The Sunday Circle: What Are You Working On This Week?

Sunday Circle Banner

The Sunday Circle is the weekly check-in where I ask the creative-types who follow this blog to weigh in about their goals, inspirations, and challenges for the coming week. The logic behind it can be found here. Want to be involved? It’s easy – just answer three questions in the comments or on your own blog (with a link in the comments here, so that everyone can find them).

After that, throw some thoughts around about other people’s projects, ask questions if you’re so inclined. Be supportive above all.

Then show up again next Sunday when the circle updates next, letting us know how you did on your weekly project and what you’ve got coming down the pipe in the coming week (if you’d like to part of the circle, without subscribing to the rest of the blog, you can sign-up for reminders via email here).

MY CHECK-IN

What am I working on this week?

I’m packing a bunch of uni stuff into this week so I can get ahead of a few things. I’ve been kicking around rough drafts of the key terms and lit reviews I’ve got to get done over the next few weeks, and there’s a few blog drafts based on research notes in progress where I’m moving ideas off index cards.

What’s inspiring me this week?

I started watching the first season of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend on Netflix as a Riverdale replacement, and…holy shit. I really should hate this show, since it routinely lapses into being a musical and I loathe the genre, but the show is generally smart enough to navigate its way around the things I dislike. The songs are great, characters are…well unlikable…but kind of adorable in their awfulness.

What part of my project an I avoiding?

I’m having one of those weeks where the answer to this is probably everything, but it’s mostly a case of letting habits fall out of whack after working from home a lot more than usual. I’ve been putting off taking a close look at that for a few weeks, but I think most of the systems have wound down and need to be tightened up.

Things You Should Be Going To In April If You Are In Brisbane And Into Spec Fic

It’s rare that I leave the house for reasons that are not gaming, uni, or terrible movies, but next month I’ll be making the effort twice to support a couple of spec-fic-type happenings taking place in Brisbane. And since I don’t want to go to these places and hang around, all awkward and knowing no-one, here’s a heads up for people who may share my interest in all things science fiction, horror, and fantasy who might be interested in coming along.

LAUNCH: CAT SPARKS’ LOTUS BLUE and THORAIYA DYER’S CROSSROADS OF CANOPY
Where: 
Avid Reader Bookshop; When: Thursday, 13 April, 6:00 PM; Cost: Free (but preregister)
Why should you be going? It’s rare that spec fic writers from outside Queensland launch their books locally, and even rarer when the authors of those books are published by overseas presses. Sparks and Dyer are both great writers and they’re coming to town to co-launch their first novels into the world. Register you interest in attending at the Avid Reader website.

THE SCIENCE FICTION BOOK CLUB Featuring Jodi McAlister and Maria Lewis

Where: Avid Reader Bookshop; When: Monday, 24 April, 6:00 PM; Cost: $7.50
Why should you be going? Despite the name, this is an in-conversation with the two guests led by Brisbane author Trent Jamieson. More importantly, it’s being touted as the first of a monthly series, which means that even if I weren’t interested in what these particular authors had to say (for the record, I totally am), I would go and support the series on the principle of USE IT OR LOSE IT. If you don’t support this sort of thing early, when it’s vulnerable to lack of numbers being seen as lack of interest, it doesn’t stick around.

I’ve wanted something like this to exist in Brisbane for a while now, which means that I will plan to be there the last Monday of every month with fucking bells on. Tickets and details available on the Avid Reader website.

I am the worst possible judge of what will actually be useful

Over the weekend I dropped three hundred bucks to pick up a Dell Inspiron that was on sale at my local JB HiFi. I’d been edging around the idea of getting a small netbook capable of running OneNote while I’m gaming for a few weeks, and I seriously thought that would be all I used it for – a small computer that weighted less than a hardcover, tucked into my gaming bag alongside the dice and session notes.

Not good for writing, I figured. 4 meg of ram. Ten inch screen. Itty bitty keyboard. Who in hell is going to use that for writing work?

Then I proceeded to take the damn thing everywhere for three straight days, because it’s about the same weight as packing a hardcover Moleskin into my bag. And the keyboard is surprisingly functional, after the first few attempts at typing on it. And because the Inspiron will actually handle Scrivener better than my desktop, which means I’ve got a computer on me that is actually usable while sitting at bus stops or train stations.

Me and the Inspiron, it may be a thing.

A post shared by Peter M Ball (@petermball) on

The Sunday Circle: What Are You Working On This Week?

Sunday Circle Banner

The Sunday Circle is the weekly check-in where I ask the creative-types who follow this blog to weigh in about their goals, inspirations, and challenges for the coming week. The logic behind it can be found here. Want to be involved? It’s easy – just answer three questions in the comments or on your own blog (with a link in the comments here, so that everyone can find them).

