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).

MY CHECK-IN

What am I working on this week? I’ve just had a incredibly productive week, courtesy of four separate write clubs in the past seven days. The novel-in-progress is quietly edging towards the end of the first act, and I’m writing a series of Magnificent Seven-esque recruitment sequences as I get a bunch of new characters on stage.

What’s inspiring me this week? Longmire, a police procedural about a Wyoming sheriff whose a throw-back and the various deputies in his department. It’s a solid show, but it’s real strength lies i taking a genre that has started to feel very familiar and recontextualizing it in a very new environment. Think CSI: MIDDLE OF GODDAMN NOWHERE.

What part of my project an I avoiding? Everything that is not writing the current draft of the new book. I owe people a bunch of emails, blog posts, and general day-to-day business stuff that I’ve fallen behind on, and I’ve been slack about rewriting things. Setting aside some time this evening to actually do some admin/redrafting stuff.

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

  1. 17/01/2016 at 9:04 AM

    Write club! Also, people talk about training montages but recruitment sequences can be just as much if not more fun.

    What am I working on this week? Trialling the bullet journal approach. Managing four art projects when I can’t stand or sit for very long. Finishing a shorter short story for a competition (I have one draft but there’s too much story in it).

    What’s inspiring me this week? Kenneth Koch’s frank and simple enthusiasm for his subject matter (thanks). Painkillers. Several proponents of limited working hours, e.g. 3 or 4 a day, which might be a way to ease back into verticality. I might start with 1 and work up. Write club, and other forms of writing-in-company, which has proved to be a cunning way to get people to rescue me from cafes when I have hobbled too far afield.

    What part of my project am I avoiding? Editing the novel, in which I was aided and abetted by my computer dying this week (all backed up!). Watching any movies or shows, because I am contrary, and apparently need company to focus.

    • maggiedot
      17/01/2016 at 1:19 PM

      Okay, I’m totally fascinated by the words “bullet journalling.” What is this mystical thing, and how does one do it? I have this kind of awesome mental image of shooting various bullet calibers into a blank pages…though I’m sure it’s something far more useful than that… 🙂

      • 17/01/2016 at 3:31 PM

        Much less exciting than that. It’s basically analog project/life management system. The basics of it actually changed the way I used notebooks forever. http://bulletjournal.com

        • 17/01/2016 at 10:33 PM

          (@Incognitiously again here — FYI, Peter, I hit the little WordPress icon and I get a pop-up window as if it’s accessing the required info, and a little progress bar on this page proper, and then … nothing changes. *shrug*)

          The bullet journal thing looks interesting, and I’m curious to give it a go. My problems with organization stem from ADHD issues, so the instructions and categories for bullet journaling brim over my overwhelm-limit, but I think if I take things slowly and incorporate things layer by layer, it might be something useful for me.

        • maggiedot
          17/01/2016 at 11:41 PM

          I’m going to have to try this. I always have a ton of various notebooks/apps floating around, and no continuity between them. This would really help me get my brain all in one place, which with an active 19 month old, I need desperately! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • 17/01/2016 at 11:11 PM

      I’m intrigued by the idea of bulletjournalling, and would be really interested to hear how the experiment turns out for you!

      Bummer to hear about the computer death, too. That’s never anything but a giant PITA. Go you for having backups! Hope this week turns out better for editing.

  2. Anonymous
    17/01/2016 at 11:57 AM

    I’ve been seeing these for a few weeks and trying to get my act together well enough to respond in kind, and I think that might be the case this week. Yay!

    *What am I working on this week?

    With the very kind assistance of Kevin Powe, we both had a wonderful Skype sit-down to get a sense of the scheduling and continuing shape of Liminal, a fiction podcast project meant to 1. be a reason to do creative things with people I really love and 2. be a sort of proof-of-concept/example of work for Kevin’s Tavern of Voices. Think X-Files meets Neuromancer meets Hellblazer for Liminal. For now, I’ll be writing up establishing material on the project’s wiki page for our team to read and contribute to.

    *What’s inspiring me this week?

