I am kaitco

a writer's log

So…I preached a sermon Monday, May 9, 2022

Filed under: Dorienne,Writing — kaitco @ 4:09 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

It wasn’t intentional, but I ended up preaching a sermon.

A couple months ago, one of the newer ministers at my church asked if I would “speak” at the Women’s Day program being held. It must have been a rather strong sermon that had me feeling very holy or something because for some odd reason I answered instantly and answered in the affirmative. The minister told that she’d give me some things that I could use when I spoke and this gave me some comfort. It wasn’t going to be a sermon. Just me, leading the event as a “speaker”.

Well, this past Saturday, I spoke. I’d procrastinated until the last possible moment in hopes that the notes the minister had for me were all I really needed and that I’d be able to simply read her notes verbatim and all would be well. But, upon reading the notes the night prior, I found that I didn’t have as much to go on as I’d hoped. When I’d leafed through them sporadically over the past few weeks, it seemed like I had what I needed, but when crunch time hit, I had no idea how I was going to deliver any sort of message based on what I had.

I called the minister trying to hide my panic as much as possible and expressed some concern interweaved with my questions. Are these all the notes? Am I Mistress of Ceremonies, or am I just give a brief talk? How long am I supposed to speak? Thirty whole minutes?? I tried to stretch out the notes with all the Christianity I could muster, but I simply didn’t have it. So, I did what I often do in times of trouble and I called my mother.

I opened the door for her to begin by lamenting that she was, indeed, correct in her past surmising that I would find myself the Friday prior to the event trying to pull something together, but as she spoke about different things I could do, I started to write. I wrote. I wrote and when I hit a block, I’d Google a bit of scripture, copy some lines from some other preacher’s texts, and then I wrote some more. Some time after I’d hung up with my mother, I had something that would at least last me about 15 minutes or so and sounded like something that would come from me.

Saturday morning found me shaken and nervous. I hadn’t done my best, but I figured if all else failed, perhaps I’d bomb so hard that I wouldn’t be asked to speak at any other engagements. The ladies enjoyed a nice breakfast (I only pecked because there was meat in everything, but that was expected), and for a moment, I even hoped that the minister would sense my unprepared nervousness and forgo calling “the speaker” for the event. Alas, she took the podium and invited me to come forward.

I stood in front of a small gathering of the women of my church, including some family, one of our pastors, and actual ministers, and I gave up a quick prayer…and then I was saying the last few words I’d prepared. I suppose I can say the Spirit took over and just led the message through me, but all I know for certain is that it seemed to go well. There were hugs abound and even a few tears as I made my way back to my seat and, throughout the rest of the event, so many others came up to me saying that they were so proud of how far I’ve come over the years. Then the were a few comments about “Minister Dorienne” which, had I felt like I’d done my absolute best, or that I’d been in any way called, I might have welcomed. Instead, I felt…I’m not even sure how to articulate it; confusion, trepidation, full-on imposter syndrome? The list goes on.

I think what’s presenting as concern is that I don’t see myself as a preacher. I’m not sure that I want to go into the ministry. Yes, I regularly attend church and bible study, and I sing in the choir, and I tithe, but that’s just doing the basics to me. I attend the weekly Sunday School teacher’s meeting for my mother’s church because, honestly, I just can’t get to my own church on time for Sunday School. In fact, I hardly make it to Sunday morning service on time each week; it’s a running joke about how I’m always late! And, yes, I used a long-standing command of the written word to speak to the women of my church, but that was more me being a writer and knowing my “audience” than anything holy.

Days later questions bombard me to the point I find it hard to think of much else. Is this really what the Lord wants me to do? And, if it is, then why? I don’t think I’m a good example for anyone to follow. The fact that I’ve not ended a black American woman statistic has more to do with my current aversion to intimacy than anything holy in my character. I curse, often, mainly in just texts, but it happens a lot. I’ve never been married and I don’t have kids and I’m unsure that I’ll even reach a point in my life when I’ll even want those things. I regularly turn away from all the pinnacles of a preacher’s life. The last time I read the words that a woman should obey her husband, my first thought was that if I want to retain my independence, that means I shouldn’t get married.

Is it so hard to just want to write? Am I ignoring a call? Should I hold my breath and wait to get swallowed up by Jonah’s whale of a life experience if I reject this alleged call? And, then why me? Why should the person who has the least in common with those who preach be one who does? Who would even listen to me if I tried? I get most excited on Instagram when my favorite drag queens post; am I expected to give sermons to drag queens so that they know they can remain who they are and still know God loves them? I have nothing! Nothing but questions.

The more I let others listen to the recording, the more I hear the same words about gifts and callings, but all I really want to do is be a participant who writes. Is it so wrong to just be a participant? Do I have to answer for just living?

Sigh…

Motivation for other types of writing has dwindled to a slow trickle, despite managing to write at least 500 words daily since Easter (save a single day spent trying to survive self-provided food poisoning). Part of me wonders whether I’m facing some punishment for turning away from something I should embrace, while the more conservative part me of me recalls how often I’d attempted to lead Sunday School classes as a teacher years ago while having only read the lesson minutes prior to class starting.

Anyhoo… I’m likely causing myself a lot of worry over nothing. I think when people are called, they are called. They know it, they feel it, they embrace it. As for myself, I’m just trying to live. I just want to use writing as the catharsis it is and just try to live, which is more than I can say I’ve wanted over the years. So, with all of that out my head and onto the page, onward and upward.

 

Jesus Rose and So Did I Sunday, April 17, 2022

Filed under: Dorienne — kaitco @ 6:55 pm
Tags: , , ,

Some time in the fifth century A.D., the early Christian church needed a way to pair together their growth among newer converts and the celebration of Christ’s resurrection. To accomplish this, they chose a pagan festival of Spring, Easter, and tied the festival with the Christian celebration. There’s not a lot of clarity into how this celebration became noted with eggs, bunnies, and chocolate, but that’s not really a major concern of mine at present.

Easter is a celebration of the renewing of life; our renewed connection with God after eons of separation through sin. This time marks rebirth and overall regeneration after what could usually be a long, dark winter. For me, this year’s celebration is met with a renewed determination to meet my many, many goals.

A couple month ago, I created a “spirit board” that listed my goals for this year and then a few steps on how to reach each goal. Some of the goals are very specific, like Get a new job (Accomplished!), while others require a lot of substeps to get there. One of my larger goals is to complete the “heavy notes” of two different books this year. There was a time when I could complete an entire book in a year, so this isn’t terribly lofty. In order to get anywhere on this goal, however, I’ve got to write, I’ve got to write a fair amount, and I’ve got to write often.

So today, with Easter as my renewal and starting point, I’m vowing to write 500 words a day through the end of the year. I already know that there will be days when I don’t manage to get there, but thanks to technology being what it is, I think I can safely say that I’ll have to be very distracted on the days when I miss this goal. Also aiding in this endeavor is the fact that I’ve actually been doing this for at least the last three weeks. I’ve turned daily writing into a habit, and now I’m just pushing myself a tad further by incorporating a minimum word count into what I’m already doing.

Another goal on the spirit board was to get healthy. Over the pandemic, I feel I’ve let myself just become a slug. Working at home hasn’t helped much there either and it’s getting harder and harder to move the needle in the right direction. So again today, with Easter renewal and reviving of spirit in mind, I rose early and went to the gym. All I did was the elliptical and I’m so out of shape that I had pull my mask back on even though I was breathing hard because I started coughing horribly. But, that will not hold me down. I’m determined to just go to the gym every single day. Some days just cardio, and other days back to lifting, but I’ll be there every day. I don’t have a stopping point for this; I just know loads of people who make this part of their lives and I don’t see why it can’t be part of my life as well.

