I am kaitco

a writer's log

So…I preached a sermon Monday, May 9, 2022

Filed under: Dorienne,Writing — kaitco @ 4:09 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

It wasn’t intentional, but I ended up preaching a sermon.

A couple months ago, one of the newer ministers at my church asked if I would “speak” at the Women’s Day program being held. It must have been a rather strong sermon that had me feeling very holy or something because for some odd reason I answered instantly and answered in the affirmative. The minister told that she’d give me some things that I could use when I spoke and this gave me some comfort. It wasn’t going to be a sermon. Just me, leading the event as a “speaker”.

Well, this past Saturday, I spoke. I’d procrastinated until the last possible moment in hopes that the notes the minister had for me were all I really needed and that I’d be able to simply read her notes verbatim and all would be well. But, upon reading the notes the night prior, I found that I didn’t have as much to go on as I’d hoped. When I’d leafed through them sporadically over the past few weeks, it seemed like I had what I needed, but when crunch time hit, I had no idea how I was going to deliver any sort of message based on what I had.

I called the minister trying to hide my panic as much as possible and expressed some concern interweaved with my questions. Are these all the notes? Am I Mistress of Ceremonies, or am I just give a brief talk? How long am I supposed to speak? Thirty whole minutes?? I tried to stretch out the notes with all the Christianity I could muster, but I simply didn’t have it. So, I did what I often do in times of trouble and I called my mother.

I opened the door for her to begin by lamenting that she was, indeed, correct in her past surmising that I would find myself the Friday prior to the event trying to pull something together, but as she spoke about different things I could do, I started to write. I wrote. I wrote and when I hit a block, I’d Google a bit of scripture, copy some lines from some other preacher’s texts, and then I wrote some more. Some time after I’d hung up with my mother, I had something that would at least last me about 15 minutes or so and sounded like something that would come from me.

Saturday morning found me shaken and nervous. I hadn’t done my best, but I figured if all else failed, perhaps I’d bomb so hard that I wouldn’t be asked to speak at any other engagements. The ladies enjoyed a nice breakfast (I only pecked because there was meat in everything, but that was expected), and for a moment, I even hoped that the minister would sense my unprepared nervousness and forgo calling “the speaker” for the event. Alas, she took the podium and invited me to come forward.

I stood in front of a small gathering of the women of my church, including some family, one of our pastors, and actual ministers, and I gave up a quick prayer…and then I was saying the last few words I’d prepared. I suppose I can say the Spirit took over and just led the message through me, but all I know for certain is that it seemed to go well. There were hugs abound and even a few tears as I made my way back to my seat and, throughout the rest of the event, so many others came up to me saying that they were so proud of how far I’ve come over the years. Then the were a few comments about “Minister Dorienne” which, had I felt like I’d done my absolute best, or that I’d been in any way called, I might have welcomed. Instead, I felt…I’m not even sure how to articulate it; confusion, trepidation, full-on imposter syndrome? The list goes on.

I think what’s presenting as concern is that I don’t see myself as a preacher. I’m not sure that I want to go into the ministry. Yes, I regularly attend church and bible study, and I sing in the choir, and I tithe, but that’s just doing the basics to me. I attend the weekly Sunday School teacher’s meeting for my mother’s church because, honestly, I just can’t get to my own church on time for Sunday School. In fact, I hardly make it to Sunday morning service on time each week; it’s a running joke about how I’m always late! And, yes, I used a long-standing command of the written word to speak to the women of my church, but that was more me being a writer and knowing my “audience” than anything holy.

Days later questions bombard me to the point I find it hard to think of much else. Is this really what the Lord wants me to do? And, if it is, then why? I don’t think I’m a good example for anyone to follow. The fact that I’ve not ended a black American woman statistic has more to do with my current aversion to intimacy than anything holy in my character. I curse, often, mainly in just texts, but it happens a lot. I’ve never been married and I don’t have kids and I’m unsure that I’ll even reach a point in my life when I’ll even want those things. I regularly turn away from all the pinnacles of a preacher’s life. The last time I read the words that a woman should obey her husband, my first thought was that if I want to retain my independence, that means I shouldn’t get married.

