I am kaitco

a writer's log

Jesus Rose and So Did I Sunday, April 17, 2022

Filed under: Dorienne — kaitco @ 6:55 pm
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Some time in the fifth century A.D., the early Christian church needed a way to pair together their growth among newer converts and the celebration of Christ’s resurrection. To accomplish this, they chose a pagan festival of Spring, Easter, and tied the festival with the Christian celebration. There’s not a lot of clarity into how this celebration became noted with eggs, bunnies, and chocolate, but that’s not really a major concern of mine at present.

Easter is a celebration of the renewing of life; our renewed connection with God after eons of separation through sin. This time marks rebirth and overall regeneration after what could usually be a long, dark winter. For me, this year’s celebration is met with a renewed determination to meet my many, many goals.

A couple month ago, I created a “spirit board” that listed my goals for this year and then a few steps on how to reach each goal. Some of the goals are very specific, like Get a new job (Accomplished!), while others require a lot of substeps to get there. One of my larger goals is to complete the “heavy notes” of two different books this year. There was a time when I could complete an entire book in a year, so this isn’t terribly lofty. In order to get anywhere on this goal, however, I’ve got to write, I’ve got to write a fair amount, and I’ve got to write often.

So today, with Easter as my renewal and starting point, I’m vowing to write 500 words a day through the end of the year. I already know that there will be days when I don’t manage to get there, but thanks to technology being what it is, I think I can safely say that I’ll have to be very distracted on the days when I miss this goal. Also aiding in this endeavor is the fact that I’ve actually been doing this for at least the last three weeks. I’ve turned daily writing into a habit, and now I’m just pushing myself a tad further by incorporating a minimum word count into what I’m already doing.

Another goal on the spirit board was to get healthy. Over the pandemic, I feel I’ve let myself just become a slug. Working at home hasn’t helped much there either and it’s getting harder and harder to move the needle in the right direction. So again today, with Easter renewal and reviving of spirit in mind, I rose early and went to the gym. All I did was the elliptical and I’m so out of shape that I had pull my mask back on even though I was breathing hard because I started coughing horribly. But, that will not hold me down. I’m determined to just go to the gym every single day. Some days just cardio, and other days back to lifting, but I’ll be there every day. I don’t have a stopping point for this; I just know loads of people who make this part of their lives and I don’t see why it can’t be part of my life as well.

And so, on I rise! Writing because it’s just what I do to know who I am and working out so that I can be healthy enough to see some of these dreams come to fruition. Onward and upward!

 

Paper Demons Thursday, February 17, 2022

Filed under: Dorienne,Writing — kaitco @ 9:16 pm
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My family hasn’t got a lot of things to hand down to each generation; this is often the scenario with most black American families. I think I’m a bit more fortunate than most given that Nana literally built her house in Ghana to be a legacy for her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, but I do recognize that it’s just like a generation old and who knows what the future will bring. Instead my family excels at passing down generational curses. I hadn’t given much thought to these generational curses in the past, but about a week ago, my mother and I were discussing the fact that we often pass down things unintentionally.

Not everything we pass on is a generational curse, mind. Sometimes it’s a generational hobby or even vocation. Apparently, I come from a very long line of Sunday School teachers. I’d thought, back when I used to teach, that this was just something I’d been half-called, half-pushed into doing and the fact that my mother started to teach was just part of the process. This was completely untrue, however. Not sure how she managed to hide this fact for all my life so far and also my mother’s so far, but my grandmother used to teach Sunday School for years before my mother was born, and her father used to be the Sunday School teacher when Grandma and her siblings were all still at home. Great-grandfather, grandmother, mother, and then me. If I ever have a kid, almost feels like there would pressure on them to continue the family vocation.

