Category Archives: writing projects

And waiting…a brief Princess of Fire update

This is perhaps the very hardest part of editing a book– waiting for the beta-readers to return their feedback. I’ve gotten a response from one reader on Princess of Fire, and I’m waiting for input from two others. Patience is a virtue, or so I am told….

In the interim I’ve gone ahead and started a fourth reading of my own of a new CreateSpace PDF proof I’ve created. This one is mainly to make sure that my pagination, spacing and page breaks are all in the right places. I assume (hope) that my remaining beta readers will not find anything major at this point, and that there are no important changes left to be made. Still, I’m holding off calling the text finalized, just to make sure.

You may notice that I did not say completed— that’s not a word I use a lot about my books. Over time I’ve come to accept the truth of the saying, which I have seen most recently attributed to Harry Crews, that novels are never finished, only abandoned. There comes a point at which you simply need to stop diddling with the damn thing and either publish it or send it to an agent or editor. That moment is fast approaching for Princess of Fire— in itself, a cause for rejoicing, considering that at times I damn near despaired of ever completing this novel.

In the wake of publishing Princess of Fire I will not immediately start in on writing Princess of Stars. At the moment I know how the book begins, and very precisely how it ends (right down to the last line), but the middle is a largely undiscovered country. After the pantsing disaster of Princess of Fire, I intend to take some time and try to get a better feel for the guts of Princess of Stars— if not a full outline, then probably a pretty detailed synopsis. I anticipate this book will be big and cover a lot of ground, so I want to have a firm foundation before I actually start.

In the interim, I will probably be spending some time expanding the partial draft I have for Horse Tamer, which may need a new title. It’s a story close to my heart, but I don’t anticipate completing it any time soon– when I try to think about a possible word count for it, the number “500,000” keeps coming to mind (don’t scream– there are bigger novels out there).

Beyond that, I plan on expanding my blogging efforts, which have been lagging lately. I have more movies to review and more unsubstantiated opinions to bloviate about. Of course, and hardly least, there is still the nagging need for me to secure a day-job, another project that has been in the doldrums lately.

But I am close, so close, to publishing Princess of Fire. The sense of liberation is going to tremendous. You might want to stand back….


A Princess of Fire update– a glimmer of dawn

Think of a company of men– soldiers or explorers, perhaps. They are trapped in some nightmare country which is covered in darkness, and they struggle through a chaotic landscape, not even sure if they have a goal, much less in which direction in the featureless dark it may lie– and then, slowly, they see a gleam beyond a line of broken hills, and realize it is the dawn.

That’s how I feel at the moment about Princess of Fire.

The book is now at 120,000 words, and in the last couple of days I have come to the growing realization, as I sometimes do with a draft, that I am within striking distance of completing it. My best guess is that two or three chapters, 15,000 to 20,000 words, will do the job.

I am not out of the nightmare country yet– but dawn glimmers.

If I can stay focused, I should be able to finish the first draft before the end of the month. I say should be able to, because I hesitate to make a definite pronouncement– all my definite pronouncements about this book have been, over and over again, wrong, wrong, wrong. Even my commitment to do a minimum of 500 words a day failed– I did some math, and from October last year through the end of January I averaged a pathetic 216 words a day on this book– less than a single double-spaced page with one inch margins, if you put it in old-school manuscript terms. The book has come in spurts and surges, with long gaps in between of ennui and depression and spending time on other projects.

But 20,000 words– to engage in some un-typical self-praise (I won’t do it again, I promise), I can do 20,000 words, even 20,000 words that make sense, in very short order. Being this close, in fact, creates the additional motivation that it would be a shame not to complete the draft, seeing as how I’m this close.

Finishing the first draft, of course, will only be the end of the beginning. When the draft is complete, the hard work of straightening out the narrative and filling plot holes, cutting unneeded bits, correcting names and timelines and characters, and fleshing out action (a 140,000 word novel that may need fleshing out. Oh, let me think about that one…) will begin. But, as I have mentioned in previous posts, a complete fist draft is the one critical mental milestone I personally have to reach to ensure that I will carry a novel to final draft status. It is the sine qua non— “without which, not”– of my writing process. There’s a reason why I date-stamp my novels with the date I finish their first draft.