Is it so hard to just want to write? Am I ignoring a call? Should I hold my breath and wait to get swallowed up by Jonah’s whale of a life experience if I reject this alleged call? And, then why me? Why should the person who has the least in common with those who preach be one who does? Who would even listen to me if I tried? I get most excited on Instagram when my favorite drag queens post; am I expected to give sermons to drag queens so that they know they can remain who they are and still know God loves them? I have nothing! Nothing but questions.

The more I let others listen to the recording, the more I hear the same words about gifts and callings, but all I really want to do is be a participant who writes. Is it so wrong to just be a participant? Do I have to answer for just living?

Sigh…

Motivation for other types of writing has dwindled to a slow trickle, despite managing to write at least 500 words daily since Easter (save a single day spent trying to survive self-provided food poisoning). Part of me wonders whether I’m facing some punishment for turning away from something I should embrace, while the more conservative part me of me recalls how often I’d attempted to lead Sunday School classes as a teacher years ago while having only read the lesson minutes prior to class starting.

Anyhoo… I’m likely causing myself a lot of worry over nothing. I think when people are called, they are called. They know it, they feel it, they embrace it. As for myself, I’m just trying to live. I just want to use writing as the catharsis it is and just try to live, which is more than I can say I’ve wanted over the years. So, with all of that out my head and onto the page, onward and upward.

 

Hazlo tarde Wednesday, December 29, 2010

So, nothing got written during all of yesterday.

The main reason for it is that I was playing IT specialist to my family, traveling and worked close to a 14-hour day at my first job. I’m not using these as excuses, but I just plain ran out of time.

I don’t I’ll get too much written this week since I’m closing in on the new year and am simply determined to get my house cleaned before then. I want the laundry done, trash outside, my bed made, the bathroom cleaned, dishes done, paper shredded and sorted, and floor and stairs vacuumed before I leave for Watch Night service this Friday. It’s a lot to do, but I know if I haven’t got it done by the time I leave, the whole year will be much like it was this year: in a perpetual state of trying to catch up with all the crap.

I was doing some pondering today, while manning some mindless tasks, about my upcoming Harry-fic and how I plan on going about the relationship thingy. The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of making something that could truly fit in between Books 5 and 7, which means I may need to play down the whole Harry/Hermione thing a bit, or at least make it very clear how Ron doesn’t want Hermione after all, why Harry does and yet still keep things on a level that could potentially lead into Book 7. I’m not sure I can “re-write” Book 6 as Harry/Hermione and still make it fit nicely into Book 7, but I think it’s worth a shot. At least, with this in the back of my mind, it will help keep me honest to the characters and ensure that I’ve justified the decision I’ve made since I’m certain there are so many people in this world who got through the first 4 Harry books and came to a completely different conclusion about the state of the trio’s love triangle from me. I think I’ll just stick to the old edict of “Two men, one woman…trouble.” and write what suits me.

I often find myself comparing myself to each of the characters I write and as I continue with Damen, it gets harder to make complete distinctions. It’s like I’m their…god and I’ve left a lot of myself in all of them, even Corey. I’ve also made some characters that reflect (at least on a subconscious level, initially) how I think many people see me and how I would like to see myself. I did this with Flight as well. I looked at Alexa and knew that she was how people saw me: short, annoying and unwanted. I wanted to be seen like Andrea: tall, respected, intelligent and dark-skinned and beautiful. It’s almost like I’m writing the same character, though I have yet to see which character fits how folks might see me, other than Britiana, who’s just a little too obvious. Brit’s short, I’m short. Brit’s black, I’m black. Brit had mostly white friends in suburbia and I had the same. Outside of that, however, our likenesses really end. I didn’t sit at the trendy table in high school, but I guess some of the people who I ran with did, so others kind of saw me that way (as I learned in college), but really, I don’t think too many people would look at Brit and think: Dorienne! I definitely want to be seen like Anessa since, like Andrea, she is tall, respected, intelligent, dark-skinned and beautiful. I can see her very clearly in my mind and I can’t help wishing that I was like her, the same way I get jealous of the African women at my first job; I just feel like my blood is so dirty compared to them and some days, my skin looks more yellow-oakish than a rich mahogany. Anyway, I’m just rambling now.

