Febrile April

Well, the cough is now long behind me, but I managed to catch a random fever on Sunday night – resolved by Tuesday morning, but left sleepless, not recovered or caught up with anything until now – Thursday.

Despite being out of end at the tail end of April, and needing to spend a little more time in therapy than usual while trying to untangle some long-standing self esteem issues, there has been some progress.

I am in the middle of re-arranging my outline to make it suitable to actually write a narrative from, which does mean occasionally pecking at it to add or remove scenes – lots of work iterating over the same thing – and, wow, it’d help if I could get past all those life distractions tripping me up.

Trouble is, I’ve gotten into the rather bad habit of going ‘well, I got slowed down by things last week, so I better work harder this week’, ignoring that quite a few of those things slowing me down? Are myself.

I wouldn’t say I’m burnt out, not like I was – oh lord, no – but I’m definitely caught in my usual malarkey of prioritizing trying to work instead of trying to engage in self care.

Yesterday, Wednesday, was my first day back ‘on’ after the fever. Still kind of exhausted I struggled my way through catching up on the practical house stuff that had gotten out of control as my schedule went awry, and, uh. Yeah. I am very, very exhausted from all that.

It’s one of those psychological quirks – maybe tied to why I feel the need to work on my self esteem – built on putting my own well being at a very low priority, and everything else at a high priority. Failing, of course, to recognize that the weird machine that makes stories and novels happen is, uh… me. And without adequate care, the stories and novels won’t happen.

So. … Yeah. Basically I’m saying it out loud to help me force myself to take the time I need to rest/recover/heal and build up the energy to do what I want to do with these books.


Let’s talk about writing, rather than the writer.

What’s interesting about the plot, as it is now, is that the iteration process is very… bitty. Patchwork. Like a quilt.

For instance, I know that in Chapter 10 an event we will no-spoilers codename as ‘The Noodle Incident’ occurs, involving a mildly comical thing around how differently some of the clone runs perceive the world. This leads to a situation where some exciting things happen, and then things calm down for a bit.

I can either summarize across the calm section, or… or there’s room for about a half dozen possible slower scenes with a bit more worldbuilding, character-interaction, general calmness.

I like it when scenes do as many jobs as possible and make themselves absolutely integral to the book’s structure, and when there’s a slightly murky area like this, it’s prime territory for subplots or other material that connects to other parts of the book. I want this slow ‘down time’, a rest for the reader between things, to mean something.

It is like I’ve got a quilt, and I’ve found a little spot where there’s room for some extra embroidery. And while I could just put in very perfunctory stitches to hold it together, I can also find and shape something to fit the spot perfectly.

And that kind of iteration takes time. Coming up with possibilities and comparing them to see which fits best, or which will be strongest if I cut it down and into shape.

It is both a very challenging part of writing, and a very enjoyable one. But it’s also one that, if I rush, I inevitably wind up having to scrap a whole bunch of stuff and have a little do-over. Sometimes, even if I take my time, doing a bit of scrap-it-and-rewrite it is the right solution anyway… but sometimes, other times, I get things to fit just perfectly.

The current possibilities here are (suitably de-spoilered): Something calling back to an earlier scene and personal plot thread in Bobby’s life, something to help set up some later scenes, a better spot for some subplots I have scenes for earlier in the book, a place to catch and wrap up a subplot (though this would be a bit early for it!), or even something entirely new.

I can’t really do all of them… but I might be able to find a scene that does the same job as a few of them. Regardless, they’re all good options – and that’s the part I love about this bit of the process.

It’s past the ‘minimum viable plot’ point – the story is there, and on the whole it’s solid enough to work from, but there’s all these places that need a bit extra. And that extra, whatever it is, is going to make things – in some way – cooler, more fully thought through, more fun to write.

… Although I can’t give my outline the final evaluation for ‘is it ready to go?’ until I have all the chapters and most of the scenes worked out, which requires all these bits filled in, which may mean another pass iterating over the thing, and then another, and another, until some indefinable point at which it feels like, yes, now is the time.

Which, to briefly turn back from writing to the writer, is another place I jam myself up.

With no hyper-clearly delineated stop and start, well, often I just work until I can’t, and that’s the point I call it ‘done’.

Gotta be a better way of doing that.


Don’t skimp on rest and relaxation, treat yourselves nicely, and, as ever, thank you for your support. It matters, whether as Patreon-patron or kindly passer by. (And I clearly need it, given that I don’t support myself enough.)

Catch up with you in about another month, hopefully with further news of progress.

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By foozzzball

Malcolm Cross, otherwise known as 'foozzzball', lives in London and enjoys the personal space and privacy that the city is known for. When not misdirecting tourists to nonexistant landmarks and lurking at bus stops, Malcolm enjoys writing science fiction and fantasy with a furry twist.