I am kaitco

a writer's log

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.

 

Writing Recovery Friday, July 26, 2013

Filed under: Dorienne,Writing — kaitco @ 5:14 pm
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Whether it was from the absolute stress and nervousness of sending query letters or completing a project that has encompassed so much of my life for the past 4 years, I’ve spent the last week languidly procrastinating as I sought a new purpose. For the first time in AGES, I did not have a chapter to complete or several pages to revise and I found myself unable to do much more than sleep or read and then go back to sleep. It wasn’t until Wednesday that it occurred to me that the efforts of finally finishing a novel were taking their toll, but this shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me.

When I finished Evan when I was 15, I was still recuperating from my second ankle surgery and still on Christmas break, so my fatigue was well-expected and its source went unnoticed. When I finished Alex when I was 17, I was getting ready to start school at Ohio State, but I remember a week of stomach-gnawing stress and fatigue that I’d attributed to nervousness about starting college. When I finished Flight, however, when I was 22 (I guess; I’m too lazy to look up the completion date at the moment), I was preparing to graduate and, in posting that final chapter, I was ill and generally fatigued for weeks, which is why I couldn’t even think clearly about Damen until March-ish of 2009.

So, here I am, with another book finished and just as much fatigue as I’ve encountered with the previous ones. Unlike the other ones, I have nothing on which to place the blame. I’m not recuperating from surgery, or starting school, or finishing school. Now, I can see what writing a book really does to me and how much of myself I pour into every word. It is, without exaggeration, an exhausting process.

Today, however, I am quite refreshed. To occupy my time, I watched North & South and then read the book and then watched it 2-3 times a day and also while I slept and then re-read the last few chapters of the book again. To avoid fully falling into some OCD spiral, I refused to watch the film again yesterday, but still finished the book. I’d like to read the novel once more as I’ve started to read it like I read Persuasion or used to read Goblet of Fire; i.e., I read through favorite scenes, stop, and then re-read those favorite scenes a couple more times before progressing with the remainder of the book. That said, I know a cycle when it’s coming and it’s best, for now, that I move onto other things.

I’m not entirely sure what I will focus on writing this weekend. I’d like to write a poem or two in this “As…” project I’ve created and, while there’s no cure for the old novel like starting on the new novel, I’d also like to write something completely outside of anything I’d like to see traditionally published. A good ole’ fashioned SVU fanfiction or something, just to get the gears moving without wearing them down too soon.

Oh, well; we’ll see. It’s just as likely that I’ll spend the weekend playing games (dear God, that Steam sale!), so we’ll just have to see.

 

A well-read day Thursday, August 23, 2012

Filed under: Reading,Writing — kaitco @ 11:49 pm
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I’ve not written anything today (though, I may end up writing a little after writing this), but I’m not at all troubled by this.

I’ve been reading a ton; like, flipping between three books within the same hour kind of reading. Hunger Games, The Silence of the Lambs and also my book, Flight. I made Flight into a Kindle book for my mother to force her to read something I’ve written, though a year later, she still hasn’t, and I like to see where I was nearly four years ago when I first finished it. I like to read Flight as a Kindle book on my own, however, because unlike reading it from a Word doc or even online, I can’t suddenly stop reading and begin to edit, even though I may be compelled to do so. My errors are trapped in the ebook and I get to face them without means, albeit temporarily, to fix them. I’m not sure how vain it is to enjoy reading your own work, but I like it.

After watching The Silence of the Lambs on Sunday, I’m further compelled to read the book because it’s just so much better, which is quite a feat considering it’s also my favorite film of all time. Every time I watch the movie, however, I just have to read the book and since I’ve now read Hannibal and enjoy it’s ending so much, I know I’ll be re-reading that too. I’m still at the beginning of Hunger Games, but I enjoy it a lot.

I bring up all that I’m reading at the moment without a real way to describe why. A quote from Sex and the City, I think, summarizes my point nicely: “(Samantha) was one of the only people I knew who felt that proximity to beauty made her feel more attractive.” (from Models and Mortals) So, before I continue writing, I think I’ll do just a bit more reading.

 

Reading makes me want to write Friday, August 17, 2012

Filed under: Reading — kaitco @ 11:47 pm
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I’m a very competitive person and since I was in my teens, I often viewed the literary works of others as a possible threat to my success unless the authors were already long dead. Why I thought this is, even now, a bit of a mystery to me. Maybe it was just because I didn’t want anyone to do what I did too or something along those lines… Either way, I didn’t do a lot of reading in my mid teens which is when I did the most of my writing until my early 20s. Recently, however, the tides have changed and reading the works of others gets me even more excited to continue with my own.

I finished Octavia Butler’s Kindred this evening since I got to one of those points where I’ve only got about 50 pages left and I just can’t put it down until I finished. It was a good book, but her ending, like with Fledgling, left me staring at the last few words like “That’s it??!?” I’m always wanting more.

Since I’ve got a cycle going where I’m reading a Star Wars book, a more contemporary book and then a classic book, I’ve replaced Kindred with the first of The Hunger Games books, which has already garnered me a few likes on Facebook.

I love starting new books like I love creating new book ideas. No longer do I consider the works of others to be in competition with me. No longer do I fear losing my voice or finding myself writing in the style of a favorite author. Now, I view other literature as a chance to see how someone else “does it” and not only do I then get to enjoy someone else’s story, I get to become a stronger writer in the process.

 

Another scare Thursday, January 26, 2012

Filed under: Dorienne — kaitco @ 11:40 pm
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As technologically savvy as I think I am, from time to time, it frightens me. In one day, Micro$oft corrupted my novel’s file and it looks like my Google account may have been accessed from outside my country. Passwords have been changed and the novel is safe (more or less), but it astounds me how much I’ve come to depend on something that may throw me under the bus at any minute.

