing to work for free on someone else’s commercial project, and being a scab on a union job site.  This has been a really difficult decision for me as I’m still in the early stages of my new career, and as I said I wanted to do the work and I wanted that publication credit.

But doing “whatever it takes” is being a free-rider.  It’s being a scab, an anti-vaccinator, someone who puts their own welfare ahead of the group.  I think that’s cowardly and morally dubious, if not wrong, and I try not to act that way in the rest of my life.

I’ll still buy the guy’s book.  I’m not angry at him or anything, he’s just doing the smart thing for him, and no doubt someone else will help him.  Maybe one of his friends who has a more personal stake in the project than I do.  But I’m not helping someone make a product in return for “exposure.”  That’s not going to pay my electricity bill.

Things to do, models to paint

On the Australia Day long weekend the family and I travelled to the coast for my friend Ben’s wedding.  I’ve linked to his blog before.  At the wedding we talked about miniatures (as you do), and Ben asked me if I’d like to swap a miniature for one of his paintings.  I agreed, and now I’m starting to think about what model I would paint for him.  Like just about every guy I know, he’s dabbled in Games Workshop games (Warhammer Fantasy Battle I think), so I was initially thinking I’d paint the Skaven Screaming Bell as I think it’s a great model and I’ve always wanted to paint it.  But now I’m thinking that there’s a whole world of miniatures out there, why go with Games Workshop?  Or even 28mm?  There are lots of really impressive 54mm models out there that are maybe even better as display pieces.

We shall see.

In other news I successfully sold my first model on eBay (for more than $1!), and might have found a buyer for my Battle Sisters, the Order of the Revenant Maiden.  Now I just have to finish painting one squad, as I realise that they haven’t been detailed.  I gave up on them in disgust and switched to Infinity models a year or so ago at the thought of having to paint twelve near-identical models, again.

Does everyone else find it as hard to get hobby stuff done as I do?  I used to have the problem of too many projects that I actually wasn’t very enthusiatic about.  Now that I’ve fixed that by resolving to paint and then sell, I find that I have hobby stuff I’m excited about doing.  The problem is my other responsibilities (my paid work, my writing, and some editing I’m doing on the side) seem to have crowded everything out when I wasn’t looking.

Bah, it’s too hot anyway, my paint practically evaporates as soon as I open the lid.

Driving and Smashing

I just finished painting and weathering an MDF building I got from BP Laser Terrain.  It looks pretty damn good if do say so myself, but unfortunately I dropped it on the way to photograph it, and it smashed.

So as soon as I rebuild it I’ll put up some pictures.  This happens to me so often I just have to laugh, really.  I hold my finished model up to the light, basking in the fruits of my labour, and then suddenly it’s on the floor in pain-stakingly painted bits.  Tragic.

Also, I’ve made a resolution to finally get my driver’s license.  Not having one may not seem all that strange to anyone reading this who lives in Europe or even the US, but in Australia it’s a rite of passage to learn to drive.  A lot of people do it as soon as they legally can (16) and pretty much everyone can drive by the time they are in their mid-twenties.  The distances between our towns (and within them) make it difficult to just up and go somewhere when you feel like it unless you can drive.

There are lots of reasons I never learned, and for once “being contrary” isn’t actually one of them.  I’ve always felt it was a sort of discipline to have to rely on my own two feet and my wits to get to places.  And I’m certainly fitter than many people my age, without ever setting foot in a gym or playing sport.

But it’s starting to seem a bit selfish to rely on my not-wife to drive me when necessary, now that we have a kid and a busier life.

More importantly, I never get to play Infinity because my local store is an hour-long bus ride away and my gamer friends only want to play Warhammer 40k.  Although one of them just announced that he’s quitting, so that’s a good sign.  If I could drive I could go and join in, and even entice others perhaps…