On the outside, the final weeks of 2017 were pleasant enough. There was laughter, good food, some time away from home in which to switch off — as much as that's possible these days — and even, though it arrived just shy of a week late, a little bit of snow. Like I said: pleasant enough… on the outside.
On the inside, those weeks were… frankly, they were a nightmare, filled will constant doubt and indecision, the roots of which — in a development worthy of the most extreme eye-rolling — lie in the videos I began introducing to The JHN Files at the end of October.
"I'm far from being the most comfortable person in front of the camera, and I reckon there'll absolutely be times when it gets the better of me." — Me.
In a not-so-stunning turn of events, it got the better of me.
I knew it would. I didn't, however, anticipate just how much it would get to me. I didn't anticipate how the ever-increasing frustration of messing up over and over again would suck the fun from the remainder of each production. I didn't anticipate how much I'd tweak the presentation style from video-to-video, when one of my foremost goals had been a single, consistent look. And I didn't anticipate the domino effect all this would trigger.
When I posted the above-linked article — re-introducing Channel 2, and taking a quick glance back at the past before looking ahead to the future — I thought my goals had finished changing. I'd get stuck into both new articles and their video counterparts, record the first of what I thought would be many Let's Plays. I'd re-establish the site's Twitch channel for the occasional foray into live gameplay — and I'd do it all in my own time, fighting off the anxious feeling of needing to post things ASAP.
"And that'll be how things go." — Also me.
So I thought. I really, truly did. Turns out, however, those changing goals had just gotten started — and so began those nightmarish, doubt-ridden, indecision-filled weeks.
I won't bore you with any more details. The point of this article isn't to dwell on the journey, but to talk about the destination it took me to: simplicity — slamming on the breaks, turning this thing around, and heading back to basics.
"Where will The JHN Files be as it ushers in Year #3? Who knows?" — Still me.
I continue to have no idea where the site's heading, but it definitely won't be where I dared to imagine when I first wrote those words. Simply put, I'm completely, 100% done trying to force myself to be something I'm not — and might never be — ready to be.
When I took to Tumblr in December 2013 and set-up JHNBLOG, it was to give myself somewhere to write. Nothing more. Somehow, I lost sight of that. I saw what others were doing, and mistook liking their stuff for wanting to emulate it.
Entirely too long though it's taken, I've learned my lesson.
From here on out, the focus is firmly back on writing. Channel 2 is — for now — dead. Let's Plays and live gameplay are off the menu, and in further pursuit of simplicity, so too is the site's Facebook Page. (The engagement over there was so negligible it wasn't worth the time spent scheduling posts.) As part of my continuing efforts to banish that need to post things ASAP — itself fuelled by a questionable desire to be 'part of the conversation', and the embarrassing fear that people might think I'd copied any similar thoughts from others — I've established specific days on which to post stuff once it's written.
None of this is a recipe for success — in fact, in today's world of instant gratification, it's probably just the opposite — but I hope it'll prove to be a recipe for The JHN Files to be a little less of a disaster. Despite this new, considerably narrower scope, I still have high hopes that the site can be something to be proud of.
HERE I AM, BY MYSELF, TALKING TO MYSELF…
If you've made it this far, thank you. This has been a woefully self-indulgent post. I'd considered, in fact, sticking a much-abbreviated version on the end of whatever my next 'proper' article happens to be, but, ultimately, I thought it would be nice to get this one out there on the first day of 2018. New beginnings, and all that.
I also felt some need to explain myself, to explain why things have been so quiet after my near-ceaseless, retrospectively cringeworthy chatter about how the site's second year would be different, why the videos and podcast episodes I've posted are going to suddenly vanish, and why things might continue to be quiet for some time yet, despite the fact that I've seen The Last Jedi, completed two Assassin's Creed games, and had one or two Jurassic-related things I've been wanting to talk about.
See, as much as this is a stunningly predictable development for those who've followed my ramblings for a few years, it's also a chance to set things right, to take another shot at the consistent presentation I'd hoped to introduce last time.
It's a chance to banish as much of my doubt and indecision as I can, and to make The JHN Files something I feel good about again — something, as I mentioned above, to be proud of.
I'm going to take it.