I am kaitco

a writer's log

Madness? In March? Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 10:40 pm
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I’ve decided to try and write something every day this month. I only managed a handful of words yesterday (like 90), but this evening I got up to 1865, which is moderately respectable. The other day, however, I found myself in a very odd place that doesn’t come around often for me: facing a block.

It’s reasonable to say I’ve got a war chest of book ideas and projects. Several years ago, I chronicled writing Damen here, then Anne occasionally got some notice, and of course, Flight was ever/is ever at the forefront of my mind. Currently, there’s Nostrum and Teyrrah, but there’s even projects that haven’t been given nicknames yet, and even more that are still simply small notes and ideas in Evernote. I probably have more ideas than I have life to bring even a 10th of them to light. As there are so many ideas floating around in this head of mine, I’ve rarely faced a block since I started to write stories when I was eight years old. There’s always been something to write, some part of some story to tell.

Monday, however, presented me with a block. I sat down with the intention to write, and I even spent a half an hour just reading through notes to figure out about which part of a story I wanted to continue, but nothing came to me. So many things to write and so many stories to tell, yet nothing came to me. Perhaps it was because I had my KaitcoTV going on in the background instead of music. Perhaps it was just fatigue or stress. Maybe my mind just needed a break from constant bombardment and activity and plain noise. Maybe I’m just getting old…? Whatever the cause, it was a bit worrying.

A friend told me that I was a pencil pusher living with a wildly creative mind. There’s some truth to that. My father was an artist and was constantly creating, but my mother was the one who raised me and she has always been the ever-striving business woman. I’ve got a constant battle going between nature and nurture with external noise trying to drown out both, and the other day, all the battling parties left me with nothing to say.

Obviously, the block was short-lived and I can’t discount just plain laziness at its core, but the block gave me a pause. Will I have more blocks? What will I do if I find myself unable to continue the story? I’ve spent nearly 30 years writing stories. What else am I if not a storyteller? Questions, questions, questions. Maybe if I keep asking the questions, the stories will continue to flow…

Also, Putin sucks.

 

Projectile Projects Friday, February 11, 2022

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 11:19 pm
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One of my main goals for 2022 has been to write daily. It was, however, not until about February 9th or 10th that I actually started on this goal. Better a bit late than never, I suppose.

My aunt told me about this idea of making what’s called a “spirit board” to lay out goals to physically see the path towards them. My mother tells me this was all the rage in 1970s and 80s. I’ve never been terribly good at crafts and the like, so my spirit board is more a small bulletin board with some colored index cards written upon with the two non-black sharpies I happened to have in the house, but the making of it was certainly spirited and it’s a board, so I’ve got my spirit board!

About two thirds of the goals on my spirit board regard various writing projects. I’ve got dozens of course, but there are two big projects at the forefront of my mind, and a third that might just get added to the spirit board if I find myself getting too bogged down with the other two. One involves some fanfiction, in re-writing the last two Harry Potter books, and the other involves a multi-book and multi-arc fantasy series. The Harry Potter re-write comes as the natural progression of the last two years.

The pandemic has changed many aspects of my life. One of the leading issues has been the loss of my father. I’d always meant to write a full blog post about his passing, but that kind of grief hit me in a very different way than past incidences. There was a period where I was rather lost. I wasn’t actually living, but just existing in life and I needed something, anything, to just help me focus and find some ground. I thought about the last time in my life that I’d felt thoroughly happy and carefree and that was in college. Much of my college fun surrounded the Harry Potter books; reading them, waiting for them to be released, planning to attend midnight showings of the films, Barnes & Noble midnight release parties, and arguing about the books online. Friends I’d made along the way are hardly more than Facebook or LinkedIn contacts these days and, after the magic had broken after the release of the sixth book, I’d not picked up the books since Deathly Hallows was released. That said, I needed my focal point of something trivial that I could enjoy and pull me out of the fog of grief, and I set my sights back on Potter.

