I am kaitco

a writer's log

Year 30 Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Filed under: Dorienne — kaitco @ 6:36 pm
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Do you ever have so much to say that you no longer have anything to say?

A lot has happened recently. I’ve turned 30. I’ve traveled alone to London and returned, safe with no drama. I’ve finished another stage of Anne and I’ve even given this stage its own name: the grave phase. The grave phase of a novel is where I’ve got it to the point where when I ask myself, “If I die tonight, will I rest peacefully in my grave knowing this novel will be posthumously published from its current state.” If the answer is yes, I’ve reached the grave phase and can rest happy.

In turning 30, I’ve also decided to make some major changes in the way I live my life. I read this amazing post on procrastination the other day, ironically, while procrastinating, and it really got me thinking about my capabilities. Just today, I’ve etched out time to do what would normally take days to accomplish by simply putting post-its all over the place to remind me to keep away from my favorite procrastination hobbies, such as Reddit, Dorienne TV, and the Banished game. Another major change will include changing careers, but I’ve decided to keep the specifics there to myself, as I tell far too many people far too many details about far too many of my life’s plans.

My visit to London was short but lovely. My mother was originally supposed to travel with me, but my stepdad got injured on the job and she had to remain behind to care for him. There was a moment when I considered cancelling the trip altogether, but as nearly all of Year 29 surrounded the actions needed to get me to London for my 30th birthday, the thought of not going depressed more than I’m willing to put into writing today. In the end, I’m glad I went on my own because I had a trip that only I could have. Everyone I mentioned the trip to had all this commentary about where I should go and where I should stay and what I should do on different days, but no one seemed to fully grasp my intentions with the trip.

I’d never left the US and thus, had never experienced an international flight. Now that I have, I’m not enthused about doing it again, especially in coach, but I know how best to prepare myself. I had never viewed the sites of a city via tour bus and I wanted to simply sit atop a double-decker bus and just snap pictures. I had a half dozen people telling me there were better days to spend my first day in London, but I after a nine-hour flight (in coach!), I didn’t want to do much else aside from Ooh! and Ah! and take pictures.

I wanted to visit Bath, England and I did. Everyone I mentioned this to looked at me like I had six heads. Where is that? What’s there? That’s it? Why would you want to go there when you only have four days? Even the car service driver on the way back to the airport had commentary about seeing Bath which was “so far away” when I could have visited Windsor Castle, etc. I, however, wanted to see Bath. I wanted to visit Bath Abbey and walk the 212 steps in its tower. I wanted to pass by Queene Square and marvel at the Royal Crescent and visit the Jane Austen Centre. Specifically, as the Austen fan I am, I wanted to walk the streets that she would have walked two hundred years ago. I wanted to take in the modernized sites that she would have seen. Visiting the Austen centre was an almost religious experience for me, even though, I know she never lived at that site and she didn’t really care for Bath as she got older. I learned that she first started writing a novel at age 11, just like me. I got a deeper understanding of her family and how she lived, the likes of which I’d never received throughout my whole degree in English literature! I had an English tea in the Regency Room and loved everything about it, from the extra sweetener they used to the soft cucumber sandwiches they presented. After this, I went to the Royal Crescent and spent almost an hour, just walking and staring at it as a marvel of architecture and of history. I then visited No. 1 Royal Crescent to see what a house would have looked like during Austen’s day and had such lovely conversations with the staff that I didn’t mind that my feet ached after traipsing across central Bath all day. I loved every moment of my time in Bath and I only got a day to experience it, but no one else understood, even after viewing my Facebook pictures and seeing my little souvenirs, why I wanted to visit Bath.

I saw the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London and saw the African and the Egyptian and just a bit of the Assyrian exhibits at the British Museum. The Tower was interesting, to say the least, but I could have easily spent two whole days in the British Museum. I can’t wait to go back and peruse again when I have more energy. There was something magical about the Egyptian exhibit and fighting my way to see the Rosetta Stone was well worth it. I consider museums to be very personal experiences, not requiring a lot of talk, and I’m glad I got to see what I wanted to see and stare at the sculptures and art for as long as I wanted.