So– back to work for me. When– not if, God willing, but when– I finish this draft, I am definitely throwing a party. Even if it’s just a bag of Cheetos and a slice of pizza, I will be celebrating. I will keep you posted.

Another self-critique of “Horse Tamer”

Horse Tamer is now at about 60,000 words. If this were a normal novel, or even a normal first draft of a novel, I would be deep into the main action of the story at this point. As I’ve previously noted, however, this is not a normal first draft, and it’s getting weirder by the chapter. I have, most incontinently and without a trace of proper narrative discipline, allowed myself to luxuriate in the process of building out the world and my cast of characters, using an inordinate amount of time to do what would, in a finished novel, take perhaps one-third the number of words. I have one or two important characters I haven’t even introduced yet. And poor Ana, who is to be (I mean it) a major player in the overall story, hasn’t even been seen in the last nine chapters! If I were to present this mess to an editor, they would not only be justified in rejecting it, but in having me shot at dawn. Without a blindfold.

Fortunately, the saving grace here is that this is a blog, on which no one has to pay to read my ramblings. The freedom the blog has given me to take my time constructing my narrative has, however, allowed me to indulge a very bad habit– blathering on without regard to pacing. Complaints have, in previous times, been lodged against certain other of my novels with regard to their pacing. With Horse Tamer, so far it appears that pacing is standing out in the snow, shivering and holding a tin cup. Obviously, if I were ever to submit this for actual publication, that issue would have to be rectified.

In terms of specific issues, I continue to worry that I am not conveying Mankin’s emotional conflict adequately. However, more than just trying to find a balance in portraying his grief, it belatedly occurs to me that I should be giving him more emotional colors, so to speak. Grief comes in many shades– sadness, rage, depression, addiction, promiscuity, violence. Aside from his initial attempt to turn himself into kitty-chow, Mankin showed a bit of rage toward his grandfather in Chapter Two. Since then, however, he has been distressingly monochromatic. I need to think about how to fix that.

In addition, I don’t think I have very adequately conveyed the fact that Mankin has more going on in his noggin than just the loss of Alektl and their daughter. He’s experiencing a certain amount of PTSD, but more than that, I’ve had it in mind that Mankin is haunted by one thing in particular that happened in battle. So far, however, I haven’t dropped more than one or two hints about it. Ideally, all of this should be going on at the same time, so it doesn’t feel as if I’m tacking on issues. This would be a problem for a second-draft correction.

I’ve already mentioned Ana being AWOL. That absence will be rectified soon (I hope). The one other issue I will mention at this point is that I have a growing sense I have spent too much time telling about, rather than showing, the internal conflicts between parties and classes in Venia. There is, indeed, yet more to show, and I need to think about how best to do it. In story terms, showing, as opposed to telling, is a matter relaying the information as an aspect of character and action, rather than just having someone blathering about it. I took a tentative step in this direction when I introduced Tacitus Plenor a few chapters back, but I need to do more.

Hopefully the reader will find some entertainment value in all this, despite its desperately unfinished state. This is, essentially, an experiment in the creation of a first draft, done in public, with on-going critiques as it happens. Certainly, I’ve never done anything like this before. Having said that, I confess I have been enjoying writing this story and finally seeing Mankin and all the other characters I’ve had in my head for so long come to life, however imperfectly. In and of itself, that’s worth something.

My own critique of “Horse Tamer”, so far

I just took a count and I am 41,000 words into Horse Tamer, which is fairly remarkable for a novel for which I am creating one comparatively short chapter every week or two, while I’m making progress on another novel. This is, in fact, the first time I have ever tried to essentially write two novels at the same time. (If anyone needs proof that I am basically fruit-loops, you need look no further).

Looking back over what I have done so far, I can see certain issues emerging with the story, problems which, if this were a normal first draft, would either be items to mark down for future correction or to be dealt with by means of mid-course changes. But this is far from a normal first draft. I am uncertain whether this story will ever proceed to a second draft. It may, in fact, never see the light of day beyond this blog. To put it another way, what “finished” will ultimately mean for this story is very unclear.

It may be necessary, therefore, for me to make corrections as I go and engage in periodic retcons. Since I am, rather arrogantly, presenting this tale to the public more-or-less as it flows off my keyboard, that means doing something in public– editing a draft– that should properly be done in private, like certain items of personal hygiene. My recurring instinct is to apologize, but I plow ahead regardless.

