I am kaitco

a writer's log

One of the hardest things thus far… Monday, October 23, 2017

Filed under: Dorienne — kaitco @ 7:39 pm
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From blog.doriennesmith.com/:

My Pastor went home to glory last week. His homegoing service was today.

This has been one of the hardest life experiences I’ve had thus far in my life and it’s so easy to fall into a spiral thinking “there’s so much more darkness ahead as well.” but, I’m going to keep on keeping on.

I have to keep reminding myself that the reason all those around me seem to be doing so well with all of this is because they’ve already had to bury fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, grandparents, children. And, they all got to go through with their Pastor by their side. This is my first time dealing with death so close and I’ve no Pastor to talk me through this.

It’s just been so hard. The calls and texts of encouraging someone whose spiritual strength I’d often taken for granted. Overcoming my own anxieties to see him during hospital visits. Literally picking myself off the floor after collapsing at the news that he was being moved to hospice. Visiting him in hospice every day he was there and watching him slowly transition onto glory. Accepting the news that he was gone. I don’t think I’ve ever cried so hard or as much in the entirety of these 33 years I’ve walked this Earth. I’ve got my ramblings to say and these words may not make sense to many others, so perhaps this is just here for me.

Years and years ago, I was a very skeptical agnostic. I’d been baptized a Christian as a child, but had never really belonged to a church home and with very sporadic church attendance throughout my teens, very little remained of my Christian experience and understanding. In a lost moment in college, I’d attempted to find a renewed spirit within one of the churches my mother and I had visited some years earlier. I walked into that building a proverbial lost lamb, but I walked out of it no longer a Christian and certain that God, whatever form He took, was not to be found withing Christianity.

An extremely difficult period followed afterward, where I’d figuratively wandered lost within the world, but as providence would have it, God brought me to what would become my church home through the teachings of a very great man who would become my Pastor.

After so many years of absolute distrust in ministers and most Christians, my Pastor proved to be a man of the highest character. One of the things that I adored most about Pastor was that he put God first in everything that he did. Because his ministry was about Jesus and not about uplifiting himself, he wasn’t afraid to bring newer or even stronger preachers into his pulpit and he was never afraid to admit that sometimes he simply did not have all the answers. These weren’t overall concerns because he did not feel the need to put himself first, but God. He acknowledged that there was no way he would ever fully understand every single thing that the bible said, but to use a phrase he often did, “I may not know all the specifics about how electricity works, but I’m not going to sit in the dark until I do.”

He often quoted Matthew 6:3: “Seek ye FIRST the kingdom of God, and his righteousness.” and he had this deep, mighty voice that always stressed FIRST; that we were to put God first; that God was not running for any place in our lives but first; that anything that we put before God was idolatry. These teachings allowed Pastor to become the first preacher that I ever really trusted. Above all, I trusted that he would never purposefully tell me something to lead me astray or that would go against God.

Pastor focused on bible-based teachings and rarely did all the screaming and shouting “performance” that is so often found within black churches and we used to talk about that a lot. I told him often that I never liked all the “hootin’ and hollerin'” sermons because that was all show and had more to do about uplifting the preacher than the Word. I also told him that it was part of that latent skepticism that I struggled to lose. He agreed that the shouting was often part of the show, but that sometimes that’s what people needed to ignite their spirits. He also reminded that, in reference to my skepticism, that faith and doubt could not occupy the same heart, and I remind myself of this as often as possible as I continue on my journey.

We disagreed from time to time. He wanted me to be more involved in church auxillaries and often chastized me for quitting just about everything from the choir, to the usher board, to a helping auxillary, to teaching Sunday school…I’m sure there are many other things I’ve even forgotten that I’ve quit. And, he was very right; I quit a lot of activities, arguably out of fatigue. Every once in a while, I had something to throw back at him, though. Once, he demanded that all his lady ushers had to wear skirts when they served, so I sat down and quit. Eventually, it got back to him that the reason I’d quit ushering was because the Word said that men and women were to be dressed differently to be readily identifiable as such, not that men wore pants and ladies were skirts. If I’d been trying to usher in a men’s suit, then by all means call out that behaviour, but if I wanted to serve wearing a finely cut women’s pants suit, where was the harm? Later, he agreed with me and removed this rule, but this was the type of man he was. He acknowledged if he was wrong and moved forward.

One of the things I cherish most, however, was that Pastor never hesitated to teach God’s Word. When I was teaching Sunday School, he gave me (what I later learned was a very expensive) Matthew Henry Commentary Study Bible with my name engraved on it. He’d given one to my mother as well. I think I’ve learned more about scripture and also myself from reading this commentary than anything else in life. I remember asking him how much the commentary cost because my church is sometimes just barely able to keep the lights on, but he refused to say, and refused to accept any payment. I’ve several other spiritual books Pastor has given to me in this same manner and I’ll treasure all of them always.