Not keen on just jumping back into reading the books, I instead found a little online community of people who enjoyed the books the way that I had and I slowly started to consider a project that I’d first started days after reading Half-Blood Prince. It’s been so long since I’d finished a project to completion that I kind of forgot bits of the process even though I’ve never stopped writing, but this Discord community for Harry Potter was the perfect catalyst needed to help steady me following such catastrophic grief and get me writing again.

For the first time ever, I engaged in Harry Potter fanfiction and wrote The Promise, my first fanfiction in probably ten years, and my first completed story since even longer than that. The Promise reminded me of all the steps I take in really creating and getting the words on the page to the point that I was ready for others to read. It brought a whole new level of anxiety that I don’t recall having the last time I’d tried to share my writings, but I finished the story nonetheless, and I’ve been propelled to actually write an intended fanfiction whose notes began over a decade ago. “Platinum Neco Nostrum” will be quite the undertaking, but I’ve been picking up and completing the old notes for about a year now. Currently, I’ve hit a wall in the story given that it’s supposed to be a re-telling of the sixth book and I haven’t read the books in ages, so my new endeavor involves actually re-reading all seven books again. I’m up to Order of the Phoenix and I can’t help eyeing the book with a bit more of an editorial glare. I definitely see things that are moving too slow or should have been cut or edited differently, but that’s to be expected since all I’ve been doing for the last ten years or so is noting or editing or worrying about word count. Once I’ve finished the books, I’ll be in a good position to finalize the notes for Nostrum and then begin on its intended sequel. But, first the reading!

The other major project on my spirit board is a story that I’m unsure I’ll ever really manage to complete. There’s so many moving parts and I find myself often drowning in world-building quick sand, but Sovereigns of Teyrrah, as the first “arc” will be, should be an interesting story. I’ve admittedly not read a lot of fantasy, so reading several is also part of this process, but not knowing anything about a genre hasn’t stopped me in the past. At one point, Teyrrah did start out as Game of Thrones fanfiction, but I got about 100 words into my notes and thought, “Heck with this! I’ll make my OWN version!” Now, I’ve got intertwined worlds, and dragons, and people living underground in one area, and people having wars in another area, and some sort of Jedi magic I’ve not exactly fleshed out in another.

The notes for Teyrrah got started about three years ago, but I put some of the world-building on pause as I fought through Evernote vs OneNote and trying to visualize all the immense structure needed to bring this world of my imagination to the page. This isn’t like Flight or Damen where I’m already working with knowns like a specific city or state. Everything is fresh and new and must be detailed, but I’m still ever-conscious of show vs. tell and avoiding the info-dumps associated with introducing others to the new world I’ve created. Interestingly, another pothole in the road of Teyrrah‘s notes has been Neco Nostrum.

About the time I was starting to get back into Potter, I got to a point in Teyrrah where all I could think about was vampires. I probably spent a month teetering on whether I should even include the concept in Teyrrah. Do I need vampires? Should they work like “normal” vampires? Where would they come into play? Don’t I already have enough monsters as it is? How many monsters are too many for a fantasy world? Should I just include some vampires just because they’re on my mind?? Vampires! Anyway, before I started to shove the things into Teyrrah unnecessarily, I had an epiphany on how I could exercise my vampiric demons without tearing down Teyrrah: Neco Nostrum!

Ideally, I’d be further along with Teyrrah‘s storylines by now, but the nagging concern about vampires led me to start noting on Neco Nostrum again which is what really brought me into the Potter Discord which is what led to me writing again which is what helped me get through the initial grief of Dad’s passing. So, I’ve got vampires to thank for being here today. Perhaps, Nostrum or PoL or one of the Teyrrah books will be dedicated to Dad. I already know that father-daughter relationships in my writing will be changed forever, so I suppose it’s to be expected.

