I am kaitco

a writer's log

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.

 

Three weeks into this new year Friday, January 22, 2016

Filed under: Dorienne,Writing — kaitco @ 4:41 pm
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I sat staring a blank screen for a long time this afternoon before I decided to write. I say “decided” rather than “found the inspiration” because as I’ve aged, it’s become apparent that inspiration has its own timetable and it is not likely to arrive when I want, no matter how much I pout.

I read through old posts on this blog for a while, trying hard to remember why I set myself these tasks in the first place. I’ve found nothing that jumps out at me; no a-ha moments or great epiphanies. So, instead of pondering on why I write, I’ll just ramble about what I’ve written.

I’m nearly done with the first Part of Flight. I use the word “done” very liberally because when it comes to phases of novel construction, I’m far from actually done. I’m still in the noting phase, which means I’ve still got to pull together all the notes from all my scattered resources and pull them into a long file that is set to some kind of chronology. Once I’ve got that completed, I’ll still have to flesh out those notes so that they’re consistent, then build onto them, and then edit and build onto that before I reach the phase before I have what could be considered a first draft. When it comes to Flight, this process can and has taken months and will likely take many more as I go into the second and third Parts. But…I’ve nearly reached the next rung on the ladder. It may be only the third step on a ladder that reaches 40 feet into the air, but I’m nearly done.

What makes this round of Flight seem like it’s taking forever is that I’ve already gone through this drama and I know what lies ahead for me. For example, when I was 15, I had major surgery on my left ankle to correct an abnormality and also some gross damage to my ankle bones. I clearly recall my doctor telling me in the summer that I would be up and active by the time basketball season came and that afterward we would do the right foot. One can only imagine my sour disappointment when I watched the first of the open gyms leading up to try-outs that year from the sidelines while still on crutches that fall. My healing made significant progress and that December, we prepared to go through the whole process again. Only now, I knew what lay ahead of me.

Another season of missed athletics lay ahead, not to forget the schoolwork that would have to be made up, the nausea from the anesthesia and the painkillers, the inability to walk, the rehab, the frustration, the sense of overwhelming depression and despair stemming from every minor task becoming a major chore, and then the pain! The incredible pain after awaking, the pain in the hours after going home, the pain in accidental movement of the foot, the pain of moving from a soft cast to a hard one, the pain of removing primary stitches and then the secondary ones. All this recalled pain pressed upon me as I walked with my mother to the prep rooms for the second surgery and I had nothing but dread when moved onto the gurney to be wheeled into surgery. Even when I first awoke in recovery, the foreboding had not dissipated and I started to sobbing as I stared at my now bandaged right foot, eventually yelling “No! I don’t want to do this!” until the staff brought around my mother (though admittedly, I was coming out of major surgery, so some craziness was to be expected).

Though there had been time to prepare, the second surgery had gone worse, emotionally, than the first, and several years later, when my doctor had to go back in and make further corrections, all of the foreboding returned in full swing, making the third and fourth surgeries even more pleasant than the second time.

I can’t help but liken my current round with Flight to that second surgery. I’ve already written this book and now I’m attempting to re-write it. I was sick for a month after I finished it the first time and, with this round, I’m well aware of what’s coming: the sleepless nights, the days of writing and then realizing that it’s all garbage, the weeks and months keeping the entire story straight in my mind, the countless edits/re-writes/further edits/more re-writes until I’m ready to throw out the whole project, the writing until I’m physically ill and still trying to write through the sickness, the experiencing of all my characters’ emotions to the point that I struggle to recall what’s real and what isn’t…

Then, once I’ve acknowledged what occurred on the first round, I get to imagine how all of the above will affect a body that has experienced almost ten more years of life with the jobs, and the bills, and the deaths, and friends, and the family, and the godchildren, and the volunteering, and the previous books, and the current projects placed on hold, and the general stress of trying to make each year a little better than the previous one. I experience a little pain in my ankles from time to time, but I fully recognize that 31 is neither 15 nor 22 and I’m not going through all that pain again unless my only other option is amputation, and even then, I’ll ask for another opinion. Despite having the foresight to know that I’m unable to go through the mess and pain of surgery again, I press forward with trying to re-write a 450K-word novel that nearly killed me during its initial creation.

I just have to keep telling myself the same thing to avoid throwing in the proverbial towel too soon: I’m nearly done!

