This Sunday Circle is an initiative of Peter M Ball (see here). I don’t get to it every week (in fact, I’ve been away since May), not because I’m not working but because in the tides of weekend routines it often doesn’t fit (case in point, I’ve been interrupted three times before getting this blog up – once to finish off a pavlova, and two child-crying incidents). But here, we are, last one for the year.

What am I working on this week?

I’m writing the first draft of my next commercial novel, Twenty-six Letters (a working title that will no doubt change before publication … a bit of a conceit as I’m writing this one without a contract, quite deliberately – more on that another time). I’m actually enjoying myself (still, though I’m in the middle now), perhaps because the only pressure is my need to get it down on e-paper.

My last novel (which I was editing last time I did one of these Sunday circles) is actually due out in just a few weeks. That one (Saving You) has been a long time coming, delayed due to promotional schedules and editing. It’s the first one of my books that was delayed in that way, which vexes me greatly. It was a product of immense child-related sleep deprivation which extended nearly 3 years. I don’t want to talk about that here, but I might somewhere else another time. It was my first experience of personal circumstances spilling over and affecting my ability to deliver on work promises. In any case, the imminent publication of this book comes with a fairly intense promotional schedule, so I’m also beginning to think about topics for all those library talks.

My thesis, thank goodness, is on hiatus as my associate supervisor has my exegesis draft and my main supervisor (and other beta readers) have the novel.

What’s inspiring me this week?

Lego. I’m spending a lot of time checked out mentally and nicely putting some serious constructions together. I found out a Technic set I’d been oggling for a while was about to retire, and was also on sale, so I bought it before descent into the vintage set black market (lego vintage sets hold their value quite appallingly). In between, I’m doing actual construction finishing a back-yard shed. All that stuff is rather nice balanced with sitting in front of a screen.

Otherwise, I’m a true latecomer to The Vampire Diaries, the advantage of which is that I can watch without waiting. The narrative storytelling is really solid, and neglecting the occassional Suits-tic problem (where characters seem to have the same conversation over and over) in season 2, it’s been an epic enjoyment, mostly of marvelling at how much gets crammed in a season, and of course watching the artistry of Damon Salvatore … while being slightly bothered that his character is allowed to be forgiven and redeemed because he’s hot, whereas some others of less hotness are not. Still, overall it’s a great foil, perfect for when I’m not writing spec fic.

What I mean by that is the narrative solidarity of spec fic sometimes comes down to it being able to always be utterly primal (crises of death and love) in a way that contemporary fiction cannot without being melodramatic. Contemporary fiction has to work hard to construct potential losses that have real meaning for the characters (and so can be at risk and therefore create story-traction suspense) – those types of losses can be way more existential than physical death. I’ve found that asborbing very primal narrative (which is about physical death and the emotional death it comes with (i.e. love vacuum)) helps to hone the stakes when writing about wants that are closer to balancing your check-book than being laid in the ground.

What action do I need to take?

Just do my words on the new novel, a little each day. Today I should crack 40,000 words, and that should mean I make it half-way before beach holidays next week. I aim to have the draft done (or nearly) by the end of January. The only other thing to do is put in my documents for my next (last) thesis milestone meeting, which hopefully takes place in early Feb.

So that’s it for the year. In many ways, 2018 has been a shit, and I’m very glad to be putting it in the rearview. In other ways, I perhaps learned more about myself than I have in the ten years before, so there’s that. I’m also fitter than I’ve been in living memory (thank you, CrossFit). Perhaps all that means I can light a fire under 2018, and have that bonfire light up next year.



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