I am kaitco

a writer's log

I’ve got to see you again Saturday, August 18, 2012

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 11:22 pm
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Norah Jones ~ Come Away With Me

I’ve not done a song-titled post in a while and since I was little stumped on a title for today, this fits. I think I miss the days when I just had “Mission of the Month Post #12” posts, but anyway…

I’m finally starting to face the realization that I may never get this novel down to 120K. Firmly into 163K as I start reviewing Chapter 14 again, it occurs to me that unless I completely cut a storyline (i.e., I’ll probably have to nix Amber MacDonaugh’s part of the tale), I probably won’t come anywhere close to 120K words.

That said, I have got quite a few chapters to go and I’ve been averaging around 800-word deletions per chapter. My Chapter Details (I’m soooo glad I made these) shows me that I’ve got a lot of deleting and rearranging to do as well, so maybe I’ll pick it up to 1500 words removed per chapter, but it’s quite likely that I’ll not get this finished product down to 120K; this doesn’t upset me as much though. I think I’d rather have a 500-paged great story than strip it down to 300 pages of bilge.

Again, though…I’ve still got more than 20 chapters left to go and Chapter 14’s probably got at least a 3K cut in its future to bring me within 40K. I may still get there…maybe.

 

30-Day 5K – Day Twenty-Three Saturday, June 23, 2012

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 11:53 pm
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Well, this month is winding down like this book.

I finished editing one chapter tonight and did my initial skim of a second chapter, that actually leaves me with a little hope as far as word count goes.

Despite being rather far in this book, probably too far to be making major character or plot changes, I think I’ve got no choice but to do so. At some point, there are just too many outlandish events happening to one or two characters and what is supposed to be literary fiction starts to look like some lame attempt at science fiction.

So, this means that I’ll likely spend all of tomorrow rewriting Chapter 32 from scratch rather than blow through 2 or even 3 more chapters, but that hope I mentioned lies in that there’s a chance I might be able to bring this book which still stands at 182K down to about 175K, my goal for this edit.

I think all writers go through this dilemma of having so much to tell, but so few pages to introduce the world to our imaginations. There’s little new under the sun, so I suppose I’ll have to battle through these issues like all the world’s storytellers before me.

 

A house? Thursday, February 2, 2012

Filed under: Dorienne,Writing — kaitco @ 11:08 pm
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For the first time in my life I considered that idea that I should be a homeowner. I actually started to look into what homes would be in my price range before I started to add some logic to it, but I can’t escape the fact that I actually thought about it.

I’ve been anti-house for a long time, but in recent months, I seem to be running out of space in my townhouse; and I really want a garage again. The living room isn’t large enough for all my stuff anymore and I would really like to have a decent sized kitchen again. I won’t be able to afford the kind of house I grew up in yet, but the idea of a little space that’s all my own is starting to sound more attractive than it ever did.

“Now is the time to buy” is all I ever hear nowadays and I’m wanting more than ever to feel like a “real” adult with a mortgage and a car note and all the other debt that the rest of America has. Now, feels like the time.

This idea faded a bit on the drive home, but it’s still there nagging at me as something to consider. That said, just a week ago, I almost dropped 1500 to buy a MacBook just because I wanted one, so I realize I just get caught up in the moment at times.

I had planned on getting more writing done today than I did.

I wrote 1003 words today (dinner with Angel and Anthony that evening.). As far as my writing goes, I’m starting to see what I used to attempt daily as not nearly enough any more. I used to pray daily for 500 words, but now when I see that all I wrote was 500 and I highlight it on the page, it looks like nothing and it’s no wonder that it’s taken me three years to write this book.

All this notwithstanding, I wrote a poem today; probably the first in about five years. It’s not truly “my” poem in the sense that I “was” my character Dana Barrington while writing it, but still, poetry is hard and I’m always lightly amused at the result when it’s done.

