I am kaitco

a writer's log

The irritation Sunday, August 26, 2012

Filed under: Dorienne — kaitco @ 11:36 pm
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Yesterday’s post was about how excited I was by providential inspirations. I went to bed last night praying, “I will go to Sunday School and I will get there at a reasonable time.”

I woke up, got ready, put on my cross and went downstairs saying, “All right, Lord. Tell the devil that there will be no nonsense today! No giant Shelob spiders hanging across my doorway. No stolen cars or crazed neighbors or inane Sunday morning emergency roadwork to hold me back. No nonsense today!” And there wasn’t. I got to church and arrived at Sunday School with no problems.

Shortly after I arrived, however, the chain of my cross slid from my neck into my hand. I pulled the whole thing into my hand and found the cross was missing.

I love my cross. The chain was chosen by my mother and the cross by my grandmother. I love it because of its beauty, because of who gave it to me and because of what it represents.

There were 2 others before it.

The first was when I was 14; I’ll admit that I wanted it at first because Agent Scully wore a cross all the time and I just really wanted one. I lost that cross when I was 18, some time in my second or third quarter at Ohio State. I felt it loosen from my neck when I was lying in bed and I never found the cross or chain again.

The second one I received the birthday or Christmas after losing the first (possibly at Easter, I can barely remember). I lost that one when I was about 20 and at the grocery store. I had leaned over my cart to pick up my case of Aquafina, my chain caught on the bottom of the grocery cart, ripped from my neck, the cross went flying and was never found.

For the first two crosses, I spent some time thinking about the life I was living and I was clearly able to discern why I’d lost my crosses; I simply didn’t deserve them.

This time, however, I could not immediately see any wrongdoing. All that happened was that I praised God last night and I got up this morning intent on going to Sunday School.

Perhaps it was because as I was walking to my car I asked God not to send me a crazy storm like losing my sight or a limb or a family member to make me praise Him because I said we both knew I didn’t need that to praise Him. He already had my attention; I didn’t need a challenge.

Perhaps it was this declaration that the devil asked for just an irritation. Perhaps catastrophe would make me stronger, but what about life’s small irritations?

Twice before today, I’ve just barely caught my cross falling off the chain because I was in such a rush in the morning that I hadn’t fastened the clasp properly and once again, after rushing, the cross slid from the chain.

When I noticed my cross was missing, I immediately stood and looked all over the floor for it and left the church looking for it across the parking lot. When I looked in my car, I remembered the reason I was at the church so early that day and returned to Sunday School class.

I texted my mother and shared with her that I knew this was just the devil trying to irritate me, to stress me out unnecessarily and distract me and he did it briefly. It took about ten minutes before I was absorbed in the lesson again, but I though that though, I was irritated, the cross was replaceable and when I replaced it, I would remember who gave me the precious one. I was not going to let an irritation distract me from the lesson.

I relaxed and listened and added my two cents to the lesson and only afterward, when I happened to look down and under the seat in front of me that I found my cross.

I’m not sure what else to say about today. The point that I’d made in Sunday School today was the same point I’d reiterated in my latest edit of my novel yesterday: We can’t always see the big picture, but all things work for His greater glory; it may seem “bad” or irritating to us today, but all things work so that He will get the glory. That’s all I’ve got to say about today.

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618 words! Saturday, August 25, 2012

Filed under: Dorienne,Favorite,Writing — kaitco @ 11:02 pm
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I decided on a brand new drastic change for the novel today.

In what is currently Chapter 17, I’ve got this nice dialogue between Damen and Brit about God. Damen is an agnostic and Brit is a Christian and they argue about God’s will. The rest of the chapter details Damen’s attendance in Brit’s church as well as a brief visit in Sunday School. I edited the conversation between Brit and Damen and continued with the rest of the chapter.

It was not until I was nearly done with the chapter that it occurred to me that this conversation was way over the head of my character Brit Leighson. It is very clear that I am speaking through my character in this scene and while I still want to get across my message, it sounds false coming from Brit. It sounds as if I’m pigeonholing her into a personification of myself, which is what I really don’t want to do.