Whether these things all fall into Nature or Nurture, the fact is that generation after generation, and whether or not we like it, we pass things onto the next part of the family. I have a distant cousin whose grandmother was that member of the family. A whole bunch of kids by different fathers, uneducated and always on welfare, and always filled with drama. That cousin’s mother became like her mother with a bunch of kids by different fathers, and uneducated, though she managed to relieve herself of the welfare before all her kids were grown. My cousin managed to escape some of this curse by at least waiting until she was out of high school before having her first kid and all three kids have the same father, piece of trash that he is. My hope is that the next generation might be spared some of these issues, but one can only do so much. The bright side in this generational curse is that each generation does seem to be trying to do better than the generation that proceeded it, which means that there is, indeed, a reason to hope.

Throughout most of my life, I’ve watched my mother plagued by far less nefarious, but still irritating generational curses that plagued my grandmother in her youth. In one example, Grandma never seemed to be able to find her keys when it was time to go when my mother was young and when I grew up, it was like a daily ritual of helping my mother find her keys. When I left for school, one of the very first things I did in my dorm room was establish a key hook on the wall so that I could break the curse. I rarely lose my keys all these years later because they are always on the hook. But, in my zeal to break and avoid one curse, I’ve slowly been toeing the line against another.

My mother’s always wrestled with what she calls “paper demons”. Somehow, the mail just piles up in the house and rather than just managing it one day at a time, one stack becomes two, which becomes ten, which becomes a full room of paper everywhere. It feels like for the first half of my life, if I wasn’t helping my mother find her keys, I was helping her sort through various letters and papers to just get organized. I’d always thought that being part of the digital generation, I’d skated by free of this curse, by the other day my mother mentioned that my grandmother suffers from her own set of paper demons and disorganization. Anytime they try to locate something for Grandma’s taxes, we have to wallow through numbers notepads at best and post-it notes at worst when it comes to finding relevant information that Grandma jotted down somewhere. The rest of the house can be well put together, but behind the closed door that Grandma never lets me go into or in some drawers in a desk Grandma insists I’ve “got no business looking in” the paper demons romp and multiply.

As my mother lamented over Grandma’s paper demons, I recognized that I’d started my own ugly collection on the kitchen table that I hardly use; a table hardly in use because it’s always covered in paper! At recognizing that my own paper demons were already upon me, I spent the rest of that day shredding and tossing every single thing in sight. I got through the large old Amazon box that had been holding my “shreddables” for the last two years, but then I recognized that I still had a basket that I kept by the door with even more odds and ends and more ever-growing paper demons. I’ll tackle the little monsters in the door basket within the next 48 hours, but the idea that these paper demons were a generational curse got me considering where else I stood steeped in clutter and chaos.

I’ve given myself every excuse in the world on why I’ve had to take a pause on Teyrrah. “I’ve got to practice writing to completion again.” “I’ve got a monkey on my back about vampires and that’s got to come out somewhere else.” “I can use these smaller projects to help me possibly build a base before I go into my multi-book fantasy series.” All these excuses, however, are only present to cover my chaos. Paper demons are simply the physical result of chaos, and shredding every piece of mail that comes to me doesn’t fix the chaos of my writing. I’ve spent so much time world-building that my notes for Teyrrah are no better than Grandma’s notes for the password to her Turbo Tax, or the notes on how to use her cellphone.

I’ve written thousands of words for Teyrrah and yet still have no coherent story to tell through them. I’ve tried moving the notes from one application to another to no avail. I’ve tried re-writing the notes from memory and from scratch, only to take a “break” and then have another set of chaotic notes to add to the pile. My digital paper demons, however, are a generational curse. This is something that will creep upon me with greater ferocity as the years go by and ignoring the chaos that causes all of it will just worsen the problem.

I think that instead of waiting until I’ve finished re-reading Potter, and writing Nostrum or PoL, or any of the other projects I’ve got rambling on the wayside, it’s time for me to sit down and get organized. This past Sunday, I spent about 10 hours just sorting through old mail and tossing and shredding everything in sight. If I’d remembered the basket by the door, I’d have forgone sleep to send all my paper demons to the shredder. In the same fashion, I need to attack the chaos in my Teyrrah notes and spend a full day, sorting, copying, re-categorizing all my character details and bits of storytelling and world building into something that I can use. Teyrrah is going to be a massive project, one that will require me to jump in whenever I have the creative juices flowing and I cannot continue to allow myself to be stymied by my digital paper demons.

