Over-sharing my IF Comp process

It seems I have a very special internal body clock.

Every August—late August—I suddenly come up with a great idea for an IF story and think, “Hey, when is the IF Comp again?”

My stories are usually around 50,000 words, which is the equivalent of a 100-page book. Almost every time I’ve entered the IF Comp, I have started from scratch in late August.

I love the rush! I love the horrified envy in other writers’ eyes when I say I had a good day and wrote over 10,000 words. I love the waves of crashing self-hatred as everything else in my life falls into wrack and ruin and the story probably sucks anyway.

Sometimes, I get a Pretty Friggin Decent IF novel out of it.

Sometimes, I don’t quite get there in time.

Sometimes, I absentmindedly disqualify myself at the last minute and curl up in a ball weeping.

Today is 29 August (in Australia).
Six days ago I had an idea.
Last night I started writing.

If you enjoy watching a breakdown in real time, this is the thread for you! I plan to use this thread as my therapist over the next few weeks (knowing full well that any therapist would gently nudge me towards NOT doing this) and you’re welcome to shout encouragement or insults from the sidelines.

Having started this thread, I will probably finish the book. Because I have made the “Will I write the book?” question a STORY which makes me the HERO and now I must WIN.

Physical damage:
*I have an infected wound on my right hand that I should definitely rest (it’s mostly better I think. I’ve stopped taking the antibiotics so the next few days are crucial).
*I have a moderate-to-severe left shoulder injury which may flare up and cause major problems if I type a lot.

Emotional damage: I’m totally fine! This is gonna be great! Wheeee!

Word count: 369


Novels are usually 25,000 per hundred pages, due to their smaller page size. What kind of book are you writing?

1 Like

It’ll be called “Bali B&B” and the main character finds themself not-entirely-voluntarily running their grandmother’s Bed & Breakfast for a couple of months. And it’s in Bali :slight_smile:

So it’s mainly about pleasing guests from the rest of Indonesia and the world. What do they want to eat and drink? What should their rooms look like? What emergency supplies will they need? What do they want to see and do? Do they get on with other guests? What happens if they get sick? What do they not know that they want?

I don’t think I’ll track finances because that’s way too much like real life. This is pure comfort food with people learning to get on with each other.

The closest thing to an antagonist will be the Health Inspector, who will appear at the start and again at the end. And probably some guests will be… difficult. And the Grandma is a firecracker who will also show up at the end and play a part in the climax/conclusion. It’s clear she’s decided that the protagonist will run the B&B so she can retire, and the protagonist needs to decide whether to go with the flow, go in another direction entirely (eg say no and go home to Australia), or to make certain changes (which Granny will not like so they’ll need to fight for what they want).

No magic, but optional kittens/puppy.

My stats will probably be:

*Cooking, Decorating (inside), Landscaping (outside)—which will add up to a Creativity stat later

*Knowledge/Memory, Good Judgement, Self-Discipline—which will add up to an Organisation stat later

*Flexibility, Fitness, and Fun—which will add up to a Calm/Mental Health stat later

*Tact, Charm, and Thoughfulness/Kindness—which will add up to a Conversation Skills stat later

In other news, I caught a feral kitten last Thursday—that’s how I got an infected wound on my hand—so I’m busily socialising her for the next little while too. Her name is Pepper and she was born on 8 April this year. I know this, because I caught and socialised two of her siblings already!

Here she is examining me through the shower door that I broke when she nearly escaped (as you can see, my shower also needs cleaning). Since then I have been able to pat her and pick her up with hisses but no attacks. So, progress!


I’m going to try to write a minimum of 2000 words per day, with one day off each week. I know how the next few scenes will go, and some of the other scenes, and roughly how the ending will look. When I’m not actually writing, I’m thinking about it.

(If this sounds eerily like NaNoWriMo… yes, it is very similar.)

Stats need refining… as usual.

Ending will probably be rushed… as usual.

But maybe it’ll be okay. I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Bali and the rest of Indonesia, so I have quite a bit of specialised knowledge pre-loaded in my brain.

Confidence is always high at the start.

It feels good to be writing a book again. Maybe this isn’t SUCH a bad idea. Maybe it’ll even be good? If I work really hard, and absolutely nothing goes wrong in the rest of my life?

Physical damage:
*I’m 99% sure the infected cat bite on my hand is fine. But it turns out that the antibiotic I took has altered my sense of taste, probably for about a month. So I keep drinking Milo (a kind of chocolate milk) and it tastes kind of … bitter? I’m intolerant of most human food so Milo is pretty crucial to my existence. I switched to Quik brand strawberry milk just now and that wasn’t the worst thing ever. Although I’m probably intolerant to the coloring so I shouldn’t have too much.
*My shoulder hurts slightly more than it did yesterday. Not because of typing, but because I wore a bra for 6 hours yesterday and that sets it off (I have fibromyalgia, which means I get random stupid muscle injuries like this all the time, plus I have medical-grade fatigue despite sleeping 10 hours a day, and it hurts to stand up… but the up side is that since I can’t do full-time work I can theoretically spend lots of time writing). Today I only have to wear a bra for three hours, so that should help.

