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 finished the first act of my supernatural western draft this week, bringing all seven of the main characters together and preparing them to summon ghosts from the underworld. I’m using that break-point in the narrative to shift my focus over to editorial work for a bit, since I’ve realised that there’s a *huge* bottleneck in my process and the number of unfinished works is starting to mount up.

So my big task or the week is trailing a bunch of editorial exercises on some short-fiction, figure out which ones are working for me, and documenting them in once place so I don’t have to go looking for the books/posts/course notes they came from.

What’s inspiring me this week?

Jeff VanderMeer’s Wonderbook, which I started re-reading after flicking through the revision chapters and deciding to go back and do a really detailed re-read of the entire thing. It really is an extraordinary book about writing, and writing fantastic fiction in particular. I don’t think I truly appreciated it the first time I read through it.

What part of my project an I avoiding?

I’ve been going pretty well this week – big wins at the day-job, a big milestone on the novel draft, a plan in place to correct a bottleneck that’s been bugging me for a while now on the editorial front. I’m even on top of my email, responding to things in a timely manner.

Which means that what I really, really need to do is think up some potential blog topics that aren’t me showing up and talking about my day, given that my usual start to writing-related posts is me getting angry with myself for the things that I’m not doing.

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

  1. 24/01/2016 at 8:48 AM

    Huzzah on the achievements you’ve had this week. Am sure you’ll find new topics when you have the space for them to enter into your mind. Plus, you’ve reminded me to go have another look at Wonderbook. I think I’ve always dipped in and I know the visual elements have helped me to nut out things in the past.

  2. 24/01/2016 at 8:53 AM

    What am I working on this week?

    After losing the last week to a migraine (and still no idea of the trigger but suspect the humidity/temp fluctuations), I am working on not beating myself up for losing said week.

    On the practical side, continuing on the new wip (the mermaid story) is the plan.

    What’s inspiring me this week?

    Stationery tragic, my new colouring pencils (not like I didn’t have enough already).

    What part of my project an I avoiding?

    Due to said migraine and other health issues, I’ve been avoiding everything except sleep/rest and aspirin. Also pinning down my university choice for this semester which I’ve been oscillating and avoiding decisions about.

    • maggiedot
      24/01/2016 at 2:26 PM

      Ouch. So sorry to hear about the migraine. My husband gets them too. No fun at _ALL_. I hope you’re feeling better and that you haven’t had too much post-migraine ache. 🙁

      If you don’t mind my asking, what are you going to be studying at university?

      • 24/01/2016 at 6:09 PM

        Sympathies to you for living with someone who gets them. I went down on Tuesday and have come up for air today. So, usual cycle. Bah. But I’ve had a mostly good season of being careful but recent events plus the week of really bad mugginess (humidity is a trigger if I don’t manage myself) caught me off guard.

        Don’t mind you asking at all 🙂 I’m undertaking a masters in library and information management. Bit of a return cycle thing as I worked in a university library for years before I left to raise my son (and became a teacher). Said son is now an honours student at uni. Have been going slowly, and focusing on preservation as much as librarianship.

        • maggiedot
          30/01/2016 at 12:13 AM

          Very cool–I’ve considered that myself in the past, then life happened, and that’s been put aside for now. Ah, life! But it’s a fascinating subject. Let us know how it goes! 🙂

    • 24/01/2016 at 8:44 PM

      Separate to the rest of the writerly stuff, how goes the very important project of Not Beating Yourself Up post-migraine?

      • 27/01/2016 at 9:11 AM

        Overall not too badly. Long illnesses over past few years I think I’ve actually beaten up the Not Beating Myself Up because if I did I’d be a puddle of goo 🙂 Bit frustrated but I remind myself I have the month of February to get the new process into motion before the chaos of academia tries to mess with the creative words.

  3. 24/01/2016 at 8:54 AM
    • 24/01/2016 at 8:38 PM

      That’s really interesting that you find you need to add to finish, rather than remove. Do you find that while you’re writing you’re naturally more selective in your choices, and have an instinct to prune down along the way?

      Hope you find yourself at the finish line tomorrow for the draft. A two month stretch constantly pulling creative juice from you has got to be draining by the end of it all.

