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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 sent a story out to beta last week and got comments back, so my main goals this week are revising the story draft and getting my thesis synopsis together ahead of a meeting with my supervisor this Friday (and submitting it for assessment a week after that).

What’s inspiring me this week?

Man, so much theory and critical work could get slot right now, but let’s go with John Thompson’s Merchants of Culture. I’m barely a third of the way through Thompson’s examination of the publishing industry, but his break-down of the types of capital at work in publishing immediately got me thinking about how useful it would have been two or three years ago when I wanted to try and explain those concepts in classes. There is a strong possibility there will be blog posts in the next few weeks based upon my reading.

What part of my project an I avoiding?

Finally feel like I got a grip on everything over the last week, so I’m finally looking at the content of what I’m doing instead of my general need to be doing it in this section. In this case, I’ve got a short story revision that I’ve been doing for the last few days that hit a stall point when I realised that sitting down and revising it further would both be a) time-consumingly challenging to do, and b) increasingly likely to send it spiralling out past a usable word count where I can get the thing published. I’ve been reluctant to go back to it for about 48 hours now, and I’ll probably let it slide for much longer if I don’t actually think through those two problems.

Routines

My friend Allan has a useful theory about running weekly games when you’re in your all in your forties and people have lives: you don’t run the game for the people who aren’t there; you run the game for the people who show up. You don’t cancel because someone can’t attend, you game regardless and people will either start showing up or fall by the wayside.

It works incredibly well when you are the one who shows up every week, less effectively when the person running the game is the one most prone to flaking out.

Tonight, I’m running a session of my superhero campaign for the first time in about eight months. It fell off the weekly to-do list months ago, right about the time I started loosing grip on 2016, and by the time I was coherent enough to actually think about running sessions many of the players were doing other things with their Thursday nights.

I kept waiting for a clear spot in everyone’s schedule to restart, but no such spot exists. Even now, multiple people are going to disappear on holidays before the month is out. One of them will move house. We will spend the first few weeks working around absences.

Honestly, the only time February is good for is me, but…

Look, this week has been the first where I felt like I’m settling into a new normal. I’ve gotten things done for GenreCon; I’m writing regularly for the first time in months; I’ve answered my email and maintained my systems and I haven’t lived on pizza and chips and ungodly amounts of carbonated beverages.

This is the month where I add in habits that need maintaining, otherwise I the new normal calcifies and becomes the new routine until something comes along to break things up.

And so, tonight, we game.

Transit

This was going to be a post about productivity systems and white boards, but I spent yesterday playing chess with my dad instead. Now I’m on a train, with the backpack that serves as my mobile office on my shoulder, pondering what the best use of the five hours a week that will now be spent on trains as I commute to and from uni or the QWC offices.

Right now, the optimal use of this time is writing a blog post, so I can erase that off the to-do list.

And, really, this is the point of productivity systems and white boards. They aren’t a magic trick that will make you especially awesome, even if the shiny allure that draws you in is the promise of being like yourself, but better. 

They’re a tool for cutting down resistance that talks you out of doing things – oh, I won’t blog on the train, the phone keyboard isn’t built for it – and makes you aware of everything you’re trying to do and the time you’ve got available to get it done.

It’s the latter that’s important. A to-do list gives you the former, but it doesn’t provide context. It doesn’t aknowledge the limitations of when things get done.

Today, and in most weekdays on the horizon, I have a half hour commute to and from.

That’s enough time to do things, if I stay aware of what can be done in those moments

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?

Still working on the short story for last week, after getting distracted by PhD research through most of last week (it took about eight hours after getting library access for me to revert to a person who paces the length of the house, arguing with theorists and gesturing wildly). I did manage to pull the story draft and identify the major issues I was having during write-club last week, which means there are core problems that need to be solved in this week’s writing time.

What’s inspiring me this week?

I went to see the Amanda Palmer gig at the Brisbane Powerhouse last night. It was an incredibly uneven show compared to other Palmer shows I’ve seen, but what was inspiring about it was less the content and more the approach.

The show ended up being about three hours long, and swung from oh god, really to oh, this is fucking awesome along the way. Which actually makes it a pretty good microcosm of an artistic career, where the good stuff tends to come from doing less-good things and dedicating yourself to the long haul gives the really brilliant stuff a chance to show up.

Couple that with my general fascination with the way Palmer interacts with her fans, and it makes for a really interesting show.

What part of my project an I avoiding?

Still struggling with what my schedule should look like now that I’m not working around a day-job. I haven’t really divided up writing and research elements of my uni project yet, which means it’s incredibly easy to suddenly find myself going down a rabbit hole of productive distraction from the task at hand.

This week is ostensibly a little more controlled than last week was, with a better understanding of what my schedule will look like, so I’m going to try assigning some dedicated writing and research blocks that will at least let me know how accurate my guesses are.

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?

Still working on the draft for Float, although after a slow week of writing I’m not entirely sure where I’m up to. Also trying to get a short story done.

What’s inspiring me this week?

I picked up a game called Inside for the Playstation, based on it showing up on some lists when I went and looked for seminal computer computer games that show what’s going on in gaming today.