    Notions of honesty in creative work. Spurred by the one-two punch of losing Bowie and Rickman within days of each other. This is connected with my ongoing poking-arounding in the idea of extrinsic vs intrinsic motivations for doing things, and reframing my projects around those ideas (especially when it comes to the midway point, or beyond that; I’m bad at finishing things).

    *What part of my project am I avoiding?

    All the logistical stuff, which is why I openly declared it above so I have some kind of mysterious Internet accountability or something. All I need is half an hour each day, and honestly, if I get hooked into something I’m speculating on, it’ll turn into longer. It’s the starting that’s hard.

    • Anonymous
      17/01/2016 at 11:58 AM

      I’m not freaking anonymous; I don’t know why the WordPress log-in button isn’t working.
      @Incognitiously on Twitter. http://www.storytrade.net .

      • 17/01/2016 at 12:22 PM

        Even weirder because the system isn’t set up for anonymous commenting. Will take a look at this when I get home.

    • maggiedot
      17/01/2016 at 1:21 PM

      Liminal sounds amazing. Definitely something I’d tune into. Very exciting!

    • 17/01/2016 at 4:11 PM

      I’ve been getting into Bookburners, so “X-Files meets Neuromancer meets Hellblazer” sounds amazing.

      • 17/01/2016 at 11:20 PM

        Ooh! Thank you for mentioning Bookburners! That’s a great model for me to check out for successful audio projects, and I LOVE Mur Lafferty’s work!

        (and that combination of influences that Lois listed is just gorgeous, isn’t it?

    • 17/01/2016 at 11:16 PM

      Heya! Great to have you hear in the fold, login issues notwithstanding!

      And you’re absolutely right – starting is always the tricky thing. At least with regards to Liminal, I hope I can carry a lot of the logistical weight for you, especially given the PhD and all that entails!

      Your point when we were talking earlier in the weekend about Bowie not having a facade when interviewed – being unabashedly genuine, was a really good one, too. I think that’s part of why he seems so fidgety and uncomfortable in a lot of his earlier interviews: he’s not willing to slip a mask on to give practised, pat answers to questions. Gods, but that’s got to be hard, and gruelling!

  3. maggiedot
    17/01/2016 at 1:39 PM

    Okay, so it’s Saturday night for me, here on the East Coast of the US, but I’m going to post now, because I always come so terribly late to the party most Sundays! 🙂

    What am I working on this week? It’s going to be a bit of a rocky week. My husband’s got Part I of his last vacation of Residency (Year One) coming up on Tuesday, so chances for distraction are *very* high and not unwelcome. 🙂 I’m also starting an online writing class hosted by Nick Mamatas on Thursday, so that’ll be where a lot of my writing energies are focused for the next four weeks. But until then, I’m hoping to make a good start on reworking the second scene of the novel rewrite to get it in sync with some minor but really energizing changes I made over the past week. I did a ton of background character work last week, so I’m eager to make some forward progress at last. (P.S. Nicky–The workaround totally DID sneak up from the side! And oh what a difference it’s made. I no longer feel lost in this project, and I’m so relieved. Feels like the floodgates have opened at last. Thanks so much for your comment, and I hope the storage clean out went well!)

    What’s inspiring me this week? I just started watching The Mysteries of Laura, which while it may be too early to tell if I’m absolutely going to love it or not, I really enjoyed the cheesy awesomeness of the pilot episode, so I’m optimistic! Also, PBS’s Nature: Natural Born Hustlers Episode One. (Found here: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/natural-born-hustlers-about/13389/.) I’ve always loved octopi and cuttlefish, but this episode taught me *so* much I didn’t know about their skin and how it works. Like the fact that their skin has cells that detect the color to become to match the surroundings, because cuttlefish are colorblind. WHA–?! That’s just so cool. Seriously, I still think this supports my very non-scientific hypothesis that octopi and cuttlefish are aliens. It’s really inspired me to become an armchair specialist on these nifty creatures.

