The Sunday Circle

Every Sunday, Peter M. Ball hosts a “Sunday Circle” over on his blog for creative types to weigh in and talk about what they’re working on, what’s inspiring them, and what they’re hung-up on. Typically, I comment directly over there, but this time, I thought I might post it here, too!

I slacked off last week and didn’t post a Sunday Circle, so this week, I’m going to get it up early before I get overrun by Sunday and whatever madness it holds for me.

What am I working on? Finally got to a place in the novel WiP’s extended outline that feels like a wrap for Act I, so I’m hoping to move on to Act II this week. I’m really hoping this next sequence of scenes doesn’t take as long as the first set did, but it’ll take what it takes, I suspect. I also want June to be the month I get “Ribbon & Key” out into the world, so I need to continue the out-loud read-through and smooth things out.

What’s inspiring me this week? Just rewatched Batteries Not Included with the kiddo yesterday for the first time in probably about ten years. There’s this distinctive Spielberg-esque quality about it, and while I’d never say it’s not a flawed movie in some respects, the humanity of it really blew me away. There’s something about this kind of movie (the mid/late 70s/80s SF kid-friendly flicks about ordinary people encountering extraordinary things that underline the ordinary-life problems and theme—particularly quantified by Cocoon, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, or Batteries Not Included) that really resonate with me for some reason. They’re not special people, or beautiful people, or even really “chosen” people to a certain extent. You get the impression that this story could really happen anywhere, to anyone in the right place at the right time, it just *happened* to occur to someone who really needed it to happen to them (maybe more than you needed it to happen to you). The speculative element is central, yet somehow the importance of it is adjacent to the real problem, which is always a human, ordinary problem. The spec fic element just makes it more fun. It’s a style and a tone that I realize I’ve been chasing in my modest attempts at sci-fi, to recreate that NORMAL bumps up against ODD, that’s almost more in the vein of the modern contemporary fantasy or weird fiction, just without the pseudoscience. But I really love it, and rewatching the movie and how much my son (who’s almost 2) enjoyed it, makes me long for more movies like it. I’m not sure there are many being made like this anymore, which makes me a little sad.

What am I avoiding this week? The re-read of the short story. It all feels like a horribly cobbled together Franken-beast loaded with thin imagery and flat sentences and weighted down by a whole lot of Meh. But I know I can liven it up at little, at least, if I just give it the time. Problem is, I just never seem to have much time anymore, and what time I do have, I don’t want to spend sitting around glowering at this particular text. It’s just a matter of giving myself a swift kick in the pants, which I’m pretty sure I can do, and I should have a bit more time in the evenings after Tuesday, so that’s something.

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