I am kaitco

a writer's log

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.

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Words on a Page Thursday, July 31, 2014

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 12:53 am
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There’s a part of me that wants to let this blog fall to the wayside as so many of my other online endeavours have in the past. There’s an old Livejournal and even older Xanga out there on the Interwebs, lying unloved until those servers close, not to mention my main DorienneSmith.com blog. I’m sure there are dozens of others, but I’m much too “meh” to struggle remembering.

That “meh” emotion, or lack thereof, is part of what has kept me from having anything meaningful to say here for ages. The other part is that I’ve been keeping a daily journal on my phone that allows me to record on a far more personal level than I would for something I publish for others to see. What pleasures I once gained only from here are now being fulfilled in a different manner which leaves me at this crossroads.

Do I continue to post things for the sake of doing it, or do I allow these years of ramblings to gather proverbial dust?

I haven’t got an answer for myself at the moment, so I’ll default to the former for now…

I think my lack of drive for a writing blog is the fact that I don’t feel like I’ve made a lot of progress as a writer lately. I’ve been writing daily; I’ve actually met my 500 word daily goals for about two weeks. Anne is coming along slowly, but it will be towards the end of 2015 before I’m anywhere exciting in that project. For now, Anne is in that boring stage where I try to make sense of all my notes and just attempt to get dialogue, prose, and ideas into a single document that has some sort of chronology. In writing Damen, I’ve come to fully understand each stage in the process and how long I’ll be before I have anything resembling a finished product. Anne is so far from the goal line that it doesn’t seem relevant to discuss.

Now that I’ve said Anne isn’t worth discussing: I’m not ready to consider Damen a failure because I haven’t queried anyone about it since October 2013 as I’ve tried to re-group and spend time away from it. The best way to spend time away from one project is to jump onto another, but Anne feels like such a quagmire.

My intention with Anne is to foray into the world of self-publishing, but through a pseudonym just in case that effort goes poorly. Since I know Anne will be self-published, I can’t quite get as excited about it as I was with Damen, and yet, a project is a project. Anne fits somewhere between fanfiction and real fiction to me, partly because I am re-working an Austen novel, but mostly because I know it’s not going to go through all the “fun” of the query/rejection process. Once it’s done, Anne will be more of an effort in marketing than in art. I took a marketing class once many eons ago…I spent most of the time creating story ideas in the margins of my lecture notes. I can’t get excited about marketing, thus it’s hard to get excited about Anne and, since Anne is my sole project at this time, I’m finding it difficult to get excited about my writing.

On I trek, however. I’ll be 30 in September and I have difficulty remembering a time when I wasn’t in the middle of one writing project or six. This is who I am.

 

World Keeps Spinning Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Filed under: Dorienne,Writing — kaitco @ 10:34 pm
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I stare at this empty page
The cursor blinks at me
I plead the muse of inspiration
To look down amicably
Upon this Christian soldier’s eyes
That search for daily meaning
In her writing that she creates
Whose verbosity is careening
Out of control. The cursor blinks
With it’s evil grinning
And while the author waits and waits
This world just keeps on spinning.

I’ve not written anything worthwhile here in ages, though a million things have occurred in the last few months. First-job is not un-enjoyable and is moving in a good direction and I’ve got a few eggs dropped into the paths of my literary goals that are finally beginning to hatch.

We lost a church member just last week and her homegoing is this weekend, but I can’t remember the last time I was so uplifted by another soldier’s work. She brought up her family in God’s ways and was a faithful Christian to the very end. Every time I think of her and children, I can’t help praying, “Lord, that’s the kind of Christian I want to be. Help me get there.”

I had an epiphany with Anne this month; simply put, she was just too good. There was no stain upon her character, so I had to muddy her a bit, as even I was beginning to struggle to relate to her.

So, there. Lots of happenings, but nothing particularly notable in a blogging sense, hence the attempt at poetry. On I trek towards my lofty goals…

 

Marching Forward Thursday, March 13, 2014

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 2:25 pm
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I’m starting to grow weary of Anne, which means I’m in a good place literarily. I only grow bored and tired when I’ve been pushing hard on a project, and I’ve definitely been pushing with Anne. I’ve been setting goals of writing 500 words daily and since I’m so early into Anne, this has included 500 words daily of pure writing.

