I am kaitco

a writer's log

I Dream of Writing Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Filed under: Dorienne,Favorite,Writing — kaitco @ 6:36 pm
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I’ve been using the Lift.do app for much of the past eighteen months. In addition to helping me make flossing, bible reading, and some form of exercise daily activities, it has also given me a graphical display of my writing activities over the last year.

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Towards the beginning of the year, I seemed to be writing almost daily, but from August through the remainder of the year, I’ve been declining month over month. It’s one thing to have an inkling that one hasn’t been writing much, but seeing it forces acknowledgement. Of all things I aim to correct in 2015, one of the most poignant will be to correct the above graph.

My lack of writing, however, has given rise to an incredible epiphany about myself.

Lately I’ve been growing a bit concerned about the dark and violent nature of my imagination. When left to simply create out of nothing, my imagination always defaults to something dark and dreary. I noticed it with my NaNoWriMo attempt this year where I decided to write about pedophile serial killer seeking help for his deeds. Last year’s NaNoWriMo was hardly better as I simply started with “Once upon a time…” and 5K words in found myself writing a story about a young boy escaping into his dreams as he is being abandoned by his family. I’m still unsure why my imagination, when left on its own, falls into these dark places and that’s something I’ll have to ponder and pray about at another time. This could arguably be to blame for my reduced writing in the latter part of this year, but I know outright laziness when I see it.

I’ve also been having these very detailed recurring dreams which I almost never have. I hate dreaming entirely because I never dream about horses or flying or living a happy life in my elder years. My dreams are almost always just as dark and horrible as my default imagination, but they often include very realistic circumstances involving people I love.

I had one dream several years ago where my mother and I were walking across campus and she suddenly collapsed. I tried picking her up and dragging her to find help and then I noticed that Death was following us. I then proceeded to drag my comatose mother all across campus, in and out of dorms and classroom buildings, trying to run away from Death. I had another dream about a dear friend of mine, who had just been married and was pregnant at the time. I dreamt that I arrived at work and my co-workers surrounded me to comfort me as they told me my dear friend had been killed in a motorcycle accident. That one was so horrible that I actually woke myself up screaming and I had jumped out of the bed and stood around my bedroom for a few minutes before I understood that I’d just been dreaming. These are just a couple examples of the ones that have stood with me over time, so needless to say, I hate dreaming.

My recurring dream, like most of them, can be easily interpreted. I was in college at the time I had the dream about my mother and losing her would have been incredibly difficult for me, at any time really. My dream about my friend occurred because usually when things are going perfectly for too long, I expect something horrible to happen. My recurring dream includes a mixture of current racial tensions in the country and my own frustrations about my life’s limitations. The end doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense to me yet, but I’m hoping to forget the dream sooner rather than later.

Despite having a mild understanding of what my recurring dream meant, I started searching online for a dream interpretation forum; something, anything, to help rid me of this recurring dream. In my searching, however, I started to think about what was really bothering me. It’s not the dreams themselves, because I know what they mean, but it’s the fact that I’ve been having these horrible dreams far more frequently than I’ve ever had and they’re recurring.

So, I posed myself some questions. Why was I dreaming so much?? What’s going on in my life that’s causing this? Is it a change in diet? Exercise? Music? Television? What?!?

No answer came to me immediately, so I focused on other things, namely my writing habits as I saw them in the Lift app and then it finally dawned on me: Reduced writing has given my brain no other storytelling outlet and thus, has left all the creative thoughts that used to be spent on a writing project with nowhere else left to go, but into dreams.

It sounds fanciful at first, but I came upon this realization in a slightly empirical manner. As I hadn’t been writing as much I should have been, I initially aimed to fix it by enacting what I called “No Write, No Reddit.” I procrastinate way too much on Reddit and so, I figured that preventing myself from viewing Reddit unless I’d written at least 100 words would kick start my writing and this actually worked. I started writing for a few days and, though it hadn’t occurred to me at the time, I had no dreams during this time. Unfortunately, after a few days, I started to get busy and I stopped writing and Redditing altogether. Then, the dreams started again and then they started to recur and the dreams even included a few slight deviations…almost as if my brain was trying to perfect or edit the dream.

After recognizing the correlation between writing and dreams, I tried to make sure I didn’t go more than 48 hours without some kind of creative storytelling and, Lo! the dreams have stopped. If were really a scientist, I’d test myself further by ceasing all creative activities again, while maintaining consistent diet, exercise, sleep, etc., and then see how long it took for the dreams to restart (and, I still may as that sounds very intriguing), but like I said, I hate dreaming and a simple hypothesis works well enough for me.