I thought about this for a while. “Who should have this argument with Damen without it sounding trite or false?” Finally, it occurred to me that it should be Damen vs. the Sunday School teacher Ms. LaRoe, who I’ve not yet given a first name, even though I know she’ll also feature in Jill. I started to rewrite both scenes, but in minutes, I hit Undo and let what I had stand because it looked like too much work to edit. It ate at me though until I finally took a new document and started writing and deleting and writing and deleting until I had the precise scene I wanted with Damen and Ms. LaRoe.

I looked at my new creation and was immediately disheartened. Here I am trying to reduce word count, but my new scene looked almost twice as long as the original text. I started to throw away what I’d written, but I shook my head and looked at the word count for the original scene. 618 words. I frowned and figured as long as the new scene was only 200 or so words more, I’d figure out what else I could cut to make it fit. To my absolute shock, the new scene was exactly 618 words. I was so shocked by this that I had to screenshot it to believe it was real!

I know there’s some editing to do for this part of the chapter, but still! Whoo boy! This is the kind of coincidence that makes you want to go to church and have “Hallelujah good time!”

 

Ellipses’ wonder… Friday, August 24, 2012

Filed under: Dorienne,Writing — kaitco @ 10:44 pm
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I mentioned yesterday that I’d begun re-reading Flight this week. I mostly enjoy reading it with this air of superiority as I think, “Ha! What a foolish twenty-two-year old I was! Look at that…I can’t even use ‘however’ properly.”

It was as I was thinking this that it occurred to me…I use ellipses…a lot.

I remember a creative writing professor mentioning to me that one of the banes to her writing was her use of italics because she just wanted to get her points across and I’d decided at the moment to never let that be a problem of mine. I’ve been so careful with my italics (in the novel; on here it’s a free-for-all) that I never even saw my problem with ellipses until just this week.

My first novel, full of missing or inappropriate words and comma abuse, is just riddled with ellipses…and so is Damen

My ellipsis problem just popped in the midst of reading…and in horror I saw them all over the place in Damen. Every other sentence seems to include them, in both the dialogue and the prose. It’s just baffling to me that I’ve missed something that seemed like such an easy mistake to catch. In just one page, I removed at least six of them, shaking my head with each deletion…

Perhaps, I’ve just grown so accustomed to using them as a way of setting a tone that I never noticed it was getting out of hand…

Even now…I’m well into a secondary edit of Damen and I’m only now able to see how often I use an ellipsis when a comma would do or let a sentence trail for no reason at all…

I think this is really when I enjoy re-reading old things I’ve written. I get to haughtily look back on old works as I think of the progress I’ve made only to be humbled when I realize how far I have to go before I’m anything like the authors I admire.

 

A well-read day Thursday, August 23, 2012

Filed under: Reading,Writing — kaitco @ 11:49 pm
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I’ve not written anything today (though, I may end up writing a little after writing this), but I’m not at all troubled by this.

I’ve been reading a ton; like, flipping between three books within the same hour kind of reading. Hunger Games, The Silence of the Lambs and also my book, Flight. I made Flight into a Kindle book for my mother to force her to read something I’ve written, though a year later, she still hasn’t, and I like to see where I was nearly four years ago when I first finished it. I like to read Flight as a Kindle book on my own, however, because unlike reading it from a Word doc or even online, I can’t suddenly stop reading and begin to edit, even though I may be compelled to do so. My errors are trapped in the ebook and I get to face them without means, albeit temporarily, to fix them. I’m not sure how vain it is to enjoy reading your own work, but I like it.

After watching The Silence of the Lambs on Sunday, I’m further compelled to read the book because it’s just so much better, which is quite a feat considering it’s also my favorite film of all time. Every time I watch the movie, however, I just have to read the book and since I’ve now read Hannibal and enjoy it’s ending so much, I know I’ll be re-reading that too. I’m still at the beginning of Hunger Games, but I enjoy it a lot.

I bring up all that I’m reading at the moment without a real way to describe why. A quote from Sex and the City, I think, summarizes my point nicely: “(Samantha) was one of the only people I knew who felt that proximity to beauty made her feel more attractive.” (from Models and Mortals) So, before I continue writing, I think I’ll do just a bit more reading.