Like all generational curses, it takes full effort and constant vigilance to avoid the curses of those who came before us. The paper demons, digital or not, grow in chaos. I cannot end the chaos that develops in my life entirely, but I am strong enough to wrangle with them and prevent them from being a stumbling block in the things that I wish to do.

Onward and upward!

 

The Accountable Monday, February 14, 2022

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 11:11 pm
Tags: , , ,

I feel rather old saying that the Superb Owl halftime show was “lit”, but I’ve not got a better word to describe it at the moment. That people are seeming a bit incredulous over Snoop Dogg…well, being himself, might just be my favorite part of all.

I’m on a decent writing streak for the first time in probably years. I went to Discord in search of a writing accountability partner and it turned into a whole new bot with dozens of partners all encouraging each other to write. I was about to fail in writing daily today given that I slept poorly last night and ended up sleeping across the bulk of the day today, but the new bot and a push from a couple others got me to get another 352 words on the page for Nostrum.

It’s hard to find others to hold you accountable for what is essentially a hobby. As there’s nothing particularly on the line whether you succeed or fail, it’s rather easy to just let things slide and end up with lots of initial ambition that just falls off as the doldrums of life wear on the soul. That’s the benefit of little online communities, though. You get to know people over time and even those who you just casually interact with can give you the push needed to keep on keeping on.

I’ve still got so long to go on these multi-faceted journeys, but having even a bot poke you with a reminder to do what you like to do can work wonders on the mind and the mental state of the aspiring writer. Cheers to accountability!

 

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.

 

From the top of my head, to the soles of my feet… Thursday, February 10, 2022

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 6:04 pm
Tags: ,

It feels like a lot of people all around me are getting blessed in amazing ways and my instant thought is “Dang! Where’s mine?” But, that’s what happens when you’re so constantly blessed that you’re just plain spoiled. I spent the latter half of this afternoon just reading in my library. That I have that much freedom, let alone the space to simply retreat to a comfortable space where nothing ever happens outside of simple pleasures like reading, playing ancient video games, or just having a good nap, it’s all just a blessing on its own. From the top of my head, to the soles of my feet, I belong to God. The things I wish to accomplish will happen in God’s time, and in the meanwhile, I need to rejoice that those I care for are getting blessed in kind.

More than two years have passed since I’ve had the desire to post anything here, but it’s been more like seven or eight years since this space has served its original purpose. The whole world has changed in the interim and an online journal feels very passe in these new “roaring” twenties, but I liked the idea of it long ago, and I like the idea of it now.

I’ve got some big goals I’d like to accomplish and, after literally sitting down and planning through the goals and how I’ll get to each of them, I realized that this blog gives me the little accountability that’s been lacking in my personal life for ages. So, with no fanfare and with great aplomb, I’m “returning” to my literary, life blog.

There’s new stories to write, new stories to live, and new parts of my life to journal. Onward and upward!

 

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.

 

Obligatory New Years Eve Post: 2015 Edition Thursday, December 31, 2015

Filed under: Dorienne,Writing — kaitco @ 7:24 pm
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Here we are, at the end of another year. As always, this is the time for deep reflection and promises to do better than the previous year. I have “resolutions”, for lack of a better word, and they haven’t changed all that much since high school, which is probably worth a post all on its own.

I sit here debating how I will spend my evening and usher in the new year. For the past nine years, I’ve attended Watch Night service at my church and usually had a good time. This year, however, I’m honestly just tired and all I really want to do is have some dinner, play video games, and then go to bed at a reasonable hour. The debate comes down to whether bringing in the new year in church is something that I really want to do or if it’s something I feel like I should do from the idea of “how I ring in the year is how I will live the year.” If it’s the latter, well, that’s superstition and nothing more. I suppose I’ll figure it out before 10 PM tonight.