I would like to finish Chapter 7 as well, but I’ll be happy if I can just get things sorted at the first job and just moving in the right direction on the second.

I’d also like to turn on the heat this week, but we’ll see if I can work up the courage to change the air filter…it’s definitely been a while.

 

Compensating Monday, December 13, 2010

I got through 1355 words yesterday and could have done more had I not turned on the sims, started watching “Coupling” on Netflix and then fell asleep randomly. I spent a lot of the day mixing Job 1 and Job 2 yesterday, obviously compensating for what I didn’t do the previous day.

I’m proud of the work I did and the research I managed to complete (Phillis Wheatley FTW!), but I am still a little bummed that I hadn’t found what book Damen would be reading at the end of the part I finished. I just wrote:

Listening to the murmurs coming from the same room, he read XX from the comfort of his hiding place for a while, when he looked up and saw Jessie Clarke staring

I had just gone on about Invisible Man for a while and would like to use it again, but Damen had just finished the book during the previous scene and it’s a little too on the nose to use Invisible Man when Damen’s…trying to be invisible. It just seems a little hackish.

Anyhoo, I’ve decided to name all the streets after Jane Austen characters (Willoughby Drive, Elliott Street, Dashwood Way) and the reason I remember this, other than the fact that it’s just so fun, is that I’ve created this “Damen reminders” sheet to help me keep things straight. I’ve got two separate files from the novel/chapter that include details about Anthony’s family and Damen’s upbringing as well as Angel’s story (which I’ve got some preliminary notes for, thought I haven’t decided if it will be it’s own novel yet), but the Reminders will be more of a quick reference than the others. The “damen-teachers” and “damen-books” files have grown far to long to remain any type of quick reference and I’ve decided to move fruitful conversations that I’ve just put at the end of “damen-books” until I find the proper place for them to the Reminders.

The thing is, I’ve got quite a few of these conversations, usually coloured dark red or blue, interspersed through several chapters, which makes me think that I should perhaps drop them altogether. I think it’s just a matter of determining whether the little talks between Damen and Brit are moving along the story.

I’ve also been seesawing with my decision to include the “I know what you’re thinking…” pieces for Angel, Anthony, Brit and Corey. I want to include them because Corey’s is very poignant and Angel’s gives the kind of insight into her that would be very long and difficult to explain since novel is a close 3rd on Damen. I have this inkling that Brit’s will be just a rant that’s almost my own words about being a black girl in America and Anthony’s will be just sound like a raving imbecile, which is how I see him at this point.

I don’t know how it popped into my head yesterday, but I imagined Anthony snatching away all Damen’s books and poetry by black authors; everything except Langston Hughes. I don’t bother going into Zora Neale Hurston since Damen and Brit will be reading her later, but somehow I see Hughes work as a little argumentative on the subject of being black. He’s like Malcolm X to Countee Cullen’s MLK and, while it often sounds beautiful, it annoys me. Also, at least at my school, black American literature is not even introduced until the Harlem Renaissance when we’re just doused with Hughes’ work and the teachers make it sound like blacks never wrote a darn thing prior to 1921 (Phillis Wheatley FTW!). Anyway, where I was going with this is that I’m beginning to dislike Anthony even more than when I first started this endeavour.

Two years ago, I imagined Anthony as having his flaws, but still having some good-naturedness to him. Nowadays, I’m about two steps from having him actually strike Angel to make him truly the most vile character in the novel, surpassing even Zach. I don’t know if it’s because I identify more and more with Damen as I continue, so it’s easier to hate Anthony or if I’m just venting my frustrations with so many black American men, but I there’s definitely more hostility in the prose when I write Anthony. Hopefully, all of this will work itself out when Damen later sees a functional mixed family (perhaps “art boy” will have an older white brother…), but for now, Anthony’s getting the third degree from me.