And so, on I rise! Writing because it’s just what I do to know who I am and working out so that I can be healthy enough to see some of these dreams come to fruition. Onward and upward!

 

First Days of a New Life Saturday, March 19, 2022

Filed under: Dorienne — kaitco @ 10:08 am
Tags: , , , ,

A got a new job. After 15 years and half a dozen positions, I’m leaving the bank and I’m about to start a new venture altogether. It’s a bit fun and scary all at the same time.

For the first time in 15 year also, I’ve had to do the things that one does when starting a new job such as the usual drug testing and background checks. My mother remarked to me how good it feels to partake in such things without having to worry about the results, and it does, indeed, feel very good. It was just the extra icing on the cake to get those additional “welcomes” from the recruiter and my soon-to-be managers.

That said, I can’t help a tinge of sadness at these changes. For one, I’ll be leaving a boss who has been such a dear friend to me over the years. We’ll still talk and all, but I’ll miss sending her work memes just the same. What’s really hanging on my heart however is the thought that I’m really starting on a new part of my life and for the first time without being able to mention it to my dad.

With my parents’ birthdays falling on subsequent days, I’d always approached them as a time of some happiness. Joking with my father about being an old man and following it up with similar jokes to my mother to next day has just been something I realize I’d definitely taken for granted.

This time last year, I took both of their birthdays off. Now, it’s a time to think of the fact that I’ll have to continue through life’s changes without being able to tell my dad. My father worked in a lab that often did the drug testing for multiple companies and he’d always share stories of all the people trying their hardest to juke the system. After leaving my drug testing, the only thought on my mind was how much I wanted to call my dad and tell him about finally getting a new job and how I had to get tested. I would have told him about the site and what I’d observed and he would’ve told me several stories about his time in the labs. But, we don’t get to have that conversation, and it’s painful, I’ll say.

I think what’s fascinating in this life journey is how to handle my grief. I got through Dad’s birthday with no tears or really any melancholy outside of the ordinary. But it wasn’t until two days later that I sat replaying Mass Effect and came across a scene I’d played 6 or 7 times that I found myself just bursting into tears. Granted, it was an emotional scene, but not one where I usually cry. (“Legion, the answer to your question is yes.”) Subconsciously, I knew I needed to let it out and so I put on the North & South mini-series that I’d been avoiding for the last nearly two years.

North & South is a very favorite read and for a while there an annual re-read on my Goodreads list, and the adaptation with Richard Armitage does it extreme justice, though it does remove so many of the religious themes. The story is notable for the amount of family and friends the heroine loses over time, including the loss of her father. After my own father’s passing, I had to slowly re-engage with any media that referenced fathers. Even heart-warming moments on The Simpsons between Homer and Lisa were a bit too much in the beginning.

I usually cried watching (or reading) North & South, and I’ve not been able to bring myself to watch it since May 2020. I’d found myself watching a Jane Eyre adaptation from about 15 years ago to “reset” my mindscape after finally finishing The Wire (good God! what an amazing show), and then I decided to bring up North & South, because why not? I knew what was coming, but I pressed on anyway. After crying so hard that I had to pause and write a little, I think it’s fair to say that I did need some time to weep following my father’s birthday. Perhaps not on the day itself because others are so good to check in with me and make sure I’m okay, but I can probably expect that I’ll have moments like this in the future as well.

It’s hard taking new steps, especially when they’re not always wanted. I do my best to treasure what I can do, however. The Discord has helped me regain a writing streak and keep up writing over a thousand words a day, and I’m looking towards the future with renewed vigor and hope. After months of patience and lots of effort, God has given me what I’ve wanted. Noting that God’s got a sense of humor and that I’ve been given what I thought I’d wanted only to realize it wasn’t what I wanted at all, but I’m taking this rare instance to be optimistic for once.

Upon hearing about my new job, my mother told me the next day that it was the first day of my new life. I’ll likely find the same old nonsense at the new job, but at least it will be new nonsense with more pay and permanent work-from-home. This is going to be a real new venture for me. I’m sad to leave behind old ways and friends and I’m sad not be able to share this with my dad, but the optimism is there. These are first days in my new life, so cheers to myself for holding on and staying positive.

 

Madness? In March? Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 10:40 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I’ve decided to try and write something every day this month. I only managed a handful of words yesterday (like 90), but this evening I got up to 1865, which is moderately respectable. The other day, however, I found myself in a very odd place that doesn’t come around often for me: facing a block.

It’s reasonable to say I’ve got a war chest of book ideas and projects. Several years ago, I chronicled writing Damen here, then Anne occasionally got some notice, and of course, Flight was ever/is ever at the forefront of my mind. Currently, there’s Nostrum and Teyrrah, but there’s even projects that haven’t been given nicknames yet, and even more that are still simply small notes and ideas in Evernote. I probably have more ideas than I have life to bring even a 10th of them to light. As there are so many ideas floating around in this head of mine, I’ve rarely faced a block since I started to write stories when I was eight years old. There’s always been something to write, some part of some story to tell.

Monday, however, presented me with a block. I sat down with the intention to write, and I even spent a half an hour just reading through notes to figure out about which part of a story I wanted to continue, but nothing came to me. So many things to write and so many stories to tell, yet nothing came to me. Perhaps it was because I had my KaitcoTV going on in the background instead of music. Perhaps it was just fatigue or stress. Maybe my mind just needed a break from constant bombardment and activity and plain noise. Maybe I’m just getting old…? Whatever the cause, it was a bit worrying.

A friend told me that I was a pencil pusher living with a wildly creative mind. There’s some truth to that. My father was an artist and was constantly creating, but my mother was the one who raised me and she has always been the ever-striving business woman. I’ve got a constant battle going between nature and nurture with external noise trying to drown out both, and the other day, all the battling parties left me with nothing to say.

Obviously, the block was short-lived and I can’t discount just plain laziness at its core, but the block gave me a pause. Will I have more blocks? What will I do if I find myself unable to continue the story? I’ve spent nearly 30 years writing stories. What else am I if not a storyteller? Questions, questions, questions. Maybe if I keep asking the questions, the stories will continue to flow…

Also, Putin sucks.

 

Paper Demons Thursday, February 17, 2022

Filed under: Dorienne,Writing — kaitco @ 9:16 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

My family hasn’t got a lot of things to hand down to each generation; this is often the scenario with most black American families. I think I’m a bit more fortunate than most given that Nana literally built her house in Ghana to be a legacy for her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, but I do recognize that it’s just like a generation old and who knows what the future will bring. Instead my family excels at passing down generational curses. I hadn’t given much thought to these generational curses in the past, but about a week ago, my mother and I were discussing the fact that we often pass down things unintentionally.

Not everything we pass on is a generational curse, mind. Sometimes it’s a generational hobby or even vocation. Apparently, I come from a very long line of Sunday School teachers. I’d thought, back when I used to teach, that this was just something I’d been half-called, half-pushed into doing and the fact that my mother started to teach was just part of the process. This was completely untrue, however. Not sure how she managed to hide this fact for all my life so far and also my mother’s so far, but my grandmother used to teach Sunday School for years before my mother was born, and her father used to be the Sunday School teacher when Grandma and her siblings were all still at home. Great-grandfather, grandmother, mother, and then me. If I ever have a kid, almost feels like there would pressure on them to continue the family vocation.

Whether these things all fall into Nature or Nurture, the fact is that generation after generation, and whether or not we like it, we pass things onto the next part of the family. I have a distant cousin whose grandmother was that member of the family. A whole bunch of kids by different fathers, uneducated and always on welfare, and always filled with drama. That cousin’s mother became like her mother with a bunch of kids by different fathers, and uneducated, though she managed to relieve herself of the welfare before all her kids were grown. My cousin managed to escape some of this curse by at least waiting until she was out of high school before having her first kid and all three kids have the same father, piece of trash that he is. My hope is that the next generation might be spared some of these issues, but one can only do so much. The bright side in this generational curse is that each generation does seem to be trying to do better than the generation that proceeded it, which means that there is, indeed, a reason to hope.