Anyhoo. One fanfiction and one “real” fiction are on the agenda for this year. There’s a lot of reading involved in getting ahead on either, so I’ve got that to look forward to as well, but it does feel really good to be focused on my writing again. I made some notes on Nostrum today; nothing much but a simple conversation. It’ll be interesting to delicately balance the characterizations of my own characters while trying my best to properly emulate that of another writer’s characters in the meanwhile. Hopefully, I’ll catch myself before the folks on Teyrrah find themselves riding broomsticks, or Harry and Co. find themselves with greater powers linked to Teyrrah’s The Aslanti.

 

Dorienne, the gamer Saturday, July 22, 2017

Filed under: Gaming,The Sims,Writing — kaitco @ 5:33 pm
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From blog.doriennesmith.com/:

Something fascinating occurred over the last few months: I’ve finally decided to fully acknowledge that I’m a gamer, instead of someone who sometimes plays games.

Star Wars Galaxy of Heroes has taken up a huge part of my time lately. Not just the game itself, or my alt account, but planning for it and researching for it, interacting with my guild members, and recently, writing about it. I’m writing about it on Gaming-fans.com, which is one of the first times I’ve written for someone else. I really enjoy writing reviews and such for GoH on the whole, partly because I enjoy the game, but mainly because I love writing about the game.

My gaming is really disjointed, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying it from every aspect. I keep buying games like some people collect Lego sets. I had a somewhat sizeable Xbox 360 library, but then discovered Steam Sales and Humble Bundles and decided to switch to PC-gaming, which required re-purchasing (albeit for pennies on the dollar) a bunch of games and trying to play them in a different environment. That said, I’ve got 252 games in my Steam library and I’ve only played through 6% of them.

I usually end up restarting games half the time because I take such long breaks in-between them and tend to jump from game to game. Finishing Mass Effect for the first time really brought this home. Four years elapsed between the time I first attempted ME1 and eventually finished a complete playthrough, but once I got fully engaged in the game, I couldn’t stop until I’d finished. I loved every part of following my Shepard as she commanded the Normandy, befriended various aliens, and fell in love as she saved the galaxy and in playing Mass Effect and discovering its Reddit community, I finally realized that this is a media that I’ve long-since adored.

Regardless if I own a game and it’s just chilling in my Steam library or gathering dust beside the Xbox or I’m simply curious about it, I love reading reading reviews from professional critics and players alike and researching all the furor or glee about every release or console.

While every minute spent gaming is a minute not spent working on Flight or Damen or Anne or any of the other million projects I’ve got pending, with the way first-job has been stressing and depressing me, sometimes all I can do to keep my sanity is engage in interactive stories by playing, writing, or reading about them.

Whether it’s my 13-year-old Sims 2 game that still going and going until modders can’t get it to run on modern OSes anymore, or just discovering which of the latest games can hold my attention best, I’m a gamer. I’m involved.

Part of me wants to link this into all my other hobbies by thinking that eventually I’d like to write my own game, but I think it might be best to let gaming live on its own. Gaming can live beside writing and even occasionally intertwine, but there’s no need to force myself to start a new project like writing a game…at least not until I’ve made a dent in my Steam library.

 

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!

 

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.

 

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.

 

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!

 

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.

 

Reading about writing is like dancing about architecture Saturday, November 9, 2013

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 12:03 am
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I found myself reading about the craft of writing this week, and I surprised myself by really enjoying it.

Outside of a couple creative writing classes in school, I’ve not had much of an opportunity to study writing as an art form. I’ve read a lot of articles about the Dos and Dont’s (show vs tell, don’t use adverbs, etc.) and I’ve put some effort into studying grammar and punctuation (homophones, Oxford commas, etc.), but as far as the craft itself goes, I’ve imagined myself as self-taught.

