I am kaitco

a writer's log

More sacrifices Saturday, June 27, 2009

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 8:31 pm
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I must say, up front, that working 66 hours in one week ranks somewhere on the top ten of the worst experiences in my life. It’s not only that I did little else, but work and sleep. It’s also the idea of trying to write when my brain is just barely functioning that makes the entire thing so irritating.

Like I predicted, I was able to make some headway in Damen and am finally ready to tackle the nuances of the scene with Jessie, much the way I had to ready myself and get over the whole thing Damen and Anthony in the car. Thinking about those scenes in reference with the rest of the book, they don’t seem all that important, but I know it’s really important that tell as much I as I can about these characters in those scenes as possible because otherwise I run the risk of spending the novel “telling” what the characters are doing instead of just showing what they do. <<Phew, what a run-on!>>

Anyway, Friday got me really, really ready to put a lot more effort into writing and getting out of debt. It was probably one of the worst days I’ve had at this day job of mine in the two years I’ve been there and I found myself needing some time to sit and remind myself that I’m better than this little day job of mine. I pulled up Flight, read much of the first chapter and got enough of a boost to keep from walking out of the office when my frustration reached its peak. I also got a review for Flight on SVUfiction.com which just made me grin for much of the day…until I got to work, that is. I miss writing it, but just thinking about it makes me want to push even harder to attain these goals. I know I can do this. It’s in the cards, in the plan, in the…whatever!

So, I’m going to pull out all stops for July and reach for every goal I’ve been pushing back each month since I created my pseudo-New Year’s resolutions. I probably won’t be updating a lot between now and July, but still…on I trek!

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Sacrifices Friday, June 12, 2009

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 8:04 am
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I have made some headway in Damen in the past couple of days and predict that I will still manage a little bit here or there in the next few weeks, but now it’s time for some sacrifices.

As my debts are starting to eat away at my soul, I’ve decided that it’s time to put in some long hours and make as much as possible in the next few weeks to ensure that I’m not trapped trying to write in between other things for the rest of my life.

The goal is that I won’t be too tired to at least update something from time to time, but putting in close to 60+ hours a week is something I’ve never done previously and it’s likely to have affect me severely; whether that’s positively or negatively, I have yet to see, but I’ll definitely be affected for the next month and a half.

 

Simmin’ vs. Storytellin’ Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Filed under: Coding,Reading,The Sims — kaitco @ 5:23 am
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I’m getting into a bad spin. I wrote a little on Saturday and a little on Friday as well. I was definitely in a “I just don’t feel like it” kind of mood today, but I was still able to read loads from The Stand. What I love most about The Stand is that it’s been able a decade since I’d last read it, so it’s like reading it for the first time…only, there are bits and pieces that stand out to me, like a bizarre foreshadowing.

Even though it’s 5AM, I did have a bit of an excuse in writing because I had to take down my braids, but for the most part, I blame my increase in Designing and Simming.

I’m going to take another stab at a rather simple Flash effect and see if I can bring a sketch into a full creation. A lot of my time today, though, had been taken up by taking pictures in the game to fully tell the tale of my favorite sim family, The Wests. I’ve been playing this family since 2004 when I didn’t really know how to take pictures or even how to play the game, so many of the originals I’d taken are small and blurry and just don’t cut it. I won’t be going into the extreme lengths of making sure all my walls are up and etc., especially since I’ve got five years worth of pictures that involve mediocre lighting and view of multiple rooms, ie: they look they way I play the game.

I just want to retake some of the small and blurry pics and add some shots that I’d neglected to take when the sims of the first generation were raised. The best thing about all this was creating a new neighborhood where I could move around sims and divorce and un-age them as I needed to “get the shot.”

My first sim family included Mason and Tara Bramble. I’d made them when I was about 20 and I’ll admit that they were made with Mulder and Scully in mid as I created them. Mason had dark hair and green eyes and Tara had red hair and blue eyes. I let them pass away about year or so ago, maybe two, but I was really, really upset when I did. I just miss them a lot even though they’re just sims. I guess it’s because so much of my neighborhood’s story comes through them and their offspring.