Throughout most of my life, I’ve watched my mother plagued by far less nefarious, but still irritating generational curses that plagued my grandmother in her youth. In one example, Grandma never seemed to be able to find her keys when it was time to go when my mother was young and when I grew up, it was like a daily ritual of helping my mother find her keys. When I left for school, one of the very first things I did in my dorm room was establish a key hook on the wall so that I could break the curse. I rarely lose my keys all these years later because they are always on the hook. But, in my zeal to break and avoid one curse, I’ve slowly been toeing the line against another.

My mother’s always wrestled with what she calls “paper demons”. Somehow, the mail just piles up in the house and rather than just managing it one day at a time, one stack becomes two, which becomes ten, which becomes a full room of paper everywhere. It feels like for the first half of my life, if I wasn’t helping my mother find her keys, I was helping her sort through various letters and papers to just get organized. I’d always thought that being part of the digital generation, I’d skated by free of this curse, by the other day my mother mentioned that my grandmother suffers from her own set of paper demons and disorganization. Anytime they try to locate something for Grandma’s taxes, we have to wallow through numbers notepads at best and post-it notes at worst when it comes to finding relevant information that Grandma jotted down somewhere. The rest of the house can be well put together, but behind the closed door that Grandma never lets me go into or in some drawers in a desk Grandma insists I’ve “got no business looking in” the paper demons romp and multiply.

As my mother lamented over Grandma’s paper demons, I recognized that I’d started my own ugly collection on the kitchen table that I hardly use; a table hardly in use because it’s always covered in paper! At recognizing that my own paper demons were already upon me, I spent the rest of that day shredding and tossing every single thing in sight. I got through the large old Amazon box that had been holding my “shreddables” for the last two years, but then I recognized that I still had a basket that I kept by the door with even more odds and ends and more ever-growing paper demons. I’ll tackle the little monsters in the door basket within the next 48 hours, but the idea that these paper demons were a generational curse got me considering where else I stood steeped in clutter and chaos.

I’ve given myself every excuse in the world on why I’ve had to take a pause on Teyrrah. “I’ve got to practice writing to completion again.” “I’ve got a monkey on my back about vampires and that’s got to come out somewhere else.” “I can use these smaller projects to help me possibly build a base before I go into my multi-book fantasy series.” All these excuses, however, are only present to cover my chaos. Paper demons are simply the physical result of chaos, and shredding every piece of mail that comes to me doesn’t fix the chaos of my writing. I’ve spent so much time world-building that my notes for Teyrrah are no better than Grandma’s notes for the password to her Turbo Tax, or the notes on how to use her cellphone.

I’ve written thousands of words for Teyrrah and yet still have no coherent story to tell through them. I’ve tried moving the notes from one application to another to no avail. I’ve tried re-writing the notes from memory and from scratch, only to take a “break” and then have another set of chaotic notes to add to the pile. My digital paper demons, however, are a generational curse. This is something that will creep upon me with greater ferocity as the years go by and ignoring the chaos that causes all of it will just worsen the problem.

I think that instead of waiting until I’ve finished re-reading Potter, and writing Nostrum or PoL, or any of the other projects I’ve got rambling on the wayside, it’s time for me to sit down and get organized. This past Sunday, I spent about 10 hours just sorting through old mail and tossing and shredding everything in sight. If I’d remembered the basket by the door, I’d have forgone sleep to send all my paper demons to the shredder. In the same fashion, I need to attack the chaos in my Teyrrah notes and spend a full day, sorting, copying, re-categorizing all my character details and bits of storytelling and world building into something that I can use. Teyrrah is going to be a massive project, one that will require me to jump in whenever I have the creative juices flowing and I cannot continue to allow myself to be stymied by my digital paper demons.

Like all generational curses, it takes full effort and constant vigilance to avoid the curses of those who came before us. The paper demons, digital or not, grow in chaos. I cannot end the chaos that develops in my life entirely, but I am strong enough to wrangle with them and prevent them from being a stumbling block in the things that I wish to do.

Onward and upward!

 

The Accountable Monday, February 14, 2022

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 11:11 pm
Tags: , , ,

I feel rather old saying that the Superb Owl halftime show was “lit”, but I’ve not got a better word to describe it at the moment. That people are seeming a bit incredulous over Snoop Dogg…well, being himself, might just be my favorite part of all.

I’m on a decent writing streak for the first time in probably years. I went to Discord in search of a writing accountability partner and it turned into a whole new bot with dozens of partners all encouraging each other to write. I was about to fail in writing daily today given that I slept poorly last night and ended up sleeping across the bulk of the day today, but the new bot and a push from a couple others got me to get another 352 words on the page for Nostrum.

It’s hard to find others to hold you accountable for what is essentially a hobby. As there’s nothing particularly on the line whether you succeed or fail, it’s rather easy to just let things slide and end up with lots of initial ambition that just falls off as the doldrums of life wear on the soul. That’s the benefit of little online communities, though. You get to know people over time and even those who you just casually interact with can give you the push needed to keep on keeping on.

I’ve still got so long to go on these multi-faceted journeys, but having even a bot poke you with a reminder to do what you like to do can work wonders on the mind and the mental state of the aspiring writer. Cheers to accountability!

 

In THIS Economy? Saturday, February 12, 2022

Filed under: Dorienne — kaitco @ 10:53 pm
Tags: , , ,

I spend a fair amount of time chatting with people from all over the world across multiple online outlets which has its pros and cons. As a benefit, it’s very interesting to see what’s normal for others around the world and have a brief look into how others see Americans. A major con, however, comes from the fact that it’s easy to develop a bleak outlook for the US. Healthcare, governments, book bannings, and imminent wars notwithstanding, there’s something so demoralizing to face a hit to one’s finances.

The rent’s going up by about 15%. This wouldn’t be an issue, but my annual raise was only about 3% and the whole idea of such an increase provides a dismal overcast for everything else. I’ve been on the hunt for a new job for about 5-6 months and there’s good things on the horizon, but the only positive I can see in this financial hit is that my rent is still much lower than that of similar places and I’m getting a bit of a break for being a good tenant.

I complain about all of this because I hadn’t felt much like writing today after this news, but I still caught a wave of inspiration and wrote a brief scene of Nostrum, so I’ve got that going for me, which is great! The streak continues.

I think the most frustrating part of all this is that the simplest expenditure to suspend is my weekly tithes, but tithing has long been a major facet of my Christian walk. If I’m going to stop tithing, I might as well just give up my faith altogether. Lame. Anyway, despite the “easy” solution presented before, on I’ll trek doing what’s right. My ugly increase means that the bulk of my mad money is zonked and that I’ll actually have to follow a budget, but…what God has for me, He has for me, and I’ll be fine in the end.

I hope to get some real writing done tomorrow before Sports Ball starts, so hopefully just writing out some frustrations here will be the catharsis needed to focus on tomorrow’s positives.

 

Projectile Projects Friday, February 11, 2022

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 11:19 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

One of my main goals for 2022 has been to write daily. It was, however, not until about February 9th or 10th that I actually started on this goal. Better a bit late than never, I suppose.

My aunt told me about this idea of making what’s called a “spirit board” to lay out goals to physically see the path towards them. My mother tells me this was all the rage in 1970s and 80s. I’ve never been terribly good at crafts and the like, so my spirit board is more a small bulletin board with some colored index cards written upon with the two non-black sharpies I happened to have in the house, but the making of it was certainly spirited and it’s a board, so I’ve got my spirit board!

