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

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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?

Got my PhD application in early, so this week has been freed up for out-and-out writing. My current goals: finish the crocodile story rewrite, write fourteen pages in the Float notebook, and try not to keel over in a pile after spending a weekend in Melbourne.

What’s inspiring me this week?

My Melbourne trip has been spent talking to various friends who work in creative business about their recent projects, business plans, and general creative life. It’s been enormously illuminating and its great to see what other people have been working on, so right now I am itching to sit down and get some writing finished.

Not the most exciting inspiration, but after doing the PhD application it’s amazing when I can carry on a coherent conversation.

What part of my project an I avoiding?

I let writing slide off the agenda in the name of getting the application done as early as possible, but it also taught me exactly how slack I’ve been about keeping track of all the things I’ve written over the years. There’s a handful of stories that really should be added to the list in the main menu here, and it would make sense to set up a couple of systems that make it easier to just update as new things come along.

  19 comments for “The Sunday Circle: What Are You Working On This Week?

  1. 11/09/2016 at 2:15 PM

    Peter: I think coherent conversations with fellow creatives is the best kind of inspiration! Very exciting stuff, and it was such a pleasure to catch up in person for some food and chatting!

    I’d definitely recommend looking at small processes for what you do going when you write a piece – I’ve been trying to do that myself, starting relatively simply with Evernote to keep simple steps of what needs to be done for a certain thing (updating my website, getting a new lead on potential gig, putting out a Now Playing episode, etc)

  2. 11/09/2016 at 2:24 PM

    What am I working on this week?
    Because it never rains, but pours, I’ve got two long-form narration gigs to get through this week once my voice recovers, which should be soon *crosses fingers*. Everything else goes on the backburner behind getting those out the door. Happily, I’ve fixed an issue with the audio interface last week that was causing major stress.

    What’s inspiring me this week?
    Not to steal any of Peter’s thunder, but a very similar thing. Reaching milestones and celebrating them with fantastic friends and collaborators. I popped over to Canberra for Friday night for a launch party for Tahira, which triggered a lot of emotions in the aftermath of the event. First launch party for a game I’ve done voice acting for that I’ve been invited to. Last week, signed my first NDA for an audition that I got the gig for.

    On a less navel-gazy note, also reading “Work Clean” on Peter’s recommendation, and loving it. Some of the advice in there I’d taken steps towards already, but there’s a hell of a lot of good information to chew over in there about your work process and environment.

    What part of my project am I avoiding?
    I’ve still got to get Now Playing sitting with a backlog of content already published – sickness last week ate away at the gains I’d made there. So not so much avoiding as interrupted. Will look at where I am next week to see if anything’s being actively avoided, once I’m through a full week of regular rhythms again.

    • 11/09/2016 at 9:16 PM

      I’m going to have to read Work Clean at some point, I just know it. It’s so great that they included you in the launch party!

    • maggiedot
      12/09/2016 at 11:13 AM

      Congrats on the gigs, and hope the voice is back in tip-top condition soon! 🙂 And the launch party sounds really fun. A very cool way to get energized for the new week!

  3. karinacoldrick
    11/09/2016 at 7:15 PM

    Congratulations Peter on getting your PhD application in. I hope it all works out as planned for you.
    Also hoping your voice is on the mend, Kevin… very distressing when that’s your main source of income.

    What am I working on this week?
    I’ve had to put aside the YA rewrite on Opus 2 for a bit in order to redo the Fun Flimsy. (A publisher put a call out for what is almost “exactly” my story, but I want to utilise the feedback I’ve been given on it to really make it sing before submitting.) It’s been a hard graft of plotting but I had a lightbulb moment and feel really positive about it (more anon).

    What’s inspiring me this week?
    My lightbulb moment came from overdosing on reading best-selling romances where it dawned on me that the external story only takes prominence at the beginning/end of the novel. The “B Story” (everything between the two turning points and related pinchpoints) ALWAYS come from the intrinsic internal story, which is the relationship between (usually) two leads. You’d think this would be a no-brainer, but I’d never broken apart and parsed the stories before, I’d just run with my gut or else run with what works in other genres. Not to say other romance writers always tell it this way, but the ones where the story really works emotionally do. (I’m specifically talking category romance here, too.)

    What part of my project am I avoiding?
    What I need to do next is map out the scene order and note the conversations/interactions that now need to happen between the two leads, NOT between them and other characters. Being autumn here, much foraging has been taken place, which has been fun but distracting. Still, plenty of rosehip tea, damson cheese, fresh hazelnuts, and hedgerow jelly should be ready to keep me going!

