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 seriously just spent about a half-hour staring at this question, because I am very fragmented after a week of bad sleep and my attention splintered a whole bunch over the last few days. Gathering the threads together and performing a little triage, I’m throwing the bulk of my attention behind getting the Crocodile rewrite ready to submit by next Sunday. My new writing time will be spent working on the opening chapter of Float, but I’m largely consigning that to the short bursts of writing I do before work and on lunch breaks.

What’s inspiring me this week?

I went to see St Mary’s in Exile last night and it is one of the strongest pieces of theatre that I’ve seen in year. Incredibly strong cast, incredibly strong staging, and a script that only hits one hollow note in nearly two hours of performance. My mother initially pitched it to me as its a play about an excommunicated priest, but that’s underselling it a whole lot. It’s basically about the intersection of social justice and the traditions of the catholic church, and what happens when they come into conflict, and it’s perfectly willing to embrace all the complexities of the real-life situation it’s based upon.

The play’s in its final week this week, but i’d encourage anyone who is in Brisbane and a fan of theatre to get along and see it.

What part of my project an I avoiding?

Focus. I did a bunch of work last week, but none of it had the kind of focused drive towards a goal that had characterised the month before that and I’m feeling kinda frustrated with my output right now. Need to sit down and put together a cohesive plan now that I’ve ticked off the PhD application and give myself some goals for the rest of the year.

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

  1. 18/09/2016 at 2:49 PM

    Good luck on Crocodile and Float. I hope you have a better time sleeping this week too. 🙂

    <a href="http://bit.ly/2d3fjs3"My Sunday Circle is here.

    • 18/09/2016 at 2:51 PM

      Welp, that was some terrible html linking. Let’s try that again.

      My Sunday Circle is here

      • 18/09/2016 at 3:37 PM

        Have you read Charlotte Nash’s book on the editing process at all? It’s a pretty good process for avoiding double-handling on the editorial pass.

      • 18/09/2016 at 3:44 PM

        Regarding not going back over work that you’re tempted to do instead, and sticking with the scenes that need to get done – I respond to pretty basic stimuli, so I find that using a spreadsheet with conditional formatting works well for me.

        There’s an example here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1ioHlU23UijqBoB8Yo9EJ6z5hoxL6TvF0NTG-Oq_9yHg/edit?usp=sharing

        So every thing that needs to be revised/re-written (or edited in the case of the spreadsheet) gets a cell. Conditional formatting says the cell goes green once there’s a letter in there indicating that it’s done. The idea is that then the impetus is to fill the spreadsheet with the pretty colour, rather than dithering over in areas that don’t move the needle.

        It’s one of the major benefits I get from bullet journalling at the moment, too – is it work that gets something off the list? Then great. That’s progress.

        Hopefully something in there might be useful. 🙂

      • 19/09/2016 at 12:01 AM

        I second Peter’s recommendation of Charlotte’s book.

        On the other hand, I was drilled in avoiding double-handling as a child, and you know what? That way lies not being able to open the front door because you are carrying all the groceries at once, and then you drop the milk. Sometimes I’ll break a project down into separate layers and make several passes (e.g. once for legibility, flagging description and research points to revisit, once for consistent description, once to chase up anachronisms).

        Or maybe you can just keep a list of fixes that have suddenly occurred to you, and use them as rewards whenever you get through one of the scenes you’re ‘meant’ to be working on.

  2. 18/09/2016 at 3:33 PM

    What am I working on this week?
    Long form narration gigs. Getting audio out the door as fast as possible. When I said last week that the plate was full, since then a number of opportunities too good to pass up (and moderately sized) have added to that plate.
    Got a catchup with some cool cats this Friday night to talk about a potential podcast project.
    Keeping the head above water.

    What’s inspiring me this week?
    I’ve been reading Joe R. Landsale’s Dead in the West on Peter’s recommendation, and loving it. I mean, listen to this language:

    A man with a belly like that of a foundered horse snoozed behind the register desk. Sweat balled on his face and streamed down it in dusty rivulets. A fly buzzed and tried to land on the snoozing man’s nose, but could get no breaking.

    Looking forward to getting back to Work Clean when I have the time.

    What part of my project am I avoiding?
    Until this batch of client work gets out the door, everything else is on hold. I’ve even put Now Playing on hiatus for a month.
    I’m starting to make plans around some savage contraction of focus (after some fairly interesting curiosity-lead expansion) to lead into the start of next year. Which is already terrifying to be thinking about already.

    • 19/09/2016 at 12:04 AM

      Huzzah for head-above-water. Do you find it easy to go from one task to the next, or do you find yourself stopping to breathe and having to gear up again?

      I know I keep saying I need to read more Lansdale! I did the cover for Joe & Kasey’s “Case of the Bleeding Wall” which I enjoyed very much, but it’s a different tone to Joe’s solo work.

      • 20/09/2016 at 9:42 PM

        I find a few minutes of procrastination/switching gears invaluable before moving on to the next task, rather than just plowing into it. Helps clear the mind.

        And love your work on the cover of Case of the Bleeding Wall, too – gorgeous, and looks like it was really carefully restrained in terms of how much is going on – really well balanced (at least to a layman’s eye)

        • 21/09/2016 at 12:13 AM

          Thank you! We were going for a Nancy Drew feeling, so it was interesting trying to balance restraint with that pulp feeling

  3. 18/09/2016 at 3:36 PM

    @Peter: hope the planning goes well. It sounds like you’ve already identified the key thing for the next week though, which is getting Crocodile done and dusted.

    St Marys in Exile sounds fascinating, too! Given the rich history the church has as a social institution, anything that explores the cognitive dissonance between what was and is is playing in a really interesting toy collection. (part of why I loved Spotlight)

    • 19/09/2016 at 12:05 AM

      I HIGHLY recommend “The Last Confession” to you and Peter both – saw it with David Suchet in the lead role, and it was spare and tense, rather like 12 Angry Men.

      • 20/09/2016 at 9:39 PM

        That looks fantastic! That would have been such a treat with David Suchet in the lead.

  4. karinacoldrick
    18/09/2016 at 8:48 PM

    Hey Sophie, I hear you on new scenes vs old ones. I’ll be looking at a spreadsheet like you suggest Kevin at this rate…

    What am I working on this week?
    More on the Fun Flimsy. Currently working a stronger relationship dynamic into the scenes I want to keep and adding new ones as necessary. It’s messing with my reveal order big time so I’m investing a LOT of effort into scene mapping before writing otherwise I tie myself into anxious knots.

    What’s inspiring me?
    I blame you guys for how I’m living and breathing structure at the moment. Saw the movie version of “One for the Money” and when it got to the midpoint and Stephanie Plum looks to the camera and says, “This time it’s personal” I was one big groan. This is just after she’d watched her car get blown up with a sorta-rival in it and she had no emotion at all about the fact a) a guy was dead b) “that was meant for her” (actually said by target/love interest). Did the screenwriters/director never read Michael Hauge?

    What part of my project am I avoiding?
    Locking down the key changes and living with them. Fighting perfectionist tendencies here and it’s killing my momentum. Part of the problem is I’m not enjoying rewriting this time because I’ve a past history of rewriting to no avail. I want this to *work* dammit, and NOW, not on the third or fourth time round.

    • 19/09/2016 at 12:10 AM

      Karina, I don’t know if this is any help, but sometimes I find the character/emotional through-line more relevant than the actual sequence of events (especially in our genres). It’s helped me to have an external template story that I can use to splint the story I’m working on and straighten it out.

      I often use fairytales in shorter pieces: not to copy or theme, but just as a diagnosis tool/training framework. Eg. one story (“Skull & Hyssop”) was pretty much written but wasn’t *working* so I shuffled through fairytales until I realised 7 Ravens was close enough in broad strokes, and then I tugged the emotional strands to be closer to that. The events clicked into place around that, and it told me where to shift the emphasis in scenes that were already written, in order to get them to function.

      (I use a variation of this in illustrations too).

      • karinacoldrick
        20/09/2016 at 3:48 AM

        This has proven terribly helpful. By sticking purely to the emotional through-line, I came up with a number of new perspective and have pretty much nailed the sequence. Also reminded me to revisit Persuasion (which the plot is loosely based on) and I’d forgotten about the revelation of Mr Elliot’s true character. Doing this in mine not only makes the hero look better, it gives my heroine more agency throughout the novel and that’s always a good thing! Thanks!

  5. 18/09/2016 at 11:54 PM

    What am I working on this week?
    – First draft of a short story.
    – Assorted illustration commissions and the reading for them.

    What’s inspiring me?
    – Speed-reading manuscripts and re-realising (a) I can, (b) I can still enjoy the story that way and (c) this is what I get to do for a job now.
    – A line in a Christopher Rowe story about someone whose antagonists weren’t their enemies. It’s a beautiful aside, and one I thought native to sports stories, but I’ve since noted it in a couple of other films: one about professional responsibility and the other about a love triangle. And it can be very pleasant to watch.

    What am I avoiding?
    – Reading contracts, for some reason. I’m pretty good at it, they give me story ideas and it doesn’t take long, so I don’t know what my problem is.
    – Embroidery or guitar or cooking or something that uses my hands in a different way. I feel like it should be art/writing or nothing.
    – Dedicated, disciplined writing on a single project (I just need to pick one and sort out the plan – I am writing reconnaissance scenes on some other projects).

    • 20/09/2016 at 9:47 PM

      That point about antagonists not being enemies is a really interesting note in Once Upon a Time In the West, where the two gunslingers sort of reach an uneasy truce of leaving the love interest alone to live her life. It’s a great note done right, and is the beating heart of the amazing scene in Heat brining de Niro and Pacino into the same room.

      Regarding making stuff, you might find this interesting listening – it really blew my hair back talking about the value of the intractability of physical things (it’s one facet of a very interesting episode) http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/bigideas/age-of-distraction/6535850

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