Back to these resolutions…

While there are loads of things that I would like to do better in 2016, I’m going to focus on just one: Blog here more. My desire for writing has diminished in 2015 and every day it seems like it’s more and more difficult to get into my old grooves where I could not wait to have a free moment to write. Nowadays, writing any project feels like a chore; something that must be added to a daily to-do list and begrudgingly attended to while often times getting moved onto the next day and the next without getting completed. I can’t point to a specific moment when this occurred, but this is the current state of things.

I’ve tried to combat my diminishing drive in a myriad of ways, but this being the start of a new year, I might as well attempt to face this from a different method. This blog has long since been my main avenue of visiting my writing struggles and successes and, (as melodramatic as this is about to sound) since I sense I’m at the precipice of ending an activity that has encompassed my very being for the last twenty of my 30+ years on this rock, I suppose it’s fitting to use this blog as a final shield against what may be inevitable. TL;DR: I’m going to commit to blogging here weekly to get myself back into the swing of things.

There are always plenty of things to say and saving it for a monthly update clearly isn’t cutting it. I may fail at this goal, as I’ve failed at so many goals in the past, but at least with this one, I’ll be able to look back and see that I didn’t go down with a hearty fight.

Onward and upward in 2016!

 

NaNoWriMo 2015 – Day 2 Monday, November 2, 2015

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 10:07 pm
Tags: , ,

I’ve decided to take a different approach to NaNoWriMo this year. In previous years, I’ve started by writing and writing, but end up failing to follow through with this venture because, as I’ve learned the hard way over the years, I have a very specific method for constructing my novels.

I can’t simply begin with Chapter One and proceed with the story until all is done. If I start “pure” writing, I will definitely get lost along the way. I get bogged down by the craft because I have no idea where the story is going and, as my short-term memory is shot and I get bored easily, I lost interest in the idea and fail at the NaNo project. This year, as I proclaimed to myself last night, will be different.

I liken my writing process to old scanners. The first wave over the image looks distorted, but has some shape and each consequent wave over the image brings about more and more detail until it’s complete. I’m going to approach this year’s NaNoWriMo the same way I approach any novel, just doing it a bit faster. I’m going to spend the first 15 days of this month outlining my project and then spend the last 15 days of the month filling it out and adding the relevant detail. With this method, unlike past years, even if I fail to reach 50K words by November 30th, I will have a strong outline and partial draft of a complete story. Rather than a chapter or two of a story I can’t bare to even glance at a year afterward because I recognize I’d got lost early in the unnecessarily deep prose, I’ll have a project that I can revisit and even flesh out to completion.

It’s the little experiments like these that make life interesting, I suppose. On I press!

 

I Dream of Writing Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Filed under: Dorienne,Favorite,Writing — kaitco @ 6:36 pm
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I’ve been using the Lift.do app for much of the past eighteen months. In addition to helping me make flossing, bible reading, and some form of exercise daily activities, it has also given me a graphical display of my writing activities over the last year.

IMG_3566

Towards the beginning of the year, I seemed to be writing almost daily, but from August through the remainder of the year, I’ve been declining month over month. It’s one thing to have an inkling that one hasn’t been writing much, but seeing it forces acknowledgement. Of all things I aim to correct in 2015, one of the most poignant will be to correct the above graph.

My lack of writing, however, has given rise to an incredible epiphany about myself.

Lately I’ve been growing a bit concerned about the dark and violent nature of my imagination. When left to simply create out of nothing, my imagination always defaults to something dark and dreary. I noticed it with my NaNoWriMo attempt this year where I decided to write about pedophile serial killer seeking help for his deeds. Last year’s NaNoWriMo was hardly better as I simply started with “Once upon a time…” and 5K words in found myself writing a story about a young boy escaping into his dreams as he is being abandoned by his family. I’m still unsure why my imagination, when left on its own, falls into these dark places and that’s something I’ll have to ponder and pray about at another time. This could arguably be to blame for my reduced writing in the latter part of this year, but I know outright laziness when I see it.

I’ve also been having these very detailed recurring dreams which I almost never have. I hate dreaming entirely because I never dream about horses or flying or living a happy life in my elder years. My dreams are almost always just as dark and horrible as my default imagination, but they often include very realistic circumstances involving people I love.

