I am kaitco

a writer's log

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…

 

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.

 

Jumbled Thoughts Saturday, February 28, 2015

Filed under: Dorienne,Writing — kaitco @ 11:06 pm
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I’ve been thinking quite a bit these last few weeks, but as my thoughts hurry from one to another, I’ve not got much to say on anyone thought, so I’ll speak on several. Nearly all end with questions I’m unable to answer at present. I suppose that says a lot about me, doesn’t it?

 

Educated Unhappiness

I experienced a somewhat interesting event a few weeks ago.

I was engaged in small talk with my co-workers when the subject of reality TV was discussed. Having not watched “normal” TV for the last six or seven years, I was unaware of this particular show and asked for more details.

“Oh, it’s so great!” I heard. “These people are ridiculous. You have to see it!” I was told. So, out of curiosity and out of a desire to relate more with my peers, I downloaded an episode of Extreme Cheapskates to see for it myself. I got about 15 minutes into the episode when I had to just stop the video entirely. I just couldn’t take anymore.

I’m unsure whether it was the pregnant woman dumpster diving for expired medication to use as “prenatal vitamins” or the guy who was willing going to have one of his testicles removed just for the 20K payout associated with it, but I didn’t last more than 15 minutes and this distressed me.

When I find myself unable to relate to the world around me, I behave like a good Christian and look internally to see what I’m perhaps doing wrong. What is wrong with my tastes that I couldn’t sit through something so popular with people from my own age and (more or less) economic group?

That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy anything that other people do. I’m in the midst of binge-watching House of Cards as I recap and prepare for Season 3, a show which, it seems, nearly everyone loves. That said, almost everyone I know adores Breaking Bad, yet I’ve not geared myself up to watch another episode of Breaking Bad because after pushing through three seasons of it, I hate Walter, I hate Jesse, I hate Walter’s wife, and her sister and her brother-in-law, and I’m not too crazy about Walter Jr. either, but he’s at least tolerable for me.

This goes beyond television as well. I’ve disliked most popular music since I last put away my NSYNC CDs in the twelfth grade and, as a black American woman, my dislike of rap music and indifference to all things related to Beyoncé, and my right-leaning politics, my vegetarianism, and my relative introversion have all thrown the slurs of wigger and oreo at me more times than I care to count.

The books I enjoy most were written at least 100 years ago in a country an ocean away from me and even my favorite video games aren’t considered “good” games by most gamers.

What is it that prevents me from relating to those around me? Why must I be so different?

 

What Does The Old Man Want of Me?

In cruising Reddit some time ago, I became intensely discouraged by an article on writing as a craft and a profession.

I even asked God for a moment, “Well does this mean that writing isn’t for me? What else am I supposed to do?”

I immediately dismissed the thoughts, saying to myself that it didn’t matter because this is what I do. Everything that makes me Dorienne has always led back to storytelling.

As I continued with my work (i.e., browsing Reddit), a random X-Files story popped into my mind. I don’t think of X-Files stories often as I don’t really have much time for fan fiction these days. It sounded so good, however, that I had to write it in my list of “book ideas” and it seemed as if, again, I was met with what seemed like an answer to my aforementioned question.

Should I continue to write? Am I meant to write? The instant story would point to yes, but I can’t help my doubts over coincidences.

Going back to X-Files though and one of my favorite quotes from it…if coincidences were just coincidences, why do they always feel so contrived?

 

Dysfunction Suction

To call recent months with my family dysfunctional is to not do them credit.

I’ve uttered aloud that I hate some of them, and I’ve even become so overwhelmed by emotion that I cried in public.

I’ve tried to pray prayed over my heavy heart again and again. Some days I get an inkling of the answers I want. Other days, I’m left in such darkness that I don’t know if I’m there because I won’t accept a hearty “No,” or if I’m just too impatient to see the answer in front of me.

In general, however, all this dysfunction has sucked much of my creativity. I continue working on Anne because I need to do something to pretend I’m not just standing still; waiting for answers I’ve likely already received.

