I am kaitco

a writer's log

Brilliant Movie Night Monday, August 20, 2012

Filed under: Dorienne — kaitco @ 11:10 pm
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Yesterday evening, I took down my braids which is normally a 4-6 hour event. I awoke from my usual Sunday afternoon nap to find The Miracle Worker playing on my so-called Dorienne TV and from there, after crying at the end like I always do, I queued The Silence of the Lambs and after that watched The Godfather. Throughout these cinematic adventures and humming the tune to The Godfather through half the night, I completely forgot to post anything. All this notwithstanding, I didn’t really write anything yesterday, so there was nothing about which to even write.

I’d hoped to get the book down the 150s by today, but I’m either experiencing my first real migraine or I’ve got an emergency trip to my ophthalmologist coming in the next week since I’ve not been well all day and my eye has been in constant pain. While this does pose a few problems when it comes to staring at a bright laptop screen to create, I’ve worked through worse pain, so I’ll just chalk up today to simple sloth.

I’m off tomorrow as well and the night is not over, so if I can push forward to write here, I can at least begin the re-write of Chapter 14.

 

My personal fast Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Many of the cleaning staff in my building at first-job are Somalian and I often take the time to speak to least the woman who comes by my area each day. Sometimes it is difficult to speak to her since, even though she’s lived in the US for at least the 5 years I’ve been working there, her English is still lacking, but she told me the other day how much she appreciated how I spoke to her (slow and clear) since it helped her improve upon her English. This of course made me beam from ear to ear.

In one of our daily chats, she shared with me her efforts for Ramadan. Previous to this conversation, I knew that the Muslim holiday involved fasting of some kind, but I was relatively ignorant of anything more. I still am, to some degree, but I was intrigued when she discussed how she had to fast throughout each day. And not just abstain from a certain food or certain type of food, but denying all food and all water from sun up til sun down, every day. I admired her devotion and shook my head since I doubt I’d ever have the resolve to do the same…at least not while I knew I could convert to a religion that didn’t require so much…

Like I said, however, I was still intrigued by the concept of the fast and wondered whether there was anything I could just give up, for even a month. Internet? Not a chance; when the power is out, I start to get the shakes. Reading? Probably, but why would I ever want to fast from reading? Writing? I’ve done this many times earlier in its more commonly known form called procrastination and I don’t think it wise to take that up again. So, from what shall I fast as I move into a new month?

As I looked over this month of July, I find myself sorely disappointed with the lack of progress on my novel and my spending habits, but resolving to do something every day, can work for a month or so, as I saw in June, but once the month is over, I can’t help by slack off whatever I was doing every day. In order to make a real change to myself as the result of some kind of fast or resolve, it has to be something that I would not want to go back to doing every day. While reducing my idleness would be an admirable fast, I’ve done this only to fail in the very next month when the pressure is gone. So, again, I’m left to wonder what shall I do with myself in the month of August.

August is usually a stressful month for me. In the countdown to aging another year, August is like the month of December for most folks bent on doing better with themselves. I look at this entire year from last September til now and take a critical eye at where I was this year versus last and as we end July, I can’t help my yearly ritual. The novel is written, but has yet to be reduced to a publishable form. I still have the same first-job, the same debt, the same weight, the same mild service in my church, etc….With this August, however, and since I’ve got fasting on the mind, rather than just sigh over my lack of progress in this adventure in adulthood, I’ve decided to strengthen my resolve and fast against things that have been destroying any hope of success that I’ve got: fast food and Minecraft.

As far as the fast food is concerned, I’m sure anyone can determine the issues there. It’s mostly bad for me, especially since I’m a vegetarian and can only resolve to order some French fries when I’m forced out to eat, but the monetary hit is what really bites the most. Is it possible to spend more than $1000 in a single month on just fast food meals? Previous to this month’s AMEX bill I would have said “Not a chance.” but now, I’m forced to change my tune. That said, I’ve “given up” fast food dozens of times in the past and, as I’ve before explained, once the month is over (if I even last that long), I’m right back to where I started, so the task here is not about just giving up fast food. To get to the heart of the issue, I’ve got to give up something better, which is my spending money like I actually had it. In order to do this, I have to actually place myself on a budget and thus a “money fast” which will require a fast food fast as well. I’ll have just $20 in cash that I can spend each week if I forget my lunch, etc., but that’s it. There’ll be no swiping my AMEX as if I’d forgot what that swipe meant and since no one can eat out every day with just $20, I’ll have to cook and plan meals each week which sounds simple, but when the mind and body are so accustomed to just going out to get food someone else had already prepared for me, the idea of it is very novel. The ultimate goal is to curb my spending and the way to get there is to almost entirely abstain from eating out.

