I have been working on the NPLH brand and all it encompasses for close to 7-years, and up to the point of my hiatus nearly every waking moment of spare time went into working on something Holmes related. A combination of sheer burnout with a growing feeling of nobody caring whether I did this or not really had begun to eat me up inside. There were also other factors, but we will get to them later.
This site receives around 1000-5000 views a day, but the feedback, while frequently exceedingly positive, was often few and far in-between. Sometimes it became hard not to think that I making work that merely echoed in the ether. In addition, when I would ask a favour or post requesting help for such things as voting for me in a contest or liking a Facebook page, it was often to deadening silence. Yet, all the while the viewership kept increasing, and even with no new material people have kept on coming for months.
This comic illustrates this point wonderfully.
Many people were very quick to draw scorn with my views, and were very vocal in telling me so. Again, I refer you to the above comic. Many felt it necessary to tell me that I should do it anyway, and that the process mattered more than the outcome.
I would say that this is good advice, you should do something because you love it, which I did, very much so. But should you stay in a relationship and “go through the process” even if the other person didn’t love you or show appreciation? And would you stay in a job that didn’t value you at all?
I have walked on both occasions in these scenarios, so why would now be any different? I know my worth, and I am sorry that some people do not value themselves the same way. Each and every time I wind up in a far better scenario and place, and my hiatus from here has been no different.
I have an insatiable need to create. A day without working on something creative is a day wasted to me. I have not been on a formal holiday since 2004. Why? Because, like Holmes, not working bores me rigid. The question was never over why create for the sake of creating, but where or what form that creation should take. The argument for it staying focused on this site was not stacking up to be a compelling one. There was more good to be done elsewhere for myself and many others.
Others told me that I wasn’t a true Sherlock Holmes fan for doing that, and that I was only using the Holmes bandwagon to springboard myself elsewhere. Really? I spent 6-years of my life providing entertainment and education to a select fan base in the assumption that it would open every door elsewhere? Nope.
Not sinking every waking moment of spare time into this has been nothing but beneficial to my career and allowed me to gain a lot more notoriety as an actor, writer, and director. Based upon a system of the number of times cast , views, and recommendations, I now rank in the top 5% talent in The Star Now database, a site with over 1 million members worldwide. The Stage newspaper has reached out to congratulate me for my The Faction of Farce comedy group. TV show appearances, video game voice overs, radio plays, short films and requests to direct/produce have all made up what I have been up to this past year.
For the longest time, people assumed that this was all I was capable of doing, all I had done, or all I did do! And after a while you begin to believe it. I have no problems forever being associated with Sherlock Holmes, far from it. I am extremely proud to be the first actor to have played him in a web series. He is still my favourite character to play, and I am very proud of what I have done with this site and all the wonderful people I have met as a result of doing it. But there is a problem when you are no longer sure who you are without it. I became scared that once this all came to an end that I would have no identity whatsoever. That the cast would eventually fall away and people wouldn’t have any reason to talk to me, that this was all people saw me as, and not what else I could do or the person underneath. It sounds clichéd, but I felt that I was a nobody without it, and that is where it became terrifying. To think that your whole identity as a human being is intertwined with the works of someone else’s fictional character is a strange feeling.
Now, combine that fear with the burnout and underappreciation feeling, and I do hope that you may start to understand my feelings behind this.
I had to step away to prove to myself that I was so much more, and now that I have, I can pick up the key and, once again, return Holmes.
Lastly, to the people who have ever shown support over the years, have ever written in via the contact form,written an NPLH related article, commented on a video/Facebook post, had me as a guest speaker, asked me on a podcast, offered additional finds to essays, wanted to send me a birthday card, or asked me for an autograph or a book review - thank you.
I cannot even begin to express what these mean to me, and it is for these interactions with fellow Holmes fans that make this so worthwhile. It is these interactions that have helped me know when something worked, what to do more on, and to keep on working at the formula so that I could strive to make it even better for you.
Enjoy the trailer for NPLH series 6, and do be sure to check back regularly, I have bloody lot of content to come out over the next 3-months!
Ever so sincerely yours,