The Sunday Circle

The Sunday Circle is an initiative of Peter M Ball, aimed at fostering a community of creatives. It asks three check-in questions, and you can read Peter’s post for this week here, which also contains links for the rationale and how to participate yourself, if you’d like. I don’t make it every week, and I also usually post them over on my other blog, because it feels more natural to talk about the full breadth of my writing practice (including all the sci-fi and fantasy) there. However, this week it feels like it fits more comfortably here, so here we go :)

What are you working on this week?

It’s marking season at university, so this week I have the tail-end of that to do, mostly essays that have extensions. I generally enjoy marking - I learn incredible things from my students, and I’m exposed to a host of new ideas, new content, and new thoughts, along with the practice being part of ongoing craft development for myself. The part that’s less enjoyable is the time crush to have everything in by a certain date, but generally that’s manageable.

Other than marking, I return to my thesis this week. I’ll have both the novel and exegesis draft back from the respective readers, so it’s really in my court now to clean everything up and compile the final document for submission. I’m about 5-6 weeks away from that.

In one further job, I need to send my thesis novel manuscript out on query, so it can join my next Charlotte Nash book in being out for consideration and hoping to find a publishing home for it.

What’s inspiring me this week?

The Emerging Writer’s Festival. I’ve been privileged to be a festival ambassador this year, and I’m writing this blog from the green room at The Wheeler Centre, the main conference venue. I’ve met so many enthusiastic early-career creatives, and more established writers and professionals. I’ve a whole page of thoughts and valuable contributions I’ve taken away from the discussions, This is the incredible benefit of in-person attendance at industry events. And while there is also always a rub - chiefly in the comparisons we all naturally make to others - I’ve learned how to debrief afterwards to take the benefits forward and leave the doubt mostly behind.

Some of the highlights for me have been meeting (and being on a panel) with Melbourne author Melanie Cheng, who writes sensitive and powerful stories of modern Australia. If your enjoy literary work, I can recommend checking her out. Also, mindfulness facilitator Andrea Featherstone, whose session on mindfulness and guided meditation was an excellent reminder of the benefits all writers can find in training our attention. Finally all my 5x5 rules of writing co-panelists: Toni Jordan, who was so funny and reminded us to take care of our backs; Maria Tumarkin, who gave the most artistic and lyrical anti-rules treatise I’ve ever heard; Alison Whittaker, who reminded us of the value of sometimes stepping away from writing; and Katherine Brabon, who spoke about being comfortable with gaps and silences, among other things. You can find links to them all here. Lastly, Carl (Karl?), an aspiring romance writer whose attitude and enthusiasm made my day. I wish everyone I met the very best with their writing.

What action do I need to take?

I need to close out marking and some other teaching obligations early in the week, and remain focused on the thesis after that, ahead of useful time becoming difficult in the school holidays.

In the background there’s the niggling need to plan for what happens when my scholarship ends (also in about 6 weeks), and start re-jigging the finances to cater for it. Oh, and being the end of the quarter and financial year, there’s the check-list of business things to attend to so I can rule a line under the year, and start the next one.