    What part of my project am I avoiding?I’m being a dope and avoiding resubmitting several stories in my fleet that came back rejected a while ago. Some of them are many, many rejections in, and I’m starting to wonder at what point I should just retire them and let them rest in their moldering grave until such times as a fitting opportunity for them should arrive. But I *do* have a few more places to send them, I just have to get off my butt and do it. I just…don’t wanna… *sigh* I’ll do it this week. I promise.

    • 17/01/2016 at 11:23 PM

      *holds pom-poms out and starts jigging as your cheersquad for resubmission*

      I know that feeling. This week has been a dud week for me for cold calls and auditions (busy clearing the plate)

      Is the number of markets you’re looking to submit them to a finite number? As in, you know the list of remaining places?

      If it is, what if you sat down and wrote the submission emails for each target market all in one batch, so it’s all done, and then you could just send off each email almost mechanically if they get rejected along each remaining step of the chain? Would that make things any easier than having to go back and write new submission emails each time?

      • maggiedot
        17/01/2016 at 11:45 PM

        OMG Kevin, that’s brilliant. I’ve never thought about having the cover letters all ready to go for each of them, but that would save so much time and headache whenever they need to go out again. Thanks so much! I’m going to try this! 😀

  4. Karina
    17/01/2016 at 7:10 PM

    What am I working on this week?
    Finishing a short story set in Elizabethan London. Curiously, I’m more comfortable with the language than with the form – as a novelist, I find the constraints of limited words and a single arc to be really challenging.

    What’s inspiring me this week?
    Given the week that’s gone (losing Bowie and Rickman), it’s embarrassing to admit that I’ve watched the new Taylor Swift video “Out of the Woods” a few times…. I’ve taken on Dorothy Dunnett to read but haven’t reached critical mass in the story yet to cite that as an influence.

    What part of my project am I avoiding?
    I should be working on my third novel this week but finishing the short has been dragging out. Waiting on feedback from agents and editors has been my excuse but the true reason is I’d prefer to do a sequel to a previous work than start a brand new project.

    • 17/01/2016 at 11:28 PM

      Not to tell you how to feel, but you shouldn’t feel embarrassed to be digging on Taylor Swift – that feels like exactly the right thing to do, rather than engage with an artist because they’re gone. You’re enjoying an artist while they’re still alive! Go you!

      Regarding the sequel that’s got your interest peaked: is there any way you can explore that project in a constrained way (eg. writing a treatment, plot structure or key scenes that really excite you) without getting in the way of the third novel if you get the “All systems go!” from agents/editors?

      • Karina
        19/01/2016 at 5:53 AM

        Hey Kevin

        Well I’m not a completely lost cause musically – I do have two tracks from Bowie’s album “Hours” on writing playlists. (For the record, these are “Thursday’s Child” and “What’s really happening?”.

        On your advice re progressing in a constrained way… I have done a query and three chapters but I like your recommendation on “key scenes”. Those are what I’m lying awake plotting at night, so I might as well expunge them.

        Chat later!
        Cheers
        Karina

  5. 17/01/2016 at 11:30 PM

    One thing I was curious about, Peter: how long does it take you now for alarm bells to ring that the necessary regular systems stuff is being ignored? (given that you’ve had a lot of focus and energy go by necessity to the new book draft this week)

    • 18/01/2016 at 12:03 AM

      Looking at my newly compiled to-do list: about six weeks. The absence of regular routine is a killer.

  6. 17/01/2016 at 11:45 PM

    What am I working on this week?
    In the week to come, I’m planning to be working on:

    finishing narration for a Story City project which is now 50% complete
    recording a bunch of voice acting for a non-commercial video game project
    starting planning for recording a new commercial demo
    auditions & cold calls
    revamping my social media presence (time permitting)

    What’s inspiring me this week?
    I feel like I’m hitting some bedrock with this cyberpunk fascination. This article about a reconstructed Kowloon is equal parts fascinating, and bizarre: https://randomwire.com/kowloon-walled-city-rebuilt-in-japan/ There’s a rabbit hole of links I’m intending on going down next on that site. I’m super-chuffed to be finally sitting down and watching Ex Machina tomorrow night.

