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?

The daily target of 500 new words + 20 minutes of rewriting on an old work seems to have worked out pretty well over the last seven days, which means I get to claim two-thirds of a win on last week’s goal. I would have done the planning, but for the realisation that I only had two weeks to finalise a PhD application for next year, and I spent much of the week doing that with my planning time.

All that makes this week really simple: maintain the 500/20 system, and get the PhD application ready.

What’s inspiring me this week?

I’ve been on a hardcore personal essay kick this year, and this week I’ve been immersed in one of the best collections I’ve read in twelve months. Etgar Keret’s Seven Good Years is odd and quirky and very funny and highly recommended to anyone. I spent years giving Keret’s fiction books away as gifts to people who were having bad weeks, and I can see myself doing the same with this one.

What part of my project an I avoiding?

I did a whole mise-en-place thing when I started putting together the PhD application, sorting out all the things I needed to track down and write and do. It proved to be incredibly useful, but now I need to do a similar thing for the things that need to be done this week after getting feedback on the original things I’d put together.

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

  1. 04/09/2016 at 10:31 AM

    Speaking of mis-en-place, thanks again for the recommendation of Work Clean, Peter. I’ve got it on the Kindle now to read during travel time. I’m wondering whether some of the things it’s talking about have actually been on my mind over the last few days, so I’m looking forward to reading.

    What am I working on this week?
    This week is going to be a lot of meetings and socialisation and whatnot (well, a lot by my standards) which is why I’m spending this weekend cloistered away under a rock to charge batteries. I’m super-excited about heading to a launch party in Canberra for game I did voice acting for this Friday, among the slew of catchups and visits and meals.

    The corporate narration gig is still hovering, awaiting client approval, so I’m crossing my fingers that it doesn’t land on a week where I’m fully engaged otherwise. It’s a bit of a weird conundrum.

    I’m also continuing work on Now Playing, planning the next project as well as lifting the project out of emergency just-in-time creation. Lots of planning around lifting project profile via social media which I’ve realised I really need for other projects, so that’s a win for Unnecessary Creating. I’d be one video down last night but for another visit to Emergency for a head bump, and looking to have two more out today, which will be a huge boon for this week given all the other demands on time and energy.

    Also, working on a monthly review today, after tidying up all the things in my workspace yesterday that were bugging me and pulling tiny bits of attention and energy.

    What part of my project am I avoiding?
    Website update work has gone on the backburner again as not immediately critical. I’m in two minds as to whether to worry about this, given other pressing work that’s set to a schedule needs to happen first.

    • 04/09/2016 at 6:34 PM

      Oops – completely forgot a section in haste!

      What’s inspiring me this week?
      The intersection between myth and history. Been reading more of A General History of Pyrates, alongside reading more of On Stranger Tides, and I’m finding the difference between the romanticised version of pirates in a figure like Captain Misson versus the messy, bloody reality of them painted by Cordingly in Under the Black Flag, and the voodoo-laced gripping (but otherwise fairly grounded) fiction of On Stranger Tides. I’d be further into it but for more time to read this week.

      Also devoured season two of the podcast The Black Tapes and found it really interesting to devour and dissect.

      • maggiedot
        04/09/2016 at 10:42 PM

        Hey, the game looks really neat! Congrats on that! And I’ve seriously got to check out On Stranger Tides one of these days, because it sounds great. ^_^

        • maggiedot
          04/09/2016 at 10:45 PM

          Oh, yeah, and eek! for the Emergency room visit! I hope all’s well. Hospital visits are always stressful! (#understatementoftheyear)

          • 06/09/2016 at 8:41 AM

            Definitely recommend On Stranger Tides, but I know that everyone here (hell, myself included!) has a pile of stuff to get through. 🙂

  2. 04/09/2016 at 10:41 AM

    Peter: I meant to say here, too – serious congrats on the progress of the last week. It’s great to see the external pressures that have made things more difficult than they should be get eliminated one by one for you, and your productivity burst back into form. Serious kudos.

  3. 04/09/2016 at 5:55 PM

    Man, you definitely seem to have had a better writing week than me, which is, y’know, awesome for yooouuuu. We still need to reorganise write club. I haven’t read any Etgar Keret either, but he’s constantly being recommended to me. Would you say Seven Good Years is a good place to start?