  4. 24/01/2016 at 9:23 AM

    This week I am working on learning satin stitch and embroidering a piece for my favourite streamer.

    Except FIRST I need to finish the piece I said I’d make for myself because apparently I am totally resistant to making anything just for myself. I need to figure out why that is so I can smoosh its face in.

    Inspiration this week is coming from Seam Wes’ hand-lettering resources, which apply very well to hand-stitching.

    I am as mentioned avoiding doing the piece that is just for me. So I’ll finish that one first.

    • 24/01/2016 at 6:03 PM

      Oh how lovely! Satin stitch eats thread but it looks so nice when it comes out right.

    • 24/01/2016 at 6:10 PM

      Sounds lovely and I’m a sucker for things to do with lettering and letters.

      • 27/01/2016 at 9:57 AM

        Me too. I’m glad I expanded out past cross-stitch, which is often like complicated pixel art. So many wordses to make!

    • 24/01/2016 at 8:34 PM

      Is the reason that you’re resistant to creating for yourself possibly that it doesn’t come with the joy that making something for someone else does?

      (I hate cleaning for myself, but I’ll happily help someone else clean their house, because it’s doing a good turn for a friend)

      • 27/01/2016 at 10:00 AM

        Maybe. It does lack the final moment of the making-for-others process, where I hand it over and get to see their joy in it. I’ve sent a couple of small surprise projects to people lately, and the surprise is part of the thrill.

        But I’ve already made major progress on the piece, now I am being driven by the desire to Finish.

  5. 24/01/2016 at 11:15 AM

    What am I working on this week? Queerish PNR, in between trying to deal with the real-world bullshit generated by the attempt to actually hunt for a job triggering my mental health issues like crazy. (Pun sort of intended.) So the book is a bit stalled while I try to cope with doctors, our dystopian benefits system, and social services. I’ve been making snail-like progress on the book, but even snail-like progress is progress, right?

    What’s inspiring me this week? Literally anything that can distract me from having to deal with disability-related crap. My hero’s backstory (and stuff that’s going to happen for all three of my MCs way off in the future), FF7, QI on Netflix.

    What part of my project am I avoiding? I’m having to do the dealing with disability-related crap in tiny chunks, partly because the whole thing sucks and my mental health is crappy and these two things interact badly, partly because there’s a lot of waiting around for giant bureacracies to do their thing. I’m not actively avoiding working on the book, I’m just struggling to find mental energy to spare…

    • 24/01/2016 at 6:01 PM

      “Every little bit…” I’ve found working with other people very helpful in getting my mind off recent injuries long enough to do some work.

      • 25/01/2016 at 5:08 AM

        Yes, I find the same – I have a writing group I go to every week and they are really really helpful. I only wrote about 500 words this week (I can write nearly 2k in a good session at one of these things) but got a lot of talking done about important stuff and lots of help and encouragement so it worked out pretty well! And when I’m less stressed, maybe I can get back to writing on not-writing-group days, too.

    • 24/01/2016 at 6:13 PM

      Snails make their destination in their own time. And yes, anything forward is good. Give yourself permission to have the mental rest as needed and work on the bits that don’t need so much energy (back story thoughts, doodles etc).

      • 25/01/2016 at 5:12 AM

        <3 Thanks – yeah, that's pretty much how I'm rolling at the moment. I did some timeline stuff last week! Which was useful in the sense that now I know my backstory timeline needs rejigging slightly. And even the far-future stuff is good because it means that I sort of know where I'm ultimately heading (the end of this book is pretty much sorted, but each of my protagonists is demanding their own book, which means I'm thinking about where the three of them are going to finish up, and also trying not to let myself get too overwhelmed, I cannot write three books at once).

    • 24/01/2016 at 8:32 PM

      Sorry to hear about the job search monkey-wrenching your energy. That’s a huge bummer.

      Is your hero’s backstory locked down now, or are you playing with possibilities at the moment?