I used my novel Flight as a method of teaching myself how I write a novel, so I flushed out many of the first-time writer mistakes. Having characters stare in a mirror to provide physical appearances, telling the reader all about a character and character, but showing him in a completely different, and so forth. I learned a lot about the writing process and a lot about how I write from Flight, but over the years, I’ve forgotten that reading about the craft is almost as important as doing it.

Yesterday, I read several articles about writing, but one in particular stood out to me: “Tell, Don’t Show” Here the author refers to the old recommendation of show versus tell, that is, show your characters doing things rather than just tell the reader that they are doing things. This can be the difference between telling the reader “Gloria was so angry with Philip” and showing “‘How could you do this to me!’ Gloria shouted as she slapped Philip across the face.” as an example.

The article, however, focuses on the opposite, i.e., the appropriate places to tell rather than show. Part of what took an additional 18 months to complete Damen was my problem with word count. I initially showed every step Damen took every day and had to teach myself by forcing myself to tell when I wanted to show. Oh, how I wish this article had been available to me when while I was in the middle of Damen! How much time could I have saved?! While the article did not describe anything that I hadn’t already learned through trial and many, many errors, I was so pleased to see someone else eloquently describe the process and confirm what I’d learned.

Having gone so long without encountering anything new while writing, I had gone along these last few years under the arrogant guise of “There’s nothing you can teach me that I haven’t already taught myself.” While it may even be technically true, in reality, there is always something to new to learn or even confirm about one’s writing.

Four months into this agent search, it would have been easy to toss aside everything I’d learned through Flight and Damen, assuming that I had just “it” wrong and blundered along another path, but reading just a few articles on writing not only confirmed what I’d learned, but helped strengthen what I already did.

I still find it odd that I have to remind myself to take a step backward and remember that I have plenty left to learn. Arrogance has little place anywhere in life and especially when one still wishes to learn.

 

Trepidatious Switching Friday, September 13, 2013

Filed under: Dorienne,Writing — kaitco @ 8:33 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

In less than two weeks, I’ll be a year from 30. What’s really interesting is that WordPress reminded me that it’s been 6 years since I first registered here and I can remember fretting in posts tagged “25” over the idea of turning 25 as if it were yesterday. I keep telling myself that my 20s have not gone by fast (in fact, they often feel incredibly long), but when I’m honest with myself…really, they have!

September is usually my month of reflection. While most people make resolutions, etc. around the first of January, I like to use the start of my new year to determine my successes and failures and generally determine whether I’ve had a good year or a bad year. Sad as it sounds, the last few years have not been wholly good, but I’m glad to say that Year 28 has been fantastic.

I am happy with first-job, a feat I’ve not accomplished since…well, since I was 15 and first ventured into the working world because I knew I wanted a car when I was 16 and I knew my mother, under the guise of not allowing me to be spoiled like my peers, would never have outright bought one for me. I have a good job that allows me to tithe even more than my 10% to really help my church, allows me the freedom to buy and explore tools and avenues into my writing, and allows me to live comfortably without running from paycheck to paycheck with the thought that one check is all that keeps me from homelessness. I think it’s what makes pushing through this agent-seeking process a little less arduous as it would have been if I’d come to this point last year. Rather providential, I’d like to say as I just received this job about 10 months ago.

I finished (really finished, as in trying to get published, finished) a novel in the past year, an accomplishment I’ve not seen in years. I’ve come to this point at ages 15, 17, 23, and 28 and I know that had I done nothing else with Year 28, completing another novel makes Year 28 stand out as one of the best thus far.

But, all good things must come to an end and as I close Year 28, I begin new projects in a manner that I’ve not attempted in the past. I’m writing two books simultaneously. Both Jill and Anne are pressing upon me and I’ve switched back and forth for the past few weeks, trying to decide who will take precedence, only to come to no real decision.