Inside is a remarkably simple game in terms of gameplay, but my god, the creators to manipulate mood and feed it into a fairly basic platform/puzzle game is incredible. It’s fairly low-key horror, so it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea – I found myself getting squicked out by how weirdly graphic the death scenes were. If course, I also admired the fidelity of design that went into those scenes, ’cause the game is seriously beautiful, and they’d earned enough trust that I figured those scenes would pay off

What part of my project am I avoiding? 

The usual: I need to get back into a regular sleep routine, and I need to start building my writing routine up again. I’ve got some serious end-of-years blues starting up, and I’d prefer not to let the heat take away my writing practice like it usually does in summer.

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?

Finished up the first act arc of Float last week, so I’m going to spend this week attempting to get down the first sequence of the second act in rough draft. Maybe five or six scenes, all up, plus continuing work on some short-story rewrites.

What’s inspiring me this week?

To no-one’s surprise: Luke Cage. I’m not sure if it’s the best of the marvel Netflix shows, but it’s definitely the smartest they’ve done so far. Cage draws on some pretty cheesy source material, but it does a great job of updating the Blaxploitation origins of the character to the 21st century. Cottonmouth gets the best villain introduction they’ve done since Kingpin in season 1 of Daredevil, complete with a scene that is just magically shot.

Also, a whole lot of Misty Knight, and Clair Temple.

What part of my project an I avoiding?

I’m meant to be finding a certain amount of time each day to focus on writing, but Saturday’s are proving to be the hard ones on this. I need to sit down and figure out how to get myself working on the weekends, so I don’t succumb to the temptation of goofing off.

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?

Only one workshop that needs to be written this week, but I’m also trying to get together a major application ahead of a Friday deadline, so one again the writing time gets shuffled to the side in the name of more urgent tasks.

What’s inspiring me this week?

I saw the final two episodes of Supergirl this week, and I honestly cannot remember being this happy with a season of a TV show. Had its moments of cheese, but they were neatly balanced with a certain level of bad-assness and the set-up for next season totally has me hanging out for it to start.

What part of my project an I avoiding?

The application. I don’t often apply for grant-type things, which means I am distinctly uncomfortable with the process and never entirely sure what things are meant to look like.

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’ve got three short stories on the boil this week, and I’d really like to get one of the draft to a “finished” stage before next week’s Sunday Circle check-in. I’m going to spend a lot of time in my writing bunker this week, trying to figure out the minutia of key scenes in all three.

What’s inspiring me this week?

I broke and saw Captain America: Civil War at the cinemas, which means I’ve now seen as many things on the big screen in the first five months of 2016 as I saw in all five years before this combined. As always, I’m intrigued by the big-scale storytelling approach the Marvel movies are using, balancing the demands of the individual story against the complexities of a shared world narrative that’s spread across multiple franchises and (with Agents of Shield) mediums.

Also, I am thoroughly eager for Spiderman: Homecoming now.

What part of my project an I avoiding?

The penultimate scene in my Mummy Story, which I’ve now been circling around for three weeks without making any real progress. I think I need to track down a copy of the Godfather, or some other Mafia movie, and take a close look at how the scenes I’m trying to write are structured and how they’ll be altered by the presence of supernatural aliens and such.

Reacher Said Nothing is a damned weird thing to read

Andy Martin’s Reacher Said Nothing is an incredibly weird book to read.

The premise is pure genius: Lee Child is writing the 20th Jack Reacher book, and he’s agreed to let Martin sit in on the process. Martin gets to observe the developing draft, ask questions about process and career, a literature professor studying the act of producing rather than the product at the end.

And the book is at its best when it’s doing exactly that, the moments when Martin is reporting conversations and and offering glimpses of the process; or noticing a technique that’s started to appear in the rough drafts and expounding on it.

The unevenness comes when it looses that focus: talks about other writers Martin has meet while in Child’s orbit, or contemplating the effect that his being there is having on the process. Thinking through what he is doing, talking about the lack of models and how it may continue in other forms.

And I will grant that there are very few books like this. The only one I can think of that’s anything similar is The Writers Tale – a document of emails exchanged between Russell Davies and journalist Benjamin Book as Davies wrote his final season of Doctor Who. Except my memories of The Writers Tale is that it is wall-to-wall fascinating, even when it’s getting self-indulgent, because the words you’re getting are almost always Davies responding to specific prompts or conversations.

Everything in The Writers Tale is contextualised. Occasionally, Reacher Said Nothing feels like its no longer moored to the concept. Or that you’ve misunderstood the concept, somehow.

But it is fascinating, just for the glimpses of Child’s process, listening to him talk about the value of certain rhythms, certain word choices, certain changes to the language. And if you’re a fan of the Reacher books (here I wave to Cat Sparks), it’s definitely worth checking out.

The Important Things in Life

I am teaching a whole bunch of writing courses in the coming months. This will roughly coincide with a two-month period where I am much more likely to show up at this blog and goof off, rather than talking about writing and publishing, because there is only so much writing and publishing talk I can take in a given week.

And I largely hit that limit when I’m not talking about writing in general, and giving specific comments on work, which is a lot of what I’m doing at the moment.

Critiquing work stresses me out.

It also leads to a lot of goofing off, on twitter. Which has now developed into a weird daily twitter thing, with Conan references, that makes me extraordinarily happy.

I am still extraordinarily proud of the October 3 entry.

It’s obscene, how much I enjoy doing these. If I could just give up this pesky writing dream and tweet Conan jokes for the rest of my life…