About two thirds of the goals on my spirit board regard various writing projects. I’ve got dozens of course, but there are two big projects at the forefront of my mind, and a third that might just get added to the spirit board if I find myself getting too bogged down with the other two. One involves some fanfiction, in re-writing the last two Harry Potter books, and the other involves a multi-book and multi-arc fantasy series. The Harry Potter re-write comes as the natural progression of the last two years.

The pandemic has changed many aspects of my life. One of the leading issues has been the loss of my father. I’d always meant to write a full blog post about his passing, but that kind of grief hit me in a very different way than past incidences. There was a period where I was rather lost. I wasn’t actually living, but just existing in life and I needed something, anything, to just help me focus and find some ground. I thought about the last time in my life that I’d felt thoroughly happy and carefree and that was in college. Much of my college fun surrounded the Harry Potter books; reading them, waiting for them to be released, planning to attend midnight showings of the films, Barnes & Noble midnight release parties, and arguing about the books online. Friends I’d made along the way are hardly more than Facebook or LinkedIn contacts these days and, after the magic had broken after the release of the sixth book, I’d not picked up the books since Deathly Hallows was released. That said, I needed my focal point of something trivial that I could enjoy and pull me out of the fog of grief, and I set my sights back on Potter.

Not keen on just jumping back into reading the books, I instead found a little online community of people who enjoyed the books the way that I had and I slowly started to consider a project that I’d first started days after reading Half-Blood Prince. It’s been so long since I’d finished a project to completion that I kind of forgot bits of the process even though I’ve never stopped writing, but this Discord community for Harry Potter was the perfect catalyst needed to help steady me following such catastrophic grief and get me writing again.

For the first time ever, I engaged in Harry Potter fanfiction and wrote The Promise, my first fanfiction in probably ten years, and my first completed story since even longer than that. The Promise reminded me of all the steps I take in really creating and getting the words on the page to the point that I was ready for others to read. It brought a whole new level of anxiety that I don’t recall having the last time I’d tried to share my writings, but I finished the story nonetheless, and I’ve been propelled to actually write an intended fanfiction whose notes began over a decade ago. “Platinum Neco Nostrum” will be quite the undertaking, but I’ve been picking up and completing the old notes for about a year now. Currently, I’ve hit a wall in the story given that it’s supposed to be a re-telling of the sixth book and I haven’t read the books in ages, so my new endeavor involves actually re-reading all seven books again. I’m up to Order of the Phoenix and I can’t help eyeing the book with a bit more of an editorial glare. I definitely see things that are moving too slow or should have been cut or edited differently, but that’s to be expected since all I’ve been doing for the last ten years or so is noting or editing or worrying about word count. Once I’ve finished the books, I’ll be in a good position to finalize the notes for Nostrum and then begin on its intended sequel. But, first the reading!

The other major project on my spirit board is a story that I’m unsure I’ll ever really manage to complete. There’s so many moving parts and I find myself often drowning in world-building quick sand, but Sovereigns of Teyrrah, as the first “arc” will be, should be an interesting story. I’ve admittedly not read a lot of fantasy, so reading several is also part of this process, but not knowing anything about a genre hasn’t stopped me in the past. At one point, Teyrrah did start out as Game of Thrones fanfiction, but I got about 100 words into my notes and thought, “Heck with this! I’ll make my OWN version!” Now, I’ve got intertwined worlds, and dragons, and people living underground in one area, and people having wars in another area, and some sort of Jedi magic I’ve not exactly fleshed out in another.

The notes for Teyrrah got started about three years ago, but I put some of the world-building on pause as I fought through Evernote vs OneNote and trying to visualize all the immense structure needed to bring this world of my imagination to the page. This isn’t like Flight or Damen where I’m already working with knowns like a specific city or state. Everything is fresh and new and must be detailed, but I’m still ever-conscious of show vs. tell and avoiding the info-dumps associated with introducing others to the new world I’ve created. Interestingly, another pothole in the road of Teyrrah‘s notes has been Neco Nostrum.

About the time I was starting to get back into Potter, I got to a point in Teyrrah where all I could think about was vampires. I probably spent a month teetering on whether I should even include the concept in Teyrrah. Do I need vampires? Should they work like “normal” vampires? Where would they come into play? Don’t I already have enough monsters as it is? How many monsters are too many for a fantasy world? Should I just include some vampires just because they’re on my mind?? Vampires! Anyway, before I started to shove the things into Teyrrah unnecessarily, I had an epiphany on how I could exercise my vampiric demons without tearing down Teyrrah: Neco Nostrum!

Ideally, I’d be further along with Teyrrah‘s storylines by now, but the nagging concern about vampires led me to start noting on Neco Nostrum again which is what really brought me into the Potter Discord which is what led to me writing again which is what helped me get through the initial grief of Dad’s passing. So, I’ve got vampires to thank for being here today. Perhaps, Nostrum or PoL or one of the Teyrrah books will be dedicated to Dad. I already know that father-daughter relationships in my writing will be changed forever, so I suppose it’s to be expected.

Anyhoo. One fanfiction and one “real” fiction are on the agenda for this year. There’s a lot of reading involved in getting ahead on either, so I’ve got that to look forward to as well, but it does feel really good to be focused on my writing again. I made some notes on Nostrum today; nothing much but a simple conversation. It’ll be interesting to delicately balance the characterizations of my own characters while trying my best to properly emulate that of another writer’s characters in the meanwhile. Hopefully, I’ll catch myself before the folks on Teyrrah find themselves riding broomsticks, or Harry and Co. find themselves with greater powers linked to Teyrrah’s The Aslanti.

 

From the top of my head, to the soles of my feet… Thursday, February 10, 2022

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 6:04 pm
Tags: ,

It feels like a lot of people all around me are getting blessed in amazing ways and my instant thought is “Dang! Where’s mine?” But, that’s what happens when you’re so constantly blessed that you’re just plain spoiled. I spent the latter half of this afternoon just reading in my library. That I have that much freedom, let alone the space to simply retreat to a comfortable space where nothing ever happens outside of simple pleasures like reading, playing ancient video games, or just having a good nap, it’s all just a blessing on its own. From the top of my head, to the soles of my feet, I belong to God. The things I wish to accomplish will happen in God’s time, and in the meanwhile, I need to rejoice that those I care for are getting blessed in kind.

More than two years have passed since I’ve had the desire to post anything here, but it’s been more like seven or eight years since this space has served its original purpose. The whole world has changed in the interim and an online journal feels very passe in these new “roaring” twenties, but I liked the idea of it long ago, and I like the idea of it now.

I’ve got some big goals I’d like to accomplish and, after literally sitting down and planning through the goals and how I’ll get to each of them, I realized that this blog gives me the little accountability that’s been lacking in my personal life for ages. So, with no fanfare and with great aplomb, I’m “returning” to my literary, life blog.

There’s new stories to write, new stories to live, and new parts of my life to journal. Onward and upward!

 

Assertive, but not Rude Monday, November 4, 2019

Filed under: Article — kaitco @ 4:22 pm
Tags: ,

This started as a response to a Reddit comment, but the more I considered the matter, the more I had to say. Rather than confine myself to a word count limit, I’ve decided to post this here so I can explain exactly what I wish to say.

Before beginning, I’ll note that I’m no psychologist, social worker, nor an authority on this matter. This is 100% my own opinion. Things that work for me obviously may not work for everyone and some of these suggestions may seem backwards, but these are the actions I’ve taken to master and control corporate conversations and avoid the bullying that often manifests in this environment.

There are a number of points to being assertive in a corporate environment while avoiding rudeness, but ultimately, everything boils down to maintaining control. It’s not something that can be mastered overnight and there are multiple layers to the act. Hopefully, my notes might provide a bit of help for those who struggle with crafting an assertive image.