      • 25/01/2016 at 5:05 AM

        It’s largely locked down – I always feel like my characters are telling me what’s going on rather than I’m inventing it, which is perhaps weird, but it works for me. I do a lot of eavesdropping on conversations between my characters and finding out information that way. This was how I found out, this week, that my heroine’s mother died about ten years ago. Thanks for taking two months to tell me, Juliet, I could have done with knowing that at the beginning!

        Juliet is so very cagey about everything, though, that I’m not actually *surprised* at this development. (Just like, “Your father is alive, right? Okay, good.”)

        Thank you for the sympathy. It’s been a rough couple of weeks. I’m hoping things might start getting better from here on out, now I’ve got a few balls rolling.

    • maggiedot
      24/01/2016 at 11:28 PM

      So sorry to hear things have been so tough lately, but hey, BRAVO to you for making progress at all! Seriously, at times like this, baby steps are the way to go. (And ugh to dealing with bureaucratic red tape–always an exhausting process! Hang in there!)

      • 25/01/2016 at 5:14 AM

        Thanks! I’m hanging in and managing to get through it bit by bit.

    • Anonymous
      27/01/2016 at 10:03 AM

      O man, I know those feels. *invalid solidarity fist bump*

  6. 24/01/2016 at 5:59 PM

    What am I working on this week? Finishing the art for a few projects, including a wedding invitation, and getting my blog rolling again as more than an afterthought. Planning the editing for a novel manuscript.

    What’s inspiring me this week? Creators who embrace oddity and run with it: Bowie; the gonzo styling and slight scenery chewing of The Big Short; the Joanna Newsom concert I went to. My little sister who has started a fashion blog and is being quite serious and successful with it so far. The artists on my team for Iceland who have started sending through to me the answer to the question: what lights them up about what they do?

    What part of my project am I avoiding? Committing to the foliage on a landscape. Research for the novel, but I’ve realised that’s because I had to work out how to organise/store it and I’m getting on top of that.

    • 24/01/2016 at 6:17 PM

      Plans are afoot and hopefully your body will behave itself better. Enough to face foliage on a landscape.

    • 24/01/2016 at 8:28 PM

      Ooh! Would you be comfortable with sharing the location of your blog?

      And regarding organising/storing research, have you bumped into The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp at all? It’s still on my reading list to chew through, but I’ve heard good things in that regard (I think the key take away was one box per project, but you may well be past that level of complexity in your needs now)

  7. Karina
    24/01/2016 at 8:37 PM

    What am I working on this week?
    Last week, which was not supposed to be about arting, became quite the thing. I finished my short story on the day I said I would, which felt unnatural. It is sans required McGuffin for a competition but I’m so pleased at having actually written a nice neat story with a lovely ambiguous thread shining through it that I’ve entered it regardless. I also completed my first ever arts grant application. This was the day before it was due as I hadn’t realised before that it a) existed, and b) I might be eligible. I have Buckley’s Chance, but it was a worthwhile exercise if only to self-identify on a government form as “writer”.
    This week is looking to be the week that should have been. Business research etc. Still, I hope to better synopsise the palimpsest of my first opus because I have never yet nailed it down adequately. More enjoyable shall be rewriting first 3 chapters of my new work based on CP feedback.

    What’s inspiring me this week?
    Deadlines set by other people, for the most part. There’s a competition in the UK that gets an underwhelming number of entries for an overwhelmingly good prize – hence the synopsis requirement. (Anyone interested must be female and resident in this neck of the woods.) On the artistic side, I now have MY OWN LIBRARY. All my life I have wanted one of these and thanks to Ikea, it now exists. I shall have to post photos on my blog since I haven’t blogged since FantasyCon.

    What part of my project am I avoiding?
    Looking again at that bloody synopsis. Failure fatigue has truly set in here. My own fault for attempting to add literary merit and tell a cracking story and have the whole thing allegorical in the mould of the first half of the Roman de la Rose to boot. (Not the second-half for that is dull and tedious.) If it just was a simple sodding paranormal romance it would be easy.
    And blogging. The lack thereof needs to be remedied, also.

    • Karina
      24/01/2016 at 8:40 PM
    • 24/01/2016 at 8:42 PM

      This might be a daft question, but when you say failure fatigue regarding the synopsis, do you mean that you’ve gone round the round on it so many times already? If so, have you considered dropping the literary aspect and seeing what happens if you write a synopsis without that component?