Perhaps all of this stems from reading about Roll of Thunder again. I haven’t read the book since I was in 7th or 8th grade, possibly even 6th, and I’ve included it as one that Kevin had read to Damen often. I suppose it’s just bringing home the point that despite any off hand remarks about blacks, Damen is not actually bigoted, but Anthony’s just an a**. What I can’t seem to get my mind around is why Angel finds the book dear to her. I came up with some info, but I still don’t know…

All right…time to make this day the success that yesterday was, though I must say, working Sundays is probably the worst thing in all the world.

 

Crash Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 11:22 am
Tags: , , , , ,

My laptop randomly crashed in the middle writing this morning. Thankfully, I only had about a paragraph of unsaved work prior to the crash, but it just makes a lesson from my mother far more poignant: Save often.

I have my novel stored on an external hard drive that’s connected to both the PC and the laptop in the event of something just like this, so I was able to continue writing while the creative juices were flowing. And, goodness! They were flowing this morning; 1383 words! That’s the closest I’ve come to 2K a day since I started this endeavour.

I’ve got nothing interesting to say other than I completely rewrote Damen’s “breakup” with Tabitha. I’m reluctant to call it a breakup since they weren’t really a couple or anything, but since Damen behaves as if it’s a breakup, it seems fitting.

Originally, the breakup talk involved a lot of yelling and Damen-brand snarkiness, but the more I thought about his demeanor in the days after the Great Jessie Debacle, I found a very terse, soft conversation more fitting. Damen also goes silent towards Angel and Anthony and even throws out a little bit of racism when he’s at his meanest to Tabitha. I hesitated adding the “go find yourself a black football player” piece because it may suggest that half the reason he hates Anthony is skin colour, but I think I’ll counter this with a little more Brit “worship” in the next chapter.

If memory serves, he sees Brit is a cousin in the next chapter, so tonight (hopefully tonight; I’m tired of writing in the mornings) will be spectacular.

 

“Woman” made a woman out of me Sunday, December 5, 2010

Before I talk about writing, I have to talk about my latest swing of Guitar Hero.

Last night, I defeated “Woman” by Wolfmother on Hard mode. This was no ordinary feat as many songs on Hard are ridiculously hard. Just look!

I first attempt this song about a month ago. I had completed all the songs on Medium and, once I had figured out how to complete Cheap Trick’s “Surrender,” I had zoomed the rest of the songs on the first tier. I was flying high and imagined I would fly through all the songs on Hard as did on medium. Then came “Woman.”

I attempted it several times and then quit the game, realizing that I had hit a wall so tall I had no hope in ever climbing it and it was quite possible that I would never be able to play any other song on Guitar Hero.

A few weeks went by and I attempted the song again, only to fail even harder than I had on the first attempt. What made it so difficult to stomach, aside from my hatred of failure, was the fact that I couldn’t stand the song. The hard songs are fun to master when I actually like the song, like “Message in a Bottle” or “Jessica” or even “Free Bird,” but a song, I can’t imagine I’ll ever listen to outside of Guitar Hero is just painful to keep playing over and over and over again, with no hope of ever playing another song on the Hard tour.

To satiate my Guitar Hero desires, I started to go through the Medium tour again to play as many songs as possible to five stars and even got through the first tier, but at the back of my mind “Woman” still lurked, waiting for me like a behemoth that knew it could never be defeated.

Last week, I decided that I was going to beat “Woman.” If I did nothing else in life, I could at least revel in the fact that I had beaten my Everest of Guitar Hero songs. I tried just playing and playing the song in hopes that I could just “get” it randomly, but I continuously failed at 48%. The hammer ons and pull offs were what perplexed me. I took the tutorials twice more in hopes of understanding the concept, but nothing came. I pulled YouTube videos of greasy 13 year olds explaining how to accomplish the hammer ons and pull off, but I could only take so much of those cracking voices and quickly grew frustrated.