I wasn’t going to write any poems at all for this project, but I’ve got Damen and Dana discussing poetry in depth and it won’t feel right without at least one:

The story

How do I tell the story
to someone so young?
Should I lie
Should I weep?
Say nothing?
Keep it deep?

He’ll ask the question
I know it; soon
I’ll take time
I’ll get by
But can I look
In his eye?

How do I tell the story
to someone so young?
I’ll make it quick
We’ll feel our pain
But he’ll know he wasn’t
Born in vain.

I was inspired, and thus my character was inspired, for the poem after reading an Emily Dickinson (If I can stop one heart from breaking) and I don’t think much of it, but it’s done and now I can move on with the rest of the book, especially since I completed Chapter 24 tonight.

 

Potterly Saturday, July 23, 2011

As I write this post now, I am listening to “Buckbeak’s Flight” from the Prisoner of Azkaban score. I bought the score while the film was still in theatres; sometime after my second viewing, but before my fourth. Months later, I would watch the scene from the film that carried this very song because I just enjoyed it so much and wanted to keep the visual crisp in my mind when I heard the song.

My playlist has now changed to “A Window to the Past,” a song on the same score that I only recently discovered and associate, not with film or HP in general, but with John Williams’ music and its influence on my writing. I think this is how I view the entire Potterverse at this point in my life.

Aside from the obvious reference to a “window to my past,” I see HP as something I did as a kid, full of memories, I’d rather not dampen just because everyone in the world seems to be talking about it. That said, yesterday I finally made up my mind about going to see this last film in the theatres.

I wasn’t going to go, but then someone at first-job mentioned that this is my last time to see an HP film in theatres, in 3D and all that jazz. While I’m not exceptionally wow’d by the concept of a 3D film, as I prefer to be awed by immaculate storytelling and I’m certain that at some point in the next few years, these films will be rehashed and re-released Star Wars style, I accept that my co-worker did have a point.

I rented the fourth through seventh (part 1) films and plan to make this a Potter-filled weekend before going off to see it on Monday. I’m not excited by this though. It’s very reminiscent to the midnight party for Book 7. I hadn’t picked up an HP book since I finished Book 6 and found the magic to be almost literally broken, but I went to buy the book out of an obligation of completion.

I never saw the sixth and seventh films because I disliked the fourth and fifth movies and since I knew I hated the sixth book, I saw no point, but here I am again with this sense of obliging to completion.

I thoroughly believe the films lost their way around the fourth one, where the producers and screenwriters decided that it was no longer important to tell an actual story with the adaptation; only throw some images on the screen and hope that people who read the books has some iota which actor corresponds to which character. This believe returned in full sway after re-watching the fourth one last night. I remember generally liking the fourth one the first time around when I saw it at midnight, but knew I was going to be disappointed to see an adaptation of one of my absolute favorite books. Years later, however, that disdain has grown deeper as I had only the vague memory of the books to guide me, but was irritated that if I hadn’t had that, I would have been really, really lost in the movie.

Why did the fake Moody keep the real Moody in that box? Why not just kill the kid while he no one was around him (though I suppose this is a simply question for the novel itself)? Why was it important that Voldemort could touch Harry? Why the hell was screaming so much when Voldemort touched him? What was going on with the wands at the end? Why did Harry see his parents’ ghosts? Why were Voldemort and Wormtail holding up in that particular house? What was the deal with the skull and the snake sign? What was going on in the scene with the pensieve?

Oi…and now I’ve got three more films to watch of this.

Of course, I know all the answers to these questions because I’ve read the book a minimum of seven times, probably closer to eight, but in trying to views these just like any casual viewer, I’m left with irritation that filmmakers could be so greedy as to cut out all the substance of a book just to splash it on the big screen. Peter Jackson may have left out and changed some aspects of LOTR (hello, Tom Bombadil?), but overarching story was still intact.

