I am kaitco

a writer's log

A Flight (a novel) to Remember Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Filed under: Dorienne,Reading,Writing — kaitco @ 10:01 pm
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Eight years ago, at the age of 22, I sat at the same desk at which I’m currently writing and decided that the only way I was going to learn how I write novels was to sit down and just write one. I’d written two novels earlier, but as they were both completed before the age of 17 and neither were any good, I abandoned the idea of re-writing a previous project and perused my dozens of handwritten notes. I had notes about female football players and towns I’d called Mansfeld and even lengthy notes about what would eventually become Luka, but I sensed that none of these fit what I was trying to do. I needed something about which I was incredibly passionate and into which I could wholeheartedly throw myself without fear of upcoming boredom and, after a suitable amount of brainstorming, Flight, a novel was born.

I’ve written about Flight here a gazillion times because it was my first real effort in writing as an adult, but over the years I’ve simply looked back at it, fondly recalling what it was like to get new comments from Fanfiction.net about it, etc., and I’d shelved it as a long and so-so written story. Last weekend, however, I found myself honestly bored for the first time in…years, and I sought out something swamped with nostalgia. After cruising Netflix for ten minutes, I perked at the idea of re-watching the earlier seasons of Law and Order: SVU and three episodes in, I had an intense urge to revisit Flight.

I hadn’t actually sat down to really read more than a chapter or two of it in likely five years and, as I was already in an SVU mood, I figured I would laugh at my inability to tell a decent story and take a trip down memory lane. And, I was able to take that desired memorable trip…but I haven’t been able to put down my own old book!

There’s something that feels very narcissistic about reading one’s own writing as if reading the works of others, but I can’t help it. There are missing words every few pages, the prose tells the reader everything because I hadn’t learned “show versus tell” yet, the novel is over 450 thousand words, but I can’t help it! This book I wrote when I really had no idea what the deuce I was doing is compelling even to me, the writer, and I love it.

As I’ve been reading my own work, I’ve asked myself, why am I so engaged? It’s not written very well, it goes on too long in certain areas, and one of the plotlines falls completely flat, but I’m captivated. Is it because I’ve been so disappointed in reading the modern fiction of others lately? I wasn’t terribly impressed with The Lovely Bones and, if I’m honest with myself, I’ve likely turned to Flight because I just didn’t want to face reading The Night Circus anymore. It’s hard to say.

I enjoy this old work of mine on so many levels. Years ago, I put it into Kindle form, so I can actually read it like I would any other book, which just makes the process that much more fun. Aside from reading something that’s just generally enjoyable, I get to envision myself eight years younger as I was writing the very words on the page and that’s worth a post all on its own. For example, I was hardly six months into my current Christian Walk when I started the first notes for Flight and it shows. The use of “goddamn” in every other piece of dialogue is so prevalent that I can hardly believe that I wasn’t still an agnostic when I wrote it.

I’ve still got another third of the book left to go, but I’ll admit that I’ve not been this into a book since I read Gaskell’s North and South for the first time. I’m smitten with my own work, as shameful as it at first seemed, and when I shared this revelation, my mother advised that I shouldn’t feel shamed by liking my own writing. She posed that perhaps I write simply so that I’ll have something I want to read. I don’t generally like most modern fiction. Outside of greats like Crichton and King and then Harry Potter, the only books I’ve really loved in the last decade were written in the 19th century by British women…and to be honest, how far off is Potter from there? Before turning to Flight, I was re-reading Frances Hodgson Burnett’s Making of a Marchioness and loving every minute of it.

As I look to my current projects Anne and Jill, I can’t help but see them through different eyes after re-reading Flight. While I don’t wish to fully emulate what I’d created sans-Bachelor’s degree and eight more years of life experience, I do still wish I could recreate the same energy, the same excitement and fervor, in my current work that I had in Flight. Maybe this was what I needed to make peace with my writing endeavours?

As I did with Flight, I write for myself. I write just so that I will have something that I want to read.

 

Mary Barton and Ms. Smith Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Filed under: Dorienne,Reading,Writing — kaitco @ 6:32 pm
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This isn’t so much a review of Elizabeth Gaskell’s Mary Barton as it is a review of my life at the moment. I’ve not yet completed the novel, but at two-thirds of the way through it, I can honestly say I’ve never been so emotionally overwhelmed by a book previously.