    My Sunday Circle is here

    • 04/09/2016 at 7:11 PM

      I’d start with one of the short story collections – The Bus Driver Who Wanted to Be God is seriously one of the top-five collections I’ve ever read. Seven Good Years is awesome, but it probably works a little better if you know what to expect.

  4. karinacoldrick
    04/09/2016 at 6:12 PM

    Sophie, the Beatles are my all-time-favourite band. Love them, so I’ll have to look up that doco!

    I’m amused by the whole Mise-en-Place thing since it was a minor plot point in the Fun Flimsy, given the hero was a chef.

    What am I working on this week?
    After last week’s angst, I ended the week on a high note with the whole plot and twist of a short story cascading into my head Friday night. I’ve summarised this ready to write up in the next few months as it’s not an immediate priority. More urgent, is to work through some of the faults identified for the Fun Flimsy as there are three new opportunities to put it in for within the next 1-3 weeks.

    What’s inspiring me this week?
    While we finally watched P&P&Zombies and found it tolerable, I can’t really call it inspiration. What has worked, however, are other writers sharing their stories of setbacks prior to getting their stories out there. This really is a game of persistence; not to mention constant learning while also holding to the fact that one person’s cup of tea is another’s personal poison!

    What part of my project am I avoiding?
    Trying to wrap up the “Point of No Return” climax in my editing of Opus II without it heading into melodrama. Needs to happen today because I want to revisit the Fun Flimsy this week.

    • maggiedot
      04/09/2016 at 10:51 PM

      Woohoo for short story inspiration! There’s nothing quite so fun as having a story fall into your head complete. ^_^ Best of luck with Fun Flimsy! It’s such a fun story, and I still think about it from time to time (particularly when washing flour off my hands with cold water. BEST TIP EVER.)

      I haven’t seen P&P&Z (I read the book when it first came out, but the East Asian Studies side of me along with the Kung Fu side of me got so freaking frustrated that Elizabeth was using a katana despite training in China…especially when there are so many fantastic weapons from China! But you know– ^_- They may have tweaked that for the movie, though…)

    • 06/09/2016 at 8:47 AM

      A big HELL YES on sharing other creator’s stories.

      It seems like such a small, stupid thing, but I’d been kicking myself for a while on the amount of editing I needed to do on audio after the fact, thinking Oh, a real professional wouldn’t have to do this much!, so signed up for a webinar with an audiobook professional talking about his editing process. Lo and behold, he actually had more steps in his editing process, because it was focused and structured, and still took less time than what I was doing. That kind of exposure to other creator’s internal life is so valuable!

      How’s everything gone with Point of No Return?

  5. 04/09/2016 at 6:20 PM

    Peter – huzzah for forward movement and plain goals.
    Kevin – all the best for battery charging!
    Karina – don’t disregard melodrama altogether, done right it’s frequently my favourite part (it was actually a film of a Cartland novel that taught me how much relentless fun momentum you can get out of it).
    Sophie – I’m curious about how you carve out time, especially when it’s short and sometimes the body insists on resting (or bluffs pretty strongly.

    What am I working on?
    – The university presentation
    – The novella
    – The draft of a new Regency
    – Illustrations (assorted – serials and translations and collections)

    What is inspiring me?
    – Beautiful weather, and getting outside in it to do general research and sketching: The Miss Fisher costume exhibit and Brisbane Swordplay last week. This is one of the important things I wanted to do this year.
    – Eva Ibbotson, and her peculiar almost too-sweet charm. I’m reading a collection of her short stories (A Glove Shop in Vienna) at the moment – I hadn’t read her short stories before, and it’s really interesting seeing her work at that length, and manage the treacherous waters of e.g. short Christmas stories and romances. She hadn’t reminded me of Connie Willis until now. Also, learning how much I like commercial short fiction, which doesn’t feel like a human experiment perpetrated upon the reader.
    – The occasional discovery that a new and alarming activity (corporate illustration) proves to be something for which I’ve unwittingly spent the last decade training.