I found a way to replicate them in the game and got to “see” them again, after they’d been gone for so long. I’d also been able to un-age the parents in the West family and view them in all their beauty and splendor once more, which gave me all sorts of chills and happy memories.

There is something so wonderful about The Sims 2 that it’s difficult to describe. The game is intrinsically designed to tell stories; I’ve even attempted to write full short stories revolving a sim and her family drama. I do intend to write my sim Jill’s story in the near future because I just can’t not write a story about a black female raised by her two gay white dads with her other three adopted siblings. With many of my sim households, I just start with a few sims without having any real direction, but allow a story (a good story, too) to develop from there.

I’m also very amused at how my sim neighborhood manages to reflect American life. Most of the black people live “Downtown” (I realized I was doing this while it was happening, but it was when I was attempting to “blacken” my game and I only had one place to put all of them.)  Most of the college graduates are starting families in newer, start-up communities. There is a shortage of “suitable” black men for all my black females and, biracial families are on the rise as are teen pregnancies.

The fact that the game manages to mimic real society gives it that extra edge that not only makes it fun to play, but gives me an everlasting outlet for storytelling. Many sims storytellers go through a lot of trouble in creating something that is visually pleasing, but I’m not one to create a picture book; I focus on the story first and hope that the images match what I’m trying to do.

I’ve some general stories in the works based off of my simming, but I’m not sure what excites me more: the sim stories or the sim-based stories…

 

The same characters Friday, June 5, 2009

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 11:38 am
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I’ve been thinking a lot about Evan and that entire series.

Even though the fact that I’ve been writing for such a long time slips from my mind quite often, I seem to always remember that Michael Connor is my first character. When I was eight, our teacher forced us to write stories using our spelling words for the week. As a “cute” Christmas gift that year, my mother put a lot of my stories together in a little booklet and passed them out to relatives and such. I remember I was always being “praised” for these stories and couple poems, but what still sticks out to me is coming up Michael Connor. Out of all the “characters” I created for these stories, he was the only one I used in more than one story and he was the only who I could actually visualize. At eight years old, I knew what he looked like, what he sounded like, and a bit about why he behaved the way he did. I continued to write stories involving him into the fourth and fifth grades and have been writing him as a more or less subsidiary character since then.

My plan with Evan was to make Michael my protagonist in the last book, but as time passes and my writing improves, I’m thinking that I’ll never be able to really write the Evan series and my first character will never see the light of day. The idea of it really, really disappoints me because I feel like I’ve grown up with him and I’ve evolved his character over time. At one point, he was just a little boy who acted out in class, but by the end, he’s a full girl-hitting, druggie. It’s like I can see how things started for him and then I allowed him to progress. I just love this character because I’ve “known” him for so long.

What really feels devastating is that I don’t think I’ll be able to write Evan, not because I haven’t the time, the will or the energy, but because of all the other projects that will come before it. There’s no way Evan will ever be as good as Damen or even Flight for that matter. It’s just not good enough. And, to almost add insult to injury, if I ever got to writing Evan, I’d be too wrapped up in what other people would possible be thinking about it to do any real editing to make the book as good if not better than its predecessors.

I know there’s something to be said in the fact that I have the same chemistry surrounding similar-looking characters in a lot of my projects. For example, in Damen, Damen and Brit are two characters who have that “Will they/Won’t they” thing going on that’s amplified by the fact that he’s white and she’s black. Again in Luka, granted there’s so much going on that I think people would be hard-pressed to fully follow these thoughts, but Luka and Elia have that same “Will they/Won’t they” thing and, again, he’s white and she’s black.

I suppose I could get away with it in two different books because Luka and Damen are so incredibly different people as are Elia and Brit, but it’s something that could definitely raise an eyebrow or two.