I tried practicing the song on every speed, but even there I was making less than a third of the notes. Finally, I literally said “F**k it.” and just decided that I was just going to keep playing the song until I died. For the past four nights, I’ve been doing just this. I go to work, I go home, I eat a bit, I play Guitar Hero and I write. Every night I would play, but I would get no further.

Friday night, I discovered to my amazement that I had actually mastered the verses, but could not go any further. Then, I realized the usefulness of the star power and got a little further and even into 71%, but continued to hit that wall. Last night, however, I discovered how Dorienne! does hammer ons and pull offs. On a whim, I just slid my fingers across the fret buttons and Lo and Behold! I had made the pull off!

It was like a stroke of genius, like getting hit on the head with an apple and I grinned wildly as I continued to play and play and play using my newfound skill and going further and further into the song. Then…I did it.

My mouth hung as I realized I had surpassed all my other hiccups in the song and was winding the turn into the end of the final verse and then, I did it! My neighbors probably thought I was being attacked by the amount of screaming and jumping that was going on when I saw “You Rock!” at the end of the song, but I didn’t care. I did it. I beat “Woman” on Hard tour. After I beat that song (and after a short rest), every song that came after it was a cakewalk. I had arrived!

I have no delusions of grandeur about completely beating the game and getting through Expert mode, but the moment I beat “Woman” was just so sweet.

On to more important things…

So, all this week, I’ve been falling asleep in my chair, waking at 4am and then dragging myself to the bed. Last night, I took things to another level and just slept in the chair.

Out of the pure stubbornness of not wanting to go to sleep until I finished the chapter, I refused to go to sleep. I’d lean back in my chair and then push myself forward to type just one more word…I was so close to the end. But, then, I awoke and found myself in my chair, my space heater whirring gently beside me. I expected to find that it was 5 or even 6, but it was 8:30.

I knew I was going to church this morning, but was just annoyed that I hadn’t even got to my bed. The same stubbornness that kept me in the chair until 8:30 in the morning, pushed me back into my bed just to gain the feeling of getting out of bed in the morning.

Despite all my best efforts and the rampant stubbornness, I only managed to squeak out 611 words last night. I’ve decided that both the Brit/Britiana and the Facebook friending/unfriending will be an allusion to the turbulent state of Damen and Brit’s friendship. I also realized, however, that I have yet to really answer why Brit doesn’t have any black friends. I know I’ll have to make whatever the story is start sometime back when she and Jessie were in first or second grade…maybe one of the black girls in their class said something mean to Brit and Jessie just slaps the girl across the face and instant best friends…I don’t know…

I don’t think I’ll get much writing done later tonight. I’m a bit tired after spending 5 hours at work after church (an exhausting day at church at that) and I think I’d really rather just play the sims, not to mention that I’ve got the rest of the Guitar Hero II Hard tour to attempt. That said, I’ve not gone this long writing consistently since I was in the depths of Flight, so perhaps taking the night off may not be the best thing to do just yet.

Hmm…

 

The same characters Friday, June 5, 2009

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 11:38 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I’ve been thinking a lot about Evan and that entire series.

Even though the fact that I’ve been writing for such a long time slips from my mind quite often, I seem to always remember that Michael Connor is my first character. When I was eight, our teacher forced us to write stories using our spelling words for the week. As a “cute” Christmas gift that year, my mother put a lot of my stories together in a little booklet and passed them out to relatives and such. I remember I was always being “praised” for these stories and couple poems, but what still sticks out to me is coming up Michael Connor. Out of all the “characters” I created for these stories, he was the only one I used in more than one story and he was the only who I could actually visualize. At eight years old, I knew what he looked like, what he sounded like, and a bit about why he behaved the way he did. I continued to write stories involving him into the fourth and fifth grades and have been writing him as a more or less subsidiary character since then.