Likewise, my fast from Minecraft, while very specific and sounding more traditional, has a separate goal.

Sandbox video games where the player can do anything and create anything he or she wishes to do have always been my downfall. The games in which I’ve wasted the most time include The Sims, Rock Band and Minecraft. Rock Band has no real goal other than to just get better and better at each instrument, so I can play just because I want to play and have a lot of fun doing it. The Sims 2 allows me to make any person I choose, dress them up, build them a house and play their lives for as many hours as I choose and even if I were to get tired of that, I can make mods for the game or other downloadables such as hairstyles or furniture. Minecraft plops the player into a space of land and it is up to the player to survive in this wilderness, finding food, fending off monsters, building houses or roller coasters or whatever one could wish to build. All three allow me to do whatever I want to do without any real goals in place and allowing me to play forever if I so chose, so the reason why Minecraft would be the chosen fasted game may not seem apparent at first.

Unlike The Sims or Rock Band, Minecraft takes virtually no effort from me to start and costs me nothing as well. With The Sims, despite having a brand new laptop, the game still takes about 10 minutes to load between the first EA Games screen until the moment I’m in a family’s house. The loading time allows me opportunity to focus on other things, sometimes things that may even pull me away from the game before I’ve had to time start playing. The Sims also requires loading in between different houses or even different places as my sims go on dates or on vacation, so it’s easy for me to get distracted from the game and even easier for me to not want to play because I only have a half-hour to do something and I don’t want to waste it on loading screens.

Rock Band is only a bit better since I mostly like to play the guitar and sing simultaneously. This requires turning on the Xbox and getting the TV to right input, bring out and plugging in the mic and mic stand, finding my guitar, letting the game load and finally deciding on a song or setlist to play. Since I love the game so much, this passes relatively quickly for me, but unlike The Sims where I am sitting for hours on end as I play pixelated characters and their stories, for Rock Band, I am standing and singing for the duration of my play and so again, unlike The Sims, I can’t physically play forever; eventually I’ll get exhausted and will have to pass out on the sofa. The good thing about this is that after a day of being sedentary, just standing (and dancing a little depending on the song) and singing gets in a little more activity in my day. Even with all this said, the setup time frame doesn’t allow me to play just whenever I feel like it and the desire to be lazy also drowns out my love for the game.

This brings us to Minecraft, whose loading times don’t give me enough time to bring my teacup to my mouth and can allow me sit sedentary, though creative, for almost days at a time. This easy access to such a fantastic waste of time has allowed my procrastination to be less of a task and more of an art form. To be honest, other than playing Minecraft and some power outages earlier this month, I’m not entirely sure what else I did in July 2012. This frightens me a bit since I’ve always had at least one or two obstacles in the way of my procrastination, but Minecraft gives me everything that The Sims or Rock Band can with nothing to impede upon my play.

A fast from Minecraft seems like a simple fast from something I really don’t need to be doing every single day of my life, but it’s really far more than that. Before Minecraft (hereafter known as BMC), if I had 30 minutes to kill, I would write or read or makes notes on a new project or even exercise or read webcomics or pack my meals for the day or do some laundry or anything else in the world. BMC I could take that time to do something slightly productive since it would take too long to set up anything that was relatively unproductive, but after Minecraft (which I won’t dignify with its own period), I can kill time more easily than should be allowed. In my fast from Minecraft, I’m essentially resolving to do all things I’ve neglected to do since I’ve been Minecrafting all summer long.

So, here I am. I’m going to fast for the month of August, taking away the simple things that will have the greatest impact on my life. I liken this fast to removing some obstacles that keep a few pebbles from rolling down a mountain. Once those pebbles start rolling, they’ll hit snow and then more snow and then become a snowball so big that my procrastination and wasteful spending will have to run like Indiana Jones being chased by the giant ball out of the temple.

Once again, to keep myself honest, I’ll check in using this blog (hopefully far shorter than I’ve rambled today) and remain accountable to myself since I really dislike interrupting a string of consecutive posts.

