When I was a kid, I used to get deeply obsessed with things for short periods of time.
In elementary school I discovered John Bellairs books, and despite the fact that I played out mini-movies from the "Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark" series on the ceiling of my bedroom every night before I fell asleep in a state of fear-exhaustion, and that Bellairs wrote exclusively children's horror, I found and read every one. Even the fake ones that someone else finished--or full-on wrote, based on his notes--after he died.
Basically I forced myself to endure EVEN MORE EMOTIONAL TRAUMA (I was really neurotic, my life involved a lot of emotional trauma already) because these books were cool. Terror? Night sweats? Utter conviction that you're going to be murdered by ghosts? Meuh. Worth it.
When the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time game came out for N64 I dove in deep. So deep that I started drawing fan art. Then writing fanfic. Then teaching myself HTML so that I could build my own website (these were the geocities days, you still needed to know HTML) so that I could go deeper into the community of Zelda obsessives who had THEIR own websites and fic and art.
I wasn't a cool kid but it was like courting social suicide. What if someone found "THE SITE WHOSE NAME I'M STILL TOO EMBARRASSED TO MENTION HERE?" I was heedless of consequences. I needed to think about Zelda ALL THE TIME.
Until I didn't.
Let's pretend, for my ego, that I at least did GOOD fanart, like this, even though I didn't.
There was a period where I played the game "Snood" for hours every night, even ignoring AIM chats to shoot little smirking balls at other little smirking balls.
Then I stopped.
In high school and college, it was easier to direct my obsessions towards "acceptable" things. When you like a song and buy all seven albums by a band, that's somehow "cool" fandom, not "your diagnosed OCD is showing again."
Same difference, though. If you're dreaming about the thing every night, and/or can't stop seeing its patterns behind your eyes when you close them, it goes way past the level of "hobby."
I don't really have hobbies. I have wormholes or nothing. Even the things that are hobbyish--knitting say--go in waves like that. I knit six hats in a week then can't finish the seventh for months. Suddenly the thing I wanted to do all the time feels like pulling teeth.
In the last few years, I haven't run into something that's sparked the "lose interest in almost anything else, just do this" impulse. I think part of it is just being older, but a lot of it is feeling like I have too much to do to indulge myself this way. (Another facet of the OCD: need for total control, including over myself, and whether or not I'm allowed enjoyment at a given moment.)
Then I found myself a few weeks out from my book launch (STILL THERE!), with this weird combo feeling of helplessness--you can only send so many emails to bookstores and magazines before you're forced to wait to hear something back--and a constant need to be doing something.
And then I discovered Witcher III.
I've always loved games, but I haven't dived into one this intensely, this quickly, since LoZ: OoT...when I was 14. In the past five years, I mostly stuck to my Nintendo handhelds, in fact, because the games tend to be more compact and I can play them on a commute or an airplane.
Not sure how much the sense of having nothing better to do is playing into my ability to totally lose myself in a fictional world again. It's a mainstay of childhood; your life is so regulated that when you're not doing the things you're supposed to, you're allowed to get REALLY into the things you like, but as an adult, pervasive guilt over what I should be doing instead haunts me.
And yet...I've spent dozens of hours already in the game world and I'm mostly just collecting herbs I've never used for anything.
Am I the only one whose brain seems to have a killswitch?
Also, does anyone want to talk about Witcher with me?