I am kaitco

a writer's log

Time crunch Saturday, March 5, 2011

On days like today, the last thing I really want to do is write. I ran into this a lot in February, but last month I only had to get to 100 words which is barely a couple of paragraphs. Now, I have to have some idea of where I’m going with this part of the story to avoid unnecessary prose or dialogue and I have to hit 250 words and I have to do so in usually less than a half hour, since I normally procrastinate and wait to write until my daily alarm warning me to write rings.

I like writing under the time crunch, though. It keeps me focused on the task at hand and allows me to draw from the pressure to create some interesting stuff. I’ve always written this way. I got most of Evan done in late 1999 because I wanted it finished before the new millennium, I finished the first swing at Alex late August 2002 because I wanted it finished before I went off to school and Flight was finished very close to my birthday in 2007 because I didn’t want to turn a year older without fully completing it. I’ve set similar goals like this for Damen, but I have yet to fulfill them since the time crunch really wasn’t a crunch. There was nothing to signify whether I had succeeded or failed; just my own sense of self-satisfaction, which for the last few years, hasn’t carried me far.

Currently, I’m on the cusp of a promotion at first-job and a ton of change will come with it. So much so, that I haven’t been in the mood to do much thinking in the evenings; just play Guitar Hero/Rock Band or just play sims. The time crunch, however, has kept me writing and thinking even when the right side of my brain protests and complains of fatigue or general sloth.

Tonight I managed 324 words (closing the phone and heading back to the house) and I was half into sleep-write mode while I was writing since my contacts are drying and I just want to roll up in my blanket and rest for eternity, but I made it to goal for another night and, for that, I’m grateful.

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Lord, Lord…my day Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Filed under: Dorienne,Favorite,Writing — kaitco @ 11:58 pm
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Phew! The day I’ve had…

My “assistant” is leaving which means I’ll have to find someone else to help with all my dozens of projects and I’ll have to re-train someone else on how I do things. I’ve already got someone in mind, but I doubt I’ll get a say in it this time like I did with him.

I’ve thought a ton about my first-job and my future, not to mention putting in the long hours today which what I’ll blame tonight on why I’ve got nothing written.

A while ago, I found myself presented with a choice between what was right, that is a new challenge with new faces in a new environment, and what was easy, that is the same old thing, just with a new title; I chose what was easy. Now, it’s easy for me to look back and think that my own frustrations about first-job come from making that decision, but I’ve found more opportunities in this last year than I’ve ever had. That said, when I look at my long term goals, I can’t help but see that one of the main reasons the novel isn’t done is because of the intrusions of first-job.

Second-job, writing, is what I want to do, but there’s a real possibility that the second-job will never become my first and only job. Damen could easily be a disaster that no one will ever publish, Jill could be even worse, Luka may never get off the ground, Evan will never see its second-coming and I’ll never be published.

It’s hard to dwell on all that though. I think I’ve had so many signs telling me that this (second-job) is what I’m meant to do, that it’s difficult to remember a time when I wanted to do otherwise. The reason I have the first-job that I do is because I sat in my car one day and asked myself, “Dorienne…what do you really want to do?” The answer was write and the solution was to just support myself with first-job until first and second jobs became one.

Years later, I’ve come to reason my ambitions can hardly be masked. Everything I do, I do it fully and I can’t help but strive to be the absolute best in what I do. This is why I hit walls where it takes a day to write a paragraph, but also why I’ve been able to make my leaps in the first-job. So, now I’m faced with making a decision I really don’t want to make: Giving up the second-job and focus solely on the first, or continue as I’ve always been. Again…a decision between what is right and what is easy.

It’s easy to move on the same path I’ve always walked and a strong part of me, no matter what everyone else tells me, believes that first-job and second-job are doomed to exist together. Neither dream will thrive while the other lives.

Melodrama aside, I’m just not sure I’m ready to give up either dream at this point in my life. I’m 26, though I say I am and feel 27, and hopefully, have a lot of life left to live. I don’t want to look back on my life and wonder what life would have been like had I stayed the course and continued with the decision I’d made when I asked my 22-year-old self what I wanted to do. At 22, I also said that I’d rather have a dead-end job while reaching for my dream than have a upper-middle management job having never sought the dream. The more I think of it, however, I also don’t think I’d like the idea of my previous mantra, “If I can’t have what I want, I want nothing.”

Decisions, decisions…

I can only pray about it. Even after a quick prayer today to calm my spirit in the midst of such rapid turmoil, He answered me and calmed me with better news. So, all I can do is pray that He’ll let me know when I’m on the right track.

 

Well, that was a trial Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Filed under: Favorite,Writing — kaitco @ 9:43 am
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I’ve just finished writing the scene where Munnerly approaches Damen about his silence and my mind’s ear is sounding very English right now.

Anyhoo, I just love the fact that I got something written this morning. It required what it always required: shutting off the damn TV. As soon as I turned on music, the writing (and the desire to write) just flowed as naturally as any other day.