He didn’t just preach and give out books, though. He was a 21st century pastor. Over the years, I could always depend on texts from Pastor. Admittedly, of late, they were of the variety “Daughter…you are MIA” if I’d missed more than 2 consecutive Sundays. Mostly, though, I could text Pastor any of my questions about scripture and he always had answers for me:

Many Sundays, I would approach him after service and ask further questions about his sermon. Sometimes he would even roll his eyes and laugh when he saw me coming. He’d say, “I knew you’d be coming up here after I preached that!” He always encouraged us, though. He often said, “Don’t just take my word for it. Read the bible for yourself. When you get to glory, God isn’t going to hold you accountable for what Pastor said, but for what God said.”

What I take from this most is that I will miss him so very much. But…in the same way, all those years ago, when he waved me forward as I stepped out in the aisle to join the church, he said to me in that deep voice of his, “Come on, Daughter. I’ve been waiting for you.” I know that when I get to glory too, he’ll be there waiting with a smile again saying, “Come on, Daughter. I’ve been waiting for you.”

One of his last sermons:

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Obligatory New Years Eve Post: 2015 Edition Thursday, December 31, 2015

Filed under: Dorienne,Writing — kaitco @ 7:24 pm
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Here we are, at the end of another year. As always, this is the time for deep reflection and promises to do better than the previous year. I have “resolutions”, for lack of a better word, and they haven’t changed all that much since high school, which is probably worth a post all on its own.

I sit here debating how I will spend my evening and usher in the new year. For the past nine years, I’ve attended Watch Night service at my church and usually had a good time. This year, however, I’m honestly just tired and all I really want to do is have some dinner, play video games, and then go to bed at a reasonable hour. The debate comes down to whether bringing in the new year in church is something that I really want to do or if it’s something I feel like I should do from the idea of “how I ring in the year is how I will live the year.” If it’s the latter, well, that’s superstition and nothing more. I suppose I’ll figure it out before 10 PM tonight.

Back to these resolutions…

While there are loads of things that I would like to do better in 2016, I’m going to focus on just one: Blog here more. My desire for writing has diminished in 2015 and every day it seems like it’s more and more difficult to get into my old grooves where I could not wait to have a free moment to write. Nowadays, writing any project feels like a chore; something that must be added to a daily to-do list and begrudgingly attended to while often times getting moved onto the next day and the next without getting completed. I can’t point to a specific moment when this occurred, but this is the current state of things.

I’ve tried to combat my diminishing drive in a myriad of ways, but this being the start of a new year, I might as well attempt to face this from a different method. This blog has long since been my main avenue of visiting my writing struggles and successes and, (as melodramatic as this is about to sound) since I sense I’m at the precipice of ending an activity that has encompassed my very being for the last twenty of my 30+ years on this rock, I suppose it’s fitting to use this blog as a final shield against what may be inevitable. TL;DR: I’m going to commit to blogging here weekly to get myself back into the swing of things.

There are always plenty of things to say and saving it for a monthly update clearly isn’t cutting it. I may fail at this goal, as I’ve failed at so many goals in the past, but at least with this one, I’ll be able to look back and see that I didn’t go down with a hearty fight.

Onward and upward in 2016!

 

A Flight (a novel) to Remember Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Filed under: Dorienne,Reading,Writing — kaitco @ 10:01 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

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.

 

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! 🙂

 

Before I begin my Arrested Development marathon… Monday, May 27, 2013

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 4:16 am
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My goal this month was to post about what I’d written every day, but obviously, that didn’t work well. I made some strides this week and a little the week previous, but I’ve still got another 20 chapters to review. That said, the month’s not over and I’m off of first-job for the next few days, so there’s still a chance that I could get damen12i done before the start of June.

Either way, I’m terribly stressed about the when, but just moving forward so that I don’t end up wondering “what if.”

I’ve been doing some research into the literary world again; I’m not sure why I do as all it does is discourage rather than encourage me. This time, it was all about how ebooks are making life difficult for new writers, blah, blah, blah. For the first time in ten years, I’m content with first-job and, while it’s not what I want to do for the rest of my life, if writing allowed me only to supplement my income rather than become my entire income, I think I could be happy with that…for the present time.

I think it’s also worth mentioning that yesterday marked the second week in a row that I’d attended church, a feat not accomplished since around February or so. It was good to be in the house of the Lord. Despite the nagging questions and uncertainty that plague me from time to time about life and religion, I know I belong in the church.

I’ll try to pick up my post-a-day efforts again in June. Hopefully, by then, I’ll have brand new topics to discuss!