My whole life is connected to my Google account and one disaster there is almost as bad as having a wallet stolen. My novel has been nearly my whole life for the past few years and, while the majority of the work is backed up in pieces across multiple hard drives and my website, the most recent works could have been long gone.

I guess I don’t have too much of a point tonight, but needless to say, I’m not going to get a lot of writing done tonight. While I tell myself, if something written were lost, it was probably for the best, but I find a lot of comfort in re-reading old things and seeing how I came from Point A to B, hence the reason for this blog. I don’t like losing things, especially when I’ve done so much to safeguard them and even with files kept on a shared hard drive kept on Dropbox and backed up to my website, things can still go wrong.

 

Waiting for the moment Monday, September 12, 2011

I’m not sure when I developed a routine of deep procrastination prior to a project, but I wish I could break the cycle as much as I wish I could avoid being late. I want to say that this started in college when I would wait until the last possible second to write papers or study for exams, as if I were giving myself the added challenge because the coursework wasn’t interesting enough to hold my attention by itself. That’s incorrect though; I’ve been doing this probably since I was fifteen, if not earlier.

When I was fifteen, I set a goal to finish Evan, which I’d started four years earlier, before the new millennium and it wasn’t until I reached the end of December that I put my writing in overdrive to achieve the goal. When I was seventeen, I set myself a goal to finish Alex before I went off to school and I didn’t finish it until about a week before classes started.

This cycle of procrastination brings an odd rush with it. It’s like an extra set of endorphins that steadily release, increasing with the more time I let elapse. The less time I have to accomplish something, the greater the rush I get when I complete it. If I’ve got a paper due at 9am, the rush I get from waiting until midnight the previous night to write it is nowhere near the rush I get when I start at 4am to write the same paper.

I don’t think I intentionally crave this rush as I hadn’t really recognized it for what it was until just now, but I can’t think of any other reason why I’d put off projects, really, really important projects, until the very last second except to get a hit of that rush. It worries me because, as with any drug, you never know which hit is going to be the one to spin you into ruin.

I wrote 594 words today (like a five-year-old girl), but a part of me, however, wishes that I could reach that moment once again to push myself into overdrive for the rest of this novel…just one more hit.

 

Poorly adapted Thursday, August 25, 2011

Yesterday, I watched the absolute worst adaptation of a Jane Austen I’ve ever seen. I’ve not seen all that many of them, but I have seen my fair share of 19th century England period pieces and this was, by far, the worst. Mansfield Park from 1999…bleh.

I hadn’t read Mansfield Park at the time of watching, but I could tell within twenty minutes that something was amiss. The characters were not speaking in the 19th century mannerisms and, at several moments in the film, I wondered if these were indeed British actors as the acting was so bland and uninspired and I’d grown accustomed to expecting much, much more from British actors.

Also unlike other adaptations I’ve seen, I did not care about the characters at all. In watching Mansfield Park, I didn’t necessarily care for Fanny, the heroine, or care if she ever married or found happiness. I also didn’t care about her beau-to-be Edmund, whom I found duller than even Fanny. I didn’t care whether Edmund married another girl and, the way the story was set, I wasn’t even sure until the very end of the movie if Fanny and Edmund loved each other and would end up together.

There was also a lot of discussion about slavery throughout the film which, while interesting in concept, never went anywhere. It was as if everyone on the screen was talking about physics and all of a sudden Fanny mentioned something about slavery…and then it was never discussed again. It was like some kind of forced theme to make someone who did not care for Jane Austen’s story find something interesting about the plot.

I compare this adaptation to the 1995 Sense and Sensibility. I hadn’t read Sense and Sensibility prior to watching, but within the first ten minutes of the film, I loved the Dashwood sisters and was interested to see if they would find a suitable place to live on their pittance or if they would be forced to stay with their half-brother and his horrible wife. Later, I was just as heartbroken as Elinor when Edward did not arrive at the cottage and when she learned about Lucy’s involvement and then was just as stressed out when Edward did arrive in London when Lucy was visiting. Equally, I was just as excited to see Willoughby at the ball in London as Marianne and cried with her when she had her heart broken as well. There was none of this in Mansfield Park in which the writer and director had the audacity to dress up Jane Austen by dumbing down the language and pulling at strings to make it appeal to an audience that’s obviously incapable of understand why I a story about a lady seeking a suitable husband is interesting.

I think what hurts the most is that Netflix rated this as a possible 4 stars for me and I only gave it 2 stars and that was only because it was a period piece.

I do all of this ranting because I love Jane Austen’s work and I really can’t stand to see such wonderful literature destroyed in an adaptation. Why bother calling it an adaptation? Why not call it something different and add “based on the novel Mansfield Park” somewhere in the credits? I’ve seen other great books destroyed like this. Directors constantly did this to Michael Crichton novels; Congo, Sphere, The Lost World! It just makes me so angry!

Despite this movie that kept me up half the night because I was so mad about it, I wrote 617 words today (else to Brit for the rest of the period) and I’m bringing all the remaining chapters together in a single file to divide a bit later into “c” files once I’ve re-arranged the story a bit.

All the elements are still there, but I’ve removed some of the slow-moving ones and made the rest of the story flow properly, rather than seem like just a series of events seen through Damen’s eyes.

Tired now…and still a bit angry about that movie. I think what also irks me about this is that I worry that if Damen were ever published that some crazed director might hack it to pieces and call it an adaptation. A part of me wonders if I’d rather just not be published at all than risk that happening…but I try to quiet that part and just focus on my writing.

 

 
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