I think I could probably allow the same thing in Evan if I didn’t have Alex as my protagonist in the third book. Even though Alex is bi-racial and the “Will they/Won’t they” between her and David is more of a when rather than an if, it would be the third set of characters that fall into this kind of line. It is almost like I’m doing this subconsciously, writing a black female and a white male over and over and over again, but then again, if I know what’s happening going into the story, I can’t really blame this on my subconscious.

I’ve always said that I write the stories that come to me. I try to spring in Jesus wherever I can, like Jonathan’s dependence on his faith in Flight or even Brit’s faith in Damen, but for the most part, I write the characters who pop in my mind. Most of the time…

You know, it’s just now occurred to me what’s happening with this white boy/black girl thing…

When I develop a story, it normally starts with a single character and from him or her, I create a cast and from there a plot. Most of the time (though, I’m still not sure why), that first character who comes to mind just happens to be a white male and, since I cannot/will not write something without a strong black female somewhere near the forefront, this white boy/black girl thing always finds its way into the story. Evan, Luka and Damen are all white males and whether it was subconscious or purposeful, I’d found a strong female lead to accompany them; it’s probably my own way of projecting myself into my stories and, quite honestly, that disgusts me.

Now, that I’ve had this little revelation, however, I doubt I’ll be taking steps to change anything in the future. Again, I write the stories that come to me. I’ve imagined that I’ll get a lot of push back and criticism for not writing stories that centre around black people, but I write the stories that come to me. I’ve come up with stories surrounding white females also and there are few if any blacks in those stories; I write the stories that come to me.

I can imagine the insults now: You don’t care about the black community! You’ve lost touch with your own culture! It’s not like I don’t care about other blacks or something; I just write the stories and characters that come to me…

Miles will probably be the biggest chore of all the major projects I’ll be writing in the upcoming years as it does centre around a black male, but does not paint the rosiest picture of the “black community” throughout the plot.

I think one of the hardest things about desiring to be a good writer and not just a good female writer and certainly not just a good black writer, is staying true to myself. I suppose if anyone accuses me in the future of not writing anything that “uplifts” the black community, I can just show them how to read between the lines.

Outside of Miles, almost every black character that appears in my stories remains outside of the bounds of liberal stereotypes. They don’t speak like “blacks” are supposed to speak and they don’t do the things that “blacks” are supposed to do. I suppose I put a little of myself in every black character that I write, which makes Damen all the more special to me. Alex’s story in Evan hints on these same things in a different way, but Brit practically screams it in Damen.

I write the characters that come to me. I think I’ll just have to keep repeating this to myself as I continue; it’ll probably be the only thing that’ll keep me from changing what and how I write to suit the wishes of others.

 

A weird kid Thursday, June 4, 2009

Filed under: Artwork,Coding,The Sims,Writing — kaitco @ 11:35 am
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I haven’t been writing at all lately.

I haven’t even looked at the notes for Damen since at least Monday. I guess I’m in some kind of slump or the old bipolar monster has reared her head again and I’ve been too low to think creatively.

Anyhoo… Even though I haven’t been writing, I’ve coding and designing the crap out of my site. I completely finished my About page and made it a little more asthetically pleasing and hopefully it makes a little more sense than the list of words I’d had there previously.

I’ve still got to create the “Dorienne Presents…” page and redo the links page before I’m ready to “launch” version 3.0 of the site. I suppose another week of heavy coding and designing should get me ready.

Also, I’ve been simming a lot in between all this coding. I’ve been playing a lot of sims that I hadn’t played in probably close to a year. It has been wild fun re-discovering some of the dormant stories in the game. I think I’m ready to bring the neighborhood to a new generation, but this may be a result of the BPD monster working her magic, so I’m not really sure.