I’m not really sure why I’m ranting about Potter tonight. I think it’s just been a long week and I want to rant about something and since I generally disliked that movie last night (no Dobby, no house elves, no SPEW, Krum was too cute, Diggory wasn’t cute enough, Fleur wasn’t a veela, no Bagman and that !@#$%^&* scene with face in the fire!), this will have to do.

I wrote 518 words today (a pair of scissors, two combs and a brush), not counting the ones I added to the Potter-fic ( 😉 ) and I think I’m going to use this weekend to be as annoyed as I want to be, while trying to write a little more as well.

 

Netflix…I had a rough day, too Tuesday, July 12, 2011

There’s a lot of hullabaloo going on about Netflix right now. I adore the service and have for several years. I also upped my service to 5 discs at a time so I’ve been paying 34.99 a month for the last 18 mos, down one disc from when they changed 6 discs from 35-something to 39-something.

As I’ve been paying this rate for Netflix, which is still more than $40 a month less than what I’d be paying for cable, when said service decided to up their prices again, I barely felt the pinch; only the people who had been paying next to nothing while getting an amazing amount of something, got hit hard.

This is really Round 2 of this rant; Round 1 is at my Dorienne’s Log. I’m about done ranting against the rant against Netflix, but I thought it necessary to say it again. This isn’t like taxes where the funds can easily trickle to the masses when a small percentage of people pay the least amount of them. This is a large group of people paying 7.99 for streaming service and then just 9.00 to have out 3 discs at a time. Anyone who claimed they did not see this coming was either ignorant of business economics or just plain…no, they were ignorant of business economics.

With all this said, I wrote a total of 530 words tonight (when are we gonna read it again?), not counting the extra words that helped shape the series of “instant messages” between Damen and Brit that start the beginning of Chapter 19.

I’ve decided that I’m going to fancy myself a Mark Twain type of author and capture the language of the pubescent set at the turn of the 21st century. Ages from now, in the same light that critics sit in awe of how well Twain captured the linguistics of 19th century Missourah, Damen will be enamoured for it’s detailed descriptions of how teenagers spoke to one another at this point in time.

…at least this is what I’ll be repeating to myself when these parts of the novel get slammed by some agent or editor some months or years from now.

 

A crying shame Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Filed under: Reading,Writing — kaitco @ 11:59 pm
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I remember the first book I ever read that brought me to tears; Charlotte’s Web when I was 11, and that was even after I’d developed my spider phobia.

I don’t know why I cry at books as much as I do. I cried reading the 4th, 5th and 6th Harry Potter books, I sobbed in happy hysterics over the end of Fried Green Tomatoes at Whistle Stop Cafe and I even burst into tears at reading the end of Kagura in the InuYasha manga. Why am I so emotional?

My first exposure to Jane Austen was Persuasion as a reading assignment in college. I hadn’t expected much, but it’s now one of my favorite books and it’s hard to imagine the end with Anne Elliot who had been poorly persuaded and her Captain Wentworth without tearing up a little. As with Fried Green Tomatoes, tears streamed down my face with an almost ridiculous vigor from the outright joy about what I was reading. I finished Sense and Sensibility tonight and, I’m not sure why it surprised me, but once I again, I found myself in tears at the end of an Austen.

The silly thing about Sense and Sensibility is that it’s one of my favorite movies, i.e., the one done by Ang Lee and Emma Thompson. I’ve watched more times than I can count and I cry harder at the end with each subsequent viewing. I think I’m just so touched by Elinor’s breakdown at the end that I can’t help but cry with her, so I knew full well what was coming at the end of this book and thus had ample opportunity to ready myself for the end.

Even with knowledge of the ins and outs of the plot, I still burst into tears and continued crying for another several hundred words and into the next chapter when I got to the same point of Elinor’s breakdown. As with most books, the image is far more poignant in my mind than on a screen and just reading the words “His errand at Barton, in fact, was a simple one. It was only to ask Elinor to marry him” caused me to take a extra five minutes to compose myself before I could read any further. I’m not sure why it is that, especially with Austen’s books, I’m such a punk when it comes to even remotely emotional literature.

