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’ll be hammering out 7,000 words on Float, one way or another, and putting together a workshop about writing and data to teach on Thursday night. Also teaching an online workshop throughout the week, which I’m putting here so that I actually remember that I’m teaching it.

I will be really glade when the May-June teaching slog is over.

What’s inspiring me this week?

I picked up a copy of Neil Gaiman’s non-fiction collection, A View from the Cheap Seats, on Friday, figuring it would be a book I dipped into from time to time when I was in the mood.  Then, I sat down to read the first few articles Friday evening and promptly…well, didn’t sleep, on account of devouring the first three-quarters of the book in a single session.

It’s been a very long time since I’ve done that with a book, and it felt great. It’s not a perfect book, given that it’s covering essays, articles, and speeches that will, on occasion, recycle the same anecdote (sometimes in back-to-back entries) when making a point. On the other hand, from a writer’s point of view, it’s intriguing to see these things go from a thing Gaiman mentions in an essay to a recurring thing that tends to show up in his interviews, over and over.

What part of my project an I avoiding?

I’m kinda dancing back-and-forth through the first act of Float at the moment, testing out individual beats in various scenes without actually solidifying them into a coherent whole. It’s been a good starting point, but I need to start actually making firm decisions about characters and set-up before this week is out and build some honest-to-god scenes.

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

  1. Shadow
    05/06/2016 at 8:15 AM

    Not Sunday here yet but here’s what I hope to accomplish this week:
    7,000 words on a nonfiction piece
    5,000 words on Dragon Masque. Hope to be at chapter 6 by the end of the week.
    Other wordage as required.

    • 05/06/2016 at 9:28 PM

      Here’s to a super-wordy week ahead! Hope those targets whoosh by for you.

  2. 05/06/2016 at 5:17 PM

    A View from the Cheap Seats sounds awesome and definitely being added to my to-read list~~. Good luck with Float too!

    My Sunday Circle is here.

  3. karinacoldrick
    05/06/2016 at 7:21 PM

    Hope you’re feeling better, Peter!
    Sophie, Cleverman sound so awesome. I’ve been following the hype online but, alas, like the Katering Show, it’s currently denied to anyone outside of Australia. (The downside to regional content.)

    What am I working on?
    I’m going to run with Peter and Shadow and set a 7,000 word minimum for this week. Should be doing that anyway, actually, but last week I wrote a 2,000 word scene six times to get the beats/emotions right. Still not 100% sure it’s there, but it has the right elements and all the additional content I generated looks like it should work in upcoming chapters, so it can stay for now.

    Last week, I was in Dublin for the Literary Festival and met some wonderful people. As expected, however, Ireland is a rocking place if you’re writing YA, but it very much offshores adult genre with the exception of Thrillers and select women’s fiction (notably ‘Grip Lit’). Worth having a look at: RED DIRT because it puts Australia in the context of ‘other’ which is intriguing.

    I’m also taking on the role of RWA Emerging Authors Ambassador, which I’m thrilled about because I’ve reached a point where I’m ready to help others and feel I might have enough knowledge to do so.

    What’s inspiring me?
    The further developing wonders of structure. I came across The Hulk’s take on five acts and it’s changed my life. Well, ok, it crystallises a bunch of stuff you guys have been telling me, and I’ve been reading up on and applying. Further to that, had a chat about Opus 2 with an agent whose read the whole thing and have some solutions to the couple of plot holes identified. Just need to make time to work on it! Planning to use this storyboarding tool first, however, because I ain’t gonna rewrite anything until I know it’s going to work!

    What part of my project an I avoiding?
    Banging out new words. I do find getting raw stuff down hard. Have tried timed stints, writing in CAPS, playing music, putting on a DVD in the background, but I still self-edit as I go and it makes me sooooo slowwwww. Maybe I should lump all of those together?

    Hoping all these HTML tags work, btw. Could be messy….

    • 05/06/2016 at 8:30 PM

      Very exciting about your ambassadorship! And also plot holes.

      • 07/06/2016 at 1:56 PM

        I finally read that 5 act post and it was really really good. I’m having inconveniently timed ephiphanies.

    • 05/06/2016 at 9:32 PM

      Apologies if I’ve recommended this before, but with regards to getting raw stuff on the page, have you tried stream of consciousness writing exercises at all? Writing other stuff where you’re actively squashing the editing impulse, and then trying to switch over to the work at hand?

      I ask this with no small amount of self interest, because I’ve got a bit of a similar problem myself at the moment. I find I can deliver a natural read that feels really good outside of the booth, but once I’m in front of the mic that same delicious freedom to create withers a little on the vine.

    • 05/06/2016 at 9:33 PM

      Ooh, yes – I forgot to mention, too – congrats on the ambassadorship! It must be such a fantastic milestone to feel that you have something to give back!

  4. 05/06/2016 at 8:28 PM

    Does View from the Cheap Seats overlap at all with Adventures in the Dream Trade?

    What am I working on?
    – The Big Illustration Project. I’m doing the long dull colour-blocking part of the endpapers and feeling accomplished.
    – An art workshop, which will be the first I have given, so I my mind is ricocheting off the walls.
    – Assorted other illustration projects, fuelled by running out of time.

