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?

I’m working on short story that’s a slightly off-kilter portal fantasy where kids are sent to another world for the holidays. Having just made the very on-the-nose The Last Battle reference that will probably not survive to the final draft, I finally get to the bit where I get to engage in some fun secondary world hi-jinx.

What’s inspiring me this week?

So I wanted Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and– Nope. Can’t even finish that sentence as a joke. My dislike of Snyder films remains strong, even if I’m pretty sure I had a minor epiphany about putting together effective bad guys while comparing Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor to Hans Gruber in Die Hard.

What’s really interested me this week has been Riverdale TV series, based on the Archie comics. There’s been some incredibly weird re-interpretations of the Archie gang in the comics over the last few years, most of which have paid off really well, so it’s not really surprising this continues that trend. It’s high melodrama, as you’d expect, but the entire thing has been filtered through Twin Peaks and five years of internet commentary on intersectionality and representation.

What part of my project an I avoiding?

The portal fantasy is still more premise than plot, so I’ll need to figure out some deeper narrative issues to work through now that the introductory bits and voice are starting to come together. Still haven’t quite got my routine down either, what with everything getting rescheduled and shifted around last week, so I still need to really sit down and lock down a schedule for when writing will happen.

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

  1. 12/02/2017 at 11:50 AM

    Peter: so you’ve got a clear view of what needs to be written this week, but the moving target/issue is around when that time gets scheduled?

    • Peter Ball
      14/02/2017 at 8:27 AM

      Also scaling goals to time available, so I’m never quite sure if I’m under- overcommitted.

  2. 12/02/2017 at 12:12 PM

    I’m back after not managing to pop my head in last week thanks to deadlines and tight time pressure thanks to illness. I’m posting now, but probably won’t get to responding with more comments till either late tonight or Tuesday – apologies in advance!

    What am I working on this week?
    Working on a long-form narration gig to get out the door in the next few weeks, as well as a motion capture training course this weekend where I get to play alongside a dear friend and collaborator I’m normally in a different physical place to! So, super-excited about that! Also looking to progress the commercial demo.

    What’s inspiring me this week?
    I’m almost finished listening to the audiobook of Big Magic, and I’ve been really enjoying it. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the practical viewpoint that is presented, although I can definitely see how a reader could take entirely the wrong message away from that book.

    I’ve also FINALLY transitioned over to the new iMac for doing voice over work, and it’s such a pleasant experience not working on a computer that is almost dying. It’s been a huge help to focus and energy not having to wait for the computer to respond again and again.

    Also, feeling pretty chuffed after a great catch up session with the change strategist/business coach, Kristine Oller/

    What part of my project am I avoiding?
    Client communication for a casting & directing project needs more attention than it’s getting, along with prep for a film project. Also, progressing the commercial demo needs more attention than its getting. This is all due to time & energy going to paid work with pressing deadlines, so one of the things I’m realising I need to work on is saying no more, which is a good place to be.

    • 12/02/2017 at 12:36 PM

      Hi Kevin, your schedule is always so full I don’t know how to get stuff done! I loved Big Magic, too. The idea of the “geniuses” that I first heard Gilbert discuss in her TED talk has stuck with me over the years, and really influenced my process when I sit down to write.

      • 14/02/2017 at 7:27 AM

        Aw, thank you for the kind words! I’m consistently impressed by how you have a clear idea of what needs to be done next, and seem to have everything battened down awesomely week to week!

        And absolutely agreed on the geniuses idea – it’s a really helpful way of framing a personal relationship with creativity.

    • maggiedot
      12/02/2017 at 1:13 PM

      Shifting from non-functioning to functioning technology is the *best* feeling. Everything is suddenly so effortless and smooth, and you kind of have a chance to realize how BAD the old tech had gotten. Congrats! ^_^

      I’m going to have to check out Big Magic sometime–I keep hearing interesting things about it…

      • 14/02/2017 at 7:29 AM

        It’s definitely the best feeling. That laptop was on wobbly last legs.

        Big Magic isn’t for everyone, I suspect, but I found some really useful ideas in there. Not pragmatic “Here’s how to structure your week” stuff, but more “Here’s how to think about the big picture”.

    • 14/02/2017 at 9:09 AM

      The motion capture workshop sounds exciting!

  3. 12/02/2017 at 12:33 PM

    Peter: what’s the point of an early draft if you can’t add in bad jokes?? Great to hear you’re having fun with the kids’ story.