      And a big HELL YES on the power of self-identifying. It’s such a great feeling, and such an important step, to put your vocation down on paperwork.

      • Karina
        24/01/2016 at 10:30 PM

        Firstly, good luck with the house move and be mindful that it’s an emotional wrench boxing and shifting so be easy on yourself if other things slip this week.
        Secondly, on my synopsis… See, I previously HADN’T put in all such things and had kept the synopsis very simple and straightforward – as if it were just a plain paranormal romance. But by steering clear of talking about themes and intent, the synopsis doesn’t marry so well with the text because, structurally, the story has a play-with-a-play component paralleling the main storyline and ultimately being the key element in the resolution.
        I do really wish I had been less ambitious in my initial vision.

    • 24/01/2016 at 9:16 PM

      All wonderful! I had to write another version and now the Macguffin is somewhat spurious.

  8. 24/01/2016 at 8:49 PM

    Kudos on having your house in order, Mr Ball. And regarding your comment about getting angry at yourself about the things you’re not doing: remember that one of the big goals of GTD and Accidental Creative is to be comfortable with everything that you’re not doing at a given point in time. So that kind of begs the question, why aren’t you comfortable with blogging instead of doing those other things?

    Also, DUDE. We have got to talk about doing some sort of audio adaption of the supernatural Western at some point, because that’s a combination of genres that is perfect for evocative sound design backing the spoken word. And I know a local band whose sound would be perfect if they’re interested in collaborating.

    • 24/01/2016 at 9:16 PM

      I would listen!

    • maggiedot
      24/01/2016 at 11:34 PM

      I’d listen, too!

    • 27/01/2016 at 9:16 AM

      Me three on the audio (or I’d at least attempt to listen). I don’t do audio books or pod casts on account of hearing impairment. Listening is a helluva lot of work for me (and the visual helps). I’ve actually ended up avoiding Event Cinemas up here due to sound inbalances where I now lose heaps of dialogue (esp in movies like Avengers due to foley and music on top of dialogue).

  9. 24/01/2016 at 9:23 PM

    What am I working on this week? The big monster this week is going to be moving house this weekend coming, so everything else kind of takes a backseat to that. Happily though, I’ve finally cleared my backlog of project work for other people (at least for the moment) and my big tentpole projects for this year have got momentum behind them currently. I’ve gotten an update back from my animator, so it looks like there’s no need to engage worst case scenarios yet (but thank you again for your great advice, Nicky!)

    What’s inspiring me this week? The conscious consumption of stimuli that Accidental Creative recommends is really working well. I’m finding that when I have time to watch, listen or read I’m much more calculating in the choices I make. I FINALLY sat down and watched Ex Machina, and I definitely recommend it. A chance to see Oscar Isaac and Domnhall Gleeson really stretching their muscles, which you don’t get from their roles in The Force Awakens (as great as their work is there)

    I’ve also been listening to a lot of a podcast called The Dollop, which is INSANE. If you love biographies, humour and history I can’t recommend it enough. It’s teaching me that important movements often come from the strangest and most unpredictable of places:

    Also, I bumped into this post today, and I really loved the sentiment of it. It explains a few of my friendships, and just in general anything that brings more romance into people’s lives without ridiculous drama (and also brings that delicious tenterhooks uncertainty of meeting new people and wondering what they think of you)

    What part of my project am I avoiding?
    By the end of this weekend I was feeling pretty burnt out, given that the week involved logistics around auditions and scheduling recording sessions, as well as about three hours total in the booth, and a chunk of recording. It took until mid this afternoon to get excited about recording a block of dialogue for a fun non-commercial video game project.

    So the big thing I’ve been avoiding is what comes next: the digging past the immediate crises management of getting audio to clients, and using the time I have now for regular practices that sharpen the tools. By necessity, study time this week has fallen by the wayside in order to get things out the door. I’m excited about the scope for reinvention and new beginnings that moving house brings, but I really need to make sure that I push into this now that external pressure has lessened.

    Apologies for another essay!

