I am kaitco

a writer's log

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.

 

 
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