Professional Amateurism, Normalcy Myth, and Blogging-As-Architecture

In every hobby I pick up, I always feel like I’m walking a fine, imaginary line between casual and hardcore. I see myself taking things seriously, but I also feel like what looks to most people to be “an obsession” is still not “serious enough” to others. It starts with dipping my toes in and then becomes investing my time and then soon I’ve lost myself in something. I stick with it longer than most, latched on and not letting go as others change gears or release the idea.

There’s also the dozens of other proto-hobbies; The things where I’m consuming and maybe experimenting but my mastery is too light for me to even think of it as “participatory”, things I keep locked in a notebook or folder for fear of embarrassment. But that tinkering rarely blooms into this “Professional Amateur” status I keep thinking about lately. It’s that sense of being 80, maybe 85% of the way there, and it’s how I feel about Final Fantasy XIV.

Blogging and writing, too, is a skillset where I feel like my experience lands me in this role. is probably my…. 6th or 7th blog? Yet I have posted very few things since starting it back in November 2020, but dozens of drafts are sitting in the wings, waiting for enough interest to finish them. (RIP, my Minecraft base tours from six months ago)

For better or worse, working through topics often leads me in new directions. Organizing my thoughts often reminds me of writing software – Maybe just because that’s what I ostensibly do for a living – But I’m so unlikely to go back and “refactor” a post once it’s out in the world, that I feel like I need to get not just a post, but a whole structure of information and argumentation right well ahead of time.

“Normal” is a fake idea

“ADHD Twitter” (as much as that is a thing) has also made me recognize that maybe some of this isn’t about being a writer or a software dev but about having ADHD. Not just the way I organize my thoughts, or write in pretty much the same voice I’d use in person instead of “condensed” email/article language, but the whole thing of having too many hobbies without really investing or inhabiting them to the degree I feel is “Normal”.

The idea of a normal amount of expertise in a hobby or interest is fraught as well. Some of that skewed definition of “Normal” may be a product of comparing myself to either content creators, whose livelihood is defined by spending ten hours a day packaging the “Hobby” I see them enjoying as a full time job, or by the skewed impression I have – even of people I know well otherwise- from their curated output and expression on Social Media.

This really started a week or two ago as a post about how I was going back and “catching up” on Final Fantasy content, and my own dissatisfaction with my performance in endgame raids, but seeing how my own thoughts spiraled out from those starting points, there’s more groundwork that needs to be shuffled to separate posts, so I’m free to focus on the original topic.

Architectural Blogging

Filling up these drafts helps grapple with this absurd goal of trying to broadcast my hobbies in a fulfilling and yet informative way. One of the biggest changes I’ve seen in myself in the last few years is the ability to restrain myself in conversation, to hold onto my thoughts and try to narrow my participation to what is prudent or what other people need. That instinct also chokes off a lot of the wild connection-making and powerful associative topic-crunching that has been part of my life experience, though.

What’s really nice about a blog is that, much like writing software, I can let myself ramble and connect and get these thoughts and their leaps and connections down, but then sit back and look at the architecture of that stream of consciousness, and build it into something that is useful and navigable, in a way that me gushing about a topic for an hour in person might not be.

And it’s nice that in Hypertext, I can really deeply link the ideas I have to existing posts I’ve made on the topic. Or at least, that’s the theory. In practice, it means that I have to build up a backlog of these repeated ideas, to recognize when I’m repeating an idea and extract it from posts on different topics, turn it into a dedicated post, and then relink it to avoid repeating myself. It’s just that creating that kind of infrastructure – Which was, honestly, the entire impetus for me to start blogging again – is going to take some time.

Getting every stance and position I have bundled into nice, round dependencies to build my future work on isn’t going to happen in a day, but it also feels like the only way to meaningfully talk about myself that doesn’t devolve into angry contextless yelling on the hellbird site for the rest of my life.

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