My plan with Evan was to make Michael my protagonist in the last book, but as time passes and my writing improves, I’m thinking that I’ll never be able to really write the Evan series and my first character will never see the light of day. The idea of it really, really disappoints me because I feel like I’ve grown up with him and I’ve evolved his character over time. At one point, he was just a little boy who acted out in class, but by the end, he’s a full girl-hitting, druggie. It’s like I can see how things started for him and then I allowed him to progress. I just love this character because I’ve “known” him for so long.

What really feels devastating is that I don’t think I’ll be able to write Evan, not because I haven’t the time, the will or the energy, but because of all the other projects that will come before it. There’s no way Evan will ever be as good as Damen or even Flight for that matter. It’s just not good enough. And, to almost add insult to injury, if I ever got to writing Evan, I’d be too wrapped up in what other people would possible be thinking about it to do any real editing to make the book as good if not better than its predecessors.

I know there’s something to be said in the fact that I have the same chemistry surrounding similar-looking characters in a lot of my projects. For example, in Damen, Damen and Brit are two characters who have that “Will they/Won’t they” thing going on that’s amplified by the fact that he’s white and she’s black. Again in Luka, granted there’s so much going on that I think people would be hard-pressed to fully follow these thoughts, but Luka and Elia have that same “Will they/Won’t they” thing and, again, he’s white and she’s black.

I suppose I could get away with it in two different books because Luka and Damen are so incredibly different people as are Elia and Brit, but it’s something that could definitely raise an eyebrow or two.

I think I could probably allow the same thing in Evan if I didn’t have Alex as my protagonist in the third book. Even though Alex is bi-racial and the “Will they/Won’t they” between her and David is more of a when rather than an if, it would be the third set of characters that fall into this kind of line. It is almost like I’m doing this subconsciously, writing a black female and a white male over and over and over again, but then again, if I know what’s happening going into the story, I can’t really blame this on my subconscious.

I’ve always said that I write the stories that come to me. I try to spring in Jesus wherever I can, like Jonathan’s dependence on his faith in Flight or even Brit’s faith in Damen, but for the most part, I write the characters who pop in my mind. Most of the time…

You know, it’s just now occurred to me what’s happening with this white boy/black girl thing…

When I develop a story, it normally starts with a single character and from him or her, I create a cast and from there a plot. Most of the time (though, I’m still not sure why), that first character who comes to mind just happens to be a white male and, since I cannot/will not write something without a strong black female somewhere near the forefront, this white boy/black girl thing always finds its way into the story. Evan, Luka and Damen are all white males and whether it was subconscious or purposeful, I’d found a strong female lead to accompany them; it’s probably my own way of projecting myself into my stories and, quite honestly, that disgusts me.

Now, that I’ve had this little revelation, however, I doubt I’ll be taking steps to change anything in the future. Again, I write the stories that come to me. I’ve imagined that I’ll get a lot of push back and criticism for not writing stories that centre around black people, but I write the stories that come to me. I’ve come up with stories surrounding white females also and there are few if any blacks in those stories; I write the stories that come to me.

I can imagine the insults now: You don’t care about the black community! You’ve lost touch with your own culture! It’s not like I don’t care about other blacks or something; I just write the stories and characters that come to me…

Miles will probably be the biggest chore of all the major projects I’ll be writing in the upcoming years as it does centre around a black male, but does not paint the rosiest picture of the “black community” throughout the plot.

I think one of the hardest things about desiring to be a good writer and not just a good female writer and certainly not just a good black writer, is staying true to myself. I suppose if anyone accuses me in the future of not writing anything that “uplifts” the black community, I can just show them how to read between the lines.

Outside of Miles, almost every black character that appears in my stories remains outside of the bounds of liberal stereotypes. They don’t speak like “blacks” are supposed to speak and they don’t do the things that “blacks” are supposed to do. I suppose I put a little of myself in every black character that I write, which makes Damen all the more special to me. Alex’s story in Evan hints on these same things in a different way, but Brit practically screams it in Damen.

I write the characters that come to me. I think I’ll just have to keep repeating this to myself as I continue; it’ll probably be the only thing that’ll keep me from changing what and how I write to suit the wishes of others.

 

 
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