I’ve joined Peter M. Ball’s Sunday Circle to help keep my writing on track. Follow along here or join in the fun over at Peter’s blog, Man Versus Bear

What am I working on this week?

As well as working at a snail’s pace on the young adult novel this week I sat down to do one of my favourite things, which is to open up a blank page and start writing with no idea and no plan. Whatever the storyteller voice in my head is saying, I write down. This kind of creative play with no sense of direction or purpose other than putting words on a page can often morph into an interesting story.  It might only be a paragraph, a sentence, or a character that morphs into an actual story but for me this writing is all about tapping into the subconscious and completely bypassing the inner editor with no expectation of what might come out. If I’m lucky I might come up with two or three story ideas. Rarely, a story pops out whole but I think that’s happened maybe twice in  my life. It’s the best fun.

What’s inspiring me this week?

I finally finished watching the last series of Mad Men this weekend, and it was interesting to see speculative elements creep into this otherwise mainstream series. Sure there were dream sequences and drug trips, and in earlier series I think ghostly appearances that were explainable as grief reactions, but the scene where Don Draper sees his recently passed company partner do a song and dance was put in without any of those provisos. And again, in the second last or last episode, the dead Bert Cooper appeared as a vision to Draper, giving sage advice. It’s an odd thing to do in a series like Mad Men, but I like it when a series pushes its genre boundaries, even if only a little.

I’m also about a quarter of a way through Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo, which is so weird and so good. It’s structure – a story being told by a Greek chorus of sorts and annotated like an academic article – is simple and original, and supports the flow of the novel in a way I couldn’t have imagined. I can learn a lot from its structure for the horror novel I’m currently resting.

What action do I need to take?

Number one on my to-do list for the upcoming Easter break is to write about the themes of my YA novel that will be getting pitched to publishers later this year. I did a lot of work around the novel’s themes when I originally wrote it as the creative component of my PhD, but it has evolved a lot since then so it’s time to take a fresh look.