    Like Lois said, the passing of Alan Rickman and David Bowie has been a big kick in the bum, to get out there and do awesome stuff. I’m keen to dig more into their personal approach to their work: their work ethic, and their relationship with media and fans, as both seem to be remarkably unaffected and genuine souls in spite of their fame. That’s a model worth understanding and emulating.

    What part of my project am I avoiding?
    So, ugh. I’ll try and keep this short.

    I have a Big Project called ALTERED I’m working on (with Pete, actually) and I’ve been having some issues with closing out the animation for a teaser trailer I’ve commissioned. I’m working with a talented animator based in the US who I’ve subcontracted through an animation studio I’ve done voice work for in the past. Everything’s been going well up until November last year, when the animator’s life pretty much just goddamn self-destructed. His marriage broke up, his mother is now living with him due to health issues, and he’s battling depression. I’ve been struggling to get any kind of communication out of him for months.

    I finally got a response last week (after communicating for some time with the gent managing the subcontracting) and I’ve been promised an update on where the trailer is at Monday US time. I’m dreading what I’ll have to do next if I don’t get anything workable from him, because means either walking away from a financial investment that I can’t afford to just drop (turns out animation is rather expensive!) or lawyering up to try and get money back across international boundaries from a dude whose life is already complete pants. (in the British sense)

    So while it may not come to that, I’ve been dragging my feet a little on email communication, dreading that that worst case scenario is going to pop up. I know it’s foolish to assume the worst until it happens, but that’s constantly in the back of my mind.

    Sorry for the essay!

    (otherwise, it’s been a pretty good week of clearing the decks of projects, and getting stuff done!)

    • maggiedot
      17/01/2016 at 11:58 PM

      Ugh, I’m so sorry for the complexity with the animation project. It’s always so hard to know how to handle situations like this, especially when you’re empathetic enough to know how the opposing party is feeling. I tend to be a pretty anxious person, so predicting the worst is par for the course for me, but my mother (a mental health councilor) always reminds me not to “shoot myself with a second arrow” (the idea that if you’re shot with an arrow–the regular pain of the situation, say: his lack of responsiveness and the encroaching deadline–it doesn’t do any good to shoot yourself with a second arrow–example: worrying yourself constantly about the unknown *what-ifs* of the situation, since that can’t be changed until you know more). I can’t say I’m always successful with that, but I do keep it in mind when stressful situations arise.

      But I’m a big advocate of making contingency plans, just in case. (And even writing my worst-case-scenario out in full: I once wrote a five page description of what would happen to me and my husband when we found out we should have registered our car six months earlier than we did on our last move, and that can apparently be a Class-D Felony in Maine (*anxiety spike!*). Just writing it out made me really work through the out-of-control worries (“We’ll get arrested! I’ll have to take the fall because the husband will get kicked out of medical school and then we’ll *really* be screwed!”, etc.), and in the end, just writing down what my worst-case scenario was kind of made it solid, so I didn’t have to mentally spin on it all the time. In the end, the resolution was far less dramatic: they didn’t care when we’d moved to Maine, so it didn’t matter. XD) You may not be spinning on this situation as much as I tend to spin on mine, though, so all this may be overkill. 🙂

      *AND THAT LONGWINDED RESPONSE ALL TO SAY: I hope it all works out well!*

      • 19/01/2016 at 9:29 PM

        I just wanted to drop in quickly to say THANK YOU for this! I’ll definitely be following this advice, and I can see the sense in putting it down on paper as defined reality. Great advice!

  7. 18/01/2016 at 12:46 PM

    Great idea, Peter. Thanks for asking everyone to play!

    Working on: The Tarnished Crown bk 2.

    Inspiration: Nothing specific. Sheer terror is the current motivator.

    Avoiding: Pulling together all the notes and out-of-nowhere plot inspirations into the main plot outline.

    And you are so very, very right about lack of routine being a drag. Every time I think I have mine sorted, Real Life buggers things up. But now that a couple of things are sorted, I am determined to get that routine finessed and settled as a non-negotiable Thing.

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