This Sunday Circle is an initiative of Peter M Ball (see here for this week’s). 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?

Last time I posted for the Sunday Circle, I was just about to submit my thesis. That did, indeed, happen the next day. And the day after that, I had a conversation with my publisher that ended our ongoing relationship. This was not exactly the plan, as you can perhaps imagine. And while I think honestly it’s for the best, the timing was bloody awful. I mean, if I was going to plot a shit week for a character, this is probably what I would do. The main problem was that I had planned to take nice little mental break after submitting the PhD, having just managed to complete the biggest project I’ve ever taken on. Instead, I went to the RWA conference (my planned break) in a kind of haze, wondering what way to turn and what to do now. It was not a nice experience. I’ve chosen to view it as the universe giving me a kick up the arse to do something very different, but I no one enjoys a kick up the arse.

Fast forward a couple of months to now. In a week, I’m starting a new job. Teaching is winding up. Amongst that, I am working on a book, just that writing is taking a back seat like it hasn’t in the seven or so years since I became a “professional” (by which I mean actually being paid, if not often job-level paid) novelist. I used to believe really strongly that if I was professional, and reliable, and always delivered to deadline, then it would somehow insulate me from writerly misfortune. I stayed up nights when I should not have. I missed recuperating from the early weeks and months with my son when I should not have, just to ensure I turned in those books. And in the end, those things didn’t protect me at all.

So, when I said last time that I was wiped out, it’s not just the wipe out of putting in the thesis, it’s for the last nearly 5 years of delivering books under immense sleep and personal deprivation. I’m proud of all my books. I’m glad I wrote them. But there is now a necessary time when I’m not making that my first priority. I have books already out on submission, and we’ll see what happens.

So, what I really have to do this week is close out the teaching calendar, and practice actually recuperating. It’s foreign, but I’m good at learning new things.

What’s inspiring me this week?

I’ve been reading Stanley Fish’s How to Write a Sentence and How to Read One. A lot of it is quite lovely when reading, but I find I have to put it down often. Otherwise, one of those Lowd billboards I saw last week that said, ‘I thought I wanted a career. Turns out I just wanted a paycheck.’ That about sums up things right about now.

What action do I need to take?

Just the bare essentials.


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