OW, MY BACK!… from outer space. You just walked in to find me here with this pained look upon my face.

I went to bed last night with a slight backache, which I hoped would improve with a good night’s sleep. I woke up today to find that it had. Indeed, the backache is doing much better today and I, for my pains, am doing so much worse.

The only two spots in the house where I can find any comfort are my computer chair (which is actually a reclining rocker/glider with excellent head, neck, and back support), and the bathtub, which has a back that slopes just the right way. This is fairly convenient for me as these are two of my favorite places and two of the places from which I do my best writing, but the pain still gets in the way of things. It’s especially bad when I laugh… I feel these little twinges in the muscles up and down my spine.

In other news, I just made hotel reservations for MidAmerica Con, also known as WorldCon. We left it a bit late. I’ve been on the fence about whether it would be worth it to go or not. The pros are that it’s likely to be our best chance to make it to a WorldCon anytime soon, it’s conveniently located to possibly seeing family on the same trip, I vaguely know the area, and is an outside chance I might be on a shortlist this year, and even if I’m not it would be nice to meet and interact with some of the people I came across as part of last year’s events. The cons are: it’s expensive, and we don’t have a lot of money.

That’s only one con compared to a laundry list of pros, but in the end, the money question is likely to provide the final answer to whether or not we make it. If you’d like to weigh in… well, I’m a crowdfunded artist, so my tip jar is always open. For now, I’m proceeding to do things under the assumption that we will go, because if I wait too long then the opportunity will pass. I feel like I just squeeked by under the wire on getting a hotel room, even one two blocks from the convention proper.

In other other news, my recent spate of D&D campaign prep has got me thinking about the way I write fiction and whether the things I have told myself in my self-analysis of my writing stle and processes have all been true and useful.

I have in the past been dismissive of doing a lot of prepwork before writing, feeling that past a certain point it becomes a substitute for actually writing. I know people who have written literally hundreds of thousands or even millions of words in preparation for novels they intend one day to write, when they’re ready… but they never will be, because there are always more details to nail down. I certainly had phases of my creative life where I was like that.

But while I think there is something to be said for the danger of succumbing to a kind of perfectionism/completionism when it comes to your prep, I think I may have thrown a valuable and precious baby out with the bathwater when I discounted the value of such prepwork.

I’ve done more written prep for the Deepjammer campaign than I have for anything else, game or story, in over a decade. I did it mainly because I have a whole cast of players who will effectively be my collaborators in the setting, so I needed to bring it to life for them. What surprised me most is how much material I generated quite easily and quickly (enough words to fill 120 pages in standard typeset in about a week), and while those hundred thousand-plus words are not themselves a single cogent narrative, I now know enough about the setting and many of the people there that I could sit down and fairly effortlessly hammer such a narrative out off the top of my head…

And that’s the kind of easy-breezy free-flowing writing that I aspire to. Which just goes to show, it takes a lot of effort to write effortlessly.