I am kaitco

a writer's log

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.

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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.

 

 
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