I am kaitco

a writer's log

My Three Cents: On Adult Coloring Books Saturday, January 16, 2016

Filed under: Article — kaitco @ 7:11 pm
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From blog.doriennesmith.com:

I’ve been blogging in one place or another for the past decade, so my opinion is automatically worth more, right? Right??

Over the Christmas holiday, Amazon’s top selling “books” were adult coloring books. This distresses me because A) Amazon has a category issue; I don’t consider a coloring book to be a “book” in the same way I don’t consider a book of sudoku puzzles to be a “book”, and B) adults have turned to something so simple as a means of creative entertainment.

Before I get into the meat of this, I’ll preface by stating I’m no literary snob. While I prefer certain books over others, I think there is just as much literary value in James Joyce’s Ulysses as I do Stephenie Meyers’ Twilight. Reading material is supposed to entertain first and foremost. If it manages to teach, enlighten, and encourage conversation, that’s wonderful, but it’s first purpose is to entertain. If a book can’t do that, it fails before the reader has even picked up it.

Today’s diatribe, however, isn’t actually about what constitutes a book and what doesn’t. My gripe is that grown people are choosing coloring books over alternatives for a creative outlet.

Coloring gives people an opportunity to be creative without any of the necessary talent that goes into drawing or painting or even writing something from scratch. Coloring provides a sense of accomplishment that is normally reserved for those who have spent years honing a craft, which troubles me greatly. Rather than put forth the effort necessary to practice drawing or painting or dancing, adults turn to the coloring book because it is quick and easy.

If I’ve griped about anything throughout any of my blogs, it’s that I find most facets of adulthood to be difficult, so I fully understand the difficulty in finding the time to practice the skills needed to have a true creative outlet. I’ve had a piano in my apartment for 7 seven years, but I can hardly tinker anything familiar on it, and even after a brief stint of attempting piano lessons, I’m still no good at reading base clef. I’d love to take up painting, and after a random morning at home and watching a Bob Ross episode on PBS, I may still try again, but as many others often find themselves saying, “I just can’t find the time.”

Most adults could find countless options for a creative outlet, but the ones who don’t put everything else ahead of that need. While I can understand the stresses of work, spouses, children, cleaning the house, keeping up on laundry, maintaining the lawn, remembering to call Grandma on her birthday, and so forth, everyone can carve out time to work towards a creative outlet, but few do using many of the aforementioned excuses. What truly perplexes me is that the same people who can’t seem to find the time to practice writing poems or practice drawing, still somehow find a block of time to sit and color in an adult coloring book.

Coloring within the lines requires little creative effort. Creating the actual designs that go into coloring books, however, requires months or years of effort. In a society constantly looking for the easiest routes to success, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that people opt for the simplest path.

So, why do I complain that grown folks are opting for coloring books? I don’t look down on the exercise as a means of mental calm. I understand that it can be quite soothing, but so can many other creative outlets. I can’t get past the first few stanzas of Moonlight Sonata on the piano, but after a little tinkering with a tune found in a beginners practice book, I have a harmonious simple tune that I can play by heart when the moment warrants it. While working on any “major” writing project can bring its headaches, sitting down to create a new story from the beginning just because I can do it is more freeing than anything else I experience in life. A hectic life needs a method of calming the mind, but there’s nothing that suggests that that method has to be as simplistic as the adult coloring book.

Everyone needs a creative outlet. Whether it be writing, dancing, photography, learning, or (in the case of my mother, with whom I discussed this post in the midst of writing) applying customs law in creative ways, everyone needs a creative outlet. One doesn’t even need to be exceptionally good at said outlet either. Like I said, I can hardly read base clef, but it doesn’t stop me from playing the one song that I can play on the piano. I may never get published, but it doesn’t stop me from writing whatever I want whenever I want.

Creative outlets provide a mental calm in a hectic life and past the elementary school years, one can do far greater and better things to achieve that mental calm than pretend to be artist while filling in lines created by others. Stop taking the quickest, easiest routes towards a sense of accomplishment and put forth just a little effort. No one will hang the completed coloring book page from a 30-something on the fridge, but they may find delight in an original creation.

