I've been feeling very disillusioned lately.
Those of you with even a passing acquaintance with my journals will probably sigh and mutter, "So what's new?" But, over the two years since I last bothered to write one of these things, my engagement with deviantART has dropped to just about nil.
I did, eventually, get around to logging in and dealing with my backlog of messages, but there's just so little I'm interested in any more. I know I should probably unwatch a bunch of people - in fact, I recently did - but the problem is, I have nobody to replace them with. There just isn't anything out there any more which engages me enough to commit myself to a regularly-updating feed of it.
What few links I do click on with any enthusiasm are generally better catered for elsewhere, often on their own websites. dA has become a sort of mini-Twitter for me - most useful for getting timely alerts for comic series I follow, interspersed with a much larger quantity of occasionally interesting padding.
And that, I think, gets to the heart of the problem. I don't really use dA any more, and what few things I do use it for are basically duplicated by Twitter. I think Twitter has now completely supplanted this site as my de facto way to keep up with stuff, and as a convenient place for spewing out whatever nonsense my brain cooked up in the last five minutes.
Which brings me to the other part of my disillusionment with dA. My three active watchers have probably noticed that I don't really submit stuff any more. What killed it was, I think, throwing myself wholeheartedly into the UK and/or indie comics scene - an area which I am massively enthusiastic about looking at, but possess negligible amounts of talent when it comes to participating in.
Until then, I had merely contented myself with uploading photos for a small (albeit slowly increasing, especially since I discovered groups) dribble of favourites. I didn't come to the end of my photo collection (although I haven't been taking many lately), I just lost the will to go on. What, I thought, is the point of uploading amateurish photos - something any hack with a mobile phone can do these days - when 95% of all the things you photograph have been photographed before, often from the exact same angle, and invariably by someone with more talent, more expensive equipment, and more of an audience?
I don't begrudge these people. If anything, I needed a timely reminder of how I don't actually matter. They can undoubtedly do a better job than I can, and having seen my blurry, grainy, often partially obstructed shots next to their stunningly composed HDR masterpieces in the galleries of groups like night-shots, I began to feel not just like a timewaster, but a fraud.
At one stage, I was considering putting a wallpaper pack together. I shelved that idea when a moment of realistic reflection reminded me that I am the only person who would ever consider using it.
The other significant part of my gallery, especially the early sections, was Apophysis fractals. That's a program which only works on Windows, and I don't own a Windows computer. I used to compromise by snatching one hour (the maximum allowed by Merton Council) in the public library, but that really isn't enough time to produce a decent fractal, and it showed. The fractals from before my (previous) long hiatus were almost universally better.
Frankly, the only purpose left for dA which is neither covered adequately by other websites nor just isn't worth it any more is the uploading of random stuff like this which I wanted to be both publicly accessible and downloadable in its full, original quality. That last condition rules out Twitrpix, which is much more of a map of my mind than dA ever was, and contains some quite interesting stuff if you haven't looked at my page there before.
There is just one thing left to cover. Ever since I joined dA, my profile has described me as a "Cartoonist", yet the paltry wares on offer have always seriously undershot this ambition, recent additions notwithstanding. I do have a file full of sketches, ranging from exercise book doodles I amused myself with in college right back to full-size single-panel gag cartoons riddled with bonus background detail, which I drew when I was bored as only a teenager at a boarding school can be. But again, we hit the same problem as with the photographs and fractals. None of them are any good. I mean, the humour is passable - I've always been a much better writer than an artist - but the majority of the corpus, well, let's just say it shows its age, and what's more my ability has barely advanced since my most prolific days at the ages of 13 and 14.
I do know the solution to all of this. If I were to commit myself to drawing something, at least one thing, every single day, and compelled myself to keep pushing forward, keep trying new things, and keep forcing myself to confront the things I find difficult, ultimately, I would grow to become a competent artist. I've given up on 'How to Draw' books - they're a lie. There is one, and only one, way to become a cartoonist, which is hard work, patience, dedication, and continuous drawing. Every professional cartoonist says they have done this since the age of 4. I first put pen to paper at the age of 13, not that long after I discovered the Beano, so I am already hopelessly behind in almost every respect imaginable, and I can't prove that catching up would even be physically possible. Can you gain, from scratch, a talent which you haven't had the benefit of almost since you were born? Then, of course, there's the real reason I'm never going to do this, which is that I am lazy, disorganised, easily distracted, and incapable of commitment in any form.
Much the same goes for the photographs and fractals. I daresay I could do it, but why bother?
In summary, I don't know what I'm going to do with this account. I'm certainly not going to delete it (even if more than a few of the things I wrote on it when I was 15 make me cringe now), but I just don't have any inclination left to use it any more. Maybe the death-knell was my discovery of Twitter, where I am both reading and writing on a regular basis. Maybe I can only focus on one social network at a time (yes, I know neither dA nor Twitter are technically social networks, but they're as close as a sociopath who finds the very concept of Facebook, Google+, and "sharing with your friends" morally offensive is going to get).
So yeah. You should probably follow me on Twitter if you want updates as frequent as those that used to emanate from this page. I mean, assuming you're actually interested and all.