 

Going for Goals Friday, January 8, 2016

Filed under: Dorienne,Writing — kaitco @ 9:59 pm
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I’ve written over 7500 words in the past week by simply opting to write just a little every day. Considering I hadn’t written anything close to that amount in the month of December, I’ll call that a minor success for the week. I’m getting more intrigued about writing Flight specifically as a self-published ebook. I still plan to throw Damen at as many agents who I think may find it worthwhile, but Flight gives me something to do in the interim.

I’m in the midst of a Daniel Fast. Between the strict diet and loads of prayer, I plan to “correct” myself; i.e., re-adjust, re-focus, and re-ignite my passions for the things that matter most.

Something I’ve not noted here is that in 2015, I managed to drop 40 lbs. I could’ve done better, but then my birthday came, and then Halloween candy, and then Thanksgiving, and so forth with the other excuses. Throughout it all, however, I managed to not gain back the weight and hovered at the same mark for the last three months. Now is the time to finish this, however. I dropped the first half and now, I must be rid of the second as well.

One of my actual resolutions for this year is to learn something daily. So far, I’ve only been indulging in French on DuoLingo to keep my streak alive, but the year is young and between other programming languages and other spoken ones, I’ve lots I hope to learn.

 

So, then, life happened Thursday, April 30, 2015

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 7:38 pm
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I don’t have anything meaningful to say about this month because, as far as writing goes, I’ve not done anything meaningful.

I’ve spent a lot of time on first-job, by which I mean 65-hour weeks, “a lot.” These weeks have found me actually gaining some fulfillment from my job for the first time in my fifteen years of work experience. All this work, however, has prevented me from making any real headway in Anne. I’ve not written in more than a week, but I’ve been “noting” a bit, so I suppose that’s got to count for something.

I’ve made the tentative decision to re-write Flight as a novel with my own characters. As I’d said aloud to my mirror a few weeks ago, “If that 50 Shades heifer can do it, why can’t I?” I’ve made a lot of notes on what I’ll need to change and how I’ll be shaping Denny Darrow and Olivia Jennings in order to tell the story I’d really like to tell. It’s been fun thus far, but I’ve still not done anything meaningful outside of first-job work.

I suppose I’ve come to a point in my life where my paid work isn’t just something to keep a roof over my head and the internet flowing. Instead, I almost look forward to first-job and have been willingly allowing it to supersede my writing. I’m not sure how to feel about that…

 

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

Filed under: Dorienne,Reading,Writing — kaitco @ 10:01 pm
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Eight years ago, at the age of 22, I sat at the same desk at which I’m currently writing and decided that the only way I was going to learn how I write novels was to sit down and just write one. I’d written two novels earlier, but as they were both completed before the age of 17 and neither were any good, I abandoned the idea of re-writing a previous project and perused my dozens of handwritten notes. I had notes about female football players and towns I’d called Mansfeld and even lengthy notes about what would eventually become Luka, but I sensed that none of these fit what I was trying to do. I needed something about which I was incredibly passionate and into which I could wholeheartedly throw myself without fear of upcoming boredom and, after a suitable amount of brainstorming, Flight, a novel was born.

I’ve written about Flight here a gazillion times because it was my first real effort in writing as an adult, but over the years I’ve simply looked back at it, fondly recalling what it was like to get new comments from Fanfiction.net about it, etc., and I’d shelved it as a long and so-so written story. Last weekend, however, I found myself honestly bored for the first time in…years, and I sought out something swamped with nostalgia. After cruising Netflix for ten minutes, I perked at the idea of re-watching the earlier seasons of Law and Order: SVU and three episodes in, I had an intense urge to revisit Flight.

I hadn’t actually sat down to really read more than a chapter or two of it in likely five years and, as I was already in an SVU mood, I figured I would laugh at my inability to tell a decent story and take a trip down memory lane. And, I was able to take that desired memorable trip…but I haven’t been able to put down my own old book!

There’s something that feels very narcissistic about reading one’s own writing as if reading the works of others, but I can’t help it. There are missing words every few pages, the prose tells the reader everything because I hadn’t learned “show versus tell” yet, the novel is over 450 thousand words, but I can’t help it! This book I wrote when I really had no idea what the deuce I was doing is compelling even to me, the writer, and I love it.

As I’ve been reading my own work, I’ve asked myself, why am I so engaged? It’s not written very well, it goes on too long in certain areas, and one of the plotlines falls completely flat, but I’m captivated. Is it because I’ve been so disappointed in reading the modern fiction of others lately? I wasn’t terribly impressed with The Lovely Bones and, if I’m honest with myself, I’ve likely turned to Flight because I just didn’t want to face reading The Night Circus anymore. It’s hard to say.