I love both stories and, just as I decide to focus on one set of characters, specifics of the other set jump out at me, so I figure the best thing to do is ride the wave and write as inspiration hits. When I’m inspired for Anne, like I was this evening, I’ll write Anne. When I’m inspired for Jill, I’ll write her instead. When I’m inspired for nothing in particular, I’ll write bits of both of them until I get the creative juices flowing in one direction or another, like I did the other day.

The project switching, however, is not what has me concerned. What does concern me is this nagging desire to take a break from writing.

I’ve experienced this same sensation at 15, 17, 23, and 28 and it was the prime reason for the time in between writing each book. Writing Damen took so much out of me that I don’t wish to dwell on it long for fear that I’ll grow exhausted from the mere memory. I know that I’m tired, but the issue here is that I’m dangerously close to letting a short rest between books turn into an extended hiatus where I may never complete anything again, which is where this constant project switching begins to to really concern me.

Indecision irritates me, so while I’m just going with the flow right now, I can’t help worrying that a comfortable first-job combined with the exhaustion of completing Damen and the relative stress of facing a new a decade will leave me with a desire to tell stories, but without the drive to write them.

Perhaps, I’m getting a little too existential about the whole matter. It is, after all, September and this is when I begin to ask all the questions about who I am, what I am, what I aim to do with this life, and whether or not anything I do or don’t do will make an impact in an ever-expanding, cold, indifferent universe…

The good news, however, is that I’m quite stubborn. If I’ve learned anything about myself in nearly a decade of writing various blogs, I’ve learned that I don’t give up quickly and, even after I’ve told myself I’ve given up something for good, it only takes the slightest burst of energy or the simplest prayer for guidance to keep me pushing forward.

Anyway…on I switch from Jill to Anne and Anne to Jill. Onward and upward!

 

Where Inspiration Leads Thursday, August 22, 2013

Filed under: The Sims,Writing — kaitco @ 5:28 pm
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I had long thought that after I began the agent search for Damen, I would immediately begin working on Jill. To my surprise, inspiration has led me to Anne, which perplexes me because I dislike doing things out of the order I’ve set out for myself.

The order is supposed to go Damen, Jill, Lydia, Lucy #1, and then a couple others before I would attempt Anne, but upon my yearly re-read of Persuasion, Anne just came pouring out of me. I suppose I can’t plan everything, and even if I could, there’s no telling how the execution of these plans will flow.

I’ve been asking God quite often lately about what I’m supposed to do with my life and, like usual, there’s no parting of the clouds, allowing the sun to illuminate a specific building or person or a billboard with the words specifically telling me what it is I’m meant to do. I’m still searching for that kind of sign, though, I’m pretty sure I’ll not see something that grandiose.

I’m not entirely sure what I’m expecting, but I what I do know is that the written word is everything that I am. Despite nearly losing my mind on Steam sales and Humble Bundles, every game I put any real time into allows me to tell a story, i.e., I play The Sims 2, and to a lesser extent nowadays, Sims 3, because I want to tell a story. I do very little in my spare time aside from reading and writing books and stories. Writing, or rather, storytelling, is not just a part of who I am, but really just who I am in total.

I suppose I’ve been a little more existential than usual because my patience with this publishing process is beginning to wear thin, and I thoroughly dislike it when things do not go according to my plans. In the end, however, I guess it’s better to go where inspiration leads and plan around that, rather than pout and grow depressed when I’m forced to Plan B my life events. So, I’ll write Anne before Jill if that’s where inspiration leads me and Lucy #2 before Lucy #1 if need be. I’ll admit, I won’t like it; I rarely like not getting my own way, but I’ll go where inspiration leads me.

 

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.

 

Good God! This query process. Friday, July 19, 2013

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 5:32 pm
Tags: , , , ,

I thought it fitting to post on the day I’ve sent my query letters to agents for the first time in my life. Needless to say, that despite it being only about 5pm, I could really use a drink.