I’ve asked God recently about my writing endeavours and had considered giving up the craft altogether to focus on other ambitions, but I think I might have received my answer.

I’m a storytelling through and through. Whether I tell these stories aloud or commit them to the page, they will form and with nowhere else to go, they will internalize and haunt me either way. So, on I’ll continue.

Whether I publish or not, I’m still a storyteller and, if for no other reason than my mental well-being, I’ll continue to tell my stories until the end.

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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!”

 

Starting over Monday, December 12, 2011

Filed under: Dorienne,Favorite — kaitco @ 11:10 pm
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Today, I wrote 839 words. Some time in September, however, I just stopped writing. After ten months of pouring my heart and soul in Damen, I’d just had enough. It was clear that it was not going to be complete by my birthday and with all the upheaval at first-job, I just plain quit. But, I refused to admit defeat and tried to play catch-up with my posts and my writing. I played that game until the end of November, when I stopped caring about that as well.

I was originally going to title this post “The Great Failure of 2011” but then I realized that this blog and my efforts for this year, haven’t really ended in failure. True, I’ve lost a lot of momentum on this novel, but I’m still writing. I’ve got dozens of stories just waiting to be born and the most important part is that I haven’t given up on Damen entirely. I still imagine that the first draft can be completed before the end of the year; if it doesn’t, however, it’s not the end of the world.

For the past couple months, I’ve kept repeating the same things to myself, over and over: 27 is not 26. Age 27 feels much older than 26 did and it felt this way the day I turned 27. I’m different than I was a year ago and, while a lot of the goal still remain the same, the focus is starting to shift; some in good ways, some not so good. The main thing is that I recognize the change and know that embracing it is my only option.

I’m going to update with the rest of the unpublished posts, but I thought it best to just start over all together, rather than trying to rush everything at the end of the year. If I’ve learned anything this year, it’s that I can only do so many things. It’s not really possible to write a novel, create sim objects and stories, update websites, learn Japanese, teach myself the piano, take up running, work 60+ hours a week and keep the house clean in one day and still manage to fit basic fundamentals such as eating and sleeping into the same day. Everything has its time.

 

A thought today Sunday, September 18, 2011

Filed under: Dorienne,Favorite — kaitco @ 11:59 pm
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I spend a lot of time thinking about life and death; probably more time than I really should considering this is the only life I’ve got and I ought not waste it by thinking about matters over which I have no control. I can’t help it, though. I suppose this is because I don’t like not being in control and I hate surprises and death is an aspect of life that I cannot control and will, in the end, surprise me.

What’s got me pondering today is what will become of me after I’m long gone. How will I be remembered and how many people will there be who will actually know the real me? What has really got me thinking today is learning of the passing of the “other” Dorienne Smith.

About five years ago, I was standing in front of a friend of mine as they were searching for me on Facebook to add me as a friend. To my absolute shock, we saw that there were two Dorienne Smiths. I immediately added the other Dorienne as a friend and we marvelled together over our similarities.

Aside from looking vaguely similar, we were born in the same year, our birthdays were less than 10 days apart meaning that we were both Libras, we were both born in New York and we liked some of the same things. I’m not good at being friends when I don’t see folks every day or hear from them often and our Facebook friendship became like so many of my others, despite our similarities.

Earlier this year, however, I noticed that I’d gone from seeing numerous updates from her in my status feed to seeing nearly none, but since I’m not good at being a friend, I imagined I had just been unfriended and did not further investigate.

Today, while perusing my list of friends at random, I saw that Dorienne had not unfriended me and was still in my list of friends. To be honest, I was shocked, so I clicked on her profile to see why I saw so few of her updates lately.

The first few posts to her wall did not strike me as out of the ordinary when I saw a few “I miss you” posts; I imagined she had perhaps moved or was out of town or something. As I continued scanning her wall, I felt a growing dread in my chest when I saw that this was not the case and that every single post on her wall was a post of sincere expression over someone who had been lost.

I probably read through two months worth of posts hoping to catch something that told me something different, something that would tell me that I was mistakenly…but I didn’t. It was very, very clear that Dorienne had passed and, though I never got a chance to know her, I was heartbroken.

I sent a message to the last person who had posted to her wall to inquire what had happened and even after I learned the truth, I was still very unsettled. Someone like me…no, just like me had passed away a year earlier, even before her 26th birthday.

It’s difficult to explain this feeling. I expressed to send my condolences to her family, but I still did not know what to do and even now I still don’t. Why did God see fit to send one Dorienne Smith home August last year and not another is a mystery to me and I’m not sure how to grieve.