In the midst of the coding and the simming, I have been trying to rescue my Geocities pages. It took about an entire day to get through all my sites because I’d definitely abused their services by creating about a half dozen names and linking them all together to get a site that was close to a small site with about 50MB of space total. I’ve not really made use of Geocities’ services since 2004 when I’d created Dorienne Smith.com, but I wanted to keep everything for posterity sake. My hope is that they allow a redirection service for all those sites that have owners that continually log into their accounts, but I doubt that is going to happen. I had to save a Japanese writing site that had a mirror through Geocities as well and that took a couple days by itself, but getting all my own site was a chore that really wasn’t necessary and if Geocities when just went a little extra mile, they wouldn’t have to close the service in the first place.

What got me writing, though, was that in my zeal to recover my Geocities’ pages, I had to search through this pile of papers and notebooks in a shelf that I have just moved from my parents’ house to the dorms to two different campus apartments and to my current house without having gone through all the crap that was in those papers and notebooks. Most of the stuff were just notes on sites I’d planned to make and the preliminary stages of Dorienne Smith.com, but a good many of the pages were old things I had written in the past decade.

I found my first attempt at a novel that I had started when I was ten years old, Twelve Years. I remember quite clearly that the original title was Seventeen Years, but since I was only ten at the time, I reasoned that I didn’t really know enough about being seventeen to write a book about seventeen years of life, so the obvious action was to only expand the book for twelve years because surely by the time I finished the book, I would be at least twelve years old and would be able to write accurately. The fact that I remember thinking something like this just made me realize that I must have been a really weird kid when I was younger.

In the mess of paper and notebooks, I found a spiral-bound notebook that contained the beginnings of an X-Files’ story that I had first created when I was fourteen years old.  The opening scene was rather disturbing, even for an X-File, and it got me trying to remember what my middle and high school years were like. Whether I’ve blocked them from memory or not, I can’t really doing much more than writing, drawing and making lists to categorize how I was changing. I remember knowing a lot of people, but honestly, I had very few real friends, and after viewing that old X-Files story, and I’m surprised that I’d had any at all. I was definitely a weird kid.

As a kid, I wrote zillions of notes for stories, some of which have materialized (albeit subconsciously) into Damen, I created the beginnings of many stories from those notes and I sketched all the time. I’d gone through college looking back at my high school years as someone who just followed the popular crowds and was real bitch for much of the time, but finding all these notes and writings tells me I was far different from how I’d imagined myself.

I sat down to write my first novel when I was ten years old. It wasn’t like I wanted to create a long story or just write something for my mother. At only ten years old, I had it set in my mind that I was going to write a novel and would someday be able to publish it for others to see. I had actually hand-written 98 pages of this novel before I realized that it wasn’t much more than a thinly-disguised fanfiction and, at twelve years old, I began my first real novel, one that contained characters that were wholly my own. I remember writing it off and on over the next few years and, in late 1999, I finished A Ten Minute Speech. I created a sequel to it, The Martin Drama, and finished it before I went off to college in August 2002. Just thinking about it intrigues me: I had began three “novels” and completed two of them before I was eighteen years old.

Now, while neither completed novel is even remotely publishable in their original forms, I still hold the desire to fully complete them and make them into something that someone without a learning disability could read and enjoy. The fact is, I have been doing this “writing” thing for more than a decade and I can’t believe I’d been trying to do other things with my life for so long, when one look at the piles and piles of notes and story ideas could tell any passerby what I should be doing.

I have been writing novels since I was ten years old. I was a weird kid.

 

Harry, Dorienne and the 3rd person narrative Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Filed under: Reading,Writing — kaitco @ 2:46 am
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Good thing I’d already had a draft started or else, I’d have just called it a day and said the heck with this for tonight. I’m rather tired and this is bound to be full of typos and some sentences that only make sense in my fatigued subconscious…

When I’d gone through my childhood novel re-discovering on Saturday, I remembered something that is simultaneously bothersome and fascinating to me. While I had read (and was once obsessed with) the Harry Potter books while I was in college rather than as a child, they still hold this special awe for me, like I’m sure they do for many, many people. Now, as I’ve learned through the years, Ms. Rowling, while a generally good storyteller, is on the good side of mediocre when it comes to her actual prose. I’m not saying she’s a bad writer or that the books are poorly written; just that there are things, many, many things, that could have been done or said…better. All this notwithstanding, I still learned something from her works: How to write a third person narrative.