    What’s inspiring me?
    – The last minute. Really sitting down and working.
    – I’ve abandoned all remaining self-guided writing projects for the rest of the month, due to deadlines and travel, and am now predictably having many ideas.
    – I watched Black Beauty (the ’90s one with Alan Cummings’ voice) with my parents and we all cried. I’m admiring the effectiveness of the representation of humanity – especially the dirty, grim, loving corners of it. Of course David Thewlis may have something to do with that.
    Fargo has lingered.

    What am I avoiding? I am yet to find this out, now that the bulk of the uni drafting for the month is done – well, the first draft. Probably pushing forward with inks on the Big Illustration Project, but at least I’m well into work on the cover and endpapers.

    • 05/06/2016 at 8:30 PM

      Also, I just got an (expected) Very Large Report back on an early draft manuscript and am in the recovery-and-thinking phase.

      • karinacoldrick
        05/06/2016 at 8:44 PM

        Which EDM is this one? Not the VLA?

        • 05/06/2016 at 9:11 PM

          The LAM.

          • karinacoldrick
            05/06/2016 at 9:31 PM

            Oh squee!! (But my heart is in my throat for you with all the feels…)

    • 05/06/2016 at 8:31 PM

      It does, but not as much as you’d think. Cheap Seats is *massive* – about five hundred pages – and Gaiman has done a lot more speeches than he’s done introductions since Dream Trade. The repeats are usually secluded away in clearly-marked sections that say, basically, “introductions to other people’s books.”

      • 05/06/2016 at 9:12 PM

        Thanks! It sounds like it will be relevant to several projects at the moment.

    • 05/06/2016 at 9:36 PM

      When you have that wonderful blizzard of incoming ideas, do you have a typical way of dealing with them and quarantining them that works for you?

      • 07/06/2016 at 1:55 PM

        I use them to procrastinate on other projects:) Yesterday I had to lie down for a bit (ongoing back recovery) and so I wrote a treatment for a novel idea. Then dropped it in the folder for the appropriate subcategory of projects, or in the “Scraps 2016.txt” document.

        If I just make a note of an idea, I lose the feeling/momentum. It’s important to get down at least a bit of actual writing, if only a few paragraphs and then a rough outline. But typically if an idea has legs I’ll be having more scene ideas for a few days, then I’ll sit down and rough out the structure. With short stories, I usually use Susan Dennard’s one-page-synopsis questionnaire to capture the plan (

        Art ideas happen more when I’m actually drawing, so that’s fairly self-resolving, but I do keep a notebook of scribbling in case I ever get stuck.

  5. 05/06/2016 at 9:27 PM

    What am I working on?
    Audition for a video game with gorgeous writing.
    Moving a tentpole project further towards a first episode script.
    Continuing to organise a recording session for a video game project where I’m directing talent.
    Finishing off monthly review for June (got it started this week, so some movement on the board!)
    Minor schedule fine-tuning.

    What’s inspiring me?
    This week, a couple of things. Firstly, playing Uncharted 4, and enjoying it immensely. The voice acting is an absolute joy, and everything (mechanics, narrative) is firing on all pistons.

    Also, as trite as it sounds, being open to suggestions and following them up this week. Been listening to [FALK0C] this afternoon after it was recommended on Warren Ellis’ Orbital Operations mailing list, which I jumped on after Pete’s recommendation. Also added “The Sea Came In At Midnight” to my reading list after a recommendation from the same source. Lined up Spotlight to watch tomorrow night after a recommendation from my voice coach. Feeling a little more plugged in than usual.

    Also, a question from Greg McKeown’s Essentialism has had me interrogating a lot of regular practices to see if they’ve become hollow ritual: “What’s your ratio of activity to meaning?”

    What part of my project am I avoiding?
    Need to do more getting out there and emailing (and research) for the project that needs sales avenues developed.
    Also study time has been suffering this week, so I need to make sure it gets back on the daily schedule.
    Work on the commercial demo project has suffered some, but I’ve gotten two major projects closed out now, so that should help in that area.

    • karinacoldrick
      05/06/2016 at 9:32 PM

      Activity to Meaning. Ow. That’s ratio to live by.

      • 05/06/2016 at 9:39 PM

        Yeah, it really cuts to the quick, doesn’t it?

    • 07/06/2016 at 1:57 PM

      Your avoidance notes remind me I’ve skipped a few too many Official Admin Days of late.

  6. 05/06/2016 at 9:43 PM

    Hope the workshop goes well, Peter.

    Also, I ask this imagining that it’s likely already in place, but do you have a list of key questions you need to ask yourself around the things that need to be finalised to move forward for Float? Or can that only shake out through the writing process?

    • 05/06/2016 at 9:57 PM

      It will very scene-by-scene, which usually comes up when I sit down to my daily plan rather than the big weekly stuff. Today, for example, I went through one of the sections that was full of bits and started putting down the challenges – how do I make the antagonist in this scene more empathetic (since she will die in the next scene, and thus set the whole story in motion)? How do I make this part of their relationship believable?

      Stuff that starts narrowing down options and showcasing the points where I’ve been focusing on the wrong choices, such as making the character in the first question far too passive.

      Once a particular scene is locked down that way, the rest gets a bit easier ’cause the number of options start shutting down. Some things will require set-up; some will require consequences.

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