 

The One

I’m going to reach back to an old high school trope: “All it takes is one.”

In nearly every high school, there’s almost always “that” table in the lunchroom, the trendy table. Whether you sat there yourself or not, but you knew this table in the lunchroom, and you knew what types of people who sat there. Some of them were nice to talk to every once in a while, and others were horrible all the time, but the people at that table typically kept within their own group and it was difficult to cross into that group if you didn’t start there in the first year of high school.

That said, all it ever took was one. If just one of the people at that table took a real liking to you, the others would miraculously see the “cool” in you and you could manage to make the crossover into that group. It’s sad to say that these folks were always a bit conformist and sheep-like. If one of their flock sees something they like, the others all fall in suit.

Why mention this high school diatribe regarding the corporate world? Because it is exactly the same. Where in high school, the trendy table was made up of people who either were well off enough to buy the trendiest and expensive styles, the corporate world is instead made up pay grades and those who feel self-important because of to whom they report or what businesses/projects fall under their leadership. Just like in high school, however, these folks are also incredibly clique-ish and will often speak down to those outside of the clique…until just one takes notice of you.

I’ll use a personal example for both. In high school, I floated between groups because I hated being the token black girl in the popular clique, but that meant that while I knew and often hung out with many of those within the popular clique, I didn’t hang with them enough for all the outer circles of that clique to know me well. I was on a number of athletic teams and I knew a couple people from one of those teams and shared a class with them. At the start of the year, the folks from that team couldn’t be bothered to even look at me twice while we were in class and would actually turn away if I tried to engage in conversation. And yet, when I’d made my rounds and these same people saw that I was not only friendly with other members of their clique, but I had known and been friends with them since the 6th grade. All of a sudden, these same people who couldn’t be bothered with me earlier, wouldn’t shut up or leave me alone in class; I was instantly treated as a dear friend. As soon as they saw that one person, or in my case 3, considered me part of the “club”, they immediately fell in line.

In a separate example, in my line of work, I’d been involved with dozens of projects interacting with those on from much higher pay grades and levels of leadership, and my boss’s boss had me join a daily conference call to provide knowledge about some ongoing business matters. When I first joined, I could hardly get anyone to even acknowledge if I’d even said anything on the call. And then, on one call, a guy who’s the peer of a boss three levels above me directly called my name and asked me a question which I answered promptly. Just like in high school, everyone else immediately fell in line. Instead of being interrupted and ignored, I was not only asked my opinion, but my direction was also followed. Just like in high school, all it took was a single person for the others to see my value.

 

The Squeaky Wheel

With all this notwithstanding, while “all it takes is one” does work, you still have to get the one and that by itself can be the greater challenge. To use yet another parable, the “squeaky wheel gets the grease.” This doesn’t mean that you have to be the loudest person around, but simply that your face and name need to be presented as much as possible to get noticed.

Pulling from school again, I played basketball, but I wasn’t a starter. I’m rather short, so there’s that, but I had enough tenacity to assist and shoot against these Amazon women that populated most basketball teams. Getting my coach to notice this was a difficult, though. In practice, there were the starters and then the rest and crossing that line was seemingly impossible. To get my coach’s notice, however, during games, I made certain to sit right beside his seat when I was on the bench. When he saw someone screw up on the court and he needed to take her out for a moment, he turned to look down the bench and first person he saw was me. Unless he specifically wanted someone else, he would say, “Kaitco, go in for Ashley.” and I would have my moment to shine. The first time it happened, it was only for a couple plays, but because I played like my life depended on it in just those two plays, when it continued to happen, I became the one he wanted first to go in and then also to stay in the game.

There’s no basketball analogy for the corporate space, but the “squeaky wheel” is still the one who gets that kind of notice. In one position in my career, I was working overnights where I found that it was difficult to showcase the work that I could do for those who were much higher up the chain. I quickly learned that my direct manager had no interest in trying to help me forward my career, so I had to put my name in front of his manager as much as possible. I put together a weekly report of my accomplishments in an email and sent them directly to my boss’s boss. For the first couple months, I got no response at all, but I still kept sending them and eventually in a meeting, my boss’s boss mentioned “Well, Kaitco sends me details about what she’s doing every week, so how could we not have seen that these numbers were slipping if she’s sending out these reports each week?” Even with that little blip, I kept sending my reports because getting a promotion didn’t happen immediately, but it kept my name directly in front of him constantly, so that when it was time for a promotion, he recognized what I could do without anyone directing me to do it.

What’s important about getting your face and/or name in front of those in positions of power is that they become your “one” because all it takes is one to get to push your career forward.

 

Confident Pride

Still, the original question was still about being assertive, so how does all of this pertain to assertiveness?

Ultimately, your ability to be assertive comes down to having full confidence in your abilities and your knowledge that you have something worthwhile to add to the conversation. It can be difficult to bring out that confidence, especially within a corporate environment, but that’s where your “one” helps. You can be confident in meetings, or even through emails, and assert yourself because you’ve got your “one” who already believes that whatever it is that you have to add is relevant and accurate (because you’ve already proven it to them) and you can gain further confidence that your “one” is going to help the others fall in line. So, when you speak up, you can speak with authority and confidence which is all being assertive is.

So, now we’ve got an understanding about the foundations of being assertive, but putting this into action can be a little more difficult, especially if you’re not naturally tenacious.

I’m going to reiterate the importance of confidence in your ability to be assertive. In some cases, despite all efforts, you may never have that “one” and you may be in a situation where you’ve got to be strong at a moment’s notice in an unfamiliar scenario or amongst unknown individuals. This where bold pride comes into play and where you must be mindful of timing and tone.

Regarding bold pride, it may sound like pride on the point of pure arrogance, but going into a situation with the idea that you are the most knowledgeable person in the room, and that you are superior to everyone else goes a long way into driving that confidence. Even if this level of pride isn’t entirely accurate, I’ll default to the old adage: “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bull!” As long as you sound confident and then SOUND as if what you’re saying is accurate, others will be less inclined to interrupt or speak over you.

Also, in written communication, I’ve also found that using larger, less common words that folks generally don’t recognize will reduce the amount of people who will be combative in e-mails. Often, since they don’t recognize the words used, especially if the word isn’t easily understood by context, people don’t want to appear stupid by asking for a meaning or immediately responding in case their response indicates that they didn’t know a word, and many are too lazy or busy to look up the word you’ve used and will simply stay quiet. That silence gives you a bit of an upper hand; the last person to respond wins!

 

Interjection!

Let’s say you’ve got the bold confidence and you know you’ve got your “one” backing you in the meeting as well. The remaining piece is how to interject without being rude.

I’ve found that a simple interjection in something along the lines of “Um, sorry to interrupt, but…” and then continuing as long you’re not speaking over another person. It helps to use a smaller, milder voice in that “sorry”, but it still must be strong enough to actually stop someone. The goal is to interrupt, because some men will seriously continue talking just because they enjoy the sounds of their voices, but interrupting with the slight apology to make it at least appear that you don’t mean to interrupt.

Be sure to leave off “I’m” from the sorry. It’s not “um…I’m sorry” but “um…sorry to interrupt.” Word choice is important in the interruption and starting with “I’m sorry” gives a negative connotation to what you’re saying and also starting with “I” can make others feel as if you are bringing the attention directly to yourself instead of to the point you’ve got to make. The “um…” is your soft interjection and it must be said a bit soft so that it’s not a hard and rude interruption. It’s like a small blip into the conversation that softly introduces your voice and your intention to add something to the conversation.