I had one dream several years ago where my mother and I were walking across campus and she suddenly collapsed. I tried picking her up and dragging her to find help and then I noticed that Death was following us. I then proceeded to drag my comatose mother all across campus, in and out of dorms and classroom buildings, trying to run away from Death. I had another dream about a dear friend of mine, who had just been married and was pregnant at the time. I dreamt that I arrived at work and my co-workers surrounded me to comfort me as they told me my dear friend had been killed in a motorcycle accident. That one was so horrible that I actually woke myself up screaming and I had jumped out of the bed and stood around my bedroom for a few minutes before I understood that I’d just been dreaming. These are just a couple examples of the ones that have stood with me over time, so needless to say, I hate dreaming.

My recurring dream, like most of them, can be easily interpreted. I was in college at the time I had the dream about my mother and losing her would have been incredibly difficult for me, at any time really. My dream about my friend occurred because usually when things are going perfectly for too long, I expect something horrible to happen. My recurring dream includes a mixture of current racial tensions in the country and my own frustrations about my life’s limitations. The end doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense to me yet, but I’m hoping to forget the dream sooner rather than later.

Despite having a mild understanding of what my recurring dream meant, I started searching online for a dream interpretation forum; something, anything, to help rid me of this recurring dream. In my searching, however, I started to think about what was really bothering me. It’s not the dreams themselves, because I know what they mean, but it’s the fact that I’ve been having these horrible dreams far more frequently than I’ve ever had and they’re recurring.

So, I posed myself some questions. Why was I dreaming so much?? What’s going on in my life that’s causing this? Is it a change in diet? Exercise? Music? Television? What?!?

No answer came to me immediately, so I focused on other things, namely my writing habits as I saw them in the Lift app and then it finally dawned on me: Reduced writing has given my brain no other storytelling outlet and thus, has left all the creative thoughts that used to be spent on a writing project with nowhere else left to go, but into dreams.

It sounds fanciful at first, but I came upon this realization in a slightly empirical manner. As I hadn’t been writing as much I should have been, I initially aimed to fix it by enacting what I called “No Write, No Reddit.” I procrastinate way too much on Reddit and so, I figured that preventing myself from viewing Reddit unless I’d written at least 100 words would kick start my writing and this actually worked. I started writing for a few days and, though it hadn’t occurred to me at the time, I had no dreams during this time. Unfortunately, after a few days, I started to get busy and I stopped writing and Redditing altogether. Then, the dreams started again and then they started to recur and the dreams even included a few slight deviations…almost as if my brain was trying to perfect or edit the dream.

After recognizing the correlation between writing and dreams, I tried to make sure I didn’t go more than 48 hours without some kind of creative storytelling and, Lo! the dreams have stopped. If were really a scientist, I’d test myself further by ceasing all creative activities again, while maintaining consistent diet, exercise, sleep, etc., and then see how long it took for the dreams to restart (and, I still may as that sounds very intriguing), but like I said, I hate dreaming and a simple hypothesis works well enough for me.

I’ve asked God recently about my writing endeavours and had considered giving up the craft altogether to focus on other ambitions, but I think I might have received my answer.

I’m a storytelling through and through. Whether I tell these stories aloud or commit them to the page, they will form and with nowhere else to go, they will internalize and haunt me either way. So, on I’ll continue.

Whether I publish or not, I’m still a storyteller and, if for no other reason than my mental well-being, I’ll continue to tell my stories until the end.

 

The Case for NaNoWriMo Friday, October 31, 2014

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 10:24 am
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I’ve said in the past that I dislike the idea of NaNoWriMo for giving the false illusion that a novel can be written in thirty days. A deep dive into the project would show anyone who was really interested that the goal is not to have a complete work at month’s end, but to have a preliminary draft that could edited and re-written a dozen times into something remotely publishable. In the past, however, a lot of people haven’t looked at NaNoWriMo through that lens, or if they have, they have extremely myopic vision.

