Another puzzle! Massive thanks to Skaldskaparmal for the test solve. Incredibly grateful for the patience and generosity. However this puzzle turned out, it turned out better thanks to them.
How did it turn out?
I feel like my output's getting better with each puzzle, if only by a little. I'm certainly learning with every puzzle.
A couple from Umpire and Liari that I've solved recently struck me with the flowing ease of the surfaces and the elegance of the deviously fair wordplay. My own clues betray the horrid knots I get myself tied in as I write them. The tortuous clunk of my technically viable clues stinks of how desperately I've tried to make my ideas work.
So what to do? I decided to make things easier on myself – if I'm struggling less then perhaps the clues will lose some of their awkward tension. So I chose a grid on mycrossword with shorter words in it – you can see there are quite a lot of black squares – and tried my best to pick words susceptible of a neat clue. That latter part I intend to keep practising. I think this approach has worked – at least in teaching me a lesson. I'll probably try it again.
Hope you enjoy the puzzle!