This Sunday Circle is an initiative of Peter M Ball (see here for this weeks’). I don’t get to it every week, but this is one of those weeks, so here we go.

What am I working on this week?

This is the second week of university marking, which means long hours at the computer, trying to remember not to twist my body towards the forward mouse hand. I’ve tried to swap the mouse to the left hand (constantly recommended by physio, chiro, etc etc) but that’s only good for gross-motor actions – navigating webpages type stuff. As soon as I need fine control on selecting particular words and sentences, mouse goes back in the right. I miss hard-copy marking. Marking on computers is slower and harder on the body. But I digress. Having mercifully gotten through both course tutorials’ final assignments by yesterday, this week it will be marking of the dissertations and essay students I supervised.

In addition, I’m teaching workshops tomorrow at my high school, a prospect that is equal parts exciting and terrifying. I love teaching, but my usual classes are university level. It was a challenge to strip out some of the ways I normally teach (mostly with inappropriately adult fiction and swears). At least I’m all prepped, and though you can never quite tell how it will go the first time running a new class, I’m as ready as I can be.

Other than that, I’m waiting to hear on a manuscript and navigating the decisions on teaching for the rest of the year, now that I’m about to submit my PhD (6-8 weeks away). The big change of a scholarship ending is looming on the horizon, though the actual thesis itself is away with proofreader/supervisor, so it feels rather distant at the moment.

If I survive all that, on Friday I’m flying out to the Emerging Writers’ Festival as a festival ambassador. I’m super looking forward to that. A weekend in Melbourne talking about books and writing and a few fun parties? Enthusing with other writers? That I get paid for? YES PLEASE.

What’s inspiring me this week?

Oddly, The Bold Type (on Stan). One of the kindy mums recommended it to me a few weeks back, and after watching the pilot, I wasn’t convinced. It felt uneven and a bit vacuous. But something drew me back, and I found myself unexpectedly drawn in. One of the reasons is I kept expecting to see “standard” characters trotted out (like that the magazine editor would be a hard-nosed arse, like Miranda Priestley in Devil Wears Prada) but surprise, the editor is a nuanced and unexpected character. The women in the show have complex work and personal lives, and it seems to broadly be about collaborative navigating of challenges, rather than oppositional character antagonism. I’m still trying to put my finger on what exactly about it intrigues me, but I think I’m getting close with that. One of my students this semester wrote a dissertation on television-style writing, and made the point that the writing has become more complex over time, moving far beyond the serialised stories I probably remember growing up in the 80s. [btw, one of the things I love most about teaching is how the interests of my students enrich the things I’m consuming]. Of course, now I’ve caught up with the end of The Bold Type and have to wait for more. Boo. But at least Younger is back.

Likewise, I’ve picked up Liane Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers this week. Always marvel at her layering of people and the compelling way that she can write about characters. It’s particularly fascinating for me because of the subtle thread about being a writer (though one of the characters who is). There’s a whole thing in there about the vagaries of the publishing industry and writing careers, writer identity (reviews! genre snobbery!), and being a writer in the age of the woke internets. It’s fascinating me how many of these experiences are Moriarty’s own and how many are gleaned from the wider circle of writers who talk to each other.

What action do I need to take?

One day at a time, make it through the checklist of things to do before the festival. Make adult and definitive decisions about what I can commit time to in the next 6-12 months. Drink less coffee. Try to sleep. Try not to further damage shoulder. Make it to next Sunday.


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3 thoughts on “Sunday Circle #13

  1. I hear you on the time spent at computer. I’m still incredibly grumpy about the shift to electronic assignment submission and marking–I write half the number of comments in twice the amount of time, and I do minimal line editing because there just isn’t time to mess with the interface and get the level of detail necessary.

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    1. Yes. I remember taking marking on planes and from house to cafe to wherever, my pencil speedily circling and flipping back and forth through pages. Now I feel bound to the computer with the external mouse attached and there’s endless re-selecting of text because the highlight didn’t grab the right word. And Turnitin timing out and having to be reloaded. All the sighs.

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