 

The Remaining 2K Sunday, May 12, 2013

Filed under: Dorienne,Writing — kaitco @ 8:11 am
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Before I go onto my writing, I’m going to lament about church.

I work nights and despite quite literally asking God for every facet of this current first-job, I can’t help noticing that it gives me almost everything I want, except the ability to attend church at my leisure.

Because I’m too lazy to look up the exact day in my blog.doriennesmith.com blog, I just use Mother’s Day as a general anniversary to really becoming a Christian and today, more or less, would be seven years in the church. There’s a part of me that wholly desires to go, but there are bigger, more sonorous parts of me that can’t be bothered out of fatigue, general laziness, and a fear of over-emoting myself.

The entire way home from work this morning, I wondered what would I do. I want to go to church because I need to go to church, but I don’t want to sing in the choir today and, as selfish as it may sound, I can’t deal with all the pain that comes with this day. There are so many people, especially in church, who when they hurt, I hurt and with so many people and so many lost mothers, the pain is almost agonizing. Just thinking about it starts to bring tears to my eyes. It’s difficult enough at Christmas or any other holiday, but for some reason, Mother’s Day seems to hurt worst of all.

Maybe it’s because I miss my own mother who’s just a few states away. Maybe it’s because with two grandmothers and a my own mother and a godmother and my godmother’s mother all alive and well, I can’t help morosely preparing for the ultimate pain and sorrow that this day will eventually bring for me. I’m not sure how to describe this. I should be happy and sending cards and making calls to all my loved ones, but instead just thinking about the pain of those who can’t share in my happiness brings tears. All of this from a Hallmark holiday.

I think the bulk of my ultimate rationale for not really wanting to attend church today is that I hate crying in church. It’s a baptist church and people do it all the time, but I still never want to do it. Despite only now just drying my own eyes, I still feel that tears should only occur when someone has died or if a limb has been chopped off and if it must be done, it should be done in private. To put it as succinctly as possible as I can at this point, I hate crying in church and, on a day like today, I don’t trust myself to keep it together.

In other news, I got a good deal of work done today and my current word count is 122,008. I’m going to hold off with editing these final two chapters of the book for a couple reasons. The first is that they are the saddest things I’ve ever written and even though I’ve known how this was going to end from the time I conceived the first two principle characters, I still sob uncontrollably while I re-re-read this. Given the aforementioned tears I’ve already endured this morning, I know re-reading these chapters won’t be good for my health. The second is that I’ve long thought I shouldn’t work on a Sunday if I hadn’t gone to church and, as I live my life as if my second job will eventually become my first and only job, I just can’t purposefully skip church and then turn around and spend the day writing. God gave me these gifts and, if I can’t drag my behind in to go praise Him for who He is, I don’t get to use His most special gifts, either…

 

Quite literally, almost there Monday, May 6, 2013

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 11:53 pm
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No pun intended on the “literally” either…

So, I’d forgot to post yesterday. Meh, Sundays are hard on night shift-working church goers. I’m just happy I went after a two-week absence. I always feel better when I go to church, so I’m not sure why I sometimes let my desire to sleep overcome the need for church, but that’s for another post.

About a week or so ago, I’d sat down and tried to understand all the remaining parts I left to cut/rewrite and came up with just 3 “parts.” Over the weekend, however, I finished the last of these parts, but in re-reading the 4th and 3rd to the last chapters of the book, I saw that a mass re-write and some unfortunately painful cuts are in need. Not so much for word count as I’m down to around 123K, but just because I no longer see it as necessary. It’ll be painful to make these cuts, but as I’ve compromised on several others throughout this problem (e.g., Dana Barrington), this round of cuts and edits doesn’t feel quite as agonizing as others.

After, I’ve done these 4th and 3rd to the last chapters, I’ll finally be able to tackle the 2nd to the last and the last chapters, which because they make even me cry hard, I’ve left virtually untouched since they were in note form. These should be done in another day or two and once that’s done, I move onto the edit file I’ll call dameni (or perhaps I’ll skip to damenk) which will be my last read-through before I fix all the margins, read it again, turn it into a Kindle book and read again as a Kindle book, before I begin the quest of finding an agent.

It sounds like a lot of “3rd to the lasts” and the file before the last file before the last file, but this is, indeed, the process. It’s long and arduous and generally unpleasant when compared with the fun of using my imagination and crafting a plot, but if this is what I plan to do with my life, it’s got to be done. It’s a lot like first-job. No one wants to spend a year or talk on the phone talking to customers and no one wants to work 60-hour weeks as a manager to work a dozen projects, but these horrible tasks are necessary in order to the get the long-term perks.

I suppose I’m finally growing up to the point where instant gratification, no longer gratifies me and, hence, I’m able to remain patient throughout all of this.

 

 
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