What has saturated the market for emerging authors is the plethora of people who take the 50K words they’ve written in November, spell and grammar check the project, re-read once or twice in December, and then start sending their work to agents in January. As one who has catalogued the years it takes to have something even worthwhile for rejection, every year NaNoWriMo distresses me.

I actually attempted NaNoWriMo a couple years ago and I never got past the first day; I simply can’t write like that. Despite my reservations, however, I’m going to try this in my own way.

I attended church this past Sunday after missing for a few weeks for various reasons, and my attendance kick-started a lot of inspiration. I’ve been putting real effort into my workouts, I’ve been accomplishing all the goals on my daily to-do lists, and I’ve been really writing. I haven’t been spitting out 100 words a day just to say that I’ve written something, but I’ve really put in the effort that Anne deserves.

So, I’m going to do some form of NaNoWriMo. While in its current form, Anne is far greater than 50K words, but as I go through my re-write process, I’m going to ensure I write at least 1700 words a day throughout November. Rather than retain my pessimistic outlook on the entire NaNoWriMo project, I’ll participate (sign up, check in, badges, the whole thing), and see where it takes me.

Also, in other news, I made the reddit front page last week. I probably waste more hours each week on reddit than I do sleeping, but still…the front page is the front page! 🙂

 

Year 30 Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Filed under: Dorienne — kaitco @ 6:36 pm
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Do you ever have so much to say that you no longer have anything to say?

A lot has happened recently. I’ve turned 30. I’ve traveled alone to London and returned, safe with no drama. I’ve finished another stage of Anne and I’ve even given this stage its own name: the grave phase. The grave phase of a novel is where I’ve got it to the point where when I ask myself, “If I die tonight, will I rest peacefully in my grave knowing this novel will be posthumously published from its current state.” If the answer is yes, I’ve reached the grave phase and can rest happy.

In turning 30, I’ve also decided to make some major changes in the way I live my life. I read this amazing post on procrastination the other day, ironically, while procrastinating, and it really got me thinking about my capabilities. Just today, I’ve etched out time to do what would normally take days to accomplish by simply putting post-its all over the place to remind me to keep away from my favorite procrastination hobbies, such as Reddit, Dorienne TV, and the Banished game. Another major change will include changing careers, but I’ve decided to keep the specifics there to myself, as I tell far too many people far too many details about far too many of my life’s plans.

My visit to London was short but lovely. My mother was originally supposed to travel with me, but my stepdad got injured on the job and she had to remain behind to care for him. There was a moment when I considered cancelling the trip altogether, but as nearly all of Year 29 surrounded the actions needed to get me to London for my 30th birthday, the thought of not going depressed more than I’m willing to put into writing today. In the end, I’m glad I went on my own because I had a trip that only I could have. Everyone I mentioned the trip to had all this commentary about where I should go and where I should stay and what I should do on different days, but no one seemed to fully grasp my intentions with the trip.

I’d never left the US and thus, had never experienced an international flight. Now that I have, I’m not enthused about doing it again, especially in coach, but I know how best to prepare myself. I had never viewed the sites of a city via tour bus and I wanted to simply sit atop a double-decker bus and just snap pictures. I had a half dozen people telling me there were better days to spend my first day in London, but I after a nine-hour flight (in coach!), I didn’t want to do much else aside from Ooh! and Ah! and take pictures.