I’m reading through the entire Bible and I’m into Proverbs. I’ve read, several times in these chapters, that I must lean not on my own understanding and depend on God. I do…but…

I’m often left asking “why” as I’ve done so many times this month. Why must I wait? Why must I be different? Why can’t I tell the difference between coincidence and providence? Why can’t I have what I want in life and, if what I want isn’t good for me, why can’t The Old Man just tell me what to do so I can just do it and go home?

 

 

The Telltale Failure Monday, November 17, 2014

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 4:14 pm
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Once again, I’ve attempted and failed at NaNoWriMo. True, there is still half the month to go, and if I really wanted to do it, I could 5-hour energy my way through to the 50K word goal, but I’m well aware that’s just not me.

What intrigues me about this most recent failure is how indicative it is of the way I write. Despite the pleasure that comes from pure imagination, I realize that I cannot write forever in chaos.

Without the boundaries of an outline and progressive drafts of a project, imagination turns into a chaotic fervor of flips and bends to the point that all I have left are almost journalistic horrors of my subconscious.

A year or so ago, a fairy tale I’d attempted for NaNo turned into a dark story about abuse and this year’s story was supposed to allow a dark protagonist to turn from his ways, but 3K words into it, I’d Hannibal Lecter-ized him and removed any possibilities for redemption. I’m not sure why pure imagination keeps leading me down these dark paths, but I’m ready to acknowledge that pure freedom in my writing leads to utter chaos.

The chaos exists outside of the storyline as well. Jumping into a project with no rhyme or reason gives rise to horrible writing and since NaNo seems to be a race against word count, I’m pushed to ignore everything I know I’m doing wrong.

If I learned anything in writing Damen it’s that writing chapters of trash that I’m well aware will have to be scrapped even as I write them does me little good. NaNo’s freedom urges me to forget all the hard lessons I’ve learned over the years and, in the end, the resulting chaos leaves me without the will to even look at meaningful writing, which is where I’ve been for the last week.

All this notwithstanding, I’m glad to have tried and failed once again. In general, I despise failure as it seems so similar to weakness, which I hate even more, but in every failure I rise stronger and ready to accomplish even more than I’d originally set out to do.

And, so…though I acknowledge my NaNoWriMo failure, I’m readied in my zeal to continue and finish this phase of Anne. Onward and upward, indeed!

 

The Case for NaNoWriMo Friday, October 31, 2014

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 10:24 am
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I’ve said in the past that I dislike the idea of NaNoWriMo for giving the false illusion that a novel can be written in thirty days. A deep dive into the project would show anyone who was really interested that the goal is not to have a complete work at month’s end, but to have a preliminary draft that could edited and re-written a dozen times into something remotely publishable. In the past, however, a lot of people haven’t looked at NaNoWriMo through that lens, or if they have, they have extremely myopic vision.

What has saturated the market for emerging authors is the plethora of people who take the 50K words they’ve written in November, spell and grammar check the project, re-read once or twice in December, and then start sending their work to agents in January. As one who has catalogued the years it takes to have something even worthwhile for rejection, every year NaNoWriMo distresses me.

I actually attempted NaNoWriMo a couple years ago and I never got past the first day; I simply can’t write like that. Despite my reservations, however, I’m going to try this in my own way.

I attended church this past Sunday after missing for a few weeks for various reasons, and my attendance kick-started a lot of inspiration. I’ve been putting real effort into my workouts, I’ve been accomplishing all the goals on my daily to-do lists, and I’ve been really writing. I haven’t been spitting out 100 words a day just to say that I’ve written something, but I’ve really put in the effort that Anne deserves.

So, I’m going to do some form of NaNoWriMo. While in its current form, Anne is far greater than 50K words, but as I go through my re-write process, I’m going to ensure I write at least 1700 words a day throughout November. Rather than retain my pessimistic outlook on the entire NaNoWriMo project, I’ll participate (sign up, check in, badges, the whole thing), and see where it takes me.

Also, in other news, I made the reddit front page last week. I probably waste more hours each week on reddit than I do sleeping, but still…the front page is the front page! 🙂

 

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!

 

 
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