(For more about the Sunday Circle, check out Peter M. Ball’s site here.)

Laaaaaaaaate agaaaaaaaaaaaaain! I’m going to have to review how I make time for this weekly check in, because over the past year, this has been such a rewarding process.

Last week, despite the holiday craziness and houseguests, I managed to stay on target and hit the necessary deadlines I’d set for keeping this edit on track. So:

This week I’m working on: Finishing the first edit run through, possibly sending it to a friend for a quick beta read if she has time, and starting on the word-count cull pass, which I’m hoping to have done by the 16th of December. (It always takes longer than I feel like it should, but I know better than to underestimate how long it’ll take!)

What’s inspiring me this week: Just saw Star Trek Beyond, which was an interesting experience. I’m still processing a bit, but it kind of highlighted for me the importance of pacing, and how offsetting action with character-building scenes is absolutely necessary to make the action sequences meaningful.

Otherwise, gunning through the last section of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, and am still in awe with both leCarre’s ability to make chapters-worth of reading through documents somehow totally gripping, and the way a seemingly innocuous conversation at the start of the book (which at the time is almost incomprehensible because the characters are talking about things they know but the reader doesn’t yet have context for) can massively blossom with meaning upon review after certain vital pieces of info are revealed later in the book. It kind of reminds me of a language class, where you start by hearing the native speakers having a conversation, but only later when you’ve learned the meaning of the words included in that opening convo does everything seem to click into place conceptually. It’s really neat.

Oh! And I finally got Soul of an Octopus on audiobook and am still loving it. So much fascinating stuff about a truly alien-like intelligent species in our seas. ^_^

What I’m avoiding: Just getting back into the normal swing of things after the holidays and the usual disruptions. The desire to do nothing is pretty strong, but I know it’ll wear off with time, and it’ll feel good to be making progress again.

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(For more about The Sunday Circle, check out Peter M. Ball’s blog here.)

A little late this week, but figured I should still sound in! Last week, I managed to stay on track, despite a few very unfocused days. The end of the year is looming, and I’m starting to think goals and plans and dreams and career paths and reading lists and a whole slew of other things, which has been fairly distracting.

What I’m working on this week: This week, I’m hoping to just hold on to the lead I’ve got on my step-by-step deadlines for the short story edit. Hosting Thanksgiving for the first time ever is going to rob me of a lot of time, so just holding on would be great!

What’s inspiring me this week: It’s been a rather scattered week, which hasn’t lent itself well to thoughtful partaking of outside media. But after a get together with one of my best pals today, I’m definitely feeling energized to get a jump on this upcoming year and to try tackling challenges that scare me. She’s been under a lot of stress this past year, but her enthusiasm to change what she can for the better is absolutely contagious, and I want a piece of that for myself.

Oh! But we did just watch Finding Dory, and it really has me considering the challenges of story structure and how simply giving a character a goal to work towards and complicating their path doesn’t inherently make for a good or interesting story. It’s kind of emphasized how important resonance and those clear plot beats are to creating a satisfying story that holds together. I’m pretty sure my husband is sick of me talking about all the various ways I’d want to clarify and/or fix the story (Why doesn’t the octopus just stow away on the truck? Nobody ever seems to come close to catching him. If he’s so good at faking his appearance, why doesn’t he just fake the appearance of a tag on his tentacle? What’s his backstory? Why would he rather live in a tank (other than the generic: the ocean’s dangerous!)? Why doesn’t he just find a hole in the massive tank in the aquarium and just hide there, given how hard it’d be for anyone to get him out and/or even find him? If he’s so good at escaping, why hasn’t he escaped before? Why now (other than to aid the plot)?). It also emphasized the challenge of pacing and the complexities of creating a functional, split POV that doesn’t feel simply like filling screen time.

What I’m avoiding: Well, I’m deliberately trying to avoid getting too caught up in thinking about the upcoming year and what I want to accomplish in 2017. It’s so exciting to think about new, shiny challenges and stories that the old, threadbare WiP just feels blah. But I’ve done pretty well reminding myself that I still need to get the WiP finished by the end of this year, so none of that shiny new work can start until then, anyway. :)

This month has been, eh, slower than I’d like. While I cleared the requisite five books last month, this month–with combo-punch of wisdom teeth extraction and hubby vaca–has gotten off at a crawl. I’m also running into the inevitable chaos of The Holiday Season, of which I’m hosting not just Thanksgiving but Christmas as well, which is a new experience (though thankfully, both are for small crowds!). I was hoping to keep up my pace of five books finished a month, but now I’m thinking I may just try to wrap up the books I’ve still got on my list (some of which have been there for months and months… (I’M LOOKING AT YOU STYLE…)), and maybe a fiction magazine or two. So the current list is:

Notes:

 Cricket – Nov/Dec 2016 – This is just on my list because although I haven’t technically started it yet, I fully intend to read this by end of December.