    • 11/09/2016 at 9:15 PM

      Karina, that’s great re the genre/structure ephiphany! I love those moments when you go, “oh, *that*’s how it works here. Looking under the hood and actually understanding what you see. Also that list of food makes you sound like Mrs Tiggywinkle.

      • karinacoldrick
        11/09/2016 at 10:20 PM

        I do, rather. Shows how Victorian pantry preserves etc are. You really can’t get by without sugar.

    • 11/09/2016 at 9:41 PM

      That division between A/B story makes a hell of a lot of sense. Is it a fair guess that the external story sometimes is used to introduce obstacles to the core relationship story along the way as well?

      • karinacoldrick
        11/09/2016 at 10:19 PM

        Less so than you would believe, and that was my core mistake – relying on the external story to push character development. It’s often done, but the most expert authors work hard to ensure it’s the initial character limitations/fears that balloon into the Black Moment. They then use an externally focused Climax to demonstrate the character acting as their True Selves with the obligatory Happily Ever After or Happy For Now as the closing scene. It’s much, much harder to do this than to have some handy plot device (eg. rescue-from-danger, return of ex-lover) force them to improve! That said, A/B do have to entangle at the end – think of the bromance in Toy Story where Buzz and Woody need to work together to get into Andy’s car.

        • maggiedot
          12/09/2016 at 11:17 AM

          HAHA! I totally just watched Toy Story this week and was obsessed with the same detail. XD (Clearly, I posted my notes for this week before seeing your comment here…)

          And whip out the pom-poms! Rah! Rah! Go! Go! Go! The Fun Flimsy is delightful (even without changes!), but the more you dig into it, I’m sure it’ll just get better and better. Go get ’em!

          Also, your food descriptions in this post make me hungry. ^_^

  4. 11/09/2016 at 9:33 PM

    Peter, I’m keen to hear more about the business practice/planning conversations when we get you back. Congratulations on getting the application in!

  5. 11/09/2016 at 9:35 PM

    What am I working on?
    – Finalising, illustrating and preparing a uni presentation
    – 2 Tremontaine covers to illustrate, after the final sketches are approved (and 6 more episodes to read)
    – I have… five novel manuscripts to read ahahahah
    – Beating a new writing project idea into submission. I don’t like the characters enough so am writing possible scenes making everything worse for them – once it clicks I can get an outline down and put it away.

    What’s inspiring me?
    – I’ve just spent the weekend at the Brisbane Writers Festival and had a wonderful time. I was sketching and talking a lot so didn’t get to many panels, but I met and met up with some great people and got to go to part of Katherine Battersby’s picture book workshop, which was very helpful.
    – Realising that I can and will work late at night, even during a festival, but putting it off until the morning rarely works. I don’t have a great sense of urgency at the best of times, and it’s the last part of me to wake up.
    – I was the interviewer in an In Conversation and it was so much fun! Being given a person to draw out in conversation for a whole hour is marvellous. One day I will remember that I like talking to people and it won’t seem such an epiphany.
    – Giving books to people, by recommendation or surprise. I diverted some of my book buying inclinations at the festival by having the books delivered to other people.

    What am I avoiding?
    – Inspiration. I’ve had so much to read and do for art that I haven’t read or watched anything else this week (except Morse while cutting silhouettes, and what will I do when the last episode of that is done?).
    – Writing/editing. Part of this is because several big tasks will start soon, but depend on a yet-to-be-decided university date. I have started some incidental planning so at least those muscles are being used. (I need to spend more time writing at write club)
    – Tidying my house. It’s deteriorated over the last month and I now desire a state of monastic simplicity. I’m trying to put 3 things away at regular intervals, and I’ve added ‘reorganise a room’ to my list of milestone rewards (I keep a list because in the moment I always forget what it is I wanted to do).

    • 11/09/2016 at 9:47 PM

      Based on your desire to get to a cleaner state at the moment, I can’t recommend reading Work Clean enough. It’ll give you solid reasons to bump it on the priority list, and not just get to cleaner, but more functional space as well. I rejigged the work space at the start of the month and the dividends in terms of peace of mind, productivity and focus have more than paid off.

      In Conversation sounds like it would have been a joy to attend – wish I could have been there to listen!

    • karinacoldrick
      11/09/2016 at 10:24 PM

      FIVE mss… Crikey.
      Like Kevin, I’d have liked to have been at your interview with Natasha. As a fellow Perthie, she’s been on my radar for a few years now and her website is terrific. In fact, Peter, she has some useful facts on author incomes etc that might be useful for future posts for you.