After that, throw some thoughts around about other people’s projects, ask questions if you’re so inclined. Be supportive above all.

Then show up again next Sunday when the circle updates next, letting us know how you did on your weekly project and what you’ve got coming down the pipe in the coming week (if you’d like to part of the circle, without subscribing to the rest of the blog, you can sign-up for reminders via email here).

MY CHECK-IN

What am I working on this week?

Typing up a short story that’s been kicking around in my notebook for a few weeks, trying to dredge out the heart of the story from a handful of false starts. That alternates with putting together some rough write-ups of PhD ideas and research, so I’ve got something to work with over the next couple of months.

What’s inspiring me this week?

I watched Iron Fist in a thirteen-hour block, as is my wont with the Netflix Marvel shows. It’s not the best they’ve done by any stretch of the imagination – and the first episode verges on being excruciatingly bad – but there’s a really interesting mix of things that work really well and things that just…don’t.

When they get a scene right, they get it really right. Every couple of episodes they’ll build up to a scene where a character gets exactly what they want, but it ends up screwing said characters so badly and surprisingly that I just kinda sit there fascinated by how slickly they set things up.

On the downside it does a terrible job of getting around the inherently racist elements of the character, the action scenes are nowhere near as slick as the other Netflix shows, and the goofiness of the whole living-weapon-from-K’un-Lun is really foregrounded in the opening. It’s done for effect, but the payoff isn’t until you’re many, many episodes into the series and you put up with an awful lot of stupidity for no apparent reason until then

What part of my project an I avoiding?

I’ve been letting planning slide a bit over the last month, taking short-cuts instead of really investing in laying out projects and planning out what needs to happen. I’m going to be taking a few hours on Monday to do a really thorough sweep and start the quarterly planning process.

Two-Bear Mambo, Joe Lansdale

It would be wrong to say that I pitched a PhD topic about series just so I’d have a legitimate reason to read Joe Lansdale’s Hap and Leonard books and call it work, but I do not know that it would be 100% inaccurate.

It was cold as an Eskimo’s ass in an igloo outhouse, but it was clear and bright and the East Texas woods were dark and soothing. The pines, cold or not, held their green, except for the occasional streaks of rust-coloured needles, and the oaks, though leafless, were thick and intertwining, like the bones of some unknown species stacked into an elaborate art arrangement

Joe Lansdale, The Two-Bear Mambo.

It’s one thing to learn the big, macro-structures of narrative that will allow you to tell a decent story – and make no mistake, Lansdale’s got that shit down. But the thing that impresses me, over and over, is his control on the micro level, putting together an evocative image that’s rich in voice and strategically using contrast to generate powerful effect. Whether its the move from the colloquial metaphor to modern art, the personification of the trees (cold or not) that lends them a stronger presence in the scene, or the speed with which we go from leafless trees to thick and intertwining, the man has his shit together when it comes to writing a paragraph.

The Sunday Circle: What Are You Working On This Week?

Sunday Circle Banner

The Sunday Circle is the weekly check-in where I ask the creative-types who follow this blog to weigh in about their goals, inspirations, and challenges for the coming week. The logic behind it can be found here. Want to be involved? It’s easy – just answer three questions in the comments or on your own blog (with a link in the comments here, so that everyone can find them).

After that, throw some thoughts around about other people’s projects, ask questions if you’re so inclined. Be supportive above all.

Then show up again next Sunday when the circle updates next, letting us know how you did on your weekly project and what you’ve got coming down the pipe in the coming week (if you’d like to part of the circle, without subscribing to the rest of the blog, you can sign-up for reminders via email here).

MY CHECK-IN

What am I working on this week?

Splitting my time between a pair of story drafts. One is the Martian underworld boxing story I mentioned last week, which is rolling into novelette length quite nicely, while the other is an urban fantasy heist story that’s also proving to be less short than expected. May have to look at shelving one, so I can focus on something a little more finishable this week.

What’s inspiring me this week?

I caught The Great Wall at the cinemas last week, and while it’s a narrative that’s got a whole mess of problematic elements, it’s also absolutely freakin’ gorgeous in terms of its visuals and fight choreography. So many movies are done with the orange and teal colour scheme these days, particularly action movies that rely on digital effects, that just seeing a movie soaked in colour is so visually different that you realise how much you’ve missed.

In narrative terms, it’s the big, dumb action movie I was hoping Cowboys vs. Aliens would be a few years back, and it quietly gets me thinking about the big dumb action stories I’ve got sitting in my to-do pile.

What part of my project an I avoiding?

Still the dense, heavy French literary theory works that require an incredible amount of research and thinking to get through. I’ve made some progress, but etting through he first paragraph of a Bourdeiu essay required a half-page of notes on the various philosophies and theories mentioned, just so I could make sense of it. It’s slow, mentally taxing work that I keep looking for ways to put off.