I enjoy this old work of mine on so many levels. Years ago, I put it into Kindle form, so I can actually read it like I would any other book, which just makes the process that much more fun. Aside from reading something that’s just generally enjoyable, I get to envision myself eight years younger as I was writing the very words on the page and that’s worth a post all on its own. For example, I was hardly six months into my current Christian Walk when I started the first notes for Flight and it shows. The use of “goddamn” in every other piece of dialogue is so prevalent that I can hardly believe that I wasn’t still an agnostic when I wrote it.

I’ve still got another third of the book left to go, but I’ll admit that I’ve not been this into a book since I read Gaskell’s North and South for the first time. I’m smitten with my own work, as shameful as it at first seemed, and when I shared this revelation, my mother advised that I shouldn’t feel shamed by liking my own writing. She posed that perhaps I write simply so that I’ll have something I want to read. I don’t generally like most modern fiction. Outside of greats like Crichton and King and then Harry Potter, the only books I’ve really loved in the last decade were written in the 19th century by British women…and to be honest, how far off is Potter from there? Before turning to Flight, I was re-reading Frances Hodgson Burnett’s Making of a Marchioness and loving every minute of it.

As I look to my current projects Anne and Jill, I can’t help but see them through different eyes after re-reading Flight. While I don’t wish to fully emulate what I’d created sans-Bachelor’s degree and eight more years of life experience, I do still wish I could recreate the same energy, the same excitement and fervor, in my current work that I had in Flight. Maybe this was what I needed to make peace with my writing endeavours?

As I did with Flight, I write for myself. I write just so that I will have something that I want to read.

 

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.

 

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.

 

One hundred twenty-two, nine hundred Saturday, May 11, 2013

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 8:40 am
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I’ve got 3 chapters left to review in this edit of Damen and the current word count stands at 122,955. It’s a far cry away from the first draft’s 289,000, no?

I doubt I can excise another 3k words out of this book on my own, so after this edit is finished, I’ll review the book twice more for missing words, grammar issues, etc. and then away it goes.

I thought that I would begin my Reruns project the day I sent off the book, but honestly, I think I need to take a writing sabbatical. As writing is something I am rather than something I do, I doubt the sabbatical will last more than a week or two, but I want to take a breath and give my brain and my hands a long needed rest before I jump onto another project or six. I took about 2-3 months following Flight, but that was both the end of a 455k-word novel and graduating from my university, so that was more of a rest and get my life back together hiatus than a true writing rest.

Damen has been at the forefront of my mind for more than 4 years and I’m lost past ready to focus on other characters and other plot lines before I get too old to create them.

If I can just maintain focus instead of jumping from activity to activity like I’ve got ADHD, I may even finish this edit by Monday. How about that! 🙂

 

Dana and Damen Thursday, March 14, 2013

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 6:04 pm
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For the past three years I’ve have struggled with the character of Dana Barrington. From the moment her addition seemed providential inspired, I’ve wanted to keep her in the book. I’ve twisted and turned the story and 9 different directions in order to keep her, only to return to my initial conclusion made several years ago: I’ve got to cut Dana Barrington.

I’m in the midst of my 3rd full edit of Damen and found myself almost screaming in frustration over a slow point in the book. This slow point involves surrounds not only Dana, but also my other beloved character of Amber MacDonaugh. While extricating Amber from the plot is near impossible as she defines the characters of several others so well, removing Dana will not only free up a good 10K or more words from my word count, her removal will also leave me with a little more wiggle room to focus on other characters.

If I wasn’t so very fatigued at the moment, I’d probably cry, but I’m trying to stay positive. Dana is a fully shapened character now who, while not immediately useful in Damen, may possibly find a place in another project; she’s not lost forever, just to this story. While I’m losing my only link from Flight, perhaps in the long-run, this will keep me from getting sued down the line. Who knows, right?

The more I re-re-read and edit this book, the more necessary it is to cut her. In exchange, I will be able to keep nearly all of the drama regarding the college visit, including Xavier’s colourful speech regarding politics and I will be able to streamline the story. By downplaying Amber and removing Dana, the book rests on the shoulders of Damen, Brit, Corey, Jessie, Angel, Anthony, and Anthony’s family. It sounds like a lot because it is and winding Dana’s story within a host of characters who are already related was, while a noble and artistically challenging task, still unnecessary.