To say that I’m out of sorts is an understatement. I managed to write, but still I’m seeking comfort and asking God for answers I know I’ll not get, at least not today.

I wrote 764 words today (took a new piece of sketch paper to start again. and I think this is really all I’ve got to say today.

 

Dorienne vs. the devil Sunday, August 21, 2011

Filed under: Dorienne,Favorite,Writing — kaitco @ 11:59 pm
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Every Sunday for the past three or four years, I’ve had a personal ritual that took me close to a year to recognize. Each Sunday following church, I require a three to five-hour nap. The nap by itself is nothing remarkable as many people take naps on weekends because the time is available, but I am not a nap person. The only time I end up sleeping during the day is when I’ve gone the last 28 hours without sleep and I have to go to sleep; I don’t nap. Every Sunday, however, I require a nap following church.

This Sunday nap only occurs on Sundays when I go to church. After going the entire month of July without setting foot in my church, I’ve tested this empirically and came to a conclusion I suspected long ago, but never had the opportunity to truly examine.

What’s fascinating is that I’m not doing anything that would require sleep on a Sunday afternoon. I usually get a full-night’s sleep Saturday evenings, the drive to the church doesn’t take any longer than the drive to first-job , I don’t wake any earlier than I do during the week and most weeks I don’t do much more than clap a little, sing with the choir a bit and take notes from the sermon. Logically, there’s no need for this Sunday nap, but when I sit down and really consider what is happening to me each Sunday morning, it makes perfect sense.

My current schedule with first-job makes it virtually impossible to visit my church throughout the week, so the only time when I have an opportunity to enter God’s house with the specific purpose of praise is Sunday morning. Every Sunday, however, I run into a gamut of emotions and “whisperings” in my ear that would prevent me from attending church.

First comes sheer laziness, as my bed is never as warm and comfortable as it is when I have to leave it to go to church in the morning. Adding onto that laziness comes procrastination which comes in the form of everything from checking all my e-mail accounts to perusing every single Facebook update from the past sixteen hours, even those I’d read the previous day, and on occasion even finding my way to StumbleUpon or Twitter to really waste the morning.

On Sundays when I make it to church, I must actually battle through all the negative, lazy thoughts and the onslaught of procrastination thrown in my direction just to get myself to the shower. Even after that, I’ve got the slow haul of getting dressed and putting on my makeup and, in that time, all these thoughts of “Wow, you’re already going to be late. You probably should just give up for now.” flow through my head. Some weeks, I give in to this line of thinking and don’t get to church, but when I pray about it the previous night and I set my mind to it, I can usually push through all of this and can get out the door.

Once out the door, a hunger, that I never usually meet so early in the morning, can often set in and all these desires to make pit stops along the way to church come to mind. Perhaps a stop at McDonald’s first? Maybe I’ll just stop at the Walgreen’s real quick to get something? Still, if I focus on the task at hand, I can get to the highway and finally get to the neighborhood where my church is.

My church’s neighborhood is not in the best of places, but that is where God put me and despite my best efforts to go elsewhere…that is where He put me. That said, when I come close to that neighborhood, thoughts of safety sometimes spark. “It’s really not safe for me to be out here” is most common, but even within three minutes of the church I can still get thoughts of all the million other things I’ve got to do that day and given that I’m already late…well, perhaps I can just get there next week when I’ll be on time?

After I push through all of this, I get to the church parking lot and on most days, I’m usually fine once I can see the finish line, but even there, I can still be tempted. Some weeks, I’m almost an hour late for service and the desire to not appear to be one of “those” Christians is deep and on one disastrous occasion, even caused me to just drive home, even though I was already there! With that memory in the back of my mind, thoughts of “You’ve done it before” and “You can always go next week” continually filter into my mind. God is good though and it is rare that I’ll turn away once I get within thirty seconds of the church doors, but still…it takes quite a bit of effort just to get out of the car.

Phew…

All I do on a Sunday morning is get up, get dressed and go to church, but the act of doing all of this is a battle. It’s a weekly battle that gets no easier as time continues; in fact, it gets more difficult the longer I try to walk in line with Christ and, after a morning of stepping around the mental boxing ring with the devil, by Sunday afternoon, I’m completely exhausted and I just need a nap.

I wrote 714 words today (window popped on the screen from “himebrit”) and, while I had to battle to write them, that fight is nothing compared to the one I’ll face next when it’s time to go to church again.

 

An adult’s lament Sunday, July 17, 2011

Filed under: Dorienne,Favorite,Writing — kaitco @ 10:48 pm
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I didn’t go to church again this week. I told a friend of mine from church the other day that I would be attending, but I still didn’t. Today, I spent a lot of the morning talking to God (in the normal way, not in the hearing a booming voice from the heavens way) and trying to understand this lack of desire I have for church.