I wrote 284 words tonight (Was your Thanksgiving okay?”) though none of them threw me into a fit of tears as did Austen’s. Still…aside from reading a book I knew I’d love from the moment I decided to buy it, I accomplished something extraordinary tonight. I watched no television and played no Rock Band, not because I was on a zealous quest to change my ways, but because I decided that I’d rather read instead. It’s a pleasant thought to be able to see definite changes in yourself, no matter how small.

 

Something or another Saturday, July 2, 2011

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

Since I’m on such a reading kick lately, I’ve decided to really put some effort into re-reading/editing Flight for it’s third edition. I’ve not looked at it, really looked at it in ages and I hate to think of it just sitting on the interwebs with all these spelling and grammar errors and looking very much like a fledgling writer’s first attempt at a novel. It will be fun to reminisce since I was finishing my last year of school while writing it.

I listened to some “normal” music today (Green Days’s Restless Heart Syndrome, of course), but quickly returned to classical and have been listening to it ever since.

I am, however, going to watch some Frasier for a bit before going back to Sense and Sensibility. I quite like the idea of reading all the time and look forward to seeing if I can manage to read a book a week for a while. Between my old Star Wars 91-book challenge and the 60+ books waiting on my Goodreads “to-read” list, I’ll be good to go for a while.

I wrote 328 words tonight (her grandmother and her sons could do the same) and have this nagging suspicion that I’m taking too long to get to the point with this part of the chapter. All I can think however is that I’ve got to keep pushing and pushing until it’s done. And, I can go crazy with my proverbial red pen.

 

Some action Monday, June 27, 2011

So, it took six days of no television and no Xbox before I finally broke down and started cleaning. I had hoped this would come earlier, but such is life.

Having finished The Silence of the Lambs yesterday, I turned my sights to Harris’ fourth novel Hannibal. It’s got only 3 stars on Amazon and the reasons for this are clear. I’m not yet a third of the way through it and I’m already wishing I’d chosen something else to read. I had got up for the bathroom and stared at my Kindle on the bed and wondered what to do. I could either go back to the boring book, or I could start cleaning. So I started cleaning.

I’ve realized in these past few days that Amazon product reviews follow certain curves depending on how good they are. While there will always be idiots rating a book or film low because it arrived with bent pages or because the shipping took too long, the majority of the reviews are more or less genuine. Since most of the reviews are about content, one can tell how good a book is just from it’s review curve.

If the curve is more logarithmic (i.e. going up and towards the right) with the bulk of the reviews being favorable with a few less being 4 stars, a few less being 3 and so forth, the odds are, the book is pretty decent. The trouble begins when the reviews are more hyperbolic where there are many favorable reviews and just as many if not more negative reviews with few 4, 3 and 2 star reviews between them. It’s rare that a popular book will receive a ton of negative reviews, hence the reason it’s popular, but when one can see that the negative reviews outnumber the others, problems are present.

Observe the curve on Silence of the Lambs:

…and on Twilight.

The curve on Hannibal Rising is so dreadful, I doubt I’ll ever even want to watch the movie if it comes on Netflix.

Now, I’ve not read Twilight, but that curve is a bit of a deterrent. The favorable reviews far outnumber the unfavorable ones, but there are definitely more 1 star reviews that 4, 3, or 2 ones. That’s not natural. Ideally, a good book should be liked by many, liked less by fewer and so forth as shown with the Silence curve. I’ve got Twilight sitting on my Kindle and I’m barely into the second or third chapter, but I’m afraid to go further because I know lots of people who love it and I don’t want to read and then lose all respect for all of them for reading rubbish. Not that I’ve not read rubbish books myself, but Harry Potter is at least a good story and more or less well-written…at times.

