It’s actually March. (April Fool’s!)

Yes, yes, I know, to clear up the confusion caused by jests and japes, March came to its conclusion over the weekend, April is now in session.

So, last month I mentioned mental conditioning and pacing yourself for big creative tasks.

Right now I’m implementing those thoughts, somewhat successfully, by reminding myself that focus is a little like a muscle. You can only focus for so long before your brain gets exhausted and you need rest, or a break.

Training and conditioning can extend that period, and manic hyperfocus states can keep you there for awhile, but when I try and push my ability to focus too far or experience too many of those hyperfocus states without a break, the same thing happens. My willpower drains, I get nothing done at all, and concentrating on anything becomes a challenge.

So, my current day-to-day schedule includes specific blocks of time in which I do my damndest to keep concentrating… and other blocks of time that are a lot more loosey goosey. Time with all distractions turned off and a single-minded push, time where I don’t stress all that much about having social media open or getting up to get a drink or take regular stare out the window breaks.

So far, that’s working out for me. Writing days have been going better, though, they are on pause. Temporarily.

Paused, because Quicker than Blood has hit the 50% mark, and I need to take stock of where I’ve reached with the book.

There’s a lot to like, but so far, the pacing and style… there’s a lot more introspection and psychodrama than I planned for, going into this.

My original vision was for a relatively short, pacy and quick-moving novel. A lot of focus on plots and the criminal underworld of San Iadras. Something around 90 000 words – just a hair longer than Dog Country.

What I’ve got will wind up in the vicinity of 165 000 words to 170 000 words – within spitting distance of Mouse Cage’s 181 000 words. It has deep character study and a murky plot full of secrets which has just barely begun to reach the surface by the midpoint.

One possibility is that I need to adjust my vision of what I want the book to be – explore the book I’ve actually written so far, find the parts I like, strengthen them, and carry onward with adjusted expectations. Another possibility is that my original vision for the book doesn’t feel quite right, now that I’ve been working with these characters long enough to get under their skin, and I need a new vision entirely.

I’m entirely unsure, but in taking a break to read and think, I am basically taking a long look at where I want to be, and where I thought I wanted to be. And that also involves taking a long look at where I actually am.

Currently I’m investigating three potential plans.

The first is to spin off a lot of the psychodrama parts into a novella-length work incorporating big chunks of what I’ve already written, covering the ‘origin’ story of the protagonist. Then, I use the other chunks, and a new outline using some elements from the ‘original’ vision to make a new vision that’s more tightly focussed, and write that as the quick and pacy crime novel I want.

The second is to adjust course to match what I’ve already written. This will end up a bigger chonkier book, but also one that’s likely less focussed. In order to do it well I’ll probably need to do stuff like take the action scene from Heist A and re-use it for Heist B, then take the bits from Scam C and interweave them with the new Heist A… a lot of stitching and changing the places for a lot of things. I think that could work out… but it’s definitely not going to be my original vision.

The third is to put all the material I’ve written into a blender and chop it up real fine to use in creating something wholly new, but structured with a ton of flashbacks to bring back all the scenes I love most and smooth them all together. Something non-linear in structure with a heavy frame story.

I’m not sure which plan I’ll go with – knowing me I’ll probably squish ‘em together and add some new stuff on top – but by exploring these three options and evaluating them I think I can put myself in a position where, instead of writing the remaining 80 000 words of Quicker than Blood’s first attempt and having an oversized draft which I need to do massive plot-surgery on, I can get myself into a situation where the next 80 000 words I write are going towards something much closer to where I want this thing to end up.

We’ll see how it goes. And after I’ve taken the time to evaluate what I’m doing, I might just decide to finish out the draft/outline version I’m presently working with ANYWAY.

All options are open.

But, I admit, it’d be kinda fun to put together a novella I can post up online for free in sections, the way I did oh so very long ago with the first attempts I made at writing San Iadras stories.

(I also have thoughts about how novellas/serialized fiction should work… but that is a story for another time.)

So, right now I think I’m doing relatively well compared to recent months, but I do have an extra huge chunk of work to get through.

I’ll get back to that, but, I wish you all a wonderful month ahead, and, as ever, thank you so much for your interest and/or support. It means a lot.

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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.