I wanted to visit Bath, England and I did. Everyone I mentioned this to looked at me like I had six heads. Where is that? What’s there? That’s it? Why would you want to go there when you only have four days? Even the car service driver on the way back to the airport had commentary about seeing Bath which was “so far away” when I could have visited Windsor Castle, etc. I, however, wanted to see Bath. I wanted to visit Bath Abbey and walk the 212 steps in its tower. I wanted to pass by Queene Square and marvel at the Royal Crescent and visit the Jane Austen Centre. Specifically, as the Austen fan I am, I wanted to walk the streets that she would have walked two hundred years ago. I wanted to take in the modernized sites that she would have seen. Visiting the Austen centre was an almost religious experience for me, even though, I know she never lived at that site and she didn’t really care for Bath as she got older. I learned that she first started writing a novel at age 11, just like me. I got a deeper understanding of her family and how she lived, the likes of which I’d never received throughout my whole degree in English literature! I had an English tea in the Regency Room and loved everything about it, from the extra sweetener they used to the soft cucumber sandwiches they presented. After this, I went to the Royal Crescent and spent almost an hour, just walking and staring at it as a marvel of architecture and of history. I then visited No. 1 Royal Crescent to see what a house would have looked like during Austen’s day and had such lovely conversations with the staff that I didn’t mind that my feet ached after traipsing across central Bath all day. I loved every moment of my time in Bath and I only got a day to experience it, but no one else understood, even after viewing my Facebook pictures and seeing my little souvenirs, why I wanted to visit Bath.

I saw the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London and saw the African and the Egyptian and just a bit of the Assyrian exhibits at the British Museum. The Tower was interesting, to say the least, but I could have easily spent two whole days in the British Museum. I can’t wait to go back and peruse again when I have more energy. There was something magical about the Egyptian exhibit and fighting my way to see the Rosetta Stone was well worth it. I consider museums to be very personal experiences, not requiring a lot of talk, and I’m glad I got to see what I wanted to see and stare at the sculptures and art for as long as I wanted.

I visit Westminster Abbey and took a “selfie” with Big Ben and then went on to Buckingham Palace to finish my trip. I only visited two sites and had the most wonderful day in doing so, even though I was beginning to get a cold. I walked past Elizabeth I’s tomb in awe of her death mask and I stomped on Dickens’ memorial, though I later chided myself for doing so and prayed for forgiveness for my immaturity (I still hate Dickens, though). Buckingham Palace was everything I expected it to be and the fact that they allow you to view at your own pace was downright beautiful. I spent an entire day marvelling and staring and taking pictures to the point that I hated knowing I had to leave. By the time I got back to the hotel, I found myself even saying my “thank yous” like the Brits I heard all around me.

I’d planned for a year for this trip to London and, though it was technically short, it was everything I needed it to be. I got to view London through the eyes of a writer and a lover of architecture and British literature and history, which I think is what most people fail to understand when they ask me, “Oh, why didn’t you go on the Harry Potter studio tour?” or “You mean, you didn’t see the Downton Abbey place?” when they consider my trip.

Anne is now its grave phase, which leaves me perfectly happy. I had no grandiose plans for finishing a novel this year, considering what I’d accomplished with Damen last year, but I’m glad I’ve even reached this point. There’s lots to do, though at 185k words, it’s in far better shape than I was with Damen starting at 285k words. Anne still has room to take on a life of its own. While I try to quote Austen wherever feasible, this is my novel and at this stage, I’m comfortable in deviating from the parent story enough to tell the entire story properly.

I still think Anne will be my first foray into the self-publishing world, though I think I may wait until 2015 to start pushing Damen on agents again. I have no delusions of becoming one of those self-publishing successes; I just want my story to given to the world. Speaking of giving my story…I lost my beloved Kindle Paperwhite during my travels to London. I think I put it in the seat flap on the return flight and forgot to take it with me in the bustle and confusion of leaving. I’ve already removed my Amazon credentials from it, but I’ve got a version of Damen on there that’s now floating around lost on the device. I doubt I’ll ever get it back and, oh darn, this means I’ll have to get the brand new even more awesome Kindle Voyage, but the fact that Damen is where I can’t reach it, leaves me a little irritated.

These first 30 years have presented me with quite a lot. Oddly, I don’t feel as old as I did last year. On the trip home from London, I was surrounded by a group of people in the security line who were amazed that I was 30, as they all said I didn’t look like I could be older than 22, which just cheered my heart. 🙂 I went into this year expecting an early mid-life crisis, but instead I am rejuvenated for all of life’s possibilities.

So, Year 30. Onward and upward!