Enough about other people’s books…I wrote a ton today. Technically, for counting purposes, I wrote 389 words (against the chair in a huff with her eyes closed.), but when I look at all the notes I wrote for Jill’s story, I’m up to 8,203 words in a day, the Damen piece included. It all started with what was supposed to be a short note in Awesome note about how Jill should take place in a town called Georgeton (previously Georgetown, but then I saw there was, indeed, a Georgetown, Ohio), but after describing the town through Kyle’s eyes, I went overboard and just kept writing about everything that happened to him right up to the point where he met Sam and fell in love and then they get Jill. I doubt much of what I’ve written will end up in the final project for Jill, whenever/if ever I get to that point, but I just loved writing it. Kyle’s simultaneously like everyone I’ve ever written, but still the opposite of anyone I’ve tried to write.

How does a straight woman get inside the head of gay man? I’m not entirely sure, but I think I got very close to it while writing today. It’s certainly not as easy as the stereotypes make it seem, especially when one is trying very hard not to create just another stereotype here. I’ve moved the notes for Jill into a Word doc from OneNote’s chaos, so now it’s a real, official project that waiting to be completed. Today, the characters just wouldn’t shut up long enough for me to stop writing and I had another one of those days where I write and write until I physically can’t do it anymore because I’m too low on electrolytes and blood sugar. I love those days.

Back to Hannibal; I’m only reading it at this point because I’ve heard the ending was better in the book than in the movie and, since books are always better than their film adaptations and that film was god-awful, the ending is bound to be good. Hopefully.

 

1121 Friday, May 27, 2011

On an extremely personal level, the numbers 11 and 21 hold no specific value for me; 11 and 24 do as that’s Grandma’s birthday, but not so much 11/21. At the back of my mind, however, I see 11:21 in the morning or at night and smile to myself because I remember that that’s the birthday of the wife of the creator of The X-Files and I remember that the numbers 11 and 21 together often appeared throughout the show and, across my later childhood and adolescence, I had always grown excited when I saw 11/21 in some capacity.

I mention this, not to show what a huge nerd I am, but to convey how my mind seems to work. Tonight, I hit “the zone” again where the right side of my brain takes over as if it were another personality out of multiple battling for control of the single host body. The right brain just writes and writes without care of hunger pains, thirst, pain in the wrist, my back, my butt, my chest, my neck, my eyes or even my jaw. The right brain just knows it has prose and dialogue it must release and, once it takes control of the body, no other senses take precedence until the right brain has said its fill.

Once the right brain is done, it almost floats to the subconscious like an evil demon fleeing from a purified body and leaves in its wake a tired, hungry, thirsty, pain-ridden husk of a Dorienne. That said, I did get a lot of writing done tonight and had some great fun researching which “King Charles” of England was the one with all the illegitimate children (it was Charles II) and also reading through about two scenes of Hamlet to find the exact words I wanted to highlight.

Tomorrow will be a long, sad day because the day after such a rush is always a long, mournful one and leaves me wishing that the right brain would take control once again to pull me out of the doldrums of ordinary life.

I wrote 1121 words tonight (“A little,” she spoke to the floor.) and my back hurts so much and I’m so hungry and thirsty and exhausted that I’d like to just crash to the floor out of fatigue, but dare not for fear that I’ll starve to death in my sleep. Perhaps some food and a little bit of Roseanne or a movie followed by wistfully sleeping with Frasier playing in the background…

 

A favorite Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Years ago, when I was still coming up with the basic notes for Damen, I would brainstorm for hours which books Damen and Brit would read throughout the novel. I think I’ve changed the list a dozen times, but the one that’s always remained on the list is The God of Small Things.

I find it very difficult to sit down and say, “My favorite book is…” because different books affect me differently and thus, are “favorited” for different reasons. I enjoy The Silence of the Lambs on a whole different level from Persuasion or Animal Farm or Moth Smoke, so how can I honestly name a favorite book?

