be right back


We are taking a break for approximately the next 5 weeks. We’re losing the plot. Burnt out. It’s the kind of end-project struggle where you lose track of when you last showered, the dishes build up, hair dye washes out to a terrible greenish bronze, you have to order in because you didn’t pull off the big shop again, same outfit every day because of decision fatigue, same food every day because of decision fatigue, same music every day because of decision fatigue. Boyfriends keep saying ‘I’m worried about you,’ because I’ve gone socially weird, and I know I need to do something important but I’ve forgotten what it is because there’s this other thing my energy has been allocated to. For me, that is The Book. We got a book deal last year and that’s good and exciting and something I am deeply proud of but the advance wasn’t enough money for us to stop working and just write the book up. That’s fine. That’s how it is in the non-fiction route we’ve gone down. Fiction writers have to produce the whole book on their own time (ie. while working other jobs) before publishers will look at it, so I’m not complaining. It just means we have had to keep our Sunday texts on The White Pube running so that we can be paid through Patreon, Paypal and Ko-Fi, and so that we can remain present in the cultural imaginary for the sake of odd jobs doing freelance whatevering. That juggle was fine for a while. We kept writing, but we did reduce our review output a little bit. It’s not because we were doing less writing but because we were doing one million billion times more writing than usual. Drafts, cuts, rewrites, interviews, transcriptions, print out, annotate, rewrite again, get notes, tweak, and so on. To give some scale to this, the average review on the website is 2.5K words I reckon, and the book is currently at 64K. The aim is 80, and we’ll arrive at that number as long as the next 5 weeks go to plan. God, I wish I could show you those 64K words right now; it makes me sad that we have been publishing less stuff on the website. Guilty, too. Feel like I am short-changing our paying supporters, and our non-paying supporters too who might realise it’s Sunday and check what’s new from us. But man, I don’t even have the energy to properly articulate how hard this final push towards the finish line is. I’m loving writing but I can feel the limits of my body, as well as the limits of the hours in a day. I’m like a paper bag about to rip and drop its embarrassing contents all over the floor; getting Covid a second time, and the rising heat (it’s only 17 degrees but it feels twice that), means my body is hamstringing the writing. I am not even running the race anymore! I am dragging myself along the track inch by inch, sentence by sentence, using the nails I haven’t got round to cutting because all bodily maintenance (and life admin and eating vegetables and touching grass) has been put on hold. And I am trying to write this to express a level of strain, but even as it takes its toll — even though I know we’ll take a hit on the Patreon income-side of things — I know how lucky I am that I can become so absorbed in the writing process. It’s a privilege to lose the plot. So many other artists have to answer to the real world, not the nebulous art one. God, my eyes are so dry. When I make a slow fist, the bones in my hand automatically crack because they hover flat across the keyboard all day. I’m not watching anything, not playing any games. The cat is pissed off with me because I’m not on the couch, so the lap-cat has been replaced with the laptop. Coco, there are only three more chapters to go. Stop doing protest shits outside the litter tray, I’m writing as fast as I can. Our final deadline for the book is actually September 1st. I recognise that it is May but we want to finish the first complete draft in this five week window so that our publishers can see the book for what it is, and also for what it might become. We’ve always valued that time in between ‘finishing’ a thing and having it be received by others. Like, even for these teeny-tiny weekly reviews, I write the first splurge over a Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, look away on Thursday and Friday, and return on a Saturday to read it with fresh (more moisturised) eyes, before pushing the text on the Sunday. That look-away moment is integral! I don’t know how! But I know why. Because returning means you can see your mistakes, and the very obvious points you missed the first go-around when you were much too close to the piece. Having written weekly reviews for almost 8 years, I trust that process with all my heart. I want that process now for the book. I don’t want to write up until the September deadline because then the mistakes will slip past me like Coco side-stepping the appropriate cat toilet to vandalise the carpet instead. No. Thursday and Friday can be June and July. August can be Saturday. We can recoup. Let some good critics read it. Edit. And then lock it in. I hope that is okay with everyone. I hope when we come back we have regained the plot and washed our hair. There is so much on this website for you to read or re-read, stuff on the YouTube channel to watch while you eat for that innate 2023 medieval entertainment. That sentence doesn’t express what I want it to. I give up! Thank you for letting us be writers. We’ll be riiiiight back.

Gabrielle and Zarina