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).
What am I working on this week?
I’ve just hit the period where everything else gets sidelined in favour of the thesis, which means I’m expanding out my plan and filling in the gaps. This week I’m transforming my original lit review draft, which lacked a lot of focus, into the first half of a review that will actually fit the topic I’m pitching. On the plus side, I’m starting this week ahead of my word-count benchmarks for the first time, so I’m hopefully that I’ll have the chapter drafted by my Dec 30 deadline (even with all the holiday chaos about to hit).
What’s inspiring me this week?
This has been one of those weeks where I’m spoiled for choice in this entry – I’ve read so much good stuff that’s got me eager to start work on new projects, and I’m kinda torn between three possible entries. Kij Johnston’s The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe was easily the best thing I’ve read this week – it’s a brilliant Tor.com novella that takes Lovecraft’s Dreamlands and starts inserting the kinds of characters who are routinely marginalised in Lovecrafts work. It’s simultaneously a homage and a critique, a complex book that’s just an outright pleasure to read.
The most inspiring books this week have been Caitlin Kiernan’s The Aubergine Alphabet and Jonathan Hadken’s All The Wasted Heat, two very different vignette collections that have got me thinking about the potential of the form and how it could be used. Hadken’s collection is a series of prose-poems about Brisbane, recommended to me by my friend Chris Lynch, that sets out to capture a mood and a place. Kiernan’s collection is framed as a weird alphabet primer, far less unified in terms of its topics but similarly effective at evoking a mood.
While there’s definite the potential for interesting work in both veins, the subtitle on Kiernan’s book (“A Primer“) increasingly got me thinking about the potential for using vignette sequences to world-build other projects, capturing a vast cross-section of a setting and building up the mood. It’s not a unique idea – two other vignette-driven works I can think of, off the top of my head, are Hemmingway’s Movable Feast about Paris and Brett Easton Ellis’ second novel, which is all about Los Angeles – but it’s a method of world-building that’s appeals to me as a pantser.
What action do I need to take?
I need to do some quality research on the use of ellipsis as a narrative device, as one of the arguments that I’m making about the poetics of series narratives is the way they leave the reader suspended in the gap between story points. Each instalment effectively ends in an ellipsis, which puts pressure on both reader and writer to search for the contextual clues that will make the omissions comprehensible.