That said, if I had to name just one in the guise of only one book to read for the rest of my life, it may be The God of Small Things. I’ve never felt so many emotions from just one book and it was the first book I’d ever read and called “beautiful” immediately afterward, which is why it was a natural choice for my protagonist and his friend to use for bonding.

Right now in Damen, they are reading through it and it makes me want to pick it up and start reading all over again. I’m excited by their excitement which keeps me in the zone and keeps me wanting to just write until my fingers break.

I wrote 658 words today (bounced into the crowds on Locker Street with a smile on her face.) and for the first time in a while, I feel great about it. My stomach hurts so badly that I nearly cried out in pain on three separate occasions today, first-job is still not moving the way I want it, and my father’s in the hospital on his birthday.

Sigh…but I still feel good about what I’ve accomplished today.

 

In vain Saturday, February 26, 2011

One of the more fascinating things about writing a novel is crafting the personalities and voices of the many characters that appear on the page. What I find simultaneously enjoyable and frustrating is the physical act of creating dialogue that I could never even imagine myself saying.

In Damen, this comes about most often while writing Corey. Corey is crass, blunt and curses like the proverbial sailor, yet when I write dialogue, I often need to whisper the words back to myself to make sure they make sense, and when a character is so unlike myself that it’s rather sickening, I feel dirty even writing what he would say. That is to say, I used to feel dirty when writing Corey’s dialogue. I’ve now grown accustomed to it and can easily separate my own voice from Corey’s. Damen, however, is far different.

To make him a character all on his own, I gave him “life” by giving him small pieces of my own personality. Since Damen is not an autobiography, however, he is a completely different person with a voice and history all his own. I go to church often (not as often as I could and should, but we’re all Christ’s works-in-progress) and I try to thank God for all His gifts every day of my life. Damen, on the other hand, rests somewhere on the line between agnostic and plain atheist. So much has happened in his life that make him doubt that a creator could have any hand in the machinations of his world and the fact that he has had none of the religious reinforcement that many others his age would experience, has tainted him even further against God and all religion. And so, he when he swears (and when he’s still reeling in Corey’s influence, it’s very often), Damen will often use the Lord’s name in vain.

My mind and heart make great conflict over this. The mind says that words on a page are simply that and as long as I don’t go around screaming “Godd***t!” all the time, I remain clean. On the other hand, the heart that helped me walk out into the church aisle years ago, crying as I went to the altar to join the church, knows that it is wrong to use the Lord’s name in vain in any context. If I’m writing it, I’m saying it, even if I do skip over those words and phrases as I whisper dialogue back to myself and thus the battle continues.

This reminds of when my 16 century Brit-Lit class was studying “Faustus” and the effect of being an actor in the play during a time when folks were far more religious than they are now. The actor playing the titular character would have to call upon the devil to make Mephistophilis appear and whether one is acting or not, there is still that innate worry of “calling upon the devil.” While I have stopped blatantly swearing and using God’s name in vain years ago, the mere acting of writing such dialogue is difficult to the point that I go through four or five waves of typing and backspacing as I decide whether or not to have Damen think “Jesus Christ!” in a moment where he is clearly not praying. Even typing that last sentence used to get across my point gave me pause.

I can’t say that I’m completely indoctrinated as I have only come to the church in the last five years and had written off myself as an agnostic prior to that, but I must say, each time I’ve got a choice between staying true to my character and saying what I know to be wrong to say, I struggle…a lot.

I wrote 626 words tonight (his first extracurricular conversation about a novel since his father had passed) and when a moment called for Damen using God’s name in vain, somehow my heart took control and I’m glad I found a better way to say I wanted. That said, I’ve still a lot of Damen’s character to unleash and eventually, I’ll be pressed with the same battle again.