There’s a very real possibility that I’m missing something fundamental in the adult coloring book, but then…this is still my three cents on the issue.

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Going for Goals Friday, January 8, 2016

Filed under: Dorienne,Writing — kaitco @ 9:59 pm
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I’ve written over 7500 words in the past week by simply opting to write just a little every day. Considering I hadn’t written anything close to that amount in the month of December, I’ll call that a minor success for the week. I’m getting more intrigued about writing Flight specifically as a self-published ebook. I still plan to throw Damen at as many agents who I think may find it worthwhile, but Flight gives me something to do in the interim.

I’m in the midst of a Daniel Fast. Between the strict diet and loads of prayer, I plan to “correct” myself; i.e., re-adjust, re-focus, and re-ignite my passions for the things that matter most.

Something I’ve not noted here is that in 2015, I managed to drop 40 lbs. I could’ve done better, but then my birthday came, and then Halloween candy, and then Thanksgiving, and so forth with the other excuses. Throughout it all, however, I managed to not gain back the weight and hovered at the same mark for the last three months. Now is the time to finish this, however. I dropped the first half and now, I must be rid of the second as well.

One of my actual resolutions for this year is to learn something daily. So far, I’ve only been indulging in French on DuoLingo to keep my streak alive, but the year is young and between other programming languages and other spoken ones, I’ve lots I hope to learn.

 

Obligatory New Years Eve Post: 2015 Edition Thursday, December 31, 2015

Filed under: Dorienne,Writing — kaitco @ 7:24 pm
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Here we are, at the end of another year. As always, this is the time for deep reflection and promises to do better than the previous year. I have “resolutions”, for lack of a better word, and they haven’t changed all that much since high school, which is probably worth a post all on its own.

I sit here debating how I will spend my evening and usher in the new year. For the past nine years, I’ve attended Watch Night service at my church and usually had a good time. This year, however, I’m honestly just tired and all I really want to do is have some dinner, play video games, and then go to bed at a reasonable hour. The debate comes down to whether bringing in the new year in church is something that I really want to do or if it’s something I feel like I should do from the idea of “how I ring in the year is how I will live the year.” If it’s the latter, well, that’s superstition and nothing more. I suppose I’ll figure it out before 10 PM tonight.

Back to these resolutions…

While there are loads of things that I would like to do better in 2016, I’m going to focus on just one: Blog here more. My desire for writing has diminished in 2015 and every day it seems like it’s more and more difficult to get into my old grooves where I could not wait to have a free moment to write. Nowadays, writing any project feels like a chore; something that must be added to a daily to-do list and begrudgingly attended to while often times getting moved onto the next day and the next without getting completed. I can’t point to a specific moment when this occurred, but this is the current state of things.

I’ve tried to combat my diminishing drive in a myriad of ways, but this being the start of a new year, I might as well attempt to face this from a different method. This blog has long since been my main avenue of visiting my writing struggles and successes and, (as melodramatic as this is about to sound) since I sense I’m at the precipice of ending an activity that has encompassed my very being for the last twenty of my 30+ years on this rock, I suppose it’s fitting to use this blog as a final shield against what may be inevitable. TL;DR: I’m going to commit to blogging here weekly to get myself back into the swing of things.

There are always plenty of things to say and saving it for a monthly update clearly isn’t cutting it. I may fail at this goal, as I’ve failed at so many goals in the past, but at least with this one, I’ll be able to look back and see that I didn’t go down with a hearty fight.

Onward and upward in 2016!

 

NaNoWriMo 2015 – Day 2 Monday, November 2, 2015

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 10:07 pm
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I’ve decided to take a different approach to NaNoWriMo this year. In previous years, I’ve started by writing and writing, but end up failing to follow through with this venture because, as I’ve learned the hard way over the years, I have a very specific method for constructing my novels.

I can’t simply begin with Chapter One and proceed with the story until all is done. If I start “pure” writing, I will definitely get lost along the way. I get bogged down by the craft because I have no idea where the story is going and, as my short-term memory is shot and I get bored easily, I lost interest in the idea and fail at the NaNo project. This year, as I proclaimed to myself last night, will be different.