I’ve long since known the correlation between what I have playing in the background and my ability to write. I’m not entirely sure when I first identified it, but I’ll gather it’s been a minimum of six years if not a full decade. One of these days, I’ve got to just stop messing around and only play music. When I turn on a TV playlist, it’s meant to distract me when I do other things: cleaning the house, playing the sims, coding, designing, video editing, etc. Writing, however, is a very specific task and whatever brain functions require me to “listen” to the TV and form the image in my mind’s eye cannot multitask. It’s either the TV is on and I’m doing other things or the music is on and I’m writing. TV and writing are my oil and water.

Outside of breaking my unproductive writing fast, today is the eleven year anniversary of when I finished my first novel, A Ten Minute Speech. I was fifteen, practically bed-ridden from my second ankle surgery and determined to finish the novel before the start of the new millennium. I remember how proud I was to just complete the thing. I haven’t really done much with it in about six or seven years, but I still cherish the thought of it and still have the original handwritten copy of that first draft. I can’t remember the time (since I always include a timestamp when I finish), but I can remember the feeling of accomplishment that ran through me. Why I couldn’t, at that time, realize that I should have started aspiring to make writing my goal in life, I don’t know, but I just loved the fact that it was finished; that I had finished a novel at age 15.

Every once in a while, I’ll pull out the old pages and sift through my old writing. When I had started Evan, I was just 11 and still dotted my I’s with circles and I had gone through three or four revisions in hot pink and bright teal pen; I was so young then.

I have no lofty aspiration to complete the novel before the new year any longer since that would require somewhere close to 5K words a day and I just squeaked through 686 today, but I think back on days like today eleven years ago and know that I can do this…when I’m ready.

 

Chapter 6, finished Friday, December 10, 2010

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 2:29 am
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When I think about nights like tonight, I think back on when I was rounding the final corners to the end of Flight. I would be in the midst of what I considered perfectly crafted prose and then just shred it to pieces (no pun intended) as I came up with something better. I completely recreated the scenes where Damen throws The Fountainhead and ripped it to pieces (hence the need for the unintended pun).

The original writing was pretty solid and I actually liked it as-is, but much like I did when writing Flight, when I got down to it, the prose just sounded better the “new” way.

I’m proud of the fact that I can still do this; make the necessary edits, that is. It’s quite easy to get so wrapped up in your own brilliant writing that you fail to create something that’s worthwhile because you can’t bear to let go of a phrase or a particular way a sentence is worded. Even now, I know that hundreds more edits are awaiting me, but this is all part of the creation process, which just makes me even happier about my decision made almost five years ago to create my practice novel.

Five years ago, I decided to figure out how I write a novel. I had seen the blogs and read the guides, but the actual writing of anything significant escaped me and seemed like it would never take hold. I had written a lot and had actually finished two “novels,” but I still had no plan, no guidelines, nothing to show me how I create a novel. I wrote Flight to teach myself how I go about doing what no one could take the time to show me and the decision keeps coming back to help me.

Flight is the reason I know how close I am to having something meaningful and Flight is the reason I recognize how beautiful it is to say to myself, “On to the next chapter.”

I almost didn’t make it tonight and came very close to falling asleep in my chair again, with the chapter stagnating in its unfinishedness, but I pulled myself from the edges of sleep and plowed forward.

I completed 1015 words tonight bringing my grand total since 12/1/10 to 6777 words in about 10 days. It’s nothing super fantastic, but just being able to say, “I’ve completed another chapter.” is all I need to be able to sleep well tonight.

 

The same characters Friday, June 5, 2009

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 11:38 am
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I’ve been thinking a lot about Evan and that entire series.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

A weird kid Thursday, June 4, 2009

Filed under: Artwork,Coding,The Sims,Writing — kaitco @ 11:35 am
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I haven’t been writing at all lately.

I haven’t even looked at the notes for Damen since at least Monday. I guess I’m in some kind of slump or the old bipolar monster has reared her head again and I’ve been too low to think creatively.

Anyhoo… Even though I haven’t been writing, I’ve coding and designing the crap out of my site. I completely finished my About page and made it a little more asthetically pleasing and hopefully it makes a little more sense than the list of words I’d had there previously.

I’ve still got to create the “Dorienne Presents…” page and redo the links page before I’m ready to “launch” version 3.0 of the site. I suppose another week of heavy coding and designing should get me ready.

Also, I’ve been simming a lot in between all this coding. I’ve been playing a lot of sims that I hadn’t played in probably close to a year. It has been wild fun re-discovering some of the dormant stories in the game. I think I’m ready to bring the neighborhood to a new generation, but this may be a result of the BPD monster working her magic, so I’m not really sure.

In the midst of the coding and the simming, I have been trying to rescue my Geocities pages. It took about an entire day to get through all my sites because I’d definitely abused their services by creating about a half dozen names and linking them all together to get a site that was close to a small site with about 50MB of space total. I’ve not really made use of Geocities’ services since 2004 when I’d created Dorienne Smith.com, but I wanted to keep everything for posterity sake. My hope is that they allow a redirection service for all those sites that have owners that continually log into their accounts, but I doubt that is going to happen. I had to save a Japanese writing site that had a mirror through Geocities as well and that took a couple days by itself, but getting all my own site was a chore that really wasn’t necessary and if Geocities when just went a little extra mile, they wouldn’t have to close the service in the first place.