 

To the Cape Friday, August 19, 2011

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 11:59 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

I’ve made up my mind that I’m going to Cape Cod for my birthday. I need to get away from everything for a while and the only place I know where I feel truly calm is near the water. I’ve not decided where on the cape I’ll be going, but I know that in September, I’ll be in the land of the “ahs.”

Every month or so, I come to a point where I’m driven to do something I hadn’t wanted to do and the rush I get from it is purely exhilarating. Sometimes, it can be related to writing since that is what drove me to start posting and thus writing every day starting last November, but other times it can be something as simple as cleaning up the house or weeding or something that’s just been nagging me. Yesterday, it was my darn kitchen.

I don’t cook, but somehow all these dishes manage to pile up over weeks and often months and since I don’t cook, I never feel the need to do anything about them. Each time I pass the pile, however, I grow a little more sullen because the pile has grown to gargantuan heights that I’ll never be able to overcome, but yesterday I did. I fell asleep on the sofa without doing anything else last night, but at the very least, I tackled the pile.

With that done, I’m moved to do more; maybe really complete all my laundry in one day like I’ve been wanting to do all year; maybe attack those six-foot weeds on my patio; maybe detail my car; maybe even complete and entire chapter in a weekend. Who knows?

I wrote 524 words last night (whatever the hell she wants all the time is beyond me) and have the urge to pelt out another 2 or even 3K words throughout all of Saturday. Or perhaps, I’ll just finish the rest of the dish pile while I’ve still got the drive.

 

A morning routine Thursday, August 11, 2011

I’m having a difficult time (in general) determining lately whether I’m “telling” my story or showing so much that it feels like tell.

Usually, when I find myself writing “He did X” several times on a page, I’ve fallen into a series of tells instead of showing the reader what’s happening at this point in the story. That said, I’m not quite sure how else I’d say what I’m saying and so it’s coming off as either overly detailed or just plain bland. That’s the infuriating part, though; I can’t tell which!

It seems like a rather simple concept and I’m sure that if I read a bit about it, I’d discover my answer, but I fear “the tell” like a block and I worry that after reading anything about what defines a “tell” versus a “show,” I’ll get “tell” in the back of my mind and end up telling the reader all about Damen and Co. instead of allowing the story to happen on the page.

I suppose in the grand scheme of things, if this is one of my greatest worries in the world, I’ve got loads about which to be thankful, but still…it’s worries me.

Overnight, I’ve decided to go back to writing as a part of my morning routine.

In the past few weeks, I’ve stopped playing Rock Band for three to four hours every night and, aside from gaining a bit of weight from not wearing myself out with all the songs, I’ve found simply things stressing me far more often than they had when I was coming home and forgetting the day by playing through my songs.

Nothing technically stops me from playing every night now, but I have an obligation to myself to finish this draft in the next few months, which means that when I come home at night, I know I’ll either sit down to write for the night or play Rock Band, I’m rarely able to do both before it’s time to go to bed. The happy medium, then, is to write in the mornings, presumably after I do my morning workout. This will, hopefully, allow me time to do both of the things I love and reduce stress at the same time.

I just hate falling asleep in front of the television having done neither by the end of the day. Many days I’ll find that I’m not in the mood to write, but because I’ve sat and stared at the words on my laptop for so long, I’ve wasted too much time to de-stress from the day with my game and end up just having something to eat and then falling sleep in front of the TV to either Netflix or my “Dorienne TV” concoction. If I expect something to change, I can’t keep doing the same thing while hoping for new results.

I wrote 413 words this morning (and I want them now. Right now) and, though, I’m suffering a bit from allergies and I’m still a little down from how the past two days have gone, I think I’m at least on the right path.

 

Mental cleansing Thursday, June 23, 2011

The other night I had a mild epiphany and I decided that what I really needed was a mental and spiritual wash.

For months now, I’ve felt almost trapped in the mundane, wanting something I couldn’t articulate and unable to think clearly for more than 300 words at time. I’ve skipped church for nothing more than sheer laziness and I’ve skipped piano lessons for the same. I’ve let the housework pile and pile while I’ve played video games for days on end. Books have gone unread and unwritten and all the while, the days of my life float in and out of existence without anything meaningful for any of them.

I’ve become dirty; muddy with filth of sloth and ignorance and it’s time I simply took a bath.

For the rest of the month (less than 10 days because I know how I am), I’ve decided not to watch any TV (via Netflix or otherwise) and not to play any games outside of Zumba or DDR. This means no Rock Band for more than a week…heaven help me. The only thing I can watch are films on Netflix I’ve not before watched, so no re-watching About a Boy or Frasier for the rest of the month…Lord Almighty.