Emotional damage: This book is going to be great! There’s a monkey and everything!

Word count: 3143

Pepper report: She is terrified but tolerant of my daughter (and me for that matter). I used meowing to establish early communication, so now our biggest issue is trying to stop her yowling all night. She is set up in the ensuite shower, complete with litter, food, water, and a nice box. For the last two nights my partner has slept on the couch due to her incessant howling.

But look at those eyes!


Alright, I have to ask you: how many teaspoonfuls of Milo you you have per cup? It’s a question I have to keep editing.

Three. Although a skilled Milo user can heap and pack three spoons’ worth into one teaspoon.


Today suuucks!

My back hurts, my shoulder hurts, two of my on-again off-again infections are gearing up for a visit, I walked into a wall of my own house, I was too keyed up to sleep, I hate everyone, and I can’t remember a thing for more than three seconds.

I’m halfway through today’s quota.

5008 words. 5000 is a big exciting milestone that I’ll probably feel good about at some point. And I think I’ll finish the first chapter there.


Today is my day off writing, mainly because I knew I would be really busy so better to “rest” than try to write 2000 words on top of everything else.

On Friday I had a liver scan that I had to fast for. Fasting usually gives me a migraine but it didn’t, so yay!

Today I walked around a bit (in a nature reserve, with a bunch of people including an Afghan refugee family that I’m assisting as they settle into Australia… and we saw kangaroos!). I almost never walk anywhere, because it hurts. But it was terribly fun. I feel like I’ve been climbing a mountain (half an hour of gentle walking, on a path) but I think I’ll recover fully in a day or two.

Being in nature and having assorted kids (mine and others) running around and laughing is great for one’s mental health, especially when the naughtiest one belongs to someone else.

The Bali B & B book is now juuust over 10,000 words. As long as I don’t think about how much is still to go (and how much editing it’ll need), I can feel great about that.



Yesterday I took my weekly day off because (a) I woke up feeling so bad I took a covid test (negative, but I’m still suspicious), and (b) I had a lot to do.

Later this month I’ll be heading up a complicated trip to Sydney—complicated because there will be three cars going up from Canberra in order to transport my whole family, the whole Afghan family that I’m supporting (I run the Castle of Kindness Refugee Sponsorship Group), and two people that are divorced (from each other). Then we’ll meet another 6-person Afghan Australian family in Sydney. So with this group of 18-20 people we’ll be seeing Sydney.

I’m excited and terrified. Hopefully I’ll be editing by then, and will still have brain space for writing. Hmm.

My sense of taste is coming back so I feel a lot less like burning down the world. My shoulder is improving. I’m coughing a lot and my throat feels swollen, however both of those can be side effects of my chronic indigestion and gastritis.

It is ASTONISHING I manage to do anything at all. I’m basically a zombie, lurching about. I smell like one too.

I’m on Chapter 3. Chapter 1 is 5000 words, Chapter 2 is 6000, Chapter 3 is at 3000+ That adds up to … uh… 14,000ish. If I write an incredibly short book that’ll be 30,000, so if I squint I could interpret today as halfway (I haven’t started yet today; I don’t have to work this arvo so I’m going to bed until I fetch my kids from school).

In other news, how is it the 7th of September already?

I do feel better today than yesterday.

Pepper is a VERY cautious kitty. I put a cat tower in the bathroom for her, and she hid behind the toilet for a week. She has just decided the bottom level of the cat tower is an acceptable hiding place, which is the only progress she’s made for a long time. She hasn’t gone back into her box, which it seems is tainted by association. But at least she’s not spending 23 hours a day wedged between the toilet and the wall any more.

I trapped her from a farm colony along with many others. She’s from a litter of four born in April. I socialised two of the others that I caught in June, but haven’t managed to catch the 4th and I suspect kitty #4 is already pregnant (at 5 months, poor thing). I’ll be trying to catch it (…again) on Sunday 17th.


I am going good! Probably! Pretty sure!

I’ve had a couple of days where I’ve managed to get ahead on my 2000-word-per-day quota and do some badly-needed editing. I finished chapter 5 yesterday and had a proper look at a calendar and how far along I am. I reckon I’ll have a finished first draft in 1 week’s time, which gives me 9 full days to edit. Easy! (Pause for maniacal laughter.)

Health: Annoying cough persists and my voice is croaky but it’s definitely improving at present. The other assorted body issues are all within a standard deviation of the norm. Which, given how hard I’m working on this literary beast, is great news.