The novel pulls at my emotions in such a way that I often have to put it down and come back to it when I’m a little calmer. And, I don’t mean fun romantic emotion like when Captain Wentworth seemingly leaves out of Anne’s life forever at the end of Persuasion. This novel is full of the kind of intense emotions that arise out of me when I read King, or even some really, really well-written X-Files fanfiction. What’s most perplexing is that Mary Barton isn’t horror or gothic or anything of the sort. It just describes, in incredible detail, the plight of the English poverty-stricken in a way that I could never appreciate while reading Dickens.

What intrigues me most about Gaskell’s works is how much religion plays a part for her characters. Margaret Hale, my favorite heroine next to Anne Elliot, is so overcome with her decision to tell a lie in North & South that, as emotionally strong as she is, she actually faints shortly after speaking her untruth. Throughout the two Gaskell books I’ve rad so far, the characters often say things that make me say “Amen!” aloud as I’m reading, and I hardly even do that when I’m in church. More than 150 years after it was written, I can still feel the faith of the author and the characters pouring out of these books.

In the past month, I’ve clung to these works like I should be clinging to my bible. From medical diagnoses that have caused more stress than the issues themselves to my godchildren’s lack of developmental progress to unanswered query after unanswered query that are sometimes interspersed with outright rejections, I am all over the place. Perhaps the emotions in Mary Bartonbare really my own that I’ve been sublimating these months without release. It’s hard to say.

I’ve taken up basic personal journal writing via an iPhone app which allows me to take a different look at my life, though even in these entries I seem to skirt around what’s really bothering me.

I’m well in the note writing phase for both Anne and Jill; I’m no closer to deciding the one for which I’ll devote all my attention. It seems as though I’m living out parts of my life without thoroughly seeing what’s happening to me and, somehow, when I read Mary Barton, everything that’s bottled up, no matter how unconsciously, finally finds its outlet.

 

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.

 

Reading makes me want to write Friday, August 17, 2012

Filed under: Reading — kaitco @ 11:47 pm
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I’m a very competitive person and since I was in my teens, I often viewed the literary works of others as a possible threat to my success unless the authors were already long dead. Why I thought this is, even now, a bit of a mystery to me. Maybe it was just because I didn’t want anyone to do what I did too or something along those lines… Either way, I didn’t do a lot of reading in my mid teens which is when I did the most of my writing until my early 20s. Recently, however, the tides have changed and reading the works of others gets me even more excited to continue with my own.

I finished Octavia Butler’s Kindred this evening since I got to one of those points where I’ve only got about 50 pages left and I just can’t put it down until I finished. It was a good book, but her ending, like with Fledgling, left me staring at the last few words like “That’s it??!?” I’m always wanting more.

Since I’ve got a cycle going where I’m reading a Star Wars book, a more contemporary book and then a classic book, I’ve replaced Kindred with the first of The Hunger Games books, which has already garnered me a few likes on Facebook.

I love starting new books like I love creating new book ideas. No longer do I consider the works of others to be in competition with me. No longer do I fear losing my voice or finding myself writing in the style of a favorite author. Now, I view other literature as a chance to see how someone else “does it” and not only do I then get to enjoy someone else’s story, I get to become a stronger writer in the process.

 

Goodreads makes goodwrites Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Filed under: Dorienne,Reading,Writing — kaitco @ 11:05 pm
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I love Goodreads like I love Earl Grey tea. There’s something so special about it that even if I walk away from it for a while, I’ll always return wanting more. I am kaitco there as well, in case you were wondering.

Today, I spent a long while perusing some of my Goodreads recommendations since I love discovering new books and, after adding 5 or 6 of them, I reviewed my To-Read list because I have this very obsessive complex with lists that Goodreads feeds better than my Netflix queue. Right now I’m reading Octavia Butler’s Kindred which is turning into one of my favorite books, Darth Bane: Rule of Two which keeps me reading because I’m just anxious to see how it ends and The Phantom Tollbooth which is simply amusing.

Up next I’ve got Northanger Abbey, The Hunger Games series, The Color Purple, a couple more Star Wars books and a couple others I’ve recently “discovered,” but after those comes the Twilight series.