I visit Westminster Abbey and took a “selfie” with Big Ben and then went on to Buckingham Palace to finish my trip. I only visited two sites and had the most wonderful day in doing so, even though I was beginning to get a cold. I walked past Elizabeth I’s tomb in awe of her death mask and I stomped on Dickens’ memorial, though I later chided myself for doing so and prayed for forgiveness for my immaturity (I still hate Dickens, though). Buckingham Palace was everything I expected it to be and the fact that they allow you to view at your own pace was downright beautiful. I spent an entire day marvelling and staring and taking pictures to the point that I hated knowing I had to leave. By the time I got back to the hotel, I found myself even saying my “thank yous” like the Brits I heard all around me.

I’d planned for a year for this trip to London and, though it was technically short, it was everything I needed it to be. I got to view London through the eyes of a writer and a lover of architecture and British literature and history, which I think is what most people fail to understand when they ask me, “Oh, why didn’t you go on the Harry Potter studio tour?” or “You mean, you didn’t see the Downton Abbey place?” when they consider my trip.

Anne is now its grave phase, which leaves me perfectly happy. I had no grandiose plans for finishing a novel this year, considering what I’d accomplished with Damen last year, but I’m glad I’ve even reached this point. There’s lots to do, though at 185k words, it’s in far better shape than I was with Damen starting at 285k words. Anne still has room to take on a life of its own. While I try to quote Austen wherever feasible, this is my novel and at this stage, I’m comfortable in deviating from the parent story enough to tell the entire story properly.

I still think Anne will be my first foray into the self-publishing world, though I think I may wait until 2015 to start pushing Damen on agents again. I have no delusions of becoming one of those self-publishing successes; I just want my story to given to the world. Speaking of giving my story…I lost my beloved Kindle Paperwhite during my travels to London. I think I put it in the seat flap on the return flight and forgot to take it with me in the bustle and confusion of leaving. I’ve already removed my Amazon credentials from it, but I’ve got a version of Damen on there that’s now floating around lost on the device. I doubt I’ll ever get it back and, oh darn, this means I’ll have to get the brand new even more awesome Kindle Voyage, but the fact that Damen is where I can’t reach it, leaves me a little irritated.

These first 30 years have presented me with quite a lot. Oddly, I don’t feel as old as I did last year. On the trip home from London, I was surrounded by a group of people in the security line who were amazed that I was 30, as they all said I didn’t look like I could be older than 22, which just cheered my heart. 🙂 I went into this year expecting an early mid-life crisis, but instead I am rejuvenated for all of life’s possibilities.

So, Year 30. Onward and upward!

 

Realistic Planning Sunday, August 31, 2014

Filed under: Dorienne — kaitco @ 9:10 pm
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I came upon an interesting concept as I was making my plans for the month of September: I need to set realistic goals. It sounds utterly simplistic and obvious, but it’s actually taken me thirty years to understand this.

My original plan for August was to complete this current phase of Anne so I could spend all of September focused on re-editing Damen. Yesterday, however, upon realizing I still had another 10 chapters left to go, I made a plan for August 30 and 31 that was essentially, “Write ALL THE THINGS in less than 48 hours!!”

Shortly after creating this plan, any mild satisfaction I had, melted away when I realized it simply wasn’t feasible. Even if I skipped dinner, and didn’t workout, and didn’t take my normal hour to relax, and wrote until four in the morning, and skipped church the next day, and wrote throughout the entirety of the day and well into Sunday night…I still wouldn’t be able to finish the whole novel by the end of August. Well, technically, I could have pulled it off, but whatever I managed to write would have been absolute tripe and would have to be completely re-written or just tossed in a few months anyway.

This realization led me something I’ve been doing naturally in all my other life goals this year, but hadn’t yet applied to my writing. I told myself it was okay that I didn’t complete a specific goal for the month and then laid out daily writing goals I wanted to reach. More specifically, I planned parts of the story I wanted to complete each day until this phase of the book could be properly completed. To my surprise, I found that if I meet these meager writing goals each day, I’ll have the book done in a week, and, honestly, my competitive nature will likely bring that down to five days. In less than a week, due to a little realistic planning, I’ll have this phase of Anne done. I’m rather in awe of the idea of it.

Every August, I reflect on my past year and make special plans to meet my birthday goals. With this September bringing my 30th birthday, I initially was in “Do ALL the things!!” mode, but this year will be different. This year, my only real goal is to make realistic ones.

I’ll be traveling to London for my birthday and I’d love to see everything there is to see in Bath, and visit every London museum, and see every church, castle, and great house in the area, and watch every play and musical, and shop in every store, but…I’ll have a much better time on the trip by making realistic plans.