Word count: 27,000, and probably going to end up around 40,000 and then grow a little more in editing (possibly another 10,000. I’m a putter-inner).

Is the game going to be good? Uh, I dunno. I’m going all-out on a ‘comfort food’ vibe (which some will like and others will find babyish) but trying to also have a bit of nice writing in there. And aiming for no errors, which is always nice to AIM for. And I’m enjoying my virtual return to Indonesia, which probably means readers will too.

I’m using US spelling, which I know will result in a slightly higher overall score as there are always some US readers who believe that UK spelling is an error. sigh A novelist I’m loosely connected to on twitter had a reader send him a detailed list of every ‘mistake’ in his book… and it was all just UK spelling. How incredibly unhelpful.

Pepper report: Pepper is still terrified by all humans, including me BUT she has fully accepted the cat tower now, and at night time I can hear her playing with toys (only when the light is off and the door is closed), which is a really good sign.

Poor scared kitten. May she learn to enjoy her human servants soon.


Ooh! Does anyone want to beta read for me?

I will have a working version of the tale by Friday 22nd September.

If you like doing a bit and then coming back and doing another bit, I can have the first three chapters ready for testing sooner than that. There will be 7 chapters altogether.

Reply here or PM me your email address and I’ll send you the link as soon as it’s ready.

1 Like


The first draft is finished, and it’s about 42,000 words.

A good start!

I gotta run off to work now!

Ooh, there’s gonna be SO much editing in the next 8 days.


I only exist to sleep and edit. Mostly edit.

It now exists in a debugged (theoretically), edited (once) version. Any one else dare to beta test it?

(Actually, I’m doing all kinds of other things for the rest of this month that just all happened to be happening now, at once, when I’m trying to whip this monstrous thing into shape. I also got fired from my job. And Pepper managed to injure herself so I had to give her into more official care immediately.)

the days are wrong and there’s meant to be a kiss and the putu thing I had planned isn’t there yet and the second chapter should be part of the first or maybe the second chapter and that still doesn’t fix the days and I’m not sure I can spell or form sentences and there are chunks of the story floating in space and my shoulders hurt from hunching over my laptop as if the light of the screen is the only thing keeping me alive and the gazebo has been screaming and screaming and there is a lot of fudge but will there be any people and there’s just so much furniture just everywhere I don’t like it to be and the kid is bored and the other one is getting mighty bored too and I have to catch Nutmeg or the cycle will begin all over again!


I’m editing so so much, and starting to sort through comments from beta readers.

so so edit much yaaaarrrrssss


Good luck with the editing, Felicity. Hope you, kitty Pepper, and your kids are doing well!


(copied from the submission thread):

As always, I am here to BRING THE DRAMA.

Some of you know my tragic history of failing to absorb the information that the IF Comp (that I’ve entered a bunch of times) ends on the 28 September. Not 1 October. Not 30 September.


Well, I got it wrong again this year. I was so convinced it was due Friday (for some reason) and/or so confused about dates that I realised right on 2pm (the actual submission deadline in my time zone) that I DIDN’T have another 10-14 hours (living in Australia time). But none. No hours, no minutes.

I tried to compile an html file last night (while travelling) and didn’t panic when it didn’t work. My friends have terrible internet so maybe that was the issue. I also didn’t panic when it didn’t work this morning (at my home). I’m sure I managed to enter last year (yes, I did*) so I probably made my partner do it when he came from work, and that’s what I’d do this year.

I’d already put the web link into the description.

So I saved everything, backed up everything, and went to the IFComp web site to see that submissions were indeed closed.

Is the web link enough? Or have I YET AGAIN failed to enter the comp due to never knowing what day it is (despite massive emotional trauma from last time I did this).

I’m somewhat less traumatised this year, as I was just doing checks today—the game is fundamentally done.

But am I entered?

I don’t know.

Have emailed to ask.

Since I didn’t actually drop dead last time, I will probably survive this time.


I’m going to finish my plan for today, which was a line by line read-through of the final chapter followed by 5 play-throughs; one with medium attention and the rest focusing only on the final chapter.

I’ll have to be very careful to stay honest about changes that I make as the web link just refreshes whatever I update.

I’ll chuck a dev diary into the main file.

*year before last. I keep thinking “Fine Felines” was last year when it was the year before. What happened in 2022? I have no idea.


We all had our last-minute/last-day rushes! There’s always something we might forget.

I think the IFComp team understands things can go odd, especially if something is hosted on a 3rd-party server.

I really appreciate the time and effort you took to help proofread my own work that was much smaller and went up against the deadline. It helped a lot.


I did such a tiny bit compared to all the help you gave me! Shall I keep going? Did you get it in on time?


I’m in!

May showers of blessings fall upon the organisers, who as usual did last-minute tech support for luddites like me, in this case turning my link into an html file (with the link).

I made it. What an incredible relief.