    What part of my project am I avoiding?
    – Reading for projects. The books I read to illustrate are in manuscript and don’t have covers, so I can’t judge them, and the books I have to read to talk about have covers and so I judge them, but I criticise them the way I would a manuscript for editing and… I need to work out a way to set the correct reading-brain for specific tasks. Sometimes I just want to enjoy a story.
    – New writing. Your 500/20 approach is a good reminder to just do it.

    • 04/09/2016 at 6:35 PM

      Saw your sketches on FB from Brisbane Swordplay – loved them! It seems like an event like that would be a feast of material to sketch from, but does the fast-moving nature of it make it difficult to capture an individual pose or moment? Or is that where having a mind’s-eye camera comes in as a visual artist?

      • 04/09/2016 at 9:35 PM

        The speed is very useful because it makes me get down just the motion, the balance, the bit of the pose that speaks to me. It’s also like dancing, in that similar movements are repeated so I get the chance to at least approximate the bits I’ve missed.

        People kept coming up to look at the sketches and saying, “Oh, it’s [french name of hold]” and I’d say, “Oh, is it?”. But gesture and weighting often trump accuracy.

        It also means that if I go to do an illustration of a swordfight, I know more of the flow and rhythm and can concentrate on getting that right (the bones of it) before fleshing out a more detailed illustration. That’s important, even when working off good reference material: I like to know (in my pen, if not consciously) what happened before and what will happen next.

        All that is important to the storytelling, narrative function of an illustration. And it amuses me.

    • maggiedot
      04/09/2016 at 10:58 PM

      Best of luck working through the reading hangup! Would it help to set just a short ten to twenty minute timer for whatever book you have to read? Sometimes that can distract from getting too serious about any one story (and maybe be the gateway for getting into the story rather than analyzing it?)

  6. maggiedot
    04/09/2016 at 10:37 PM

    @Peter: Hooray for a productive week! And Keret sounds fascinating. I haven’t read his work either, but I’ll definitely add the fiction collection and Seven Good Years to the to-read list.

    What am I working on this week?: Had a smashingly productive week this past week (thanks in large part to getting together with a writer friend Friday night and writing for a couple hours). That, and small goals of a retyped page at a time and a deadline to get the short story to a beta reader helped me to rally the troops and get the second draft of “Any Day But Today…” finished. This coming week, I’m going to start the rewrite (basically from scratch) of another story which I’l either try to get out this month, or–depending on how fast I can get it in working shape–possibly have it count for next month’s submission, if it needs extended work. Asking for the completed rough draft by the end of the week is probably a stretch, since if the beta read comes back I’ll be switching gears to wrap that up for submission by the 15th. But I’ll start the rewrite on “Mirror, Mirror” (working title) and see what I can do with it.

    What’s inspiring me this week?: Still really enjoying The Art and Craft of Novel Writing by Oakley Hall, recommended by a classmate from the course I took back in February. I’ve picked up a few gems of advice that I’ve really loved, and am enjoying trying to implement them.

    I’m also entering a new music-acquiring phase. I’ve worn out my old playlists and I’m hankering for something more substantial than Pandora, so I’ve become completely obsessed with the recent-ish (2013) and upcoming Empire of the Sun albums. I got into them a number of years ago with Walking on a Dream, and it really struck a cord with me, but I hadn’t been following their career too closely. But I heard a few songs from their 2013 album (namely, “I’ll Be Around”), and really liked it. And the samples from their upcoming album sound fun, too. And I love their sci-fi/fantasy-ish aesthetic cover art so freaking much. They may not be for everybody, but that song just gets under my skin and resonates for some reason. It’s a nice contrast to break up my recent fixation on Dead Letter Circus’ Aesthesis album (and particularly “Show Me”).

    What am I avoiding this week?: Not avoiding so much as just uncertain how to proceed. I did a little review of my work process and the goal-mountain I’m working towards, and realized (or at least, recognized with a nod of agreement) that I really need to follow my longer novel(ish) length works to their full completion, rather than bounce around on rough drafts like I do with short fiction (which just leads to a lot of long, cruddy, unedited manuscripts take a huge push of energy to pick up again). So I’m going to focus on a longer project I’ve already gotten to rough draft and try following through on it to the absolute end. I’m doing some contextual research for a far-flung future cryogenics/hoarders novel(la) already, so I’ll probably pick that one, but we’ll see. 🙂

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