I want to get published before it’s time to reflect on my 40th birthday (good Lord), and I’d love to write ten novels a year, and send 50 query letters a month to 50 different agents, and work on another ten novels after the first ten get rejected, but I’ll have a much better time pursuing this dream if I make some realistic plans.

 

Trepidatious Switching Friday, September 13, 2013

Filed under: Dorienne,Writing — kaitco @ 8:33 am
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In less than two weeks, I’ll be a year from 30. What’s really interesting is that WordPress reminded me that it’s been 6 years since I first registered here and I can remember fretting in posts tagged “25” over the idea of turning 25 as if it were yesterday. I keep telling myself that my 20s have not gone by fast (in fact, they often feel incredibly long), but when I’m honest with myself…really, they have!

September is usually my month of reflection. While most people make resolutions, etc. around the first of January, I like to use the start of my new year to determine my successes and failures and generally determine whether I’ve had a good year or a bad year. Sad as it sounds, the last few years have not been wholly good, but I’m glad to say that Year 28 has been fantastic.

I am happy with first-job, a feat I’ve not accomplished since…well, since I was 15 and first ventured into the working world because I knew I wanted a car when I was 16 and I knew my mother, under the guise of not allowing me to be spoiled like my peers, would never have outright bought one for me. I have a good job that allows me to tithe even more than my 10% to really help my church, allows me the freedom to buy and explore tools and avenues into my writing, and allows me to live comfortably without running from paycheck to paycheck with the thought that one check is all that keeps me from homelessness. I think it’s what makes pushing through this agent-seeking process a little less arduous as it would have been if I’d come to this point last year. Rather providential, I’d like to say as I just received this job about 10 months ago.

I finished (really finished, as in trying to get published, finished) a novel in the past year, an accomplishment I’ve not seen in years. I’ve come to this point at ages 15, 17, 23, and 28 and I know that had I done nothing else with Year 28, completing another novel makes Year 28 stand out as one of the best thus far.

But, all good things must come to an end and as I close Year 28, I begin new projects in a manner that I’ve not attempted in the past. I’m writing two books simultaneously. Both Jill and Anne are pressing upon me and I’ve switched back and forth for the past few weeks, trying to decide who will take precedence, only to come to no real decision.

I love both stories and, just as I decide to focus on one set of characters, specifics of the other set jump out at me, so I figure the best thing to do is ride the wave and write as inspiration hits. When I’m inspired for Anne, like I was this evening, I’ll write Anne. When I’m inspired for Jill, I’ll write her instead. When I’m inspired for nothing in particular, I’ll write bits of both of them until I get the creative juices flowing in one direction or another, like I did the other day.

The project switching, however, is not what has me concerned. What does concern me is this nagging desire to take a break from writing.

I’ve experienced this same sensation at 15, 17, 23, and 28 and it was the prime reason for the time in between writing each book. Writing Damen took so much out of me that I don’t wish to dwell on it long for fear that I’ll grow exhausted from the mere memory. I know that I’m tired, but the issue here is that I’m dangerously close to letting a short rest between books turn into an extended hiatus where I may never complete anything again, which is where this constant project switching begins to to really concern me.

Indecision irritates me, so while I’m just going with the flow right now, I can’t help worrying that a comfortable first-job combined with the exhaustion of completing Damen and the relative stress of facing a new a decade will leave me with a desire to tell stories, but without the drive to write them.

Perhaps, I’m getting a little too existential about the whole matter. It is, after all, September and this is when I begin to ask all the questions about who I am, what I am, what I aim to do with this life, and whether or not anything I do or don’t do will make an impact in an ever-expanding, cold, indifferent universe…

The good news, however, is that I’m quite stubborn. If I’ve learned anything about myself in nearly a decade of writing various blogs, I’ve learned that I don’t give up quickly and, even after I’ve told myself I’ve given up something for good, it only takes the slightest burst of energy or the simplest prayer for guidance to keep me pushing forward.

Anyway…on I switch from Jill to Anne and Anne to Jill. Onward and upward!

 

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.

 

1065 Monday, August 15, 2011

Filed under: Dorienne,Writing — kaitco @ 10:56 pm
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One would think that funerals, memorials and homegoing services would cause me to think about my own mortality, but really they don’t. This is because I think about mortality almost every day. What sort of legacy, if any, will I leave on this Earth and, even if I do manage to leave one, will it really matter when the sun starts to die and engulfs the earth and everything on it or when the “new heaven” and “new Earth” prophesied by John emerges?