Phew…I feel better about this already. I stand at around 131K at the moment and I think I’ll stop with damen10g here in the 20-something’th chapter, begin with damen11h (or 11k, I don’t really like the letters h, i, or j) and get started editing this thing with the focus on removing Dana and reducing Amber.

Onward and upward!

Edit: So, in trying to completely cut Dana today, I came upon her introduction which not only provided an nice interlude that introduces us to one of Brit’s brothers, gives insight on Damen’s history with social workers, helps display more of Jessie Clarke’s character, and shows how Damen interacts with girls who aren’t Brit and Jessie. So, despite all my above clairvoyance, I’ll not be able to remove her as entirely as I’d hoped. I’ve done too good a job at entangling her with the rest of the story, but I’m determined with damen11h to ring in her character. Her scattering throughout the rest of the book just feels overwhelmingly desperate, so while she’ll still appear in her own chapter, her interaction with Damen will be more like that of Tabitha Laird or Tatum Price; mentioned once, serves her purpose and never mentioned again.
…I can’t help a little joy over the best compromise I’ve made with regard to writing in the longest while. 🙂

 

Ellipses’ wonder… Friday, August 24, 2012

Filed under: Dorienne,Writing — kaitco @ 10:44 pm
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I mentioned yesterday that I’d begun re-reading Flight this week. I mostly enjoy reading it with this air of superiority as I think, “Ha! What a foolish twenty-two-year old I was! Look at that…I can’t even use ‘however’ properly.”

It was as I was thinking this that it occurred to me…I use ellipses…a lot.

I remember a creative writing professor mentioning to me that one of the banes to her writing was her use of italics because she just wanted to get her points across and I’d decided at the moment to never let that be a problem of mine. I’ve been so careful with my italics (in the novel; on here it’s a free-for-all) that I never even saw my problem with ellipses until just this week.

My first novel, full of missing or inappropriate words and comma abuse, is just riddled with ellipses…and so is Damen

My ellipsis problem just popped in the midst of reading…and in horror I saw them all over the place in Damen. Every other sentence seems to include them, in both the dialogue and the prose. It’s just baffling to me that I’ve missed something that seemed like such an easy mistake to catch. In just one page, I removed at least six of them, shaking my head with each deletion…

Perhaps, I’ve just grown so accustomed to using them as a way of setting a tone that I never noticed it was getting out of hand…

Even now…I’m well into a secondary edit of Damen and I’m only now able to see how often I use an ellipsis when a comma would do or let a sentence trail for no reason at all…

I think this is really when I enjoy re-reading old things I’ve written. I get to haughtily look back on old works as I think of the progress I’ve made only to be humbled when I realize how far I have to go before I’m anything like the authors I admire.

 

A well-read day Thursday, August 23, 2012

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

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

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

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

 

From there to here Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Filed under: Dorienne,Writing — kaitco @ 8:50 pm
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I think I may finally understand why I want to badly to keep the character of Dana Barrington in Damen.

It occurred to me just after I reviewing yesterday’s post, but I wanted to sleep on it and take a break from writing to be really sure of what I want to do, which is remove Amber’s suicide attempt, but I’ll get to that part later.
Here is an except from Flight and all that I ever wrote of Dana Barrington’s character in that book:

Olivia stepped off the elevator on her floor and trekked toward her apartment door, weighed down by the stacks of files in her bag and those being carried under her arm. All of the documents and images that pertained to Dana Barrington’s rape case were in her possession and she was scheduled to testify at the trial the next day. She knew she was ready for the trial as she had testified at many previous to this one, but she hauled everything home to review just as a comfort to herself.

Dana Barrington was a high school student who had been brought into a hospital after being found bleeding profusely in an alley. She had attempted to perform an abortion on herself with a wire hanger and nearly killed herself in the process. After she was admitted, the detectives learned that she had been raped several months earlier and that she could not tell anyone about what had happened to her. Dana had said that she was too embarrassed to say anything because she had walked home alone and she knew she should not have.

The rapist, Gregory Lars, had been apprehended by the DNA provided by Dana’s baby who was born premature, but healthy, two months later. Lars had been preying on adolescent girls in the city for years, but it was only with this case that they had the DNA needed to convict him.

On Friday, Olivia was supposed to testify about Lars’ behavior when he was finally caught. She had no qualms about testifying in front of Lars, who had actually hit her in the stomach while she had him against a wall, but her nerves were slightly on edge when it came to facing the victim again. Dana’s large brown eyes displayed nothing but innocence and she knew only too well that a child born to a raped victim, especially one as young as Dana, would not be as loved as he could be. She knew that upon seeing Dana in court, she would want to tell her what was coming in her life and what she should tell her son as he grew up, but she knew she could not. It was not her place to do so.