    • 14/02/2017 at 7:32 AM

      If you’re digging on street art at the moment, you may or may not have run into Myths Over Miami previously, but I’d definitely recommend giving it a read.

      Serious kudos for being able to step away from a project that wasn’t a good fit for right now, too!

      • 14/02/2017 at 7:48 AM

        Thanks for the recommendation Kevin. I’ll check it out.

    • 14/02/2017 at 9:13 AM

      Please say you’re going to bring the street art and ghost stories together for something? There’s a great MR James story which could be a model/starting point (there’s always a great MR James story but I’m thinking of the one with the wallpaper, “The Diary of Mr Poynter”, which I’m intent upon illustrating one day).

      • 14/02/2017 at 5:51 PM

        Well I am looking for a new short story idea, so I reckon this could be it! I’ll check out the MR James story, too. Thanks for the tip!

  4. maggiedot
    12/02/2017 at 1:10 PM

    @Peter: Oh man, I hope at some point you do a write-up of the villain comparison! And now I really want to check out Riverdale–I used to have boxes and boxes of the comics as a kid, but even then I had a hard time imaging how they could perpetuate the very basic storyline for so many years. A few of the recent comics have caught my eye, but I haven’t had a chance to check them out, but the show sounds fascinating, too. New things to explore!

    Squeaking in ahead of the game for me, my Sunday Circle is here.

    • 14/02/2017 at 7:37 AM

      I’d *definitely* recommend a re-read of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea – possibly because I’ve got a soft spot for that book. Nemo doesn’t quite fit the Miyazaki trend of first act villains turning out to be more innocuous allies (which is gorgeous, and you’re absolutely right – a great fit for children’s fiction and an important lesson to learn for empathy) – Nemo, from hazy memory, is a sympathetic villain who is doing something extreme for understandable reasons.

      Thank you for the introduction to kishōtenketsu – what a fascinating concept!

      • maggiedot
        14/02/2017 at 12:46 PM

        Oh, I *loved* 20,000 Leagues! I actually made it to the finals of a speech contest in junior high dressed up like Arronax (complete with mustache, in fact!) doing that scene when Nemo runs through the battleship and stares at the pictures of his wife and child. It was so much fun! It’s absolutely my favorite of Verne’s works, I think, and you’re absolutely right–it’s a different kind of villain, but a wonderfully sympathetic (if frightening) one!

    • 14/02/2017 at 9:16 AM

      Maggie, are you going to Readercon, and if so have you proposed a panel on reading unfamiliar plot structures, please?

      I want to go to it. My usual way of plotting is to loosely hang it on a fairytale skeleton for the first draft (eg “Goose Girl from the pov of the villain but with villainy redistributed”), and then tighten it by pulling it more into line with an act structure.

      • maggiedot
        14/02/2017 at 12:50 PM

        Oh, that’s a great idea! I’ll definitely look into doing so, because I’d go to it, too! ^_^

        (Hehe! Oh yes–my first AOL IM tag was Eilonwy465. I love me some magic notebook and orb! And growing up, I had a wolfhound–so we got the full “wet wolfhound” experience on a regular basis! How anyone slept within ten feet of Gurgi I’ll never understand…)

    • 14/02/2017 at 9:17 AM

      Also: saw your Lloyd Alexander ref.

  5. karinacoldrick
    12/02/2017 at 8:46 PM

    Peter: Much as I love the Narnia books, I do think The Last Battle deserves any and all on the nose jokes. To this day I feel Susan was hard done by. All she did was discover boys and, with her entire family wiped out in a train crash, there are strong intimations she’ll never see them again in any deeper-in version of Narnia.

    Kevin: Gilbert does seem to have a problem with some people taking warped messages from her work and I can never figure out why. (But then, I thought her Eat Pray Love was an incredibly brave autobiographical work and others I recommended it to thought she was gushingly self-absorbed.) I loved Big Magic (check out her podcasts) and she is an exceptional speaker in person.

    Ree: I’m interested in your decision to drop the novella in favour of your other ms. Is it that the character isn’t resonating or the muse is sitting in the earlier work?

    Maggie: Nice one hitting that first plot point! And I am definitely going to follow up on kishōtenketsu. Half of my degree was in Asian Studies (speciality: Japan) but its business focus meant we never touched on the arts sufficiently. I have that tingle which suggests this is going to be really relevant to developing my writing…

    Kathleen: From last week… I’ll have to relook at The Loaded Dog. An Australian Masterpiece of a story but one I’ve not read for about twenty years! PS. See you at the Conference!