What got me writing, though, was that in my zeal to recover my Geocities’ pages, I had to search through this pile of papers and notebooks in a shelf that I have just moved from my parents’ house to the dorms to two different campus apartments and to my current house without having gone through all the crap that was in those papers and notebooks. Most of the stuff were just notes on sites I’d planned to make and the preliminary stages of Dorienne Smith.com, but a good many of the pages were old things I had written in the past decade.

I found my first attempt at a novel that I had started when I was ten years old, Twelve Years. I remember quite clearly that the original title was Seventeen Years, but since I was only ten at the time, I reasoned that I didn’t really know enough about being seventeen to write a book about seventeen years of life, so the obvious action was to only expand the book for twelve years because surely by the time I finished the book, I would be at least twelve years old and would be able to write accurately. The fact that I remember thinking something like this just made me realize that I must have been a really weird kid when I was younger.

In the mess of paper and notebooks, I found a spiral-bound notebook that contained the beginnings of an X-Files’ story that I had first created when I was fourteen years old.  The opening scene was rather disturbing, even for an X-File, and it got me trying to remember what my middle and high school years were like. Whether I’ve blocked them from memory or not, I can’t really doing much more than writing, drawing and making lists to categorize how I was changing. I remember knowing a lot of people, but honestly, I had very few real friends, and after viewing that old X-Files story, and I’m surprised that I’d had any at all. I was definitely a weird kid.

As a kid, I wrote zillions of notes for stories, some of which have materialized (albeit subconsciously) into Damen, I created the beginnings of many stories from those notes and I sketched all the time. I’d gone through college looking back at my high school years as someone who just followed the popular crowds and was real bitch for much of the time, but finding all these notes and writings tells me I was far different from how I’d imagined myself.

I sat down to write my first novel when I was ten years old. It wasn’t like I wanted to create a long story or just write something for my mother. At only ten years old, I had it set in my mind that I was going to write a novel and would someday be able to publish it for others to see. I had actually hand-written 98 pages of this novel before I realized that it wasn’t much more than a thinly-disguised fanfiction and, at twelve years old, I began my first real novel, one that contained characters that were wholly my own. I remember writing it off and on over the next few years and, in late 1999, I finished A Ten Minute Speech. I created a sequel to it, The Martin Drama, and finished it before I went off to college in August 2002. Just thinking about it intrigues me: I had began three “novels” and completed two of them before I was eighteen years old.

Now, while neither completed novel is even remotely publishable in their original forms, I still hold the desire to fully complete them and make them into something that someone without a learning disability could read and enjoy. The fact is, I have been doing this “writing” thing for more than a decade and I can’t believe I’d been trying to do other things with my life for so long, when one look at the piles and piles of notes and story ideas could tell any passerby what I should be doing.

I have been writing novels since I was ten years old. I was a weird kid.

 

Harry, Dorienne and the 3rd person narrative Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Filed under: Reading,Writing — kaitco @ 2:46 am
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Good thing I’d already had a draft started or else, I’d have just called it a day and said the heck with this for tonight. I’m rather tired and this is bound to be full of typos and some sentences that only make sense in my fatigued subconscious…

When I’d gone through my childhood novel re-discovering on Saturday, I remembered something that is simultaneously bothersome and fascinating to me. While I had read (and was once obsessed with) the Harry Potter books while I was in college rather than as a child, they still hold this special awe for me, like I’m sure they do for many, many people. Now, as I’ve learned through the years, Ms. Rowling, while a generally good storyteller, is on the good side of mediocre when it comes to her actual prose. I’m not saying she’s a bad writer or that the books are poorly written; just that there are things, many, many things, that could have been done or said…better. All this notwithstanding, I still learned something from her works: How to write a third person narrative.

Nowadays, especially in my post-Flight writing phase, I often take for granted that it was not so long ago that I had no idea what to do when trying to write in 3rd person. Every lengthy piece I had tried to right from my first character “Michael Connor” when I was eight until I was eighteen, had involved 1st person because I simply did not know how to make 3rd person…work.

I’m not even going to suggest that Harry Potter taught me how to write in general. Not even…What I can say, however, is that it was not until I started reading those books that I caught a glimpse of what the 3rd person could really do and how it could expand characterization just as well, if not better than 1st person. Honestly, it comes down to the fact that I started reading more with Harry and got more exposure to fiction than I had previously and thus, learned that I could actually do something with the 3rd person. Ironically, I find myself struggling to drag out my old abilities in the 1st person as I write Damen. It takes some real earnest practice to write what a decade ago would have been a cinch to create. I’m still excited about my progress as far as writing as a craft goes, though.

I know I’ve changed throughout the years and, the fact that I can almost effortlessly write a scene or a whole short story in 3rd person when I had once tanked an entire project because it had started as 3rd person and realized I had no idea what I was doing, makes it that much easier to recognize that change.

 

 
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