It took two drafts for me to have a reasonable query letter and thankfully I had my mother read them to help. She doesn’t read with a readers voice and instead, with the voice of an HR manager reading a letter to a number of employees who are about to be laid-off. It’s this tone that I needed to prevent me from writing something far too artistic and ending up in someone’s delete box before I’ve had a chance to show off my novel.

Once the query was prepared, I had to check and re-check and re-re-re-re-re-check the submission guidelines for each of these agents and, of course, they’re all more or less different. I’ve got through it though. I winced and nearly cried each time I clicked the Send or Submit button, and my heart still races ten minutes later.

I prayed about this all morning and asked God for something really blaring if this wasn’t the path He wanted for me. I could not help noticing the raging thunderstorm that erupted during this time, but I sent my queries regardless. I suppose the real answer will come if I don’t get a response from these first four.

Over the weekend, I plan to send what will likely be the only post mail submission I’ll have and send it on Monday when my nerves have collected.

I’m not sure why I’m so terribly stressed and nervous over this process. It should be the calmest or happiest part of the entire writing process, but the thought that I could possibly be taking the first steps to getting published drills any excitement into pure nervousness. It’s nervousness to the point that if I don’t rise from my desk soon, it’s likely I’ll faint right here.

So, I’ll continue re-watching and re-reading Gaskell’s North & South (you’ll notice I’ve at least added it to my Goodreads to help since I’m so behind on my reading) and focus on writing Reruns (which I hope to post by August 2nd) as well as Round 2 of agent queries (also to be sent August 2nd).

Lord, Lord…onward and upward.

 

And, the search begins… Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 5:01 am
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Despite my best efforts at procrastination this month, I finished review my novel as a Kindle book. I definitely added a step onto my writing process as I found soooo many missing commas, random words, and grammar errors that should have been caught in reading through this thing eight times, that I can’t not read projects as Kindle books going forward. There’s something special about reading my work like a normal book that helps me notice everything that’s wrong with it.

So, now, after so many, many days of procrastination and actual work, I’ve actually come to this point. I’m a little shocked. So, much, so that I’m not really sure what else to write at this point, but I suppose that’s to be expected after reading almost nonstop for 36 hours.

I promised myself that if I got the book entirely, ENTIRELY done today, I could spend the rest of the day playing video games or just lazying on the couch, so that’s the plan. 🙂

And so, Thursday, I will begin the search for an agent to get this four-year effort published. Unlike the preceding parts of this process, I’ve never even attempted this in the past, so this will definitely be an adventure!

 

Reruns, part 1 Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 2:33 pm
Tags: , ,

About two years or so ago, I began copious notes on what would become my Reruns project. Before I was able to get totally obsessed with the project, I recognized that I was in the middle of Damen and if I got sidetracked, I’d never finish either of them, so I set aside my notes for another day. I later promised myself that I would begin my Reruns weekly postings the same day I sent out Damen for the first time.

Yesterday, I finally got Ubuntu up and running properly on my laptop, and after using Playonlinux and Wine, I got Office 2007 running on Ubuntu. I opened a brand new page, let my fingers tap against my laptop’s home row, and yet had nothing to write. Years of focus on Damen left me with nothing to write at that moment, which confused me a little.

At this stage in Damen, I’m not entirely finished with it, but it’s no longer something I can pull up in a Word doc and just start writing/editing as I’ve been doing for the past year. This tells me that, though I’m not yet ready to send out Damen, I am ready to make good on my Reruns promise to myself.

In order to have my first Reruns story ready by the time, I’m ready to send Damen, I need to begin really writing it now. Seeing as how Reruns encompasses multi-“chapter” short stories, I shouldn’t require 3 years a piece to write these, but with that said, I need to ensure I’m prepared for my Send Day.

So, tonight, I’ll begin putting real effort into Reruns…It’s a little strange, though, to see all these things I’ve fantasized about doing slowly coming into fruition. It’s almost as if I’m outside of myself and watching this happen. Very odd, indeed.

 

 
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