Now, I’ve obviously not read Twilight yet (technically speaking, I’ve read up to the part where she first sees Edward in the cafeteria, but that was more than a year ago), but I’ve also not seen any of the movies either. This does not, however, prevent me from being well-acquainted with the plot and almost dreading to finish the first book.

On the one hand, there’s a chance I’ll enjoy them if I just erase all the commentary (positive or negative) from friends, relatives and peers and take the books at face value, but there’s also a huge chance that I’ll just plain hate the books because I’ve so many reasons to hate them.

I’ve seen that the folks who tend to adore the Harry Potter series tend to loathe Twilight and I really love Harry Potter. I’ve looked at the books read by those who love Twilight and I can’t help but cringe because I often judge others (often incorrectly) by what they read. Then I’ve read descriptions about vampire romances which makes me begin to lose faith in humanity because if this is all we have to offer, let’s just bring on the four horsemen.

All this notwithstanding, I’ve decided not to procrastinate on Twilight any longer and after I’ve read the other 8 books ahead of it on my list and written my own novel and cleaned the bathroom and beaten “Through the Fire and the Flames” on Expert in Rock Band and completed Skyrim to 100%, I’m going to start reading Twilight.

What has me writing, though, is that in reviewing and dreading what may come for me with Twilight, I couldn’t help reading the reviews for the book. The negative reviews (at least the most-liked ones) actually fascinated me and I’ve been rolling them in my head all day as I consider what I want and don’t want for my own characters.

Is my dialogue “stilted and absolutely wretched?” Am I doing anything that would make mine a “profoundly antifeminist novel?” Is Brit or even Damen a dreaded “Mary Sue” character? Are there potential problems with my book that would make others create an entire blog to demonstrate what a shoddy job I’ve done (no, seriously)?

Goodreads have got me thinking today about what I’m really trying to do with this novel and, if I accomplish nothing else with Damen, I just want it to be a decent book.

 

The most heartbreaking process of all Monday, March 26, 2012

Filed under: Reading,Writing — kaitco @ 2:13 am
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I can’t help comparing Damen and Flight, especially when the drafting process is so very different.

With Flight, the goal was to provide as much detail as possible and allow my readers to stay in the Dorienne-version of SVU as long as I could. There were no word count limits; I just needed to tell my story.

Damen has been so tryingly different. Here, I must take word count into consideration with every paragraph, to the point that I must almost re-write chapters to remove some of the detail that, while very pretty and beneficial to painting the scene, does nothing but push my total word count above 120K before I want to be.

A few years ago, I remember writing Chapter 3 of Damen and even then, I thought it was a little too long, but in re-reading it, the detail is so splendid. I see these characters and the setting as vividly as I did when first writing it…but, I have to lose all of it. It all has to go if I’m going to push this thing under 120K. And, 120K is the highest end for first-time authors! I may even have to cut it even further. 😦

I took out some detail this evening that was just plain heartbreaking. When I think of all the time I put into choosing the right words, it all comes down to summarizing the text with “English class, taught by Mrs. Kayler, bored him within ten minutes of the roll call.”

The only good thing I can think about this process is that it’s teaching me to be concise and the true lessons of show versus tell. What good are all these details about what the cafeteria looks like and the nuances of some of Damen’s teachers if we won’t visit any of these teachers later in the novel and it won’t make a difference whether my audience sees my version of the lunchroom versus their own idea of it?

These are some hard lessons to learn.

I’d taken a week off writing notes for Reruns, playing Rock Band and the Sims and even reading other folks’ work for a change as a mini-vacation to make me as fresh as possible for this process, but I’m not sure that was even enough. The only reason I push as hard as I do is that now that I’ve got the novel actually complete, the only thing holding me back from sending this to agents and achieving my dream is how hard I work to pull the book into it’s proper shape.

As dreadful as this process is – tearing apart my baby of carefully chosen words – I know this is necessary and, overall, it’s making me a better writer. All this notwithstanding, I can’t WAIT until I’ve got time to write fanfiction again, where I can be as verbose and detailed as I want to be.

Perhaps fanfiction will be my detailing outlet. Where my creativity is stifled by word counts and the shorter attention spans of the majority of the reading populace, I will find solace in writing what and how I want in fanfiction.