I’m also going to listen to just classical music and opera until July as well to give my mind the time it needs to ponder and wonder (it’s a shame those words don’t rhyme) and since I’m not watching TV or listening to music that “speaking” to me, I’ll be reading nightly to get that touch of characterization I seek each day. It’s only with a completely clear mind that I’ll be able to understand what’s wrong with the soul and why I can’t seem to strengthen my spiritual resolve.

There was a time when I was just so happy to be a Christian that church was the favorite thing in my life. Nowadays, I can’t remember the last time I went three full weeks without missing church. Shameful when I think about what I used to do. I used to be in two choirs and on the usher board and a second board and teach Sunday School and at the very least attend each week. I blamed part of my attitude towards church on my mother moving away, but two years later, there’s got to be more to it.

I keep getting these urges where I say I’ll read my bible every day and will start going to Sunday School again, but these too do pass. I’m in a spiritual rut and I know with three Sundays in July coming where I’ll be working instead of going to church, I know that if I don’t cleanse myself spiritually now, come August, my pastor and my church may have stopped wondering where I’ve gone.

So, it’s time to clean, to scrub and to peel away this rank odor of sloth and boredom. I’m not sure how successful I’ll be; I suppose Sunday afternoon, a prime day to lay around instead of going to church and then play Rock Band all day, will be the real test of my resolve.

This is about more than just getting the dishes or the laundry done, or trying to read my bible and play piano every day. This is about getting back to what makes me before I forget what the real me is like.

I wrote 407 words today (It’s time to get up) and I’ve made it more than 24 hours at this point with no Rock Band or Frasier. Just a few more days to go…and then becomes the real challenge keeping myself from slipping back into monotony.

 

Unexpected Monday, May 23, 2011

It’s that time of the month again where I’m feeling oddly blank and unsure what to do with myself. I play Rock Band for the majority of the day and plan to play a little more after I post, but I still don’t know what to do.

Of course, there are millions of things I could be doing with first-job, my writing and just general house cleaning, but I’ve been in this slothful, sinful stride these past few weeks that has made a little more difficult than usual to get motivated to do anything. Perhaps it was the Bailey’s…

Usually when I get into this fits of blankness, writing is the most difficult chore of the day and at first, it looked that way until I started to push a little to reach my 250-word goal for the day. I ended up expanding on the scene where Angel and Anthony find out that Damen bought tickets to LA without their permission and included some foreshadowing as well, which I’ve not been able to do recently since I’m still rather unsure what I’ll be doing with the rest of the novel.

I wrote 1287 words tonight (make as little noise as possible), an extraordinary feat considering how lazy I’ve been lately. I’m not entirely sure how best to spend the remainder of my night; Rock Band, writing or sleep, but I can only pray that tomorrow brings with it an aura of decisiveness and the drive to do something with myself. Right now, I’m not thriving; just surviving and one can only survive so long in this state.

 

The second week Sunday, May 22, 2011

This marks the second week I’ve not gone to church. I’m trying not to be troubled by the ease with which it has become so easy not to attend. To simply lay in the bed until 11 and then rise and say, “Oop…Well, I’ll never make it now. I guess I’ll just go next week…”

Anyway, I’ve done an obscene amount of gaming today; Green Day Rock Band and The Force Unleashed (again) to name the ones encompassing the majority of my time. It was speaking with someone the other day about games and how un-gamerlike I am by playing multiple games at one time and then never actually finishing them because I move between them so often that I can’t keep my attention on any specific one for any amount of time. One day, I’d very much like to complete a game to 100% of its achievements, but I’m really a terrible gamer since I’ve still not finished Final Fantasy X and seem forever stuck on the second round with Seymour.

All this gaming, however, has got me wondering for what I’m compensating when I play. There are a great many things I could have accomplished today, but didn’t because I was playing Rock Band and Star Wars games. I got to see my Bumby again, but outside of that, very little got accomplished. Oh well…I suppose I’ll complain about all this wasted time on my death bed…

I did manage to write 487 words tonight (her rhetorical question about his plane ticket) and I’ve decided that I’m not going to stress about word count any longer. If the first full draft of the novel is 300K words, then it is what it is and that’s why it’s called a first draft. If I try to pare down anything, I’ll end up telling my way through the novel when there is so many wonderful things I could show.

 

 
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