    • 24/01/2016 at 10:38 PM

      On the working and moving front, may I recommend giving this a quick listen (about ten minutes, you can probably skip the first two):

    • maggiedot
      24/01/2016 at 11:53 PM

      Ugh, moving. It’s such a beast of a project! I’m not sure if it would be applicable to your situation, but I found color-coding boxes to rooms helped immensely in our last move. Anyone helping us (or us ourselves) didn’t have to ask where to put X, because the color was clearly indicated (on furniture, I’d tape or tie a tag with its color). Helped us transition from the truck to the house surprisingly fast.

      Thank you so much for sharing that link about friendship! I’ve never thought about it that way, but I’ve got a couple friends recently made who *totally* fit into that. And it’s so thrilling and stressful and awesome, but yes! It’s very similar to when I started dating my husband. Funny how that works in different scenarios. Very thoughtful piece.

    • 27/01/2016 at 9:24 AM

      Smiles at the essay comment. Same here 🙂

      Survive the moving. Minimalise all other stuff to get it done. We just cleared out stuff (and are in Phase 2) and it is a lesser version of moving (but this morning, looking at the boxes everywhere I was thinking, it’s like a non-moved move o.O )

      The stuff you’re avoiding, you won’t once you have the energy freed up from the move stuff.

  10. maggiedot
    25/01/2016 at 12:11 AM

    What am I working on this week?Keeping up with the class. Everything else will probably fall by the wayside for the next three weeks while the class runs, but I do feel like I’m doing a good job challenging myself to stretch beyond my comfort zone, and that’s starting to pay off.

    What’s inspiring me this week?I just rewatched Wall-E the other day, and I noticed *so* many more tiny details that are introduced in the first few scenes which end up playing a significant role (or at least reappear obviously) later. The introduction of each detail is like watching a needle slip down into the fabric, and then reemerge a few inches down, same thread, same thought, just sub-surface for a moment. I really need to figure out how to do that, because I think it’s got a lot to do with creating that well-rounded, satisfying story.

    My classmates are also inspiring me a hell of a lot. Not only talented writers themselves, several of them may have worked out a major satisfaction issue I’ve been having with the ending of a short story I love, but can’t seem to fix. Fingers crossed the gut-“YES!”-reaction I felt when I read their comments will be something I can implement without too much pain. 🙂

    What am I avoiding this week?I meant to try to get into a regular blogging habit, but that has kind of fallen flat lately, and honestly, I’m probably not going to worry about it for a while. I’m realizing now how close I’ve teetered on the razor’s edge of being too stressed out in the past months. My husband’s residency has been insanely stressful on the whole family (and takes a major emotional and physical toll on him, which I then try to compensate for by making life as normalized and simple as possible), but I’ve realized that up until a few weeks ago, I’d kind of adapted to it. I’d cut out all other activities that would push me into my anxiety responses, and kept only what I needed to feel good about myself (writing and reading and junking out on mindless TV from time to time). No deadlines for other people. And that must have worked, because I’d been relatively relaxed and comfortable for the past few months. But the moment this class started–heck, even the week before it started–oh, boy, the stress-responses have been kicking into high gear. I haven’t felt so awful in…probably years, actually. I’ve worked really hard to recognize when I’m getting to my limits over the past years, and I now remember why. But there’s a small part of me that also feels pretty proud of the fact that I’ve managed to keep this at bay all through the first six months of residency, so I know I can get back there again. Just have to be proactive about it. 🙂 So if I’m quiet on here for the next few weeks, that’s probably why! But I’ll be back once the class is over. 🙂

    • 27/01/2016 at 9:20 AM

      Huzzah on recognising the responses you are having and for coping during a stress-peak time. Sometimes it’s when you re-visit a thing that was a thing you learn how far you have come and how much better you are at making it a finite thing. (way to many ‘things’ – I need caffeine lol).

      Enjoy the inspiration ‘well’ (like a well of inspiration to use later) building from the class.

      • maggiedot
        30/01/2016 at 12:15 AM

        It has been an interesting experience, just remembering how I used to feel like this almost all the time! So much improvement if only that I recognize this as a “weird” feeling. ^_^ Thanks for the note!

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