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 made so little progress on last week’s goals that they’re basically carrying over. This week is all about refining a short story and doing a rewrite of another.

What’s inspiring me this week?

I’m not a huge fan of Helen Garner’s fiction, but I’ve been reading through her recent essay collection, Everywhere I Look, and it is pretty damn phenomenal. I have an unreasonable affection for a good personal essay, and this one is packed with great essays that tackle topics near and dear to my heart (creativity, sense of place)

What part of my project an I avoiding?

I had something like fourteen straight days of going out and interacting with people, which has pretty much destroyed my work routines and ground me to a halt in terms of making progress. Time to start setting the early morning alarms and figuring out how I move things forward.

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

  1. 31/07/2016 at 11:01 AM

    I read Helen Garner’s House of Grief a little while ago as a part of my true crime bender (which, lbr, is still going on today) and I love her non-fiction voice. I’ll defs have to check out her essay collection! Good luck with working out a new routine too!

    My Sunday Circle is here

    • 02/08/2016 at 9:35 AM

      A big HELL YES on Lord of the Flies. Stories that gravitate around how quickly we descend into barbarism are fascinating. You might dig this episode of Lore, which explores real world examples of that tendency:

  2. 31/07/2016 at 6:18 PM

    I hear you on the interactions-with-people front! I am sort of hiding from my hosts at the moment.

    What I’m working on: Finalising my uni prospectus and sorting out my project schedule for when I get home: confirmation and writing, editing and illustration, art and… oh, probably laundry.

    What’s inspiring me:
    -The whole trip has been great, but the art residency was really useful for working out how to get inspiration out of new things in a deliberate fashion, and how to use that lens to experience & remember new things when you can’t make a note of them at the time (because you are on top of a waterfall and it is raining).
    -The usefulness of physical experience for anatomical detail as in illustrator/writer. Knowing where you’ll hurt after sliding between rocks in a lava tube, etc.

    What am I avoiding: My whole being is focussed on getting sleep at the moment, so: everything.

    • 31/07/2016 at 6:19 PM

      Oh, and Holtzman, of course, who crystallised a couple of character problems.

    • maggiedot
      31/07/2016 at 11:37 PM

      Very cool! (Though, ouch to lava-sliding! Note to self: do not make a waterpark out of lava rock…) Exciting about the new ways to generate inspiration (and remember it even without notes!). I can only imagine that’ll come in incredibly handy for years to come.

      Enjoy the rest of the retreat, and don’t stress out about laundry too much! 😀

    • 02/08/2016 at 9:20 AM

      I’d love to hear more about how you’ve learned to squeeze inspiration out of new experiences in a deliberate fashion – that sounds very useful!

      Hope you get all the sleeps this week.

  3. karinacoldrick
    31/07/2016 at 7:26 PM

    I’m at the opposite end of the spectrum for people interaction at the moment – craving some! An inability to attend numerous conferences is really hurting. Also, I’ve not seen Ghostbusters yet and that is seriously tough to live with.

    What I’m working on:
    Pondering. Fun Flimsy is off to its requestors after outstanding and timely feedback from three fabulous beta readers. I’m kicking around a sequel idea, but not nailing it. Then there’s the problem of the prior two opuses/opusi? Do I push forwards on something new or make minor/major changes to the old? (To whit, I’ve had three industry people locally tell me ‘paranormal/urban fantasy’ is dead in the water unless written for the YA market.)

    What’s inspiring me:
    As my head is finally wrapping around plotting, I’ve also had a cogent lesson in pacing. While opinions on this vary (and I’m annoyed I can’t remember the article I read on crisis serialisation vs escalation this during the week), the general opinion is that modern readers don’t like too much exposition. It’s decision-action-result-implication-repeat. My new area of focus is to apply this ruthlessly.

    What am I avoiding:
    Making a decision on what to start on. I have “straightforward” fixes from an agent for Opus 2, BUT marketability would significantly improve if I go a major edit and YA the story. As my situation stands, I have to be working on something that can sell, not a personal indulgence. But (and it’s a big but), where do you draw the line on time invested in a prior work rather than applying your learning to something new? (The Fun Flimsy took me 5 months from go-to-woah to write and edit. Other two works have been YEARS already, being my “training” novels.)