‘Til then…I’m cutting so much my hands are bleeding…

 

A crying shame Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Filed under: Reading,Writing — kaitco @ 11:59 pm
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I remember the first book I ever read that brought me to tears; Charlotte’s Web when I was 11, and that was even after I’d developed my spider phobia.

I don’t know why I cry at books as much as I do. I cried reading the 4th, 5th and 6th Harry Potter books, I sobbed in happy hysterics over the end of Fried Green Tomatoes at Whistle Stop Cafe and I even burst into tears at reading the end of Kagura in the InuYasha manga. Why am I so emotional?

My first exposure to Jane Austen was Persuasion as a reading assignment in college. I hadn’t expected much, but it’s now one of my favorite books and it’s hard to imagine the end with Anne Elliot who had been poorly persuaded and her Captain Wentworth without tearing up a little. As with Fried Green Tomatoes, tears streamed down my face with an almost ridiculous vigor from the outright joy about what I was reading. I finished Sense and Sensibility tonight and, I’m not sure why it surprised me, but once I again, I found myself in tears at the end of an Austen.

The silly thing about Sense and Sensibility is that it’s one of my favorite movies, i.e., the one done by Ang Lee and Emma Thompson. I’ve watched more times than I can count and I cry harder at the end with each subsequent viewing. I think I’m just so touched by Elinor’s breakdown at the end that I can’t help but cry with her, so I knew full well what was coming at the end of this book and thus had ample opportunity to ready myself for the end.

Even with knowledge of the ins and outs of the plot, I still burst into tears and continued crying for another several hundred words and into the next chapter when I got to the same point of Elinor’s breakdown. As with most books, the image is far more poignant in my mind than on a screen and just reading the words “His errand at Barton, in fact, was a simple one. It was only to ask Elinor to marry him” caused me to take a extra five minutes to compose myself before I could read any further. I’m not sure why it is that, especially with Austen’s books, I’m such a punk when it comes to even remotely emotional literature.

I wrote 284 words tonight (Was your Thanksgiving okay?”) though none of them threw me into a fit of tears as did Austen’s. Still…aside from reading a book I knew I’d love from the moment I decided to buy it, I accomplished something extraordinary tonight. I watched no television and played no Rock Band, not because I was on a zealous quest to change my ways, but because I decided that I’d rather read instead. It’s a pleasant thought to be able to see definite changes in yourself, no matter how small.

 

Killing my joy Sunday, July 3, 2011

Filed under: Reading,Writing — kaitco @ 11:59 pm
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I didn’t get to church today because I had to be at first-job. I could have said no, but I know a time will come when I need someone to cover for me, so I did it, not because I’m kind, but because I really do expect something in return. Today was not a good day in that regard.

It took only one day with the “TV” on before I fell back into poor habits. I fell asleep in my chair as I was watching instead of acknowledging my fatigue and dragging myself back to bed. Instead of allowing my nine days of clarity to go by the wayside, I’ve decided to take a stand and ease further into this. I had a wonderful thing going by reading myself to sleep each night and I’ll definitely be going back to that. There is something very different in falling asleep after reading for so long that I can barely keep open my eyes versus falling asleep to the ambient, but still cacophonous sound of television. I also found that I’m never as relaxed and happy to start my day as I am when I take 20-30 minutes in the morning just to read.

All this profound realizing aside, I did a lot of writing this evening by writing 803 words (who had the voice of a pop star.) in my zeal to push further through this part of the chapter. The interesting thing about writing tonight was that I wrote more the scene where Damen goes to church. I got to sit in the moment and really feel as if I were there singing Blessed Assurance with the rest of my church, though the church Damen visits is far different from my own. Though I didn’t get to go, I still feel as if I went.

I sang the songs of Zion in my choir to and from first-job and sat in pews of my mind’s eye. I haven’t got to sermon part so that’s of course missing, but I really feel better now having written a little than I did at this start of this morning when I resigned to the fact that I didn’t have it in me to get to Sunday School and then work a full day.

 

Something or another Saturday, July 2, 2011

Filed under: Reading,Writing — kaitco @ 11:59 pm
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Since I’m on such a reading kick lately, I’ve decided to really put some effort into re-reading/editing Flight for it’s third edition. I’ve not looked at it, really looked at it in ages and I hate to think of it just sitting on the interwebs with all these spelling and grammar errors and looking very much like a fledgling writer’s first attempt at a novel. It will be fun to reminisce since I was finishing my last year of school while writing it.