Issues to-date:

1. I am uncertain whether I am adequately conveying Mankin’s central conflict– his uncertainty whether he wants to continue living, whether, indeed, he has anything to live for. Finding a balance here is difficult– too heavy a hand and I have a maudlin, weepy character of which the reader will quickly tire. I have come, very late in my “career” as a writer, to an understanding that it is unnecessary to beat the reader over the head with emotions– you have to trust that the reader can comprehend a character’s turmoil with only a certain number of strategic indicators of their pain. I am unsure, though, whether I have achieved that balance. This would be something to return to in a second draft, to see what needs to be fleshed out or pared down– but, as I said, there may be no second draft for this story, and I may just have to forge ahead.

2. Crisonia. This is a new character, and I am beginning to think that I have put her in an impossible situation. She has sworn herself to vengeance for her murdered father, but I have left her without the means, in any conventional sense, to accomplish it. Edmond Dantès, at least, had the Abbé Faria’s wealth to fuel his vengeance. I also begin to worry I haven’t made her quite as obsessively vengeful as she needs to be. This could be a matter to be dealt with via a mid-course correction and a series of (possibly massive) retcons.

3. More critical than either item one or two is the realization that, this far in, I haven’t yet really begun to outline the overarching plot driver of this novel. I’ve laid out hints here and there, given out tidbits, but I haven’t really begun assembling the time-bomb that’s going to drive these characters together, and then into action. I’ve been taking my time outlining the characters and their situation, enjoying building the world and the city of Venia, but 41,000 words is a long way to go without setting the time-bomb to ticking.

The problem is that I still haven’t gotten everyone in place– heck, I haven’t even introduced all my main characters yet. I have a tendency to take my time at the beginning of a long story, building out the world, but this may be a record. Of course, what some people call leisurely world-building others call a problem with pacing.

In a normal first draft this would be a matter for cutting and pasting, moving elements around, tightening timelines, and fleshing out characters. With Horse Tamer, I may have to be satisfied with some retcon placements of guns– or, more properly, long swords– on mantels, and a better focus, from this point forward, on where this story as a whole is going.

Hopefully identifying these issues and figuring out how to deal with them will, in the long run, help make Horse Tamer a better read for those of you brave enough– or tolerant enough– to slog through it with me. Bear with me. I think there is some very good stuff coming down the pike.

And PS, full disclosure– a quick review of my previous chapters reveals that there are any number of fun little oopsies scattered through them– e.g. I called Nema “Rema’ in at least one chapter, and in another the rebel faction in the Attau civil war is referred to as the “Red Party” in one place and in another place in the same chapter as the “Black Party”. All the sort of fun little mistakes I typically make with a first draft, which I will have to comb out and fix at a later date (in my normal process, these are the kind of errors I catch with my hard copy edit). It’s almost reassuring how consistent I am…almost….

Sometimes you have to be merciless….

Seriously, there are times when you have to harden your heart and just do what is ugly, but necessary. Mercy, sentiment and compunction have no place in this business– you must be utterly ruthless….

I am, of course, talking about cutting your work in progress.

I have just cut about 10,000 words out of the heart of Princess of Fire. This is on top of earlier cuts to the tune of about 20,000. The poor little things were the innocent victims of my rampant pantsing of this novel earlier this year. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that with this project I let my normally healthy and productive instinct to write without an overall plan or structure in mind run out of control– at the start I was far too optimistic all the boss and utterly epic scenes in my head would fit together without major difficulties– surely I just needed a few transitions and a couple of patches, and everything would knit itself together into a glorious narrative that would set Kathy up for the finale, Princess of Stars, with some dandy, really big explosions along the way (gotta have explosions).

This delusion carried me to about 96,000 words. The beginning and the end were all written. All I needed to do was address the middle…and that’s when I started to slow down, and to doubt, and the whole project staggered and shuddered to a stop, in a cloud of steam and noxious gases.

The middle, unfortunately, is where the most intense action of the story happens (well, duh, thank you, Aristotle)– and I began to find it difficult to tie things together, and to get down the missing pieces of action. Worse, I started reduplicating scenes, as I tried to find some avenue through what increasingly appeared to be a brick wall.

In the end I did something I rarely ever do with a work in progress– I decided to start over. Not from scratch, but from about one-third of the way through the narrative, while also preserving the final third, or thereabouts.