Another option is to wait for an actual pause in the conversation to add “and, if I could interject…” The “and” doesn’t need to be as soft as the “um” since you’re not actually interrupting, but you still do not want a blasting tone. You should be at the same volume and tone as the rest of the participants in the conversation. I’ve also found that “um, this is Kaitco…” immediately followed by the point I’m trying to make. Not only does your face/voice get a name, but you’re drawing attention to the name for future conversations as well.

With either interruption, what’s most important is what you have to add once you’ve got the spotlight. This comes down to thoroughly knowing your audience. In a highly corporate environment, the higher up the chain someone is, the more concise and poignant you (the unknown entity) must be. When stepping into the conversation, have a single point to make, and get to it in less than 8 seconds of straight speech. It sounds like a tiny amount of time, but when hearing a complete unknown, anything more than that will cause others to start ignoring you. It should be a small interruption that adds to the conversation by directly countering or increasing what has been said and then pausing for further questions.

An additional piece to being assertive is how to manage those who speak over you or simply won’t let you get in a word. Some individuals may be more naturally tenacious (or argumentative) and can combat more easily than others. What’s important, however, is to stop the other party without reverting to shouts. I’ve found a good way to stop others in their tracks is by just saying their name. If you’ve tried to interrupt “Drew” twice, but he won’t take the hint, start by just saying his name. “Drew.” This will make him pause for just long enough for you to begin a proper interjection.

 

Fight Fire with Superior Fire

At the end of all of this, sometimes you’ve got to fight the proverbial fire with fire, but what’s important is that you never stoop to a lower level and that you maintain control of the conversation.

There’s a difference between an inflection in your voice and yelling. You should be to still enunciate your words very clearly with an inflection; yelling causes a strain that inhibits this. Keep a purposefully slow, natural pace against those who may be speaking fast; it keeps you in full control of the conversation and makes the other sound irrational and combative. No matter what profane or explicit language is thrown at you, never repeat it. Again, this is about maintaining control of the conversation and using any non-professional language weakens your position. Keep cool and if someone is on a long yelling rant, remember the exact word you want to start with when you continue; nothing keeps you in control more than continuing as if you were never interrupted in the first place after someone has been yelling for a minute straight. Anyone who’s yelling has to take a breath eventually and that’s when you calmly continue without batting an eye.

As with everything in life, practice makes perfect. That said, you may not be able to directly practice these elements of assertiveness outside of meetings, which is why having these “conversations” with just yourself in the shower or in the car when you’re alone can help you get the wording the right. Think about the last time someone made you stumble over your words and consider what you would have said if you had more time. Actually say these words and imagine the conversation again. It may sound odd to talk aloud to yourself, but the more you’re able to speak aloud without getting tongue-tied on your own, the more likely you’ll be able to do it live.

Also, never forget the power of silence and simply saying “One moment.” In saying that you need a moment to collect your thoughts, it’s key that you do not ASK for permission to pause. It’s not “could I have a moment?” You must state this as if it were a command from a queen to her servant. State “one moment”; don’t mention needing a moment “to think” and don’t add any upward inflection indicating a question. One moment. If someone seems determined to deprive you of your moment, revert to saying their name and then repeating it. “Steve. One moment.” You are in control of the conversation and if someone is asking you a question, they can wait for an answer.

 

The Last Resorts

The last piece of assertiveness causes me to revert to the types of behavior that both helped and stunted me growing up. Drawing back to that bold, arrogant pride, there is great simplicity in not caring at all what others think of you. It can come down to something as simple as entering every conversation with the mindset of “Who is he that he should speak to me like that?” and also “What’s he going to do? Fire me?!”

So, this group of people find you a bit difficult? So what? YOU’RE right and you have something valid to add! There is an inherent problem with this mindset, however, because a) this could very well get you fired and b) when used to o often, it may close more doors than open. The key to using the “Who are you to me?” mindset is using that tone and often that expression only on those who would use it on you. It’s useful to fully read individuals in a conversation and utilize this mindset when nothing else works. The very wealthy, the entitled, and many of those of bred in large cities are the ones who would react best to this bold tone. Again, I can’t help but reiterate that this should be used very sparingly because this tone runs close and parallel to the line of rudeness. It’s easy to cross that line and plain rudeness can easily backfire in the worst moments.

 

Onward and Upward Monday, October 22, 2018

Filed under: Dorienne — kaitco @ 7:34 am
Tags:

I think it behooves me to post today, given that it’s been a year and I’m not one to give up on long-standing ventures.

My mother mentioned to me about this time last year that I would likely never fully get over the passing of my pastor. A year later, I’m starting to see how she’s right, and I’ve accepted it.

It’s been a year and I miss him terribly, and likely always will. That doesn’t mean I’ve been weeping every single day for the last year. I’ve been able to laugh, and smile, and live life “more abundantly” and such, but every once in a while, that creeping pain returns to remind me that it’s just a layer or two below the surface.

I’ve arguably had a better year in 2018 than I had in 2017. Returning to my previous first-job has just catapulted my career in just the last 6 months, and I feel like I actually wield some business-transforming influence. My articles at Gaming-fans.com have been making some traction, and I’m even noted as “that person who writes for that SWGoH site” here and there on Reddit.

My fiction writing has stalled though and I often feel like my focus on religion is in a state of perpetual quagmire. It is MUCH harder to push myself to remain committed to the church and constant study than has been in the past. I think I’ve resorted to ignoring my sorrows, rather than drowning them, in video games and memes than doing more productive things. I’d like to say that today that ends and that moving forward, all will change…but, I don’t like lying to myself.

I can do better, however. With regard to every facet of my life, I can definitely strive to just do better. I can set goals and actually fulfill them, even if the only person affected is myself. I can’t return to the same fervor I had in my 20s and the first few years of my 30s, but I can make the best of what’s ahead by making those little changes. Writing here is just a first step.

And so – I mean this more than ever – onward and upward.

 

One of the hardest things thus far… Monday, October 23, 2017

Filed under: Dorienne — kaitco @ 7:39 pm
Tags: , , , ,

From blog.doriennesmith.com/:

My Pastor went home to glory last week. His homegoing service was today.

This has been one of the hardest life experiences I’ve had thus far in my life and it’s so easy to fall into a spiral thinking “there’s so much more darkness ahead as well.” but, I’m going to keep on keeping on.

I have to keep reminding myself that the reason all those around me seem to be doing so well with all of this is because they’ve already had to bury fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, grandparents, children. And, they all got to go through with their Pastor by their side. This is my first time dealing with death so close and I’ve no Pastor to talk me through this.

It’s just been so hard. The calls and texts of encouraging someone whose spiritual strength I’d often taken for granted. Overcoming my own anxieties to see him during hospital visits. Literally picking myself off the floor after collapsing at the news that he was being moved to hospice. Visiting him in hospice every day he was there and watching him slowly transition onto glory. Accepting the news that he was gone. I don’t think I’ve ever cried so hard or as much in the entirety of these 33 years I’ve walked this Earth. I’ve got my ramblings to say and these words may not make sense to many others, so perhaps this is just here for me.

Years and years ago, I was a very skeptical agnostic. I’d been baptized a Christian as a child, but had never really belonged to a church home and with very sporadic church attendance throughout my teens, very little remained of my Christian experience and understanding. In a lost moment in college, I’d attempted to find a renewed spirit within one of the churches my mother and I had visited some years earlier. I walked into that building a proverbial lost lamb, but I walked out of it no longer a Christian and certain that God, whatever form He took, was not to be found withing Christianity.

An extremely difficult period followed afterward, where I’d figuratively wandered lost within the world, but as providence would have it, God brought me to what would become my church home through the teachings of a very great man who would become my Pastor.