I listened to some “normal” music today (Green Days’s Restless Heart Syndrome, of course), but quickly returned to classical and have been listening to it ever since.

I am, however, going to watch some Frasier for a bit before going back to Sense and Sensibility. I quite like the idea of reading all the time and look forward to seeing if I can manage to read a book a week for a while. Between my old Star Wars 91-book challenge and the 60+ books waiting on my Goodreads “to-read” list, I’ll be good to go for a while.

I wrote 328 words tonight (her grandmother and her sons could do the same) and have this nagging suspicion that I’m taking too long to get to the point with this part of the chapter. All I can think however is that I’ve got to keep pushing and pushing until it’s done. And, I can go crazy with my proverbial red pen.

 

Day Eight Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Filed under: Reading,Writing — kaitco @ 11:59 pm
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I’d never felt so calm beginning my day as I did this morning. I think I’ll need to start every day like today, which means I’ve now found some inspiration for waking up on time.

I’ve found that I like to wake, take a shower, get dressed and then lean in my desk chair with my socked/stockinged feet propped on the bed and read for twenty to thirty minutes before I head to first-job. Whether it’s the calm music playing softly behind me or the act of reading in itself, I’m not sure, but I am never so relaxed and calm as when I start my days this way.

With eight days of living Xbox and television-free, I’m starting to get into a rhythm that I quite enjoy. I’m not pressed to do or achieve anything other than my 250 written words each day. Everything will be fine. I’ve said this to myself many, many times previously, but it’s only now that it’s taken on real significance. I doubt that I would have handled what happened yesterday as well as I did if I hadn’t already been in this cycle of mental cleansing…and the bad thing is that I don’t think I handled things well at all.

I wrote 436 words tonight (the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth). Not counting the 76 words lifted from Luke 15, I wrote 360 (she kicked him under the chair before he stood). I’d thought of some interesting things that I wanted to blog about earlier in the morning, but as I hadn’t had the chance to commit the idea to paper or iPhone, those words are now long gone. Back to my reading….

Op! Now, I remember. Not so long gone apparently…

I find myself liking Hannibal more and more as I read, but not because it’s written well or because I’m fully engaged with the book, but because I love the idea of Lector and I just want to get to the end of the book when I know he and Starling run off together. I know this because someone ruined the ending for me just as I’ve done now for anyone who happens to be reading these words. I don’t know how or when or why, but I know it’s coming and I just want to “see” the end so I can be done with it.

Reading the book reminds me a lot of when I was reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows the weekend the book was released. I’d gone to a midnight party as I had for Books 5 and 6, though I wasn’t dressed in Harry garb this time and looked on the whole thing with a twang of nostalgia for how I’d spent my early college years.

When I got my copy, I turned off the television, avoided the phone and did not turn on my computer for nearly 48 whole hours as I attempted to get through the book without someone ruining the ending for me. I just knew that if I turned on anything or spoke to anyone who was as enamoured with the series as I had once been, that someone would shout out who dies in the end or if Harry made it through unharmed. I more or less enjoyed the ride, but mostly because I just wanted to be done with it, not because I particularly enjoyed the writing.

This is where I’m currently placing Hannibal as I fight every urge to just go to the last location on my Kindle and read backward until I find what I wanted to know. I’m trying to enjoy the ride and enjoy the story as much as I can and I’ll admit that the book has now jumped from two stars to almost three for me, but really, I just want to see the end.

I’m not sure if this has anything to do with my current quest for mental enlightenment, with which this book will certainly not help, but I can feel the end approaching. The point, I suppose, is what I’ll do with myself once I’ve reached the end.

Now, back to reading.

 

Some action Monday, June 27, 2011

So, it took six days of no television and no Xbox before I finally broke down and started cleaning. I had hoped this would come earlier, but such is life.

Having finished The Silence of the Lambs yesterday, I turned my sights to Harris’ fourth novel Hannibal. It’s got only 3 stars on Amazon and the reasons for this are clear. I’m not yet a third of the way through it and I’m already wishing I’d chosen something else to read. I had got up for the bathroom and stared at my Kindle on the bed and wondered what to do. I could either go back to the boring book, or I could start cleaning. So I started cleaning.