And this is where the merciless part comes in– I had disjointed pieces that belonged to that middle third, some of them quite extensive, some of them duplicates, thousands of words that I now had to liquidate. I had to because I found they were actually impeding my progress– I kept thinking “okay, surely I can fit this piece here” or “I can retrofit this scene”, which was preventing me from starting fresh. So I cut them. Despite the screams.

Writers, it should be noted, are not completely rational. We are also frequently extraordinarily untidy. Our stories don’t always smoothly flow off our fingers, with the plot and characters all pitch-perfect and correctly structured. Usually, quite the opposite. Writers can, in fact, write themselves into serious corners– a particular danger with serial story telling, such as comics and TV (yes, I’m going to mention Lost, my personal touchstone of how to screw up a great concept). The effort to get out of some of the entanglements of serial story-telling has given rise to the term “retcon”, which is as ugly in action as it is to say.

For fiction writers, this is where the second draft is both a blessing and a necessity. It is the chance to change course, to correct the mistake, to find a better way of saying something. Anyone who publishes a long narrative without re-drafting is a either genius or a fool.

(Of course, this is essentially what I am doing with Horse Tamer, and since I am certifiably not a genius, then….)

So, despite the trauma of doing away with essentially a novella’s worth of words from Princess of Fire, I feel better, and I think I now have a clear path in front of me. Maybe– maybe— thirty to forty thousand or so words, done the right way, will get me across this stubborn wilderness of a middle I’ve been wandering around in for the last several weeks, and give me that genuine, unified first draft that is always my initial goal for any of my novels.

I hope so. I am getting pretty parched and sunburned out here.

There is a moral in this– if you pants, at least use a pair of suspenders. And for the love of God, put the damn things on one leg at a time….

A quick emergence from my cave to squint at the sun…

And we’ve been having entirely too much of that sunshine stuff here in Seattle lately. I have a mind to the tell the Sun to knock it off.

A quick note, just in case anyone wondered if I had been kidnapped by aliens (I wouldn’t mind, if they looked like Gwenyth Paltrow)– other matters continue to pull me away from the blog, but progress is being made on Princess of Fire. I think I’m re-engaging with Kathy in a way I haven’t been able to the last few months. She’s starting to deal with the Deep Serious that’s about to land on her and the people she cares about, and the pace is picking up as I get excited about what I am writing.

On another matter, which I may talk about at more length in a near-future post– I have made a decision to resume the effort to seek traditional publication, in a small way. There are a number of reasons for this, one of which is that self-publishers are not eligible for SFWA (Science Fiction Writers of America) membership. As irritating as that is in one way, in another I totally understanding the logic. SFWA doesn’t want the slush pile to come knocking on their door….

This re-entry into the pursuit of trad publishing doesn’t mean my novels will be leaving Amazon– I plan to try my hand at short stories. And the first might be based on an idea I got from Chuck Wendig’s challenge from last week, which I started to write, and then realized I might be able to do something more with. Mixing and matching sub-genres is fun, and the two I got out of the random selection was “dystopia” and “superhero”.

I can do something with that.

More later, when it’s not my bed-time. Good night.

A brief update re: Princess of Fire

Perhaps a brief update is in order, now that I’ve been AWOL for a while.

I tend to be a glass-half-empty sort of person, even on the best of days, as some of you may have already noticed. Not for nothing have I been nicknamed “Eeyore” in more than one workplace. Lately, however, I have been more down than normal. Life-issues, starting a new job, and, most importantly, doubts about my whole writing effort have contributed. April has been a gloomy month.

Perhaps, though, things are starting to look up. Along with the new job, I have started work on Princess of Fire version 3.0.

Yes, version 3.0. There was a version 2.0, but it had the life-span of an ice cube on a Texas road in August.

I started out wanting to cut everything back to a single thread focused on Kathy. When I actually started cutting, however, I realized that another thread was needed, to round out the story and ground it in the everyday life of people Kathy was working hard to save. The chief difficulty is that I don’t really have the story of this secondary thread down. I probably need to build out the characters a little more, and in that effort, mostly likely, the sub-story will be revealed.

I still managed to cut 10,000 words. I will probably add that many, and a good deal more, back before I am finished.