After so many years of absolute distrust in ministers and most Christians, my Pastor proved to be a man of the highest character. One of the things that I adored most about Pastor was that he put God first in everything that he did. Because his ministry was about Jesus and not about uplifiting himself, he wasn’t afraid to bring newer or even stronger preachers into his pulpit and he was never afraid to admit that sometimes he simply did not have all the answers. These weren’t overall concerns because he did not feel the need to put himself first, but God. He acknowledged that there was no way he would ever fully understand every single thing that the bible said, but to use a phrase he often did, “I may not know all the specifics about how electricity works, but I’m not going to sit in the dark until I do.”

He often quoted Matthew 6:3: “Seek ye FIRST the kingdom of God, and his righteousness.” and he had this deep, mighty voice that always stressed FIRST; that we were to put God first; that God was not running for any place in our lives but first; that anything that we put before God was idolatry. These teachings allowed Pastor to become the first preacher that I ever really trusted. Above all, I trusted that he would never purposefully tell me something to lead me astray or that would go against God.

Pastor focused on bible-based teachings and rarely did all the screaming and shouting “performance” that is so often found within black churches and we used to talk about that a lot. I told him often that I never liked all the “hootin’ and hollerin'” sermons because that was all show and had more to do about uplifting the preacher than the Word. I also told him that it was part of that latent skepticism that I struggled to lose. He agreed that the shouting was often part of the show, but that sometimes that’s what people needed to ignite their spirits. He also reminded that, in reference to my skepticism, that faith and doubt could not occupy the same heart, and I remind myself of this as often as possible as I continue on my journey.

We disagreed from time to time. He wanted me to be more involved in church auxillaries and often chastized me for quitting just about everything from the choir, to the usher board, to a helping auxillary, to teaching Sunday school…I’m sure there are many other things I’ve even forgotten that I’ve quit. And, he was very right; I quit a lot of activities, arguably out of fatigue. Every once in a while, I had something to throw back at him, though. Once, he demanded that all his lady ushers had to wear skirts when they served, so I sat down and quit. Eventually, it got back to him that the reason I’d quit ushering was because the Word said that men and women were to be dressed differently to be readily identifiable as such, not that men wore pants and ladies were skirts. If I’d been trying to usher in a men’s suit, then by all means call out that behaviour, but if I wanted to serve wearing a finely cut women’s pants suit, where was the harm? Later, he agreed with me and removed this rule, but this was the type of man he was. He acknowledged if he was wrong and moved forward.

One of the things I cherish most, however, was that Pastor never hesitated to teach God’s Word. When I was teaching Sunday School, he gave me (what I later learned was a very expensive) Matthew Henry Commentary Study Bible with my name engraved on it. He’d given one to my mother as well. I think I’ve learned more about scripture and also myself from reading this commentary than anything else in life. I remember asking him how much the commentary cost because my church is sometimes just barely able to keep the lights on, but he refused to say, and refused to accept any payment. I’ve several other spiritual books Pastor has given to me in this same manner and I’ll treasure all of them always.

He didn’t just preach and give out books, though. He was a 21st century pastor. Over the years, I could always depend on texts from Pastor. Admittedly, of late, they were of the variety “Daughter…you are MIA” if I’d missed more than 2 consecutive Sundays. Mostly, though, I could text Pastor any of my questions about scripture and he always had answers for me:

Many Sundays, I would approach him after service and ask further questions about his sermon. Sometimes he would even roll his eyes and laugh when he saw me coming. He’d say, “I knew you’d be coming up here after I preached that!” He always encouraged us, though. He often said, “Don’t just take my word for it. Read the bible for yourself. When you get to glory, God isn’t going to hold you accountable for what Pastor said, but for what God said.”

What I take from this most is that I will miss him so very much. But…in the same way, all those years ago, when he waved me forward as I stepped out in the aisle to join the church, he said to me in that deep voice of his, “Come on, Daughter. I’ve been waiting for you.” I know that when I get to glory too, he’ll be there waiting with a smile again saying, “Come on, Daughter. I’ve been waiting for you.”

One of his last sermons:

 

Why, Despite 250+ Steam Games, I’m Returning to Consoles Sunday, September 24, 2017

Filed under: Gaming — kaitco @ 9:40 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

As I sit typing, I’m waiting to re-download Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic. I’ve got another 11 minutes to go. You’ll notice that I’m RE-downloading KotOR from Steam.

Earlier this weekend, I finished another Mass Effect playthrough on Xbox 360 and decided that I should go back through my game library to play something else before attempting another Mass Effect run. I chose KotOR because of the acclaim and the fact that Drew Karpyshyn seemingly can do no wrong.

I’d bought KotOR for original Xbox eons ago and I, literally, dusted off the disk to see if it would even play on Xbox 360 years and years after the original backwards compatibility for the game was announced. Though the game doesn’t play in Widescreen, I began exploring Taris and was having some fun getting into the game until I died and decided to take a break.

The smaller screen was getting on my nerves, and it’s usually within that first game death that I find myself “taking breaks” in games, not to return for another five years. After research advised that there was no way to “stretch” the image on KotOR for Xbox, I recalled that I’d purchased the game on Steam during either a Steam sale or a Humble Bundle. Whichever it was, the fact that I had a physical copy of the game was not enough to combat some minimal price tag for PC (I have the game on iOS as well, but that’s for another post). I imagined that I could get the game to play in widescreen and play a lot better and also easier through Steam than through playing on Xbox. This is where troubles of epic gaming proportions began.

After 20 minutes of downloading the game through Steam, I started up the game with my Xbox for PC controller and tried to see what the game looked like. Not only did the game not appear in widescreen, it was instead a tiny box in the middle of my 1920×1200 resolution. If that was not bad enough, the game would not run. No matter what I did, none of the options would select, even though I could see the mouse moving.

I unplugged my Xbox controller, restarted my laptop, and tried again under the tried and true troubleshooting method of “turn it off and try again”. I restarted the game sans controller, and still nothing; tiny screen and nothing would click.

I think most people would have probably quit at this point and just returned to the game on the Xbox, but I refused to be daunted. Whether I spent $2 or $10 on the game through Steam, there was no way I’d have a game that I couldn’t play. Many, many, MANY searches later, I learned that the game would only run and register the mouse clicks by turning off Steam overlays and still running directly from the executable. To get the image to display at widescreen, I had to download Flawless Widescreen and then I still needed to finagle with the .ini file settings to make sure the mouse pointed correctly. I haven’t attempted to run the Xbox for PC controller yet, but that, too, requires Pinnacle Profiler, which I’d purchased years earlier for an equally irritating PC gaming adventure. About 72 hours after first sitting down with the intention to play the game, I think I’ve finally got the game moderately running the way I’d like.

With the Xbox One X coming in just a few months, I’ve been contemplating where my next steps with gaming will go. I’ve got 250 games in Steam (about 5 of those are probably games that are just Steam shortcuts), yet out of all those titles, I’ve only played 6% of those and even out of that 6%, the majority of the time in Steam has been spent in either Civilization 5 or Banished. It makes more sense for me to continue pursuing PC gaming as you can always do more with PC games than you ever could with console games (modding, textures, etc.), and I’ve also got 250 games waiting to be played. The massive library notwithstanding, the new Xbox is calling me for the simple fact that it is highly unlikely that I’ll need to go through all the above steps just to get a game to run.

With Xbox specifically offering backwards compatibility for Xbox, 360, and One games, my last major rationale for staying with PC gaming is slowly failing. With consoles, you put in the disc, download whatever is necessary, and off you go. With PC games, it’s a matter of ensuring both OS and graphics card updates haven’t disrupted the game, working all kinds of magic to make a console controller on the PC, and then using every digital gymnastics trick in the book to make the visuals what they ought to be.