The Strand Magazine – June-Sept 2016 – I’ve finished one story in this, which was a fine story, but haven’t yet made it to the others yet. This may be one I can wrap up this month if I pay attention.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy – 128 of some 400-ish? – I don’t have this one on hand while I write this, but I’m fairly certain it’s about 400-ish pages. I’ve made some decent progress on this and am finally down to my last renewal, so I must finish this one by 12/7. Which I fully intend to do. I’m not sure why I’m having such a challenge with this one, because the subject matter does seem interesting. I do wonder if it’s because often I’m reading while also keeping an eye on Bug (or during a movie when he’s happily occupied), which leads to less than 100% attention on a text, and this one really does require a fully-conscious driver behind the wheel. There are just too many names, too many subtle shifts in relationship info, too many details to not be completely devoted to it, and that may be something I can’t bring to the table just now.

The Soul of an Octopus – Same place I’ve been the last few months without having it on hand. I think I’ve pretty much decided to buy this one as my November read, and just try to plow through it by the end of the month, because I really, really loved the audiobook when I started it, and just want to get back to that happy place.

The Year’s Best DF & H 2014 – Same place I was before, and it’s still sitting in the same spot on my side table. BUT! Trying to avoid picking up new books I’m hoping will make room for this one, because I’ve really enjoyed everything I’ve read in it so far and am looking forward to more time with it.

Selected Stories of O. Henry – I’ve actually been reading this one (*cough* like, two stories…*cough*), and it’s reminding me why I love O. Henry. Just need to put some attention and love into this one, because once I dig into it, I know it’ll fly.

Style – 

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I’ve even added it to my Habit Tracker to try to stay on top of it, but HAS IT HELPED?!

Osama – Okay, okay, I’m at about 69% on this one, so I’m creeeeeeeeeping forward on it again. I’ve just passed a *hint* of a possible breakthrough in the story, so hopefully the pacing will pick up a tiny bit and we’ll finally start to figure out what the hell is going on, which I’m looking forward to, because I think the reveal is going to be worth it. But it’s definitely making me consider how pacing and info-reveal work together to create tension and simultaneously defeat it. With some focus, I may be able to get this one done by the end of the month, but Tinker is taking priority, so this one may slip into Dec.

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So there you go! The hopefully complete reading list until January 2017, though I’ll still update at the start of December as to where I’m at with wrapping this list up. If I can finish all of these by 12/31, I’ll have broken my 55 book goal for the year, which will delight the hell out of me! That’s what I want. COME ON! One goal to hit!

Better get back to it…

Get top wisdom teeth removed? Check. Have vacation time with fam? Check. Die a little on the inside due to current events? Check. Chewing real, crunchy(ish) food again? Check. Which means life starts getting back to normal, and making productivity plans is now a-ok!

What I’m working on this week: I went into the wisdom teeth/vacation flume a bit ahead of of schedule, and actually managed to squeeze a bit of writing time in this past week, so I’m quite ahead of my projected deadlines for the WiP. So this week, I’m sticking with each daily goal and just trying to be consistent with that.

What’s inspiring me this week: Just saw Arrival, the SF flick based on “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang, and its beautiful. Still processing, but from what I remember of the story, it sticks fairly close to that. It’s thoughtful and inspiring (and I only leaked tears through most of it, no sobs! Quite proud of myself, since it touches some tender parenting areas, as does the original story), with a female character who isn’t a sex bomb, yet holds her own with colleagues. Like I said, still processing, as any Chiang story deserves. Really has me considering the basic story mechanics of effects->causation and the burying of a kind of key-to-understanding (as most obvious in mysteries, but clearly present in lots of fiction, regardless of genre).

And then, you know, that whole election thing happened… o_O Just…ugh… Still processing that and all the things it means… Definitely making me look at how to cope with anger through writing, and how to investigate power dynamics and manipulation of information (personally and on the national/worldwide scale) through fiction. :/

What I’m avoiding this week: Really just trying to get back into a regular routine, and the standard inertia required to get back on track.

(To learn more about the Sunday Circle, check out author Peter M. Ball’s blog.)

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Extractions are super fun, aren’t they? At least I’m starting to feel like I’m turning a healing corner. I’ll be more active in the coming week. :)

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