As March begins to wind down, I recognize that my sabbatical is ending and it’s time for me to begin sending query letters again. I’m in no way discouraged about Damen, as I understand I come knocking at the traditional publishing world’s gates at one of its most tumultuous times in history. The world is reading less; I know this from the number of people I’ve unfriended on Facebook for Liking groups like “I Don’t Read.” Not only is the world reading less, the people who are reading are buying fewer books, and when they do buy, more often they are going for e- rather than traditional. It puts everyone, aspiring authors, agents, publishers, in a tough place, which is why I no longer roll my eyes when I see the same themes of books paraded in front of me by the same authors who have always sold well; I understand why the publishing world does how it does. All this notwithstanding, I go into this round of the agent search a little colder and a little more worldly than I was last July.

Since Anne is beginning to wear on me, this may be the best time to take another look at Damen now that I’m about nine months from it. Perhaps, with some a clearer, cooler mind, I can make some more worthwhile edits to make the novel a little more appealing to those unsure about offering a chance to this author.

Onward and upward!

 

Turning over my writing engine Thursday, February 13, 2014

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 11:42 pm
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I decided on the first of this month that February would be “Finish the First Part of Anne” Month, which involved my writing a minimum of 500 words every day. When I first gave myself this challenge, I thought nothing of it as I’d been able to write as much as a thousand words a day and I’m in the preliminary stages of writing Anne, where everything is pure creation, with little editing. I find myself, however, struggling to meet word count every day.

The sensation is akin to starting my car in this zero-degree weather after I hadn’t started it in more than 24 hours. It can take several seconds to turn over and even then, the stereo doesn’t quite pick up the iPod as well as in warm weather and skipping tracks involves some guess work. Once I let the car warm up a bit, though, everything runs as fine as the day I bought it.

Jumping back into my old writing habits after taking a 10-words-a-day-minimum “sabbatical” over the last couple months has proven quite challenging. Once I force it a bit, the creative juices start flowing like old times, but getting started is still difficult each day.

While I’d like to say “no more sabbaticals, ever,” I know that’s not feasible. I’ve been often told the best way to keep the pipes in my house from freezing and bursting is to allow a faucet to drip slowly overnight to keep the water in constant motion. As I continue pushing through various stages of Anne, I may need to keep up my 500-word daily challenge on any project (and the older I get, the more projects I conjure), just to keep the words dripping and keep my literary pipes from freezing in the interim.

 

The Cyclical Process Monday, December 30, 2013

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 9:12 pm
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I love this stage of the writing process. After Flight and Damen, I’ve definitely got a method for completing a novel and so with Anne, I recognize my favorite stage of writing a novel: pure writing for the sake of telling a story.

I’m in this wonderful early stage in Anne where I write without regard to punctuation or even complete sentences. I drift in and out of notes, prose, and dialogue whenever I want because all I’m trying to do is get the story onto the page. This is how I know I’m a storyteller who chooses the written word for her method of telling her stories rather than “just” a writer. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure like any literary nerd should, but when I’m left to create simply because I can, I write however I want.

I cherish this stage of the novel process because the polishing, editing, and agent search stages suck…much of the fun out of storytelling, as necessary as they are.

I’m taking a much needed break from the agent search as many agents don’t even accept queries between January and March and I think I may throw a spoke in the wheels of this entire process as I approach 30. In 2014, instead of plowing through Anne until it is publishable, I think I’ll get the full story on the page and then go back to Jill and bring her story to the same state. I had some trouble deciding whether to work on Anne or Jill a few months ago and there’s a part of me that still wants to fully complete them both at the same time.

If I manage to get both Anne and Jill “done” in 2014, I’ll revisit my next step, but this coming year, all I really want to do is revel in the concept of writing because I can. I’m still going to continue trying to get Damen published and, if I get bored, I may even start my Harry fanfic or make a full edit of Flight like I’ve been intending to do since age 25, but if I do nothing else in 2014, I’ll write simply because I enjoy telling my stories.

 

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.

 

 
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