 

From there to here Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Filed under: Dorienne,Writing — kaitco @ 8:50 pm
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I think I may finally understand why I want to badly to keep the character of Dana Barrington in Damen.

It occurred to me just after I reviewing yesterday’s post, but I wanted to sleep on it and take a break from writing to be really sure of what I want to do, which is remove Amber’s suicide attempt, but I’ll get to that part later.
Here is an except from Flight and all that I ever wrote of Dana Barrington’s character in that book:

Olivia stepped off the elevator on her floor and trekked toward her apartment door, weighed down by the stacks of files in her bag and those being carried under her arm. All of the documents and images that pertained to Dana Barrington’s rape case were in her possession and she was scheduled to testify at the trial the next day. She knew she was ready for the trial as she had testified at many previous to this one, but she hauled everything home to review just as a comfort to herself.

Dana Barrington was a high school student who had been brought into a hospital after being found bleeding profusely in an alley. She had attempted to perform an abortion on herself with a wire hanger and nearly killed herself in the process. After she was admitted, the detectives learned that she had been raped several months earlier and that she could not tell anyone about what had happened to her. Dana had said that she was too embarrassed to say anything because she had walked home alone and she knew she should not have.

The rapist, Gregory Lars, had been apprehended by the DNA provided by Dana’s baby who was born premature, but healthy, two months later. Lars had been preying on adolescent girls in the city for years, but it was only with this case that they had the DNA needed to convict him.

On Friday, Olivia was supposed to testify about Lars’ behavior when he was finally caught. She had no qualms about testifying in front of Lars, who had actually hit her in the stomach while she had him against a wall, but her nerves were slightly on edge when it came to facing the victim again. Dana’s large brown eyes displayed nothing but innocence and she knew only too well that a child born to a raped victim, especially one as young as Dana, would not be as loved as he could be. She knew that upon seeing Dana in court, she would want to tell her what was coming in her life and what she should tell her son as he grew up, but she knew she could not. It was not her place to do so.

Friday January 19, 2007
New York County Courthouse

Olivia stood in a corridor outside of the courtroom where she had just testified against Gregory Lars looking for Dana Barrington and her family. When it seemed like she had missed them in the bustle of people flowing out of the courtroom at recess just before noon, Olivia spotted a sixteen-year-old with brown hair and large brown eyes holding a baby carrier.

“Olivia!” Dana said, the moment her eyes reached Olivia’s.

She handed the baby to her mother standing next to her, crossed the corridor in three steps and hugged Olivia.

“Thank you,” she said, tears welling in her eyes. “Thank you so much.”

“It’s no problem. It’s what I do.”

…and that’s it. That’s all I wrote about Dana Barrington’s character in Flight, so I’ve been so puzzled why this character in particular has caused me so much stress in the past couple years, but finally! Finally, I think I know why.

Dana’s story is brief, but very sad. Here she was, a young college bound girl, with almost no problems at all and, through no fault of her own, she was attacked and impregnated. Dana did what I considered I would have done had I been in her situation and pretended it didn’t happen until the problem, literally, grew too big for her to ignore.

When I think of this character, I feel like I need to see her through this. I need to see that she’s happy and healthy and that life goes on. Not because I’ve personally experienced this, but because I just need to know that at least somewhere, life goes on.

Yes, I know that these are fictional characters of my own making, but I feel them and know them as if these were people I could touch. For the same reason, I couldn’t really understand the ending of my novel until I realized where Corey could get his comeuppance (much, much later and in a completely different book) because I just couldn’t leave things the way they were. I needed to see life go on and these characters move forward, even though I wouldn’t be writing about them after I’d moved them on.

So…

I’ve decided to leave Dana firmly in the background along with others who just briefly see light like Tatum and Paige and Tabitha. Amber, however, won’t be pushed to the background, but she won’t have nearly as large a part to play anymore. Instead, I’ve decided to pull Damen’s mother Angel into the foreground where she belongs and use her drama to provide the conflict. In short, I’m completely changing the plot of my novel well into my second edit.

