Sunday Circle

circle-space-sky
Photo via Visual Hunt

Peter M. Ball, over on Man Versus Bear,  is hosting The Sunday Circle for followers of his blog—in which people answer three questions about their current creative efforts.

  • What are you working on this week?
  • What is inspiring you at the moment?
  • What part of your project are you trying to avoid?

It seems fun, reflexive, and an interesting means to pin a bit of accountability to what you’re up to, so I’m giving it a try.

What are you working on this week?

In general, I’m currently trying to write a series of different short stories. The goal is to go fairly quickly (by my slow standards) and without necessarily thinking too much about future submission, with a view to improving skills and experimenting with viewpoints, styles, genres, and such. Essentially as discussed on a recent Writing Excuses podcast.

Next week, specifically, I’m hoping to progress a short science fiction story with the working title of Good Wolf Bad Wolf. It’s space colony SF looking at the exact moment someone decides to resist a cosy kind of oppression.

What is inspiring you at the moment?

I’m at the start of my final semester of a BA(sociology/criminology), and that inevitably involves a lot of academic reading on what makes people and societies tick. That’s where a lot of my inspiration is presently coming from. When reading about subjectively strange social phenomena, it’s hard not to stop and think, “Hey… what if you wrapped that behaviour around a world? A person? A well-resourced villain?”

What part of your project are you trying to avoid?

The writing. I am avoiding the writing. The, you know, crucial bit. Well, I’m not avoiding it, really, or even genuinely reluctant to engage with it. But the aforementioned study is requiring a lot of my attention as the first round of assessment approaches, and that creates a powerful pressure to enclose my writing time to the service of my study time.

Yet… I know it’s also excuse making. I know perfectly well I can devote an hour per day to writing without impacting study, and that’s enough for progress. Given that my confidence is a bit low at the moment, and I’m finding writing unfamiliar things a bit difficult and awkward, I suspect my subconscious is trying to nudge me towards easier pastures. And I’m not having it!

5 thoughts on “Sunday Circle

  1. ‘Good Wolf, Bad Wolf’ sounds really interesting. Good luck with the writing!

    The degree sounds brilliant! Good luck with your final semester 🙂

    I really love that you’ve decided not to let that awkwardness stop you from trying new things as a writer! It sounds like it’s going to be a busy week for you, but I’m pretty sure you’re gonna kick a lot of butt.

    Happy writing!

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  2. Thank you! I did manage to write 730 words of the story this morning, after blogging, then 500 words of academic writing, so talking about it on the blog was clearly cathartic… 🙂 Still don’t know how the story is working as a story, but I do think I got past critical mass today, so it’ll definitely get finished.

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  3. Best of luck juggling the stories! If the hour a day is proving tricky to commit to when other work piles up, would even cutting back to ten or twenty minutes a day help? Sometimes I find when life really gets piled up, I can always commit to ten minutes (which may turn into twenty, thirty, and hour), but getting myself seated for an hour session can feel too daunting. But the work still gets at least a little attention, even on the busiest days, and that makes it easier to sit down the next day.

    Best of luck with it all, and the reading sounds really interesting. What kinds of books/essays are you currently reading? I’d love to check some out myself!

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    1. Thanks! I couldn’t agree more that getting something done as close to every day as possible makes it easier. There’s just a momentum you build up (and I think it builds your confidence, too). Though I tend to beat myself up if I only do a few minutes. So have to watch that tendency. At one point last semester I was having to do the research for and write 1000 words of academic essay per day for just over a month to meet my assessment deadlines, which was just exhausting, and I have to admit that then I didn’t even try to write fiction.

      The academic reading I’m doing at the moment that I’m finding interesting is coming from a couple of subjects, anthropology of violence and the sociology of digital life. For the former, I’m reading “Cruel Modernity” by Jean Franco, which is a sometimes distressing examination of collective violence, and “Enforcing Order,” Didier Fassin’s ethnography of urban French police. There have been a couple of journal articles on hunter gather violence that have had fascinating nuggets that feel like story seeds. For the latter, I’ve been reading (bits of) Charles Taylor’s “The Ethics of Authenticity,” which keeps making me want to write in disagreement. There was also an outstanding article by Bruno Latour called “Where Are the Missing Masses?” which looks at machines as social actors. There’s also a bunch of symbolic interactionist stuff that’s writing gold, as that perspective is all about how individuals and society construct each other through interaction. Goffman’s really good for that, as he’s a foundational sociologist and a darned good writer. His “The Presentation of Self In Everyday Life” is a classic and well worth a look, and his material on total institutions. The other day I read Pope’s “Durkheim as a Functionalist,” a short journal article that intriguingly touched on Durkheim’s ideas of collective will (which he saw as something like a group mind), which is a story idea waiting to happen. And, not to leave criminology out of the party, I just finished Kathryn Graham’s “They Fight Because We Let Them! Applying a Situational Crime Prevention Model to Barroom Violence” which struck me as a great recipe for inciting barroom violence in stories… 🙂

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      1. Oh, those sound fantastic! I’m going to add a bunch of these to my reading list this year. Thanks for the recommendations! (And I also have a tendency to beat myself up about committing more time–but I do find that at least making a tiny bit of progress, even if not much, can help elevate some of that tendency.)

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