Curious about the origins of the Sunday Circle? Check out Peter M. Ball’s website for more, and feel free to chime in there or here! :)
What I’m working on this week: Catching up again this week. Last week, I really struggled with trying to reinstate the Minimum Writing Time Per Day plan (even though it was only 20 minutes), and wound up drained and frustrated. Didn’t manage to get back on pace and re-energized until I once again went back to ignoring the Write Everyday principle. That used to work so well for me, but for whatever reason, currently it’s an energy and creativity sinkhole. After embracing the irregular schedule again, I did get the slash-edit done on “Circles,” and even liked it enough to submit it. It’s not bad short, but really talking about the heart of the story and the themes I like today, I realized what it was that bothered me about cutting out so much of the beginning.
So this week, I’m going back to the original version and trying a fairly intense trimming, but keeping the cut scenes intact. I’m hoping this will lighten the burden of the setup, while still keeping the character relationships and strengthened theme that made me love the story in the first place.
What’s inspiring me this week: Still going gangbusters on Authority by Jeff VanderMeer, and encountered an interesting proof-of-point while plunging into the last forty pages of Chiller by Sterling Blake. The first 80% of Chiller is a very classic thriller story, with a good serving of medical thriller thrown in. It’s realistic (mostly) and concrete and set very comfortably in ’90s California. And then, just after PP2, it jumps into the future, but it’s a kitchy, pulpy “books are now projected from cylinders onto synthetic paper” and “funky new genetically engineered plants” sci-fi that feels way more like the SF of the ’60s and ’70s with these magical best-of futures (and apparently in only 38 years…). It’s like slapping the last third of Why Call Them Back From Heaven? to the end of a modern-ish thriller. It’s…well, it’s weird, to say the least, and really discordant. I was mostly surprised by how vehemently I hated that transition, and in part it’s because there was no hint anywhere in the leading text that such a genre jump was going to happen, even though it’s been dealing (in a very realistic-ish way) with cryonics. But the sudden loss of everyday realism felt like such a huge betrayal. I’d wanted to see how the story–which was getting pretty bleak by the PP2 marker–would be resolved in a realistic/medical thriller context, and instead, it kind of jumps-ship into the highly fanciful, pseudo-idealized future within such a tight timeframe that none of the world-building resonates with any of the proceeding realism (I mean, 38 years to completely irradiate the need for doctors and hospitals? I mean, the Moon Landing is one thing, and I understand the way tech can flood into a culture, but somehow the author completely failed to make that transition believable within the timeframe he presents.) Unfulfilled promises–I kind of get on a gut-level why that’s so important, and what happens when you fail to deliver what you’ve set up.
And in complete contrast, the original Star Trek is on Netflix now, and I’m in love with it in all its cheesy, idealized future awesomeness. (I *like* fanciful futures, just not tacked at the end of my realistic(-ish) thrillers!)
What I’m avoiding: Not avoiding so much as reminding–I really need to let go of the Write Everyday adage for the time being. I’ve hammered it into my head for so many years, the klaxons are wailing that “You’re Doing It Wrong,” even though–as I’ve witnessed before–I often get almost as much if not more work done during the week (and often better, more thoughtful work) when I give myself time to percolate the ideas until I can’t resist putting them down. Maybe in the future I’ll have enough time back to do what I used to and take a chunk of quiet, uninterrupted time before a writing session to brainstorm and work up some excitement for the narrative task of the day, but until I can get enough headspace to do that, I’m going to have to change my practices and trust myself a little.