I should have gone into PC gaming with a little better understanding. I’ve been playing The Sims 2 since 2004 and a fair bit of the “fun” of the game is troubleshooting why the game isn’t working. Obviously these problems are less likely to exist with newer games, but my gaming preferences keep pushing me towards consoles.

Outside of games like Civ 5 that are specifically made for PCs, I really prefer a console controller to trying to use a keyboard. WSAD is never going to connect in my mind; even my Minecraft controls are switched to FVDC instead of WSAD and that’s just not conducive to more complex gaming.

I’m also a “patient gamer” in that I like playing older games more than brand new games. Part of this is because most games these days are all about microtransactions and multiplayer, which is a completely different rant in itself, but with older games, the same problems I’ve experienced with KotOR, I’ll likely see in other older games as well. This is going to be ongoing problem as OSes and graphics cards get sporadic updates. Then…that Xbox One X starts to beckon me more and more.

I’ve got a decent 360 library that will all be playable on the One X and, though I’ve repurchased a fair amount of those games for Steam, I’m a little apprehensive about repeating my same KotOR experience.

The game has now downloaded and I’m ready to try again with KotOR for PC, but I still worry that there’s a good chance that I’ll slowly abandon all 250+ Steam games in favor of a system that just lets me sit down and play.

 

Addendum: I can’t decide on key bindings that fit my hands best. After keeping up the keyboard controls on another PC screen to reference as I play for several minutes, I’ve decided to give up and return to KotOR on Xbox…

 

Dorienne, the gamer Saturday, July 22, 2017

Filed under: Gaming,The Sims,Writing — kaitco @ 5:33 pm
Tags: , ,

From blog.doriennesmith.com/:

Something fascinating occurred over the last few months: I’ve finally decided to fully acknowledge that I’m a gamer, instead of someone who sometimes plays games.

Star Wars Galaxy of Heroes has taken up a huge part of my time lately. Not just the game itself, or my alt account, but planning for it and researching for it, interacting with my guild members, and recently, writing about it. I’m writing about it on Gaming-fans.com, which is one of the first times I’ve written for someone else. I really enjoy writing reviews and such for GoH on the whole, partly because I enjoy the game, but mainly because I love writing about the game.

My gaming is really disjointed, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying it from every aspect. I keep buying games like some people collect Lego sets. I had a somewhat sizeable Xbox 360 library, but then discovered Steam Sales and Humble Bundles and decided to switch to PC-gaming, which required re-purchasing (albeit for pennies on the dollar) a bunch of games and trying to play them in a different environment. That said, I’ve got 252 games in my Steam library and I’ve only played through 6% of them.

I usually end up restarting games half the time because I take such long breaks in-between them and tend to jump from game to game. Finishing Mass Effect for the first time really brought this home. Four years elapsed between the time I first attempted ME1 and eventually finished a complete playthrough, but once I got fully engaged in the game, I couldn’t stop until I’d finished. I loved every part of following my Shepard as she commanded the Normandy, befriended various aliens, and fell in love as she saved the galaxy and in playing Mass Effect and discovering its Reddit community, I finally realized that this is a media that I’ve long-since adored.

Regardless if I own a game and it’s just chilling in my Steam library or gathering dust beside the Xbox or I’m simply curious about it, I love reading reading reviews from professional critics and players alike and researching all the furor or glee about every release or console.

While every minute spent gaming is a minute not spent working on Flight or Damen or Anne or any of the other million projects I’ve got pending, with the way first-job has been stressing and depressing me, sometimes all I can do to keep my sanity is engage in interactive stories by playing, writing, or reading about them.

Whether it’s my 13-year-old Sims 2 game that still going and going until modders can’t get it to run on modern OSes anymore, or just discovering which of the latest games can hold my attention best, I’m a gamer. I’m involved.

Part of me wants to link this into all my other hobbies by thinking that eventually I’d like to write my own game, but I think it might be best to let gaming live on its own. Gaming can live beside writing and even occasionally intertwine, but there’s no need to force myself to start a new project like writing a game…at least not until I’ve made a dent in my Steam library.

 

My posts this year are analogous to 2016… Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Filed under: Dorienne — kaitco @ 2:18 pm
Tags: , ,

…a barren wasteland of nothingness.

I could make a post just about Carrie Fisher…in fact, let’s start there.

Carrie Fisher passed away today. She had a heart attack on Friday, spent Christmas essentially on life support, and passed today at the age of 60. I’ve spent the last hour crying.

I didn’t know this woman. I didn’t know her friends, her family, favorite cities. I didn’t even know who her mother was until earlier this year. I have no reason to be in this much pain, but I am. Someone on reddit made me feel a tiny bit better. On the whole, however, my heart aches. It started aching on Friday, my whole body was tense across the weekend, and now the lacrimal floodgates have been opened.

Outside of Star Wars, I’d only seen her in When Harry Met Sally and, while at least one of her books has been on my To-Read list for ages, I’d never got around to it. I can’t say that I was some diehard Carrie Fisher fan, but still…I first watched Star Wars on VHS when I was about 11 and it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen in my life. What I loved most about was Princess Leia; a girl with big brown eyes and tons of sass, who carried the title of Princess. A young girl could hardly ask for more!

As I got older, I never found myself half-stalking her actions and film work the way I do with say, Gillian Anderson, but I knew she was writing and she was still there. This changed last year, when I got to experience the awe and wonder of watching a set of actors take up roles some 30 years after first portraying them. Offhand I can’t think of any other set of films or TV where this has occurred and I’ve spent much of this year intrigued by this and especially by Ms. Fisher. I don’t follow many celebrities on Twitter (I’ve followed Mark Hamill since Friday though because he’s good fun), but I was amused by her tweets that somehow found their way into my social media and I was wholly engrossed by how much of an advocate she has been for tearing down the stigmas of mental illness and also how she managed to take on all of her critics who complained about her looks, as if a woman is expected to look in her late 50s the way she did at 19. This year, especially, I had grown to really respect and admire Carrie Fisher, so hear that she had suffered a heart attack and then to hear that she had passed – my newly admired celebrity, my favorite princess since age 11 – this news is heartbreaking.

I think what aches the most is not just the loss of a celebrity I was gaining a newfound love for (seriously, not a month ago, I was thinking that I needed to follow more Twitter celebs and I should probably start with Carrie Fisher), but the fact that she was 60 years old. I understand that she had struggled with drug abuse her whole adult life and most abusers don’t usually live to a ripe old age, but I still see 60 as young. Perhaps, it’s because my parents are at this same age. Both dad and step-dad are 60 and mother isn’t far behind. Ms. Fisher leaves behind a daughter not much younger than myself. Her death, unlike that of David Bowie or Alan Rickman, hits home so much harder because she’s woman I felt I’d known since childhood and now she’s gone. The loss serves as a reminder that life is short and impermanent and that every moment must be cherished because we’ll never known which is our last.

This year has seemed so awful in so many respects, so I suppose this is a fitting way to close it. On a more personal level, I’ve allowed first-job to come before so many things that I’ve drifted from my church, regained all the weight I’d lost the previous year, I’ve watched my family suffer through medical setbacks and suffered through a couple of my own, and I have wallowed in a hole of depression so deep for so much of the year I half wonder if some of today’s tears aren’t just Ms. Fisher, but for just the year as a whole.

Next year will be better, I tell myself. I will write more, I will read more (starting with any Princess Leia-focused Star Wars book in creation, both canon and non, and then I’ll write one if I can’t find anything else that I want), I’ll attend church more, I’ll pray more, I’ll call relatives more. I’ll be a better daughter, cousin, niece, faux-sister, a better person. If I keep telling myself that next year will be better, maybe…just maybe, it will be.

And, so…some of Yoda’s words to help get me through the rest of this day, “Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not. Miss them do not.”

 

 
%d bloggers like this: