A phenomenon that fascinates me is the idea of doing something to the point you can’t do it anymore. I’ve mentioned before that when I was growing up I always drank sugared tea, usually with a centimeter of undissolved sugar at the bottom of the glass. Then one day I couldn’t drink tea with sugar. I don’t remember getting sick drinking sugared tea and I don’t remember getting sick on something sweet. In fact, I have no problems eating sweets (unfortunately).
I suspect that what happened is that one day I just decided I’d had enough sugared tea. I’d overdone the sugar to the point that I just got tired of it. I think it’s this way because I’ve experienced the same attitude with a lot of things.
I can play a computer game for hours and hours on end every day for weeks–occasionally stopping to eat and answer calls to engage in necessary bodily functions–and then, all of a sudden, I never want to play that game again. Sometimes it’s because I’ve mastered the game, like say Civilization II and Civilization: Call to Power; but sometimes I’m playing deliberately addicting internet games that are never the same. I play them until I can’t play them anymore.
I’ve experienced the same thing with authors. I used to be a big Stephen King fan–heck I even read Danse Macabre–and still consider the original release of The Stand to be one of my favorite books and a book that’s influenced my writing. The original opening was simple and brilliant: a bunch of friends hanging out at a gas station and an accident happens that changes the world. Years later, I got about a third of the way into It and suddenly couldn’t read Stephen King anymore. I never finished It and haven’t read any fiction he’s done since.
I also get tired of podcasts. I’ll listen to a dozens of podcasts by one person and then stop and never listen to it again. In that case, I think I get tired of the podcast’s format.
I suppose part of the phenomenon is that the author or podcast or game or sugar satisfy a specific need; distraction, distraction, distraction, sugar craving. Mastering the game becomes its own goal and it buries all other goals. You feel really smart at mastering something, even it’s not really something important. Stephen King novels are awesome until you see another bully, another group of geeks, a campy scene where a statue of Paul Bunyan turns into a giant clown. (That’s the exact moment I stopped reading Stephen King.) Internet games finally seem silly.
There’s also a moment where you realize how much time you’ve wasted. And you realize it’s time to move on. To the next distraction, of course.