I’m not sure if it’s because I now hold the advantage, such that it is, of youth on my side, but I find it very difficult to see myself reaching old age. What’s further concerning is that I feel far, far older than I am. In about six weeks, I’ll be turning 27 years old, but feel very close to fifty which is why I often feel as if my life is beginning to slowly wind to nothing. I’m even starting to feel too old to do things that, technically, I’m of the proper age to be doing.

Marriage? Why, I’m far too old to be of use to anyone and far too set in my ways to start trying to compromise and start thinking about forever. Children? I’ve passed that age where children would be a fit for me and the older I get, the more apparent it becomes that I’ll just have to settle with being an Aunt Dee or a godmother. Career? The career I’ve got will most likely be it, as I’m far too old to start another one at this point in my life.

Rationally, I know none of this is true, but this is how I see myself, so when I consider aging and mortality, it’s difficult to consider myself growing old because, in many ways, I sense I’m already there.

Brother Mike’s memorial service was this evening and it got me thinking about how many souls we’ve sent on home since I joined the church five years ago. Far too many in far too little time.

I wrote 1065 words tonight (from it until long after the sun had set) and though I often feel as if I won’t make it to the other side of the mountain, I keep setting goals and trekking towards it. I’m pushing hard to make myself at least meet 500 words daily, if not the full thousand to push out this novel as if I were giving birth to it since, as I welcome twenty-seven years walking the earth, I’d like to do so with a full draft of my novel in my hand.

 

Lord, Lord…my day Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Filed under: Dorienne,Favorite,Writing — kaitco @ 11:58 pm
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Phew! The day I’ve had…

My “assistant” is leaving which means I’ll have to find someone else to help with all my dozens of projects and I’ll have to re-train someone else on how I do things. I’ve already got someone in mind, but I doubt I’ll get a say in it this time like I did with him.

I’ve thought a ton about my first-job and my future, not to mention putting in the long hours today which what I’ll blame tonight on why I’ve got nothing written.

A while ago, I found myself presented with a choice between what was right, that is a new challenge with new faces in a new environment, and what was easy, that is the same old thing, just with a new title; I chose what was easy. Now, it’s easy for me to look back and think that my own frustrations about first-job come from making that decision, but I’ve found more opportunities in this last year than I’ve ever had. That said, when I look at my long term goals, I can’t help but see that one of the main reasons the novel isn’t done is because of the intrusions of first-job.

Second-job, writing, is what I want to do, but there’s a real possibility that the second-job will never become my first and only job. Damen could easily be a disaster that no one will ever publish, Jill could be even worse, Luka may never get off the ground, Evan will never see its second-coming and I’ll never be published.

It’s hard to dwell on all that though. I think I’ve had so many signs telling me that this (second-job) is what I’m meant to do, that it’s difficult to remember a time when I wanted to do otherwise. The reason I have the first-job that I do is because I sat in my car one day and asked myself, “Dorienne…what do you really want to do?” The answer was write and the solution was to just support myself with first-job until first and second jobs became one.

Years later, I’ve come to reason my ambitions can hardly be masked. Everything I do, I do it fully and I can’t help but strive to be the absolute best in what I do. This is why I hit walls where it takes a day to write a paragraph, but also why I’ve been able to make my leaps in the first-job. So, now I’m faced with making a decision I really don’t want to make: Giving up the second-job and focus solely on the first, or continue as I’ve always been. Again…a decision between what is right and what is easy.

It’s easy to move on the same path I’ve always walked and a strong part of me, no matter what everyone else tells me, believes that first-job and second-job are doomed to exist together. Neither dream will thrive while the other lives.

Melodrama aside, I’m just not sure I’m ready to give up either dream at this point in my life. I’m 26, though I say I am and feel 27, and hopefully, have a lot of life left to live. I don’t want to look back on my life and wonder what life would have been like had I stayed the course and continued with the decision I’d made when I asked my 22-year-old self what I wanted to do. At 22, I also said that I’d rather have a dead-end job while reaching for my dream than have a upper-middle management job having never sought the dream. The more I think of it, however, I also don’t think I’d like the idea of my previous mantra, “If I can’t have what I want, I want nothing.”