I liken my writing process to old scanners. The first wave over the image looks distorted, but has some shape and each consequent wave over the image brings about more and more detail until it’s complete. I’m going to approach this year’s NaNoWriMo the same way I approach any novel, just doing it a bit faster. I’m going to spend the first 15 days of this month outlining my project and then spend the last 15 days of the month filling it out and adding the relevant detail. With this method, unlike past years, even if I fail to reach 50K words by November 30th, I will have a strong outline and partial draft of a complete story. Rather than a chapter or two of a story I can’t bare to even glance at a year afterward because I recognize I’d got lost early in the unnecessarily deep prose, I’ll have a project that I can revisit and even flesh out to completion.

It’s the little experiments like these that make life interesting, I suppose. On I press!

 

Finding My Way Monday, August 31, 2015

Filed under: Dorienne — kaitco @ 8:10 pm
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The last few months have found me incredibly busy. My project with first-job has become permanent, I’ve taken to writing bits of sermons and gospel songs (of sorts), and my writing has been so scattered, it’s difficult for me to even consider it real writing. I think what’s been most pressing, however, is my faith.

Several times over the past couple months, I’ve asked myself, “Wouldn’t life be easier if I were an atheist?” I would certainly have more time on my hands not taking the time to study the bible each day, not going to bible studies, and definitely more time on Sundays. What I would do with all this “extra” time, I’m not sure, but it’s presumed that I would have it.

A couple weeks ago, my pastor did a sermon about what to do when one finds him or herself angry with God. The message was simply to recall that you can’t really be angry with God because God owes you nothing and you owe God for everything; from every breath you to take to every thing you have done or ever will do. As I write, these thoughts press against me because, while I want to take them fully to heart, I’m not sure I’m there yet.

It’s hard, very hard, to remain steadfast when I continuously see the righteous left to suffer. I know…deep down…everything is all a part of God’s plan and purpose, but lately, I’ve been having a difficult time remaining satisfied with not knowing the end results. I am, for lack of a better word, utterly frustrated with the state of things. All around me, life seems to get worse and worse and especially so for those who, at least outwardly, seem the most faithful and the least deserving of the world’s malevolence.

I try to press forward and I try to consider the positives. I have a good career and a hobby that makes me happy. I have a nice roof over my head and a nice car to drive. I have family who would miss me if something were to happen. I have a lot more than a lot of people could say and I certainly don’t take that for granted. Still, I can’t help these thoughts that wander into darkened places, considering the what-ifs and could-bes of a supposedly easier life.

I’ve written some “mini-sermons” recently for a program focusing on the seventh chapter and the seventh verse of any book of the bible and, though, I’ve only given the first one and I worry that I don’t even understand the words I preach to myself, I think it prudent to include them somewhere:

 

Job 7:7
“O remember that my life is wind: mine eye shall no more see good.”

Life is short.

I was talking to my father’s mother a few months ago and she said to me, “It goes by so fast.” Now, my Nana is 91 years old. Ninety-one years on this planet and she tells me that her time has gone by so fast.

I’ll be 31 at the end of next month, I’m thinking to myself that the years between when I finished college and the point where I stand before you today have gone by a little quicker than I’d prefer. I can hardly imagine what I’ll think if I live long enough to be my Nana’s age.

In this 7th chapter and 7th verse, Job is referring to the brevity of life as a man who has lost virtually everything, and he is calling on God to give him a speedy death rather than let him continue to linger in his current state. But, we should not pass judgement on Job’s mentality at this time of his life.

We should, as we should always do in reading God’s Word, look upon ourselves and apply this Word to our own lives.

Our time here on this rock is short. What we do with this short time, however, will determine how we spend eternity. So, everything that we do ought to be for God’s greater glory.

How we speak to one another, how we behave when we’re outside of God’s house, how we carry ourselves when we think no one is looking.

God knows all and sees all and He is perfectly cognizant of how you are using the gifts He has given to you. So, be honest, and ask yourself: How are you using the short time God has given?

Are you using this short time he has allowed you to walk amidst His creation to wreak havoc on the lives of others or are you using this short time to walk the straight and narrow path and be a light to others?