It’s not as bad as it sounds, though. Yes, there will be far more scene rewrites than I wanted at this stage in the novel, but in the process of just reviewing my “points” and chapter summaries, I’ve nixed 3 chapters and removed several smaller storylines that irked because they were originally necessary to avoid plot holes.

I prayed about this last night and asked God if this was really what He wanted of me. Not just the novel changes, but the idea of writing at all. Today, my emotions have run the gamut, from hot/cold, east/west, whatever, but I ended up with a clear path.

I’m not sure I’m willing claim any of this as providential inspiration because God works in mysterious ways and I think it a bit too bold say something like that, but I can’t help noticing how when I really, really asked for help, a calm path came to me.

 

300 words Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 9:16 pm
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I suppose I could say I made up for lost time from the last few days by spending the majority of today editing. I cut a little more than five thousand words today bringing me down to 158K; it’s almost like deleting an entire chapter.
What’s further gratifying is that I still managed to cut 5K words while adding a scene that helped explain a few things without spending another 10K words to “tell” it.

I jumped into Chapter 16 as well, but hit a road block with exactly 300 words that I winced to delete and eventually just hit Ctrl+Z until I had them back.

It’s just 300 words and exemplifies Damen and Brit’s characters so well…It’s just 300 words…

I find myself in a familiar predicament because these 300 words are really the bulk of the 38K I’ve left to cut. I keep telling myself, “It’s just X words. I’ll wait until I finish this edit and, if I’m X words over my limit, I’ll cut them then.”

Three hundred here. Two hundred there. Four hundred in this chapters, but I’ve already cut so much there as it is! It’s the same story every few thousand words.

I think what’s got me doing a complete 180 on where I was a few days ago is that I, against my better judgement, researched the industry’s standard on newbie author’s again, and it hit me: I may never even come close to publishing this thing if it’s not below 120K. And, that’s a discouraging thought when I’ve got 20-some chapters left and almost 40K to delete.

Today, as I was getting my braids done, I wondered about which of three storylines would have to get the axe. On the gallows stand Dana Barrington’s story that has, on multiple occasions, received the governour’s call the moment it had the rope around its neck; Amber’s story that was once supposed to be a focal point of the book; and Corey’s backstory who, while not new to the rope, believes that the pardon is inevitable.

I’ve considered dropping Dana Barrington’s story so often that searching for her name in this blog actually yields its own page of results. Amber and Corey, however, are relatively new considerations.

Corey is supposed to just take off randomly some day and return with a tale of his father’s hypocrisy. His story keeps the strain between Damen’s dual friendship with both Corey and Brit going. Amber is supposed to attempt suicide because of Jessie Clarke, which makes her story really more of an extension of Jessie’s character. At one point, this was the climax of the novel, but now I find myself completely lacking a climax at all, except for the very, very end.

If I cut any of these three stories, I may be able to save almost 20K words, but I’m still at a loss here. I feel like a spoiled brat whose favorite horse has had foals, but I have to give up one of them. Yes, I’ve a dozen other beloved horses in the stables, but I want all the ones that belong to me!

 

Brilliant Movie Night Monday, August 20, 2012

Filed under: Dorienne — kaitco @ 11:10 pm
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Yesterday evening, I took down my braids which is normally a 4-6 hour event. I awoke from my usual Sunday afternoon nap to find The Miracle Worker playing on my so-called Dorienne TV and from there, after crying at the end like I always do, I queued The Silence of the Lambs and after that watched The Godfather. Throughout these cinematic adventures and humming the tune to The Godfather through half the night, I completely forgot to post anything. All this notwithstanding, I didn’t really write anything yesterday, so there was nothing about which to even write.

I’d hoped to get the book down the 150s by today, but I’m either experiencing my first real migraine or I’ve got an emergency trip to my ophthalmologist coming in the next week since I’ve not been well all day and my eye has been in constant pain. While this does pose a few problems when it comes to staring at a bright laptop screen to create, I’ve worked through worse pain, so I’ll just chalk up today to simple sloth.

I’m off tomorrow as well and the night is not over, so if I can push forward to write here, I can at least begin the re-write of Chapter 14.

 

 
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