 

Realistic Planning Sunday, August 31, 2014

Filed under: Dorienne — kaitco @ 9:10 pm
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I came upon an interesting concept as I was making my plans for the month of September: I need to set realistic goals. It sounds utterly simplistic and obvious, but it’s actually taken me thirty years to understand this.

My original plan for August was to complete this current phase of Anne so I could spend all of September focused on re-editing Damen. Yesterday, however, upon realizing I still had another 10 chapters left to go, I made a plan for August 30 and 31 that was essentially, “Write ALL THE THINGS in less than 48 hours!!”

Shortly after creating this plan, any mild satisfaction I had, melted away when I realized it simply wasn’t feasible. Even if I skipped dinner, and didn’t workout, and didn’t take my normal hour to relax, and wrote until four in the morning, and skipped church the next day, and wrote throughout the entirety of the day and well into Sunday night…I still wouldn’t be able to finish the whole novel by the end of August. Well, technically, I could have pulled it off, but whatever I managed to write would have been absolute tripe and would have to be completely re-written or just tossed in a few months anyway.

This realization led me something I’ve been doing naturally in all my other life goals this year, but hadn’t yet applied to my writing. I told myself it was okay that I didn’t complete a specific goal for the month and then laid out daily writing goals I wanted to reach. More specifically, I planned parts of the story I wanted to complete each day until this phase of the book could be properly completed. To my surprise, I found that if I meet these meager writing goals each day, I’ll have the book done in a week, and, honestly, my competitive nature will likely bring that down to five days. In less than a week, due to a little realistic planning, I’ll have this phase of Anne done. I’m rather in awe of the idea of it.

Every August, I reflect on my past year and make special plans to meet my birthday goals. With this September bringing my 30th birthday, I initially was in “Do ALL the things!!” mode, but this year will be different. This year, my only real goal is to make realistic ones.

I’ll be traveling to London for my birthday and I’d love to see everything there is to see in Bath, and visit every London museum, and see every church, castle, and great house in the area, and watch every play and musical, and shop in every store, but…I’ll have a much better time on the trip by making realistic plans.

I want to get published before it’s time to reflect on my 40th birthday (good Lord), and I’d love to write ten novels a year, and send 50 query letters a month to 50 different agents, and work on another ten novels after the first ten get rejected, but I’ll have a much better time pursuing this dream if I make some realistic plans.

 

World Keeps Spinning Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Filed under: Dorienne,Writing — kaitco @ 10:34 pm
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I stare at this empty page
The cursor blinks at me
I plead the muse of inspiration
To look down amicably
Upon this Christian soldier’s eyes
That search for daily meaning
In her writing that she creates
Whose verbosity is careening
Out of control. The cursor blinks
With it’s evil grinning
And while the author waits and waits
This world just keeps on spinning.

I’ve not written anything worthwhile here in ages, though a million things have occurred in the last few months. First-job is not un-enjoyable and is moving in a good direction and I’ve got a few eggs dropped into the paths of my literary goals that are finally beginning to hatch.

We lost a church member just last week and her homegoing is this weekend, but I can’t remember the last time I was so uplifted by another soldier’s work. She brought up her family in God’s ways and was a faithful Christian to the very end. Every time I think of her and children, I can’t help praying, “Lord, that’s the kind of Christian I want to be. Help me get there.”

I had an epiphany with Anne this month; simply put, she was just too good. There was no stain upon her character, so I had to muddy her a bit, as even I was beginning to struggle to relate to her.

So, there. Lots of happenings, but nothing particularly notable in a blogging sense, hence the attempt at poetry. On I trek towards my lofty goals…

 

Trepidatious Switching Friday, September 13, 2013

Filed under: Dorienne,Writing — kaitco @ 8:33 am
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In less than two weeks, I’ll be a year from 30. What’s really interesting is that WordPress reminded me that it’s been 6 years since I first registered here and I can remember fretting in posts tagged “25” over the idea of turning 25 as if it were yesterday. I keep telling myself that my 20s have not gone by fast (in fact, they often feel incredibly long), but when I’m honest with myself…really, they have!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Where Inspiration Leads Thursday, August 22, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

 

 
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