    • maggiedot
      12/09/2016 at 11:24 AM

      Post-Morse (you may have already seen, but!), have you ever checked out Poirot? There are a ton of them, and there’s something about being in that 1920s setting that I found really enjoyable (even the two-year-old liked it, mostly because there are lots of trains and cars… XD) Or there’s Nero Wolfe with Maury Chekin, which recycles the actors for every episode in different roles (other than the staples Nero/Archie/Fritz, etc.), but the guy who does Archie is just delightful.

      The three things sounds like a great way to start in on the tidying project! (I’ve been trying to tidy a lot too–with the little guy, it can very easily get out of hand.) I’ve also found setting a timer for 5 minutes and tackling one hot-spot that continuously piles up with clutter a useful way to make noticeable but not overwhelming progress here and there. Baby steps will get it where you want it. Good luck! 😀

  6. 12/09/2016 at 7:49 AM

    Good luck with the PhD application. The road to Dr is a fun ride (assuming you enjoy terrifying roller-coasters!).

  7. maggiedot
    12/09/2016 at 11:08 AM

    A little late to the game again this week, but-!

    This week I’m working on: So, last week had some ups and downs–ups, in the form of a bump to the editor’s desk at a magazine I’ve been so, so, so close to almost breaking into before, and downs, getting back a “no, but almost,” again. It’s my white whale. But they did give me some helpful feedback, so I’m going to do my best to incorporate those changes, and see if I can make headway elsewhere.

    So with that in mind, my goal this week is to finish the read through of “Any Day But Today…” and getting it submitted. After that, I’ll review the possible edit for “Circles,” and then–if there’s time–tuck into the complete rewrite of “Mirror, Mirror” and hopefully make some headway on that. #headwayisapparentlymywordoftheday

    What’s inspiring me? Toy Story and Gilmore Girls, the first for its surprisingly masterful weaving of two man-vs-self conflicts without ever feeling cluttered, and the second for the shift in writing and how important context and echoing are for making an event feel important. The DVD we rented of Toy Story also included a special feature that showed the first version of the “Buzz out the window” scene, which was so bad, Disney considered sacking the whole project. The problem they were running into was how to make Woody flawed enough to try to get rid of Buzz, without making you hate him so much you can’t root for him for the rest of the film. It was kind of eye-opening. I think sometimes it’s easy to forget that any finished product wasn’t conceived as a perfect whole, but underwent a considerable development process.

    Gilmore Girls, I feel like is starting to struggle as I dig into the 5th season. I’m still invested in Lorelei’s current relationship, but mostly because its had such a long buildup (almost too long, thus creating ridiculous expectations which I think the writers are struggling to fulfill), but otherwise, the character’s major goals (Lorelei = opening an inn; Rory = Getting into Harvard, are accomplished by the end of the fourth season. This leaves this weird void in central motivation, which is kind of/sort of morphing into Lorelei = finding a happily-ever-after, and Rory = ? In some ways, Rory’s still pursuing her goal of becoming an overseas correspondent, but it’s not really central, since her relationships have gotten a lot more screen time (so there’s kind of a “who will Rory end up with” storyline, but there’s so little build-up on anything, and no reason to care about most of the options, and half the time she’s acting out of character (though that could have been remedied by focusing more on the “overseas journalist” angle and the fact that Rory is an extremely prudent and careful person, and not the type to run into dangerous conflict or even take a new angle on politics<–CONFLICT!). But instead, the writers seem to be jumping on the most obvious relationship clashes without much development as to why Rory's acting the way she is, or what the extended repercussions are for those choices–ANYWAY, it's been very interesting trying to decipher why the first few seasons sang along so well and really hit the "I just need to watch the next episode RIGHT NOW" button, and the later seasons just…aren't. Dramatic things are still happening, but they're just events strung together, somewhat unrelated to character (or relying on the most basic character elements which have already been explored nearly to death, i.e. Lorelei's poor relationship with her parents, particularly her mother).

    What I’m avoiding: Not avoiding much, beyond reviewing “Circles” and seeing if I really can get away with cutting out the first two whole scenes. UGH. It’s not even so much that I think it’s impossible, so much as I think it might actually be a “thing” I have to start doing, where I deliberately cut out the first 1-3 scenes of every story I write and see if I can live without them, because slow beginnings is definitely becoming my new glaring issue. But at least the endings are working better, so that’s something! And then, just trying to keep the revelation that slow beginnings are an issue for me out of my head while drafting new stories–that’s actually a useful avoidance, but I may need to avoid it more… 🙂

  8. maggiedot
    12/09/2016 at 11:11 AM

    @ Peter: Congrats on getting the application in! Make sure you spend a little time enjoying that accomplishment before piling on a bunch of new to-do tasks. It’s too easy to finish something and forget to cash in on the satisfaction of getting something done! 🙂

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