Decisions, decisions…

I can only pray about it. Even after a quick prayer today to calm my spirit in the midst of such rapid turmoil, He answered me and calmed me with better news. So, all I can do is pray that He’ll let me know when I’m on the right track.

 

Picking up pieces Monday, August 30, 2010

Filed under: Favorite,Writing — kaitco @ 11:33 pm
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I had a stunning revelation this afternoon; I’m about to turn 26 years old.

Usually by mid-August, I’ve accepted my new age and begin telling those around me that I’m the next year older, but it was only this afternoon that it truly hit me. Year 25 passed me so quickly that I can barely remember what, if anything, significant happened to me in the past 12 months.

Much of this Year 25 has been spent in a state of perpetual catch-up. Nothing was ever clean, I was never ahead on anything, I barely found time to write and I can say I wasted many more days than I used productively. There was even a long time where I was not even wearing clean clothes. I can say that in the past week things have grown far better, but it is a little daunting to think that my 25th year on this earth was so unproductive.

Many nights were spent in front of my PC playing some inane Facebook game or simply reading article upon article on Cracked or StumbleUpon or some other time-wasting activity. Time that could have very well been spent writing was wasted by laying about in the bed all day or again, screwing around on the Internet.

I suppose my career has seen great strides, but I don’t feel as if these strides are permanent or have any significance on my life. Sure, slightly more money is coming in, but I still don’t have my Honda and I’m still deeply entrenched in credit card debt. I’m working harder than I ever have in my life and have very little to show for it. The main concern is that my life goals are going unrealized and I’m going to be 26.

26. Just saying it out loud sounds like a gavel beating on my youth.

There is so much more that I could be doing with my life and yet…

I won’t use this as a time to get depressed about what I don’t have or what I haven’t been able to do, but as this time of year is my time for self-reflection and deep thought, I find it fascinating how quickly this year has passed by me.

I think what brought this on was yesterday’s viewing of an X-Files episode. I recently bought an Xbox 360, mostly because I wanted something on which I could play Star Wars video games, but found a secondary use in the fact that the Xbox brought me downstairs and away from my PC. Up until two weeks ago, I was spending some five to seven hours a day on Facebook games and there was no end in sight. The dishes were never going to get done, the laundry had stopped piling up because I had simply taken to re-wearing clothes I had already re-worn three or four times and trash was literally building up around me because I brought all food to my bedroom in front of my PC. The pounds were piling onto my body at an astronomical rate because I could go for an entire day without moving at all; everything in my life was focused on my PC and the Internet. But, last week I bought an Xbox and finally moved away from my PC.

I did a load of laundry; it felt so good to wear an actually clean shirt instead of a clean-smelling shirt. I put some of trash into actual trashbags; I have yet to take anything outside, but that’s a subject for another day. I did something other than come home and go straight to my PC…and it was wonderful.

Yesterday, however, I managed to stream all the TV shows from my PC and tera drives onto my Xbox and I came upon an episode of The X-Files. Even though I’d watched the episode (Small Potatoes) more times than I could possibly count, there was something so alluring to view Mulder and Scully in their heyday. It was only once I came to the end of the episode that memories of my childhood spent adoring those same characters that I began to truly reflect on what I had been doing in these past few years.

In fact it was the discussion between Mulder and Scully that actually got the train of thought rolling:
Mulder: The person you wanted to be in high school…how far off were you?
Scully: Career-wise, miles off target.

In listening to this exchange, for the first time I was able to answer the question myself and I mused over the fact that I, like Agent Scully, was miles off target from the person I wanted to be when I was kid. My miles off target, however, is nowhere close to the success that I imagine I should have at this point in my life. I’m not just miles of target, I can’t even remember what the target was supposed to look like anymore.

All this notwithstanding, I can say with some confidence that I am slowly (very slowly) picking up the pieces of my life. I am doing things that I had not even thought to do in the past 9 months and, for the first time in almost a few years, I think I am moving back to some track. I am no longer wallowing in the jungles of uncertainty; I’ve found the path that leads to the bigger one, the golden brick one, the one that leads to my actual dreams for myself in adulthood.

I am turning 26. Dorienne Allison Smith is turning 26.

A side of me is terrified by the idea of turning not just a year older, but a year closer to an age when I really should have everything figured out and have my life running along a path of fulfilling my desires. Another side, however, the side that wants to have a clean house and wants to lead a normal life like, is excited. I am approaching adulthood and I think I may actually be ready for it this year.

 

 
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