Are you using His time to lie in the front of the television and watch hours and hours of Real Housewives of Atlanta or Extreme Cheapskates or perhaps even some truly nonsensical television that will likely corrupt you and those in your household?

Are you spending God’s time posting and saying ungodly things on Facebook, and on Twitter, and on Instagram? Are you using God’s time to make passive-aggressive statements to other Christians when, clearly, your time could be better spent?

Are you using the short time God has given you to eat yourself into oblivion? Are you more likely to go without feeding yourself God’s Word than go without feeding yourself McDonald’s or KFC?

Are you using the short, breath of wind that God has given you to grow closer to Him? Are you studying God’s Word daily? Are you loving others as you love yourself and as you love God?

Are you doing whatever you can be to a light to this dark world and bring others to Christ?

My brothers and sisters, our time on this Earth is but a trifle. I’m here just to remind you this afternoon, that we are to use this little time that God has given us to continue to magnify His glory and bring other lost ones back home to Him.

 

2 Kings 7:7
“Wherefore they arose and fled in the twilight, and left their tents, and their horses, and their asses, even the camp as it was, and fled for their life.”

So, let me take you back for a moment to the Year 891 BC at Samaria:
Leprosy was highly contagious disease and those who had it were forced to live outside of the walls of the city, often surviving only on small charities or even the table scraps of the city when life was good. But, at this point here, Samaria has been under siege by the Syrians battling against them and there was great famine in the land. Food was scarce and what little food was available was incredibly expensive.

So, the lepers living outside the city, couldn’t even depend on the extras because everyone, everywhere was starving to death.

At this point in our text, there were four lepers living outside Samaria and they were starving as the city continuously prepared for battle against the Syrian armies.

One of them, stands up for a moment and says to the others: Listen. We’re just sitting here starving. If we continue to do what we’ve always done, we’re going to continue to get what we’ve always got. If we stay here, we are going to starve to death. However, if we get up and go to the nearby camp where the Syrians are…well, to be honest, they may very well kill us, too. But, there’s also a chance that they may be willing to give us something…anything to eat. So, we either go to our graves quickly by being killed outright by the Syrians, or we might get a little something to eat from them. Either way, we won’t be starving anymore.

So, up they get and go off towards the Syrian’s camp. What they didn’t know what the God had already made a way for them.

Just before they arrived at the Syrians camp, God caused the Syrian soldiers to hear something in the distance. The Syrian scouts and generals and foot soldiers thought they heard the sound of many chariots rushing towards them and they started to panic amongst themselves. They said to themselves, the Samarians have somehow hired armies from the Hittites and the Egyptians and they were all coming for them right now and they thought that EVERYONE was about to be killed. And, they didn’t just run. They panicked! And, they left everything behind them in their haste.

Now, a little common sense at the time should have helped at least one of them say, “Hang on. How are these Samarians who are practically cannibalizing one another for lack of food getting money to hire other soldiers to battle for them?” But, they were in a panic and no one thinks rationally when they panic.

Now, the four lepers arrive at the camp, and they see everything has been left. Food, clothes, money, everything is out for the taking and Syrian is nowhere to be found. So, our four lepers sit down and have a NICE meal amongst themselves and even get a little money for their troubles. But, that’s not where this ends.

Elisha, the pupil of Elijah, had told the Samarian king prior this, that food, which had become so dear in the siege against the Syrians, would soon be so plentiful that it could be sold cheaply. There was a doubter of the prophet, of course; we all know, there’s always at least one, but this was what the prophet had told the thing.

Now, the lepers, after eating to their fill, returned to the city and through them, the king was advised that Syrian armies had fled. And, the starving Samarians were then able to take up all that the Syrians had left behind and just as Elisha had prophesied, food became so plentiful that it could be sold off to the other cities at a profit.

So, you may ask, what’s the significance of this?

Well, friends, we know here as it is shown in the Word, that God can and will use anyone for His glory. And, many times he will use those who mean to do you wrong or simply malevolence to do great things that will always show His glory.

 

Romans 7:7
“What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.”

I’d like to pose the rhetorical question: How do we know right from wrong?

Even before a person is taught the tenants of religion, some truths are universal. To tell the opposite of the truth is generally undesirable. Treating others as you wish to be treated is generally considered the best way to live across many religions. But, how do we know the difference between what is right and what is wrong? Only through the Word of God.