I can blame this on a lot of things: There’s just too much drama “over there.” Every time I turn around, something else horrible has happened to the faithful and it makes me wish the good ole days when I didn’t know so many people and had far less opportunity for heartbreak. It’s far away from me, but I with the new car, driving is now a joy instead of an annoyance. Which usually leaves the ever more common “I just don’t want to go” excuse.

Today, however, I suppose I can attribute this to coming to the realization that I’m finally an adult. I looked at my life yesterday and realized that I have finally drifted out of that grey period just after college. I am an adult and have adult problems lying ahead of me. I have bills and money woes like all healthy Americans. I have a quest to find a better place to live. I have a job that no longer pays me by the hour and I desire to see some sort of career path come from it, even while I strive to complete my novel. I have adult relationships with other people that involve real friendships and the less auspicious results from them. Somewhere in this 26th year of life, I became an adult. It’s a little frightening when I think I about it since I really didn’t see it coming, but what’s worse is that with this new found adulthood, I’ve lost the will to attend church.

Church was never forced upon me. As a very small child, I attended because it was something I was told to do and had no choice in doing because I was seven. Then there was a period of about ten years where my mother and I didn’t attend church at all and I only “found” God more recently at age 21. Even then, church was a joy and I was never forced to attend. Lately it seems that same desire that pulled me out of the aisle that Mother’s day five years ago has been extinguished and I can’t get enough stuff going to rekindle it.

The last time I went, I told myself that I was going to attend every other day this month when I wasn’t working and the Sunday I worked, all I wanted to do was to be at church, but here I am, two weeks later, out of excuses and still not attending.

I wrote 446 words tonight (the two of spades and Trey took the pile) and I thank God for every one of them, but I still don’t know how to fix this. I think that’s what frightens me most of all; here I am, an adult, and I still haven’t got the world figured out yet…

 

Mental cleansing Thursday, June 23, 2011

The other night I had a mild epiphany and I decided that what I really needed was a mental and spiritual wash.

For months now, I’ve felt almost trapped in the mundane, wanting something I couldn’t articulate and unable to think clearly for more than 300 words at time. I’ve skipped church for nothing more than sheer laziness and I’ve skipped piano lessons for the same. I’ve let the housework pile and pile while I’ve played video games for days on end. Books have gone unread and unwritten and all the while, the days of my life float in and out of existence without anything meaningful for any of them.

I’ve become dirty; muddy with filth of sloth and ignorance and it’s time I simply took a bath.

For the rest of the month (less than 10 days because I know how I am), I’ve decided not to watch any TV (via Netflix or otherwise) and not to play any games outside of Zumba or DDR. This means no Rock Band for more than a week…heaven help me. The only thing I can watch are films on Netflix I’ve not before watched, so no re-watching About a Boy or Frasier for the rest of the month…Lord Almighty.

I’m also going to listen to just classical music and opera until July as well to give my mind the time it needs to ponder and wonder (it’s a shame those words don’t rhyme) and since I’m not watching TV or listening to music that “speaking” to me, I’ll be reading nightly to get that touch of characterization I seek each day. It’s only with a completely clear mind that I’ll be able to understand what’s wrong with the soul and why I can’t seem to strengthen my spiritual resolve.

There was a time when I was just so happy to be a Christian that church was the favorite thing in my life. Nowadays, I can’t remember the last time I went three full weeks without missing church. Shameful when I think about what I used to do. I used to be in two choirs and on the usher board and a second board and teach Sunday School and at the very least attend each week. I blamed part of my attitude towards church on my mother moving away, but two years later, there’s got to be more to it.

I keep getting these urges where I say I’ll read my bible every day and will start going to Sunday School again, but these too do pass. I’m in a spiritual rut and I know with three Sundays in July coming where I’ll be working instead of going to church, I know that if I don’t cleanse myself spiritually now, come August, my pastor and my church may have stopped wondering where I’ve gone.

So, it’s time to clean, to scrub and to peel away this rank odor of sloth and boredom. I’m not sure how successful I’ll be; I suppose Sunday afternoon, a prime day to lay around instead of going to church and then play Rock Band all day, will be the real test of my resolve.

This is about more than just getting the dishes or the laundry done, or trying to read my bible and play piano every day. This is about getting back to what makes me before I forget what the real me is like.

I wrote 407 words today (It’s time to get up) and I’ve made it more than 24 hours at this point with no Rock Band or Frasier. Just a few more days to go…and then becomes the real challenge keeping myself from slipping back into monotony.

 

 
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