    • maggiedot
      31/07/2016 at 11:46 PM

      Woo hoo for getting Fun Flimsy off to editors! So exciting. I’m cheering for it, all the best, over here! ^_^

      As for revising an older opus to YA–does changing it to YA feel right to you/feel like something the story can handle? If so, maybe that’s a good option for getting something submittable ready in a shorter time frame. If not, maybe it’s worth saving as-is for now, and tackling YA in a new project? It seems to me that every “it’s dead” category eventually swings back to “it’s the only thing we want!” eventually (though it may take years), so I guess–and I’m no expert here–I would ask myself: If I could sell this story as it currently stands/is conceived, would that make me happier, or would changing it up to YA and getting it out now make me happier? (Admittedly, it’s a gut-feel thing, I suspect, but I’m all about the gut-feel right now!)

      (Also, if you do a sequel…I’d love to see Bex get some lovin’! That last chapter made me <3 her so much, even as she was being a pain in the butt! XD Haha! Ok, I'm done now… ^_^)

      • karinacoldrick
        01/08/2016 at 5:36 AM

        Well I have long-term plans for Bex but not immediately.

        Gut feel… Hmm. Fact is, I have ALWAYS wanted to write YA. And maybe writing Romance on one hand and more fantasy-leaning YA on the other will be the balance I need. I’ve a sense you can just jump faster into the fantasy aspect in YA as younger readers have more flexible views to the world. Or maybe it’s that once you’re “grown up” you’re supposed to pack away childish beliefs, as advised in CS Lewis. Unless you’re an adult reading YA, in which case it’s ok because it’s ‘meant for kids’.

        There’s a rant in here somewhere.

        But I think you’re right about judging on gut not end is the better method.


    • 02/08/2016 at 9:32 AM

      Sunk cost fallacy is a tricky one, with regards to a major edit on Opus 2. Do you have a rough feel for how long it might take to go through that block of work?

      Kudos for getting the Fun Flimsy out there, too!

  4. maggiedot
    31/07/2016 at 11:38 PM

    It’s been a mixed week, productivity-wise. On the one hand, I did complete the rough draft I was hoping to wrap up, but on the other, the short story revision has ground to a merciless (or, more accurately, divergent) halt.

    What am I working on this week?: This week, I’m going to start tackling a new short story edit for a completely different story. I’m pretty sure I can get this one to submittable form without cracking my head against a cement mental-block, so we’ll focus on that. If I’m inspired to do so, and if it wants to essentially write itself, I might consider dipping into the divergent rewrite of the above-mentioned story, but I am not going to knock myself out on it. It’s taken four years to get to this point, and it can wait a few more if necessary. I’m ready to move forward on something I can actually get submitted! (Plus, I’ve got family visiting this week, so I’m not anticipating a whole lot of productivity…)

    What’s inspiring me this week?: I just finished If He Hollers Let Him Go by Chester Himes, and I am still in awe. This may be one of the best books I’ve ever read, let alone this year. It’s so visceral and emotional, Himes is so amazingly good at bundling the reader up inside the character and making you feel 100% of what he’s going through. It reminded me of the first time I read Crime and Punishment, only–obviously–set in L.A. in the ’40s. An amazing read. If I felt like American high school kids could grasp and appreciate it (hell, I don’t think I would have fifteen years ago), I’d make it required reading in a heartbeat. While the dynamics of race in the 40’s were a bit different from things today, it still informs SO MUCH of what’s going on over here. Seriously, this book–on multiple occasions–left me shaking with frustration, rage, relief, and horror. It’s absolutely beautiful. Terrifying, but beautiful, and having read it, I feel like I understand US race dynamics a little bit better. Brilliant book. I only wish I could ever write such an intensely reader-character connected story!

    What am I avoiding this week?: Not avoiding so much as intentionally setting aside and seeing what the girls in the attic can do with the combative short story revision. I feel like I’m on the verge of moving up to the next learning plateau (exciting!), but I’m not there yet (frustrating!). I can tell the story is decent (and several years ago, I would have been thrilled with it), but I also know in my gut it could be so much better, deeper, and more complex. It’s kind of singing a one-note, at the moment. That said, I’m hyperaware of not wanting to paralyze myself with perfectionism, but I also don’t want to settle for “fine” when I know to compete in the marketplace, it’s got to be the best I can do at this point. (Read: not perfect, but competitive!) The girls in the attic are saying they really want to rewrite the whole thing with a different POV and a slightly different tone (which is, admittedly much closer to how I originally envision the story). I’m not looking for perfect, but I’m definitely looking for something that can be editor’s-desk cage fight ready against the pros I know are crazy talented.