You can be told many things, but until you study the Word for yourself, you’ll never know what is sinful and what is not.

Some cultures and even some sects of Christianity will tell you that women must always wear either dresses or skirts and it is sinful to do otherwise. But, in studying the Word, we learn that the law says that men and women are to be dressed differently. It’s not that women can’t wear ladies’ slacks or a woman’s pant suit, but that women shouldn’t be wearing silk neck ties and men’s Armani suit in an effort to look and behave like a man.

A lack of studying the Word can often lead to misconceptions about the bible.

A common misconception is that Even took a bite of an apple in the Garden of Eden, but in the studying the Word, we know that the fruit is never specified and that the apple has been ingrained in our imaginations because of the interpretations of a few artists.

Another misconception about the bible is that Noah gathered two of every single animal on Earth into the ark, but in studying the Word, we know that he took two of every unclean animal into the ark, but seven of the clean animals, making his feat even more incredible.

Biblical misconceptions say that you shouldn’t eat pork because the pig is deemed as unclean in Leviticus 11:7 and 8, but in studying the Word, we know that God says everything that is His is good to eat. Now, personally, I don’t eat any meat because I’m an American and I’m an adult and I can choose to not eat whatever I want, but that’s a subject for another day…

But, ask yourselves: How can you ascertain whether you are walking on the narrow path of righteousness or taking that broad road towards damnation? It is only when we take the time to stop and study the Word of God that we see for ourselves the light and right path God wants us to walk.

 

Project Duality Sunday, May 31, 2015

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 11:57 pm
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I’ve always suffered with my short attention span. It’s common for me to forget what I’m saying in mid-sentence, but in my writing and in person, and it hasn’t got much better as I’ve aged.

Something I think that’s kept me from pushing forward with some projects in the past is my lack of attention. Even when I’m fully engaged with a project, I eventually reach a point where I no longer have the drive to look at it. I want to write, but everything else in the world will pull at my focus and keep me from continuing.

I think, perhaps, this month I’ve come up with the best band-aid solution to my problem that also requires a little effort as possible, given that I lack the attention necessary to fully tackle the problem: Multiple projects.

I’ve always been in the middle of writing one thing or another since I was about ten years old, but in general, I typically “focus” on writing one book at a time. In the past month, however, I’ve been writing both Anne and Re-Flight. They are in completely different phases, but so far I’ve enjoyed simultaneously writing them. I write Anne until my attention begins to wane and then I focus on Re-Flight. By the time my enthusiasm begins to falter there, I switch back to Anne and manage to make headway in both projects this way.

It’s hard to say whether this will result in something worthwhile overall, but I’m just excited to say that I’ve consistently written in one project or another every single day for the past few weeks. A few hundred words here or there, in one project or the other, may not get me to my end goals as quickly as my impatience desires, but at least I’ve not let my waxing attention prevent me from writing at all.

On I press…

 

So, then, life happened Thursday, April 30, 2015

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 7:38 pm
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I don’t have anything meaningful to say about this month because, as far as writing goes, I’ve not done anything meaningful.

I’ve spent a lot of time on first-job, by which I mean 65-hour weeks, “a lot.” These weeks have found me actually gaining some fulfillment from my job for the first time in my fifteen years of work experience. All this work, however, has prevented me from making any real headway in Anne. I’ve not written in more than a week, but I’ve been “noting” a bit, so I suppose that’s got to count for something.

I’ve made the tentative decision to re-write Flight as a novel with my own characters. As I’d said aloud to my mirror a few weeks ago, “If that 50 Shades heifer can do it, why can’t I?” I’ve made a lot of notes on what I’ll need to change and how I’ll be shaping Denny Darrow and Olivia Jennings in order to tell the story I’d really like to tell. It’s been fun thus far, but I’ve still not done anything meaningful outside of first-job work.

I suppose I’ve come to a point in my life where my paid work isn’t just something to keep a roof over my head and the internet flowing. Instead, I almost look forward to first-job and have been willingly allowing it to supersede my writing. I’m not sure how to feel about that…

 

 
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