I’ve realized in these past few days that Amazon product reviews follow certain curves depending on how good they are. While there will always be idiots rating a book or film low because it arrived with bent pages or because the shipping took too long, the majority of the reviews are more or less genuine. Since most of the reviews are about content, one can tell how good a book is just from it’s review curve.

If the curve is more logarithmic (i.e. going up and towards the right) with the bulk of the reviews being favorable with a few less being 4 stars, a few less being 3 and so forth, the odds are, the book is pretty decent. The trouble begins when the reviews are more hyperbolic where there are many favorable reviews and just as many if not more negative reviews with few 4, 3 and 2 star reviews between them. It’s rare that a popular book will receive a ton of negative reviews, hence the reason it’s popular, but when one can see that the negative reviews outnumber the others, problems are present.

Observe the curve on Silence of the Lambs:

…and on Twilight.

The curve on Hannibal Rising is so dreadful, I doubt I’ll ever even want to watch the movie if it comes on Netflix.

Now, I’ve not read Twilight, but that curve is a bit of a deterrent. The favorable reviews far outnumber the unfavorable ones, but there are definitely more 1 star reviews that 4, 3, or 2 ones. That’s not natural. Ideally, a good book should be liked by many, liked less by fewer and so forth as shown with the Silence curve. I’ve got Twilight sitting on my Kindle and I’m barely into the second or third chapter, but I’m afraid to go further because I know lots of people who love it and I don’t want to read and then lose all respect for all of them for reading rubbish. Not that I’ve not read rubbish books myself, but Harry Potter is at least a good story and more or less well-written…at times.

Enough about other people’s books…I wrote a ton today. Technically, for counting purposes, I wrote 389 words (against the chair in a huff with her eyes closed.), but when I look at all the notes I wrote for Jill’s story, I’m up to 8,203 words in a day, the Damen piece included. It all started with what was supposed to be a short note in Awesome note about how Jill should take place in a town called Georgeton (previously Georgetown, but then I saw there was, indeed, a Georgetown, Ohio), but after describing the town through Kyle’s eyes, I went overboard and just kept writing about everything that happened to him right up to the point where he met Sam and fell in love and then they get Jill. I doubt much of what I’ve written will end up in the final project for Jill, whenever/if ever I get to that point, but I just loved writing it. Kyle’s simultaneously like everyone I’ve ever written, but still the opposite of anyone I’ve tried to write.

How does a straight woman get inside the head of gay man? I’m not entirely sure, but I think I got very close to it while writing today. It’s certainly not as easy as the stereotypes make it seem, especially when one is trying very hard not to create just another stereotype here. I’ve moved the notes for Jill into a Word doc from OneNote’s chaos, so now it’s a real, official project that waiting to be completed. Today, the characters just wouldn’t shut up long enough for me to stop writing and I had another one of those days where I write and write until I physically can’t do it anymore because I’m too low on electrolytes and blood sugar. I love those days.

Back to Hannibal; I’m only reading it at this point because I’ve heard the ending was better in the book than in the movie and, since books are always better than their film adaptations and that film was god-awful, the ending is bound to be good. Hopefully.

 

The fifth day Sunday, June 26, 2011

Filed under: Reading,Writing — kaitco @ 11:59 pm
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I’m a little tired since I got up so early this morning in hopes of arriving at Sunday School marginally on time. I wasn’t horribly late, but it was nice to be in the sanctuary before the choir sat down and before Pastor got up to speak for once.

I nearly cracked today when trying to figure out what to do with myself. I wanted to do nothing more than fire up Rock Band and play for the remainder of the afternoon, but at this point, I want to see this through as more of an exercise in willpower than anything else. If I can write every day for five months and post here every day for six months, then I can go a week without Rock Band…and even a week without doing other destructive things like overeating, wasting the day and pretending my problems don’t exist.

I read for the majority of the day, finishing a book I hadn’t read in a while (Silence of the Lambs) and finding several others I’d like to read in the next few days. I can legitimately say days since I’ve suddenly found myself with oodles of free time now that I’m not wrapped around my Xbox all day.

I wrote 315 words today (reading “14 thru 17” across the frame.) and I went to church. Nothing entirely remarkable, but, all in all, a good day.