    I’ve been trying to focus on reading a lot of fabulous short fiction, too, which I think is doing a great job of fine-tuning my inner shit-detector. I know I can get other things polished and out again in a reasonable amount of time, so I’m just shifting focus and letting this one come or not as it likes for now.

    • karinacoldrick
      01/08/2016 at 5:38 AM

      I found the Girls in the Attic knew what they were about. The Fun Flimsy I finally ended up with is pretty darn close to the original vision.

    • 02/08/2016 at 9:18 AM

      Congrats on approaching a new level with your work – that’s wonderful, even with the frustration that’s tied up in having to move through the growth at the pace it wants to happen at.

      This might be a really daft question, but is there any way you can submit the short story as it stands now, and work through a rewrite as a separate piece to submit to market? Or would the overlap between the two pieces mean that one would kill the other’s submission changes? (just wondering if there’s a way you can work it to where you want it to be while still moving forward)

      If He Hollers sounds chilling, and a strong recommendation – thank you for mentioning it! I’ve added it to my reading list.

      • maggiedot
        03/08/2016 at 12:08 PM

        I wish there were, because that would get the ball rolling a lot faster! Unfortunately, it’s more like you say, the overlap would kill the rewrite. They are very, very similar, it’s just that the rewrite I’m thinking of would deepen and build-upon the existent themes in ways the current version doesn’t. I’ve had nice rejection before from prized markets I’d love to get into which said they liked the core idea, but it just didn’t do enough with itself–I’m pretty sure it’s the same on this current draft. I could be so much more. I mentioned the revisions I was thinking of making to a beta reader who liked the first version, and the way her eyes lit up and how excited she got about the potential the rewrite could bring to the idea kind of mirrors my own feelings about it.

        But in terms of getting something out there, I did dig up an old story I liked, but during a hectic period of life forgot about getting submitted, and after a cursory read-through and a few minor edits, I’m fairly confident I can get *that* one out within the next few weeks at least, which is better than nothing! 🙂

        (Oh my, yes! If He Hollers is amazing–it’s somehow very Jack London-y in that man’s-man’s-man kind of way, but so, so fresh to me. I really adored it. I hope you get a chance to read it! It’s not a book one can escape from without feelings about it, I imagine!)

  5. 02/08/2016 at 9:10 AM

    Chiming in rather late thanks to a weekend that was hectic for all the best reasons.

    What am I working on this week?
    With the large narration project out the door, it’s a bunch of back office work, research on critical projects, and finally getting a new website up for the voice acting consulting (which has been going really well!)

    What’s inspiring me this week?
    Still pirates! My non-fiction books are coming in in the next week or so, and I’m loving the hell out of On Stranger Tides.

    What am I avoiding this week?
    Nothing creative-wise has really been avoided – just boxed away due to time constraints.

    • 02/08/2016 at 9:46 AM

      Ooh – I forgot – also working on a new Shakespeare monologue and continuing to learn Russian.

      Also trying to find time to squeeze around other things to learn a new programming language, but that’s on the backburner mostly.

    • maggiedot
      03/08/2016 at 12:11 PM

      Love hectic weekends, though yes! It can make these posts a bit on the later side. ^_^ Congrats on the consulting going well! That’s fantastic! And *rah rah shish koom bah* and all that cheerleadery stuff for continuing with Russian! It’s a neat language, for sure. ^_^

  6. 02/08/2016 at 9:37 AM

    Peter: putting progress aside (because it can wait, you’re demonstrably capable of spinning the Great Machine back up again relatively quickly) how’s your heart feeling after being surrounded by peeps for a two week stretch?

    Looking forward to hearing how the alarms have treated you this Sunday.

    • 02/08/2016 at 1:19 PM

      It wasn’t wall-to-wall peeps – some of it was work-related industry stuff and business meetings. And the meds make it surprisingly difficult to tell how I feel about anything.

      But I’m not hiding in my bedroom, hating the idea of leaving the house for a month, which is my usual response to that much socialising 🙂

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