    What am I working on this week?
    Every spare minute is on the Fun Flimsy which, due to sheer hard graft, no longer feels either flimsy nor much fun. I am racing to get it DONE in some final form I am happy with. What is satisfying is that I’m now very clear on what the characters want and why. The first full version was 80/20 plot to character. Now it’s reversed, I’m struggling is to stretch it from a very narrow closed-room dialog story to the larger scaled setting I originally envisioned.

    What’s inspiring me this week?
    My ruminations this week have been on pinch points vs plot points in relationship novels, hence the likely relevance of kishōtenketsu. We hit the shops yesterday and bought a bunch of blu-ray/DVDs for peanuts, one of which is Tango and Cash. It’s not Die Hard, by any means, but I love this film. It’s like Kurt Russell’s mullet – it just shouldn’t work, but it does. You never quite get why (short of east side vs west side) these two cops hate each other, but they do it with such whole hearted conviction you run with it. I suspect it proves the point that if you perform/ write with enough gusto, then energy transcends material. Also, the dialog. It’s an endless run of one-liners and it’ll always hold a special place in my heart for introducing me to the term: FUBAR.

    What part of my project am I avoiding?
    It’s dawning on me that, moving forward, I’m going to need to balance the non-writing elements of life with a more job-like approach to writing. But not this week…

    • maggiedot
      12/02/2017 at 11:43 PM

      I’m sorry to hear that the Fun Flimsy is getting to that hard nut point, but I think you’re on to something digging your heels in and pushing through. Best of luck with it! I’ve found–as much as possible–it really helpful to take a handful of minutes before writing (especially at the hard nut phase) to really build up my own energy for the scene I’m about to write–if I’m not interested in it, I push myself to find out why and what I could do (keeping within plot and length requirements) to spice it up for myself. Like you said, if you’ve got the energy and gusto, the readers will likely feel it too!

    • 13/02/2017 at 9:21 PM

      Ah the grunt work of writing…Here’s hoping you work through it Karina & get to see the fun parts of it again.
      In answer to your question, I love the novella’s main character but the central plot device doesn’t work, and I have bigger & better plans for her down the track. But at the moment the other major projects have to take priority. They have their problems but are very fixable, wheras the novella, in it’s current form, was not.

    • 14/02/2017 at 7:42 AM

      Can you squirrel away 15 minutes or 20 minutes a day working on the Fun Flimsy to try to address one particular challenge/question regarding the transition from where it is to where you want it? Asking because I know how hard it is when you’re sprinting for the finish to be thinking at a more involved, structural level…

      A big FUCK YES for Tango and Cash, too. Its a solid 80s film. From what I remember, the friction between the two cops was a rivalry thing – they both have big reputations and are lone dog mavericks (aaaaah, the 80s) in their own precinct, so partnering up brings a natural friction. I could be wrong.

    • 14/02/2017 at 9:19 AM

      The job-like approach does pay off! Go you. But I think you’re wrong about Susan and I will have that out with you when you get here!:)

  6. 14/02/2017 at 9:29 AM

    What am I working on this week?
    – A broad category labelled “Uni” which includes editing bits of the novella, preparing a presentation about adapting fairytales, hunting down research on the sublime, preparing some illustrations, starting reading Game of Thrones and brushing up on grammar.
    – Making the start of the Regency a bit more Gothic.
    – Finishing a couple sets of magazine & book-collateral illustrations.

    What’s inspiring me?
    – Small peeves in manuscripts, which I’m pursuing for new ideas.
    – I’ve been out a lot lately – Amanda Palmer last week, a lecture and mini-roadshow by Andy McConnell (the glass guy from the Antiques Roadshow), A Day On The Green (Kasey Chambers, Bernard Fanning and James Taylor), Jurassic Park: The Musical, and “Murder and Redemption”: Sam Amidon, Pekka Kuusisto and the Australian Chamber Orchestra. Lots of ideas from all of them, but particularly the latter: a high, thin, dreamy folk-classical evening, and I’ve started on some murder ballads of my own which now need to get edited into prose or comics.

    What am I avoiding?
    – Reading Game of Thrones. I do not have a problem with GRR Martin. I just really, really liked Fevre Dream.
    – Researching markets.

    • maggiedot
      14/02/2017 at 11:06 PM

      I hadn’t heard of Fevre Dream before, but it sounds fantastic. I may have to check *that* one out! XD Best of luck with your projects this week (and have fun with gothi-fying the Regency–sounds like fun!)

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