Nowadays, especially in my post-Flight writing phase, I often take for granted that it was not so long ago that I had no idea what to do when trying to write in 3rd person. Every lengthy piece I had tried to right from my first character “Michael Connor” when I was eight until I was eighteen, had involved 1st person because I simply did not know how to make 3rd person…work.

I’m not even going to suggest that Harry Potter taught me how to write in general. Not even…What I can say, however, is that it was not until I started reading those books that I caught a glimpse of what the 3rd person could really do and how it could expand characterization just as well, if not better than 1st person. Honestly, it comes down to the fact that I started reading more with Harry and got more exposure to fiction than I had previously and thus, learned that I could actually do something with the 3rd person. Ironically, I find myself struggling to drag out my old abilities in the 1st person as I write Damen. It takes some real earnest practice to write what a decade ago would have been a cinch to create. I’m still excited about my progress as far as writing as a craft goes, though.

I know I’ve changed throughout the years and, the fact that I can almost effortlessly write a scene or a whole short story in 3rd person when I had once tanked an entire project because it had started as 3rd person and realized I had no idea what I was doing, makes it that much easier to recognize that change.

 

Books, books, books Monday, June 1, 2009

I got incredible little written yesterday and only a small bit completed in Damen on Saturday. The rest of the weekend was spent coding and playing The Sims, but I suppose I’ve wasted time in worse ways.

I had intended (once again) to finish the whole Damen/Jessie meet-up scene on Saturday, but as I imagined the scene, I realized I needed to fully “see” what his library looked like, which then prompted, not only a new scene where Brit “discovers” is utter love of the written word, but also the number of titles he had acquired.

At first I started with just some titles off the top of my head, but seeing as how Damen’s still quite young, I tried to find some books that a middle-schooler would have read a liked. Only someone who has a true fondness for all books can imagine the fun I had re-discovering some of these old titles…

My first fun came from the research into the Harry Potter book translations. It just seems fitting that he would want to perhaps explore other languages through those books, not unlike what I had once aspired to do. In that way, like with many others, Damen is a lot like me. I still struggle to find a boundary to make him close to my own personality, yet allow him to shine on his own. I think I’ll be struggling with this until the very last word.

Anyhoo, after Harry Potter, I’d found a website that listed popular books taught in schools at different grades, but it wasn’t until I saw the cover for Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry that an old excitement leapt within me and sent me into a book re-discovering binge. I’m not sure why it was that book in particular that makes me feel so nostalgic for the novels I’d read as a pre-teen; I don’t really even remember the plot. I think since I just enjoyed reading it in the sixth or seventh grade and hadn’t seen it in at least ten years, it just brought a wealth of memories of how much I used to read and write when I was younger and how much time I “wasted” trying to diminish this will I had to pursue writing.

Of course, all this research got me sidetracked into this search for a novel that my seventh grade English teacher had read to us. I still can’t remember the title or anything about the plot. I thought the book The Lottery Rose was it, but I remember this book had a character named “Tawny” and the only reason I remember that is because I remember thinking that it was such a strange name for girl when our teacher was reading it to us.

I suppose the benefit of all this “research” is that I get to let Brit take a page from myself when I eventually write the scene. The awe she experiences when she discovers Damen’s library will be akin to the awe I had just finding all the titles. I actually had to stifle a scream of excitement when I saw The Sign of the Beaver because I hadn’t seen that book since the fifth grade and, oddly enough, it’s plot had sporadically sprung to mind throughout the years.

All in all, I think my sidetrack on Saturday can only aid my understanding of Damen. The same love of books that ignited when I saw all of these old titles, is what is/was lit in Damen all the time and it’s important that I keep that going so that I can write him properly and convey his character appropriately to the rest of the world.

 

 
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