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?

Still laptop free, which is limiting things a bit. This means that the majority of my focus is going to be spent doing rewrite notes for a novella I’ve got sitting around, preparing for the moment when I have a computer back.

What’s inspiring me this week?

Daredevil Season 2. I totally didn’t meant to watch the entire thing in the space of 24 hours, but I skipped the obvious point where I could have gone to bed after the first act and just found myself going one more episode far more often than I should have. The second series isn’t quite the revelation that S1 was, both because we know what to expect and because it lacks villan on par with Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin, but its still thirteen hours of damn fine storytelling with some incredible fight choreography.

What part of my project an I avoiding?

I’ve got a bunch of notes for a friend’s novel draft that I should really transfer onto a word document, but I’ve been putting it off due to the computer issues and keep forgetting to look at alternate methods of recording the comments and passing them on.

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

  1. 20/03/2016 at 12:55 PM

    I am literally about to start watching Daredevil Season 2 with my housemate and I am keeeeeennnn. Also my Sunday Circle is here and also also is my novel draft the one you’re avoiding? *chinhands*

    • 21/03/2016 at 1:58 PM

      Nope. But it’s the one that gets done after I finish this one (which only got ahead because the writer in question has deadlines).

  2. Karina
    20/03/2016 at 8:17 PM

    Train rides sound like a far safer mean of ‘noodling’ than what often works for me – which is to take a long country drive. Sounds like you’re in good company with JK Rowling on that one, Sophie.

    Also, Happy Birthday for earlier this week Peter. Hope your day was a good one.

    What am I working on this week?
    Chapter 3 of the Fun Flimsy which is a contemporary romance something akin to Persuasion crashing into the Hunger Games. How can that not be fun? Also, finishing off Synopsis for the same: namely pinning down the crisis that brings hero and heroine back together.

    What’s inspiring me this week?
    Unsurprisingly, I have Miss Austen to hand. Curiously though, there have been a couple of unexpected “romances” in films that have triggered ideas. Gladiator has some nice touches, but it was American Sniper that surprised me. The first 30 minutes of the film could have been from a Harlequin falling-for-a-SEAL trope. (They have those, btw. Who knew?) Of course, it gets grim after that but the fluff was unexpected.

    What part of my project an I avoiding?
    Oddly, it’s figuring out how much melodrama this soap opera Fun Flimsy can take. I’m conscious it’s escapism and so while the stakes must be high and believable, they can’t actually be too “real”. I have an easy solution for the crisis but it feels like a deus ex machina copout rather than a resolution coming from the necessary character growth expected of this genre.

    • maggiedot
      20/03/2016 at 10:49 PM

      Hi Karina! I’m having the same trouble with the ending for my current novel-in-progress, too. I wonder–thinking about your situation with this one–if perhaps it would be helpful to synopsize several deliberately different endings and see if any of them strike a cord or reveal any details that might get you headed in the right direction?

      • Karina
        20/03/2016 at 10:54 PM

        That’s a great idea! Would help a lot to run all the possibilities out and then draw a line through each. Thanks!

        • maggiedot
          22/03/2016 at 2:07 AM

          Hooray! Glad I could help! It’s funny: I was stuck on my ending, too, and hadn’t tried this yet, and yesterday I broke the block using this! I forced myself to think beyond the trio of endings I’d already had floating around in my head and found one that I hadn’t considered before, but that fit with the story’s themes so much better than the others. I’m so excited! 😀

          • Karina
            22/03/2016 at 8:35 PM

            That worked a treat! I listed the four-to-five possible points I was kicking around and ended up melding two-to-three of them. Plus, all are within the constraints I’d originally set rather than resorting to a cheap plot twist. Thanks!

    • 21/03/2016 at 12:59 PM

      Karina, have you read Austen’s letters? I was watching P&P&Z and they kept using lines from other books and her letters for extra dialogue.

      • Karina
        22/03/2016 at 8:46 PM

        Hey Kathleen, I’m aware of them – especially the ones used to complete Sanditon, but it hadn’t actually occurred to me to go and read them. (A pre-internet mindset can be my only excuse.) I shall have to do that sooner rather than later, but don’t actually require them for this story. It’s more to do with the mindset of the lead characters – the hero can be bitter but can’t stoop to baiting the heroine more than once otherwise he becomes unworthy. Austen achieves this with Wentworth by having him scrupulously polite, something a little harder to pull off in a contemporary novel!

        • 23/03/2016 at 10:18 AM

          Oh, interesting! I’ve seen it done in a contemporary context with women (Emily Gilmore, my sisters) but now that you mention it I’m having trouble thinking of male examples.

  3. maggiedot
    20/03/2016 at 11:09 PM

    What I’m working on this week: Getting back into the novel-rewrite, I hope! It’s been sitting fallow for a week. On top of this, writing a new short story!

    What’s inspiring me this week: I’ve been thinking a lot about joy lately, and what parts of the writing process or editing process bring me joy. Sometimes I get bogged down in “what I’m trying to accomplish” and forget that enjoying (at least a large portion) of what I’m doing is possibly as important to any progress I make as choosing the right words/structure/etc. I may be able to write competent sentences even if I’m uninspired by the work I’m slogging through, but that doesn’t mean anyone will enjoy them, either. Being able to project my own excitement and enjoyment through the stories I tell is definitely something I’ve found important in the past, and something I need to bring back to my current work, I think.

    What I’m avoiding this week: The novel-rewrite. I’ve hit a snarl in developing the new, deeper ending, and I’m having a hard time figuring out how to get beyond it. I get that sinking-gut feeling every time it comes to mind, and I hate that, so I know I need to just give it some concentrated focus. I don’t want to waste weeks trying to figure this out (it’s already been weeks, and my goal was to get the second draft together by the end of June), however, and I don’t quite know how or when I’ll be able to make time for serious thinking time with houseguests and the Little Guy possibly giving up naps… I probably just need to relax a bit on it, because that’s typically when I’ll get a mental breakthrough. That, and maybe try flash-mapping a few totally different endings to see if any of them “click!”

    • 21/03/2016 at 12:57 PM

      Do you have any methods for reacclimatising to a story/getting the joy back?
      I know when I’m writing into a project for the first time I do little sketches and studies (words, mostly not pictures) until I find the fun, but I’m also struggling with remembering why I liked a story I am rewriting.

      • maggiedot
        22/03/2016 at 2:19 AM

        Usually for me it requires quite a bit of reworking, I’m afraid (even if that reworking serves mostly to show me what I liked about the first version and sends me back to it with renewed respect!). I’ve used a couple of techniques in the past for reenergizing a draft I kind of fell out of love with, though I’m not sure which one was most effective, since I usually ended up doing kind of a mix of several at once. I’ll usually try the first initiative of the “Kress protocol” first—to see if there’s a specific point that turns me off from the story. That’s sometimes the “easiest” fix because it really just means rewriting the whole story from that point, but that often gets me reenergized, too.

        If there’s no obvious spot that sets off the shit-warning-system, then sometimes I ask myself why I bothered to write the story (or develop this particular idea) in the first place (or I ask what bores me about the story, because that answer is sometimes clearer), and if I can answer that question satisfactorily, then I may try rewriting from scratch from a different POV or starting in a different place entirely, focusing on what would entertain me, personally. I often retype whole stories when I do a second draft anyway, and sometimes that’ll show me a fork in the road I hadn’t considered before that would be way more exciting than the initial one I chose. If nothing else works, I may crash some new ideas, a thematic change, or new characters into the mix just to see if the additions heat up the material I have already.

        Unfortunately, the most effective thing for me is time and distance. I’m pretty self-critical, and often it takes a long time before I can come back to something and see it as I saw it when I first sat down to write it. I’ve been indulging this (in a controlled form!) lately. Unless I’m on a deadline and *have* to finish it by X date, I rarely go back and fixing stories I’m not into anymore. Instead, I’ve been testing a process where I write rough drafts for six months, and then the second six months of the year I pick my favorites and edit those to submission form. It lets them cool down a lot (which I personally need to see them with fresh eyes, and six months is better than the year+ I used to need before returning to a draft!), and I get to cherry-pick my favorites. It means I end up writing a lot of drafts I don’t do much with, but then I can always pick them up at a later time or cannibalize them into other stories if something rekindles the love of the idea, which has happened before. And it means I get to focus my editing energies on stories that even months later still thrill me to work on. It’s not terribly efficient, but I’m enjoying the low-pressure/high-fun of it so far and getting a lot more (for me) work submitted, even with that fractured yearly schedule. Not that I necessarily recommend this particular process for anyone else, of course! 🙂

  4. 21/03/2016 at 12:55 PM

    What I’m working on: Playing with some new watercolour samples for a few upcoming projects. Regency research. Finishing the first draft of a contemporary fantasy short story.

    What’s inspiring me: I had the best three days in Melbourne, talking to illustrators and authors and author/illustrators about stories of all sorts, and how we tell them, and how we get beauty into them. Also, I have been to the theatre twice (Picnic at Hanging Rock and The Rabbits) and the movies three times (From Dusk till Dawn at the Rooftop Cinema because what else do you do when you’re alone in Melbourne, London Has Fallen to kill time between the opera and hanging out with the police, and Zootopia), and finished a hitherto unknown-to-me Baroness Orczy novel (The Elusive Pimpernel) after rereading Picnic at Hanging Rock, so my head is full of stories. In particular, I was struck by: sequels which take a smaller focus than the first, sweeping tale; how Joan Lindsay gets away with making a novel that doesn’t answer any questions of cause, only of effect when this annoys me about two other productions/books recently; conversations between stories and images (The Rabbits and Secret River taking the same topic into such different genres; Lindsay’s rewrite of A Little Princess within Picnic at Hanging Rock; Shaun Tan’s repurposing of whole wings of textures in the NGV; a girl sitting beneath Chloe’s portrait who had the exact same hair and complexion); and how and why Zootopia managed to incorporate mobile phones so much more convincingly than any other movie I’ve seen.

    What I’m avoiding: Working out what I’m doing through Contact, which I need to do so I can pack, because I am house-sitting on the northside that week.

    • maggiedot
      22/03/2016 at 3:03 AM

      I just saw Zootopia too, and you’re so right about the cell phones! I hadn’t even thought about it, but they’re all over the movie. Huh! I wonder if it’s because its aimed at a younger audience, and the younger audience would feel more alienated by the absence of mobile phones than by their presence? 🙂

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