The other issue I have to resolve is with structure and pacing. I want the story to go forward against a backdrop of rising danger, which has to start small and increase steadily until it’s screaming in Kathy’s ears. This may be, in fact, the most difficult effect I have ever tried to pull off in a novel. The only thing similar I have ever done was in one of my unpublished trunk novels, A New Heaven and A New Earth, in which a mortal danger is slowly developed– but that was achieved through a series of distant incidents, with the full revelation of what was going on eventually being sprung upon the protagonists (and the audience) in one big reveal. In Princess of Fire, the danger literally looms over Kathy the whole time, and somehow I still have to create suspense and increase the sense of danger by steady increments.

I am not sure I am up to it.

But I’ve started. Progress will be slower than with version one, simply because I’m no longer sitting at home debating whether to write or watch Game of Thrones clips on YouTube. Because of that, all bets are off about when Fire will see publication. But then, it’s not like the rent is depending on its sales.

I’m still working on that part….


PS, 4/26– As I get into version 3.0, one of the first evident facts about it is that many of the scenes and sequences are actually, no kidding, and absolutely in the wrong order. This was pantsing on a manic scale– I have one character working with Kathy before she even arrives in the capitol; another is preparing in the morning for a festival that same afternoon, and ten thousand words intervene that relate the passage of two whole days before I get back to that afternoon festival. I am cutting and pasting thousands of words at a time to get things in the proper order.

Never again…as God is my witness, never again….

Work in progress hiatus

Princess of Fire is now over 96,000 words, but that’s not a completely happy thought. I believe I will use most of what I have written, but the structure of the novel as it now exists is an appalling jumble. I have to admit that this is one instance in which pantsing the draft has not done me any favors.

This novel has gone from “gosh, this is going to be easy” to trench warfare. In fact, I have the feeling that I need to put this project on hiatus, giving it a few days to rest before I think about my next steps with it. This is not something I usually do, but the scope of the problems I now perceive with Fire exceed those I had with Princess of Shadows, which at least had the benefit of being a good deal simpler in structure. I need to give this project some space to sort itself out.

But, in truth, there is more going on with me than just the issues I am having with Fire. Other factors are impacting my productivity and making it hard to stay focused on a difficult project– uncertainties in the personal space, employment issues, and, depressingly, one of my periodic funks in which I am sure my writing is the most godawful dreck in the history of literature. I do this every now and then. This time around it’s been bad enough to make me wonder if I should really be asking people to pay for my stories on Amazon, and whether I shouldn’t just offer them all for free somewhere.

Partly as a consequence I did remove two of my novellas from Kindle I decided were not up to snuff, but I finally talked myself into leaving my other stories in place. I think my stories are at least as good as the average run of self-published material. Considering what’s out there, I may be damning myself with faint praise, but I’m not going radically change anything, at least for the time being.

As far as Princess of Fire goes, I am going to let it lie fallow for a few days while I doodle on some other projects, and then see if I can come back to it with fresh eyes. To be honest, it’s not like I have a rabid fan-base pounding on my door, demanding the next Divine Lotus book. The only pressure I have on me with this project is self-imposed, and I need to give myself a break.

Scary stories

Not stories about ghosts, werewolves, vampires or IRS tax audits. Oh, no. I’m not talking about stories you read to make yourself shiver. I am talking about story ideas so big, so ambitious, they intimidate me as a writer.

I have a few of these, some of which I’ve been mulling over in my brain for years– but which I have never had the courage to put on paper or hard drive. Perhaps tellingly, these are mainly mainstream literary ideas, rather than genre.

Among these concepts–

1. A contemporary novel, working title Life in the Abyssal Plain. This is only tangentially informed by my own life (a strictly autobiographical novel based on me would be useful only as a door-stop), but I find its protagonist– a man who has always felt out of step with his universe, reaching middle-age with nothing to show for it– compelling. But, frankly, writing about real life is much more intimidating than writing about dragons and space battles.

2. An unnamed Vietnam War novel. Although I have thought about it a lot, this one is so intimidating I will probably never write it, at least as a novel set in Vietnam. I lived through the Sixties, but I was never in Vietnam. I was in the Army, but my service was years later and I never saw combat. If I tried to write a novel about the war in Vietnam, I would almost certainly commit a thousand errors. It would also take a particularly rank sort of hubris for someone like me to write, as a non-participant, about a subject for which there are so many books– If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home, Fields of Fire, and Matterhorn as just a few examples– by people who were there, and who are still around.