 

In vain Saturday, February 26, 2011

One of the more fascinating things about writing a novel is crafting the personalities and voices of the many characters that appear on the page. What I find simultaneously enjoyable and frustrating is the physical act of creating dialogue that I could never even imagine myself saying.

In Damen, this comes about most often while writing Corey. Corey is crass, blunt and curses like the proverbial sailor, yet when I write dialogue, I often need to whisper the words back to myself to make sure they make sense, and when a character is so unlike myself that it’s rather sickening, I feel dirty even writing what he would say. That is to say, I used to feel dirty when writing Corey’s dialogue. I’ve now grown accustomed to it and can easily separate my own voice from Corey’s. Damen, however, is far different.

To make him a character all on his own, I gave him “life” by giving him small pieces of my own personality. Since Damen is not an autobiography, however, he is a completely different person with a voice and history all his own. I go to church often (not as often as I could and should, but we’re all Christ’s works-in-progress) and I try to thank God for all His gifts every day of my life. Damen, on the other hand, rests somewhere on the line between agnostic and plain atheist. So much has happened in his life that make him doubt that a creator could have any hand in the machinations of his world and the fact that he has had none of the religious reinforcement that many others his age would experience, has tainted him even further against God and all religion. And so, he when he swears (and when he’s still reeling in Corey’s influence, it’s very often), Damen will often use the Lord’s name in vain.

My mind and heart make great conflict over this. The mind says that words on a page are simply that and as long as I don’t go around screaming “Godd***t!” all the time, I remain clean. On the other hand, the heart that helped me walk out into the church aisle years ago, crying as I went to the altar to join the church, knows that it is wrong to use the Lord’s name in vain in any context. If I’m writing it, I’m saying it, even if I do skip over those words and phrases as I whisper dialogue back to myself and thus the battle continues.

This reminds of when my 16 century Brit-Lit class was studying “Faustus” and the effect of being an actor in the play during a time when folks were far more religious than they are now. The actor playing the titular character would have to call upon the devil to make Mephistophilis appear and whether one is acting or not, there is still that innate worry of “calling upon the devil.” While I have stopped blatantly swearing and using God’s name in vain years ago, the mere acting of writing such dialogue is difficult to the point that I go through four or five waves of typing and backspacing as I decide whether or not to have Damen think “Jesus Christ!” in a moment where he is clearly not praying. Even typing that last sentence used to get across my point gave me pause.

I can’t say that I’m completely indoctrinated as I have only come to the church in the last five years and had written off myself as an agnostic prior to that, but I must say, each time I’ve got a choice between staying true to my character and saying what I know to be wrong to say, I struggle…a lot.

I wrote 626 words tonight (his first extracurricular conversation about a novel since his father had passed) and when a moment called for Damen using God’s name in vain, somehow my heart took control and I’m glad I found a better way to say I wanted. That said, I’ve still a lot of Damen’s character to unleash and eventually, I’ll be pressed with the same battle again.

 

iPhone – exclamation point! Sunday, November 22, 2009

Filed under: Reading — kaitco @ 11:33 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Ah, my beloved iPhone! I’m writing this very post on a WordPress app on my iPhone. I cannot say enough that I simply adore this phone. From having everything together like my phone, iPod and tiny netbook in one place just makes me feel happier than I’ve been in a while.

Needless to say, I had to break my desires to be computer-free this Sunday as I attempt to get my phone perfectly customized. That said I find it best to at least recognize that I must include my iPhone in whole in my zeal to abstain from my computer entertainment and chores or this goal of mine is practically useless.

All iPhone-related joys notwithstanding, I am dreadfully behind in Damen and also my Harry fic. With Tuesday, Thursday and also Saturday virtually free this week, I think I’ve got a good chance at getting pretty far into at least Damen; I’m not sure how much I care about the Harry fic at this point. People are starting to talk and get excited about the book because I’ve been gabbing quite a bit about it. For the first time in a long while I feel like my work has some meaning for someone other than me. I won’t say that I’m getting a little worried that I’ll disappoint others, but I definitely feel the need to get on with this project.

Well, as much as I adore my iPhone, I can’t keep typing like this for the rest of the night. The only sentiment I’ve got at the moment is iPHONE FTW!!!

 

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

Filed under: Coding,Reading,The Sims — kaitco @ 5:23 am
Tags: , , , ,

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…

 

 
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