Friday January 19, 2007
New York County Courthouse

Olivia stood in a corridor outside of the courtroom where she had just testified against Gregory Lars looking for Dana Barrington and her family. When it seemed like she had missed them in the bustle of people flowing out of the courtroom at recess just before noon, Olivia spotted a sixteen-year-old with brown hair and large brown eyes holding a baby carrier.

“Olivia!” Dana said, the moment her eyes reached Olivia’s.

She handed the baby to her mother standing next to her, crossed the corridor in three steps and hugged Olivia.

“Thank you,” she said, tears welling in her eyes. “Thank you so much.”

“It’s no problem. It’s what I do.”

…and that’s it. That’s all I wrote about Dana Barrington’s character in Flight, so I’ve been so puzzled why this character in particular has caused me so much stress in the past couple years, but finally! Finally, I think I know why.

Dana’s story is brief, but very sad. Here she was, a young college bound girl, with almost no problems at all and, through no fault of her own, she was attacked and impregnated. Dana did what I considered I would have done had I been in her situation and pretended it didn’t happen until the problem, literally, grew too big for her to ignore.

When I think of this character, I feel like I need to see her through this. I need to see that she’s happy and healthy and that life goes on. Not because I’ve personally experienced this, but because I just need to know that at least somewhere, life goes on.

Yes, I know that these are fictional characters of my own making, but I feel them and know them as if these were people I could touch. For the same reason, I couldn’t really understand the ending of my novel until I realized where Corey could get his comeuppance (much, much later and in a completely different book) because I just couldn’t leave things the way they were. I needed to see life go on and these characters move forward, even though I wouldn’t be writing about them after I’d moved them on.

So…

I’ve decided to leave Dana firmly in the background along with others who just briefly see light like Tatum and Paige and Tabitha. Amber, however, won’t be pushed to the background, but she won’t have nearly as large a part to play anymore. Instead, I’ve decided to pull Damen’s mother Angel into the foreground where she belongs and use her drama to provide the conflict. In short, I’m completely changing the plot of my novel well into my second edit.

It’s not as bad as it sounds, though. Yes, there will be far more scene rewrites than I wanted at this stage in the novel, but in the process of just reviewing my “points” and chapter summaries, I’ve nixed 3 chapters and removed several smaller storylines that irked because they were originally necessary to avoid plot holes.

I prayed about this last night and asked God if this was really what He wanted of me. Not just the novel changes, but the idea of writing at all. Today, my emotions have run the gamut, from hot/cold, east/west, whatever, but I ended up with a clear path.

I’m not sure I’m willing claim any of this as providential inspiration because God works in mysterious ways and I think it a bit too bold say something like that, but I can’t help noticing how when I really, really asked for help, a calm path came to me.

 

30-Day 5K – Day Twenty Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 11:37 pm
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I sometimes wonder if it’s normal for your own writing to invoke your own tears. There are two parts of my novel that brought me to tears as I made the notes for them, gave me more tears as I wrote the full chapters and then gave me tears well after I’d finished editing them.

I know I’ve said this before, but I’ve often got to “become” my characters to write them properly and when they discuss horrible things, I do just what they do. When they cry, I cry. When they get red-faced, I feel my temperature rise. I suppose this all has to do with the characters choosing the writer and so forth, but the fact that I can get so emotional over fictional events for fictional people that I knew were going to happen because I created the events myself, leaves me a little…rattled.

While writing Flight, I intentionally left my most fiendish antagonist fuzzy and blank because to write him properly, I’d have to “be” him and I really didn’t want to be him considering the things I was having him do. In writing Damen, I don’t often want to be Corey or Jessie or especially Damen in the end, but unlike my Flight antagonist, I can’t leave these characters ambiguous. I have to see life through their eyes to write them properly and so, when they emote, I emote.

I completed Chapter 30 in just one day, which is probably a record in this month-long challenge, finishing 5996 words (quadratics and The Old Man and the Sea) and bringing the chapter down almost a thousand words. From yesterday’s calculation, I’ve got less than 38K left to edit and, since this is when my drive to finish in March took it up a notch, I know that editing this last 38K is going to be a battle. My editing sword is ready, though; I may even finish this edit before the end of the month!

 

 
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