But I did live through the Sixties, and I was in the Army after the war, serving with men who were in Vietnam (by-and-large damn fine people), and I can say something about that. I have an unpublished novelette based on my time in the Army, but I need to rethink it pretty thoroughly before I try to recreate it as a novel.

3. A Civil War novel, working title Leaves in the Stream. Yeah, probably a little too close to Hemingway’s Islands in the Stream, but it captures the concept I have of the war sweeping an entire set of families, white and black, downstream through history, with the characters unable to resist the current. Its protagonist is a young Southerner fighting for the North. I relate pretty strongly to this character– I come from a southern family proud of its Confederate heritage, in which I was the only kid impertinent enough to remind everyone about the inconvenient fact of slavery (funny, I’m also the only one who now lives north of the Mason-Dixon. Hmmm…). My novella The Peach Orchard was actually a first essay at telling this story, as well as my first real attempt at historical fiction. It will probably serve as the jumping-off point for the novel when I write it.

This novel is close to my heart. The Civil War in general hovers over Southerners in way it does not for Northerners. More than that, this is family history for me, as well as the history of my nation, and I think there are important things I can say about it.

The problem is that this concept scares me witless.

This is the one story I have to get right (above and beyond just getting it right as a story). More than the overwhelming historical detail (and that alone is staggering), I absolutely don’t want to turn out yet another pot-boiling soap opera (and there have been so many Civil War pot-boilers, starting with that gold-plated turd, Gone With the Wind). That sort of failure would kill me. The terror of doing this wrong has been paralyzing. And then there’s the scale of it– if you do it right and don’t restrict your focus to one battle or one section of the country (as with Across Five Aprils, for example), you’re almost sure to turn out something longer than War and Peace— and length is not necessarily an indicator of quality.

Writing The Peach Orchard was confidence-building, but in the scheme of the whole novel it would be only about one or two chapters. I’ve been reading historical fiction on the war, including The Killer Angels and The March, but in some ways that’s counter-productive– reading works by masters only serves to remind me of far short I fall.

Which is probably what this all boils down to– my sense of inadequacy as a writer. I’m not formally trained, and I feel that most keenly when I contemplate projects like these. The sad truth is that I am far more confident handling science-fiction and fantasy (although Princess of Fire has lately been causing me to question even that) than in making everyday life interesting– which is probably a pointed comment on my writing abilities in-and-of itself.

At some point, however, I will have to screw my courage to the sticking point and just do these stories. Or, to put it another way, close my eyes and think of the book covers. Because, frankly, these projects represent something of a bucket list for me as a writer. And I ain’t getting any younger.

I’m gonna close my eyes and hold my nose…a Princess of Fire progress report

I’m at that point, it seems, with the first draft of Princess of Fire— the point at which I have begun to grasp what it will take to achieve a relatively coherent narrative– and it ain’t pretty. It’s also the point at which I have to just keep writing, no matter how much it nauseates me. That’s where the eyes and nose thingies come in.

Today I cleared 84,000 words on this novel. That probably sounds a lot more impressive than it is, because I have come to understand that this turkey has some serious problems.

When I originally conceived this story, I thought of it as basically a single-thread narrative revolving around Kathy as she faces a crisis. As I wrote the parts I already had in mind, however, it became clear that a single thread would not adequately support this story–

1. I needed to expand the narrative to include several viewpoint characters, particularly for events from which Kathy is far removed, but which powerfully affect her. This will involve tens of thousands of extra words, and the weaving together of multiple threads.

2. Many of the characters, both viewpoint and non-viewpoint, are not adequately fleshed out, and I need to revisit them and get to know them better.

3. There are major structural problems, particularly around a core timeline which needs to be the time-bomb ticking ever more loudly in the background. This timeline also involves some fairly technical material that might require some extensive (aagh!) exposition.

That’s a lot of issues with a novel that (estimating here) is about two-thirds drafted. To put it simply, I have a hell of a lot of work to do.

That’s the main reason I feel right now that I need to clap on a gas mask while writing Fire— I know full well I am putting down words that are going to have to be fixed later, and perhaps a little more than usual with a first draft. I do not want to stop and try and fix everything now, though– that is an invitation to picnic on quicksand.

It’s just the way it is– the easy stuff is over. Time to buckle down and slog.