Over-sharing my IF Comp process


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.




Yay!! :tada: So happy to hear this.


I did some play-throughs after the submission deadline and found lots of typos, clunky language, and bugs. So I put them in a ‘edited during IF Comp’ version. When I stopped finding bugs, I stopped.

Yesterday a reader found a typo and I fixed that.

But the game seems to be holding together. AND I scored a 4 on the boatiness quotient so I’m happy with that.

I did a word count today and it’s 54,000 words. Amazing.

And today I felt a craving to work on “Fine Felines” which is a very good sign for my brain returning to its normal-ish state.

The Sydney trip with the refugee family last week was very successful! And I DID get “Bali B&B” finished and entered in a reasonable state (although the bugs I found post-deadline make me cringe).

I wouldn’t say I’m fully recovered yet. I’m still walking into things, making dumb errors, struggling to remember basic things like “cheese goes in the fridge”, and having enormous difficulty remembering what day it is. As far as recovery periods go, this has been relatively gentle on my mental health so that has been very nice.

This pic is me at Bondi Beach (which I’d literally never been to before until last week) with a two year-old refugee girl that I call “Little Miss Pterodactyl” because she loves to scream for joy. She is part of an Afghan family that my group, the Castle of Kindness Refugee Sponsorship Group, is helping to settle into my home town of Canberra. It involves a LOT of very tedious and awkward doctor visits (none of my group speak Farsi and the family only found out they were coming to Australia in June this year, so they’re only just learning English) using a combination of phone translators, mime, and the Google Translate app. So yeah, I didn’t need to research trying to socialise with people across major language barriers! But it is often very funny and easy, especially with this little one.


Copied from the “IFComp 2023 Predictions” thread:


I was at work today, having missed the official announcement thingy due to a family crisis (now mostly resolved, thank goodness), when I decided to look at the results online. I was a teensy bit worried that I wouldn’t make the top 20 after all.


I sat and glowed for about five minutes, then I went and checked again because maybe I read it wrong somehow?

And then I glowed some more.

I made the top ten as a newbie (newbie IF-er; I’d been writing novels for a very long time already) in 2016, and have been trying to get into the top ten again ever since (while watching the competition get better and better). I’m astonished that I finally made it.

I… wow. Just wow.

I still can’t quite believe it. But I believe it enough to be very, very pleased and grateful.


Well deserved, Felicity. Glow as much as you can so the entire community can bask in it.

An engaging piece that somehow emotionally rang true with me. Honest and authentic and real.

Plus I love stray cats…


I’m breaking my usual last-minute-panic-flail writing technique in 2024, because I already know roughly what I’m writing.

It’s called “Miss Duckworthy’s School for Magic-Infested Children”.

Right now it is entirely unwritten and thus perfect in every way.

I am so, so encouraged that I seem to have improved as a writer in the last seven years.

Now to get even more betterer!


Congratulations! I was only able to play for about an hour, and not even far enough to feel I was qualified to cast a ballot, but I thought it was charming, and very much resonated with a fantasy I had when I was younger of running such a place (though Bali is even more exotic than the locations I had in mind). I look forward to playing post comp.

Kudos also from my wife, who doesn’t even play interactive fiction but she was listening to the live stream of the awards ceremony with me, and she picked your title as the one from the top ten which grabbed her interest.


A little coda: I am now fostering five kittens and it is WONDERFUL.