 

Nothing important Friday, January 28, 2011

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

Today’s prose caught me in a bit of a struggle. I was overcome with this urge to completely re-write what I had previously written, but after continuous lines that were quickly deleted, I ended up simply cleaning up what I already had. Close to fifteen minutes were spent trying to decide whether I keep Damen thinking about The Brothers Karamazov or just “something” (that was strange, I typed something as John Lennon sang the word something in the song “Something” playing just now) by Dostoyevsky, but then, I wanted to actually use a specific title, though I was certain I didn’t want The Brothers Karamazov. I looked up Crime and Punishment since I haven’t read it yet and then looked at other Dostoyevsky works before finally sighing and going back The Brothers Karamazov.

I had recently edited the end of Chapter 9 (which I did finish tonight) since I was straying into literature that was a little too obscure for my intended audience. Not saying that anything by Dostoyevsky could be on the suggested reading lists of anyone who would read my book, but I still think that I should keep to the same realm.

I’ve got nothing else to say about today, which is interesting since I feel oddly blank tonight. I wasn’t in the mood for anymore TV, so I decided to come upstairs and write. Anyway, I completed the chapter and wrote 1083 words (that Angel’s crying could be heard even down the hall) and made it through another day.

Nothing important, but still somehow valuable.

 

Progress in some areas Monday, January 3, 2011

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

I didn’t do too much other than watch “Seinfeld” all day today. I got my Kinect from the post office and got it set up, but I still don’t feel like I’ve accomplished anything relevant today. Perhaps it’s just better to have had a day of rest before going back to reality and my first job tomorrow.

I wrote a total of 1720 words today, spanning from around midnight last night to just ten minutes ago. I definitely had the opportunity to do more, but…procrastination being what it is…

I’m beginning to “see” Corey a little better now and, as I continue with this chapter, it is easier to write his dialogue. I can even hear his voice clearly in my head now. I’m still dancing the fine line between hiding Corey’s major quirks and remaining true to the character, but I’m proud of what I’ve done with him today.

My favorite part of today, aside from setting up the Kinect, was having Brian and Damen talk about Star Wars EU books. Only a true Star Wars geek would be able to fully grasp the reference and I think it makes Damen seem more well-rounded and simultaneously more and less like me. Like me, Damen reads Star Wars lit, but Damen reads everything, so even sci-fi isn’t too far off for him. Star Wars EU is the only sci-fi I’ve read and, while I’d like to finish the books on my big list, I doubt I’ll venture too far into sci-fi…that is, until I get really started on Luka, but that could be years from now, and Luka‘s really more fantasy than sci-fi. Anyway…Having Damen read sci-fi books makes him truly seem like he reads everything that’s available, instead of just the same kinds of books that I would read, which makes him a little clearer to me.

I’m not sure if I’ll write too much more tonight (I’ve got at least 15 more Seinfelds waiting for me), but I think this sudden push on characterization will serve me well throughout the week.

Edit: I’ve got to start these posts earlier. I barely made it tonight!

 

Was holly AND jolly Sunday, December 26, 2010

Yesterday was Christmas and it was as nice and calm as Christmas ever could be. We didn’t get through any of our normal traditions like watching Lord of the Rings (extended, of course) or even getting to see any of 24 hours of story, but I get to spend some time with my family which is really what matter most.

I got a little writing done at the airport on Friday, especially considering that I spent at least three hours there, but I can’t remember where I stopped in the morning. I think I got through about 375 words, but it’s all starting to run together.

I thought I wanted to get some writing done yesterday, but each time the thought came to me, I considered how little time I get to spend with my mother nowadays and decided that the writing could wait for another day. Mother did, in fact, give me some story ideas as she relayed a few exports horror-stories to me; the stories may even be the groundwork for a future novel.

At some point yesterday, I got through the point where Damen physically gets to the library after to listening to Chopin. It took close to an hour of research into the best and the “right” songs for Damen to listen to while he walked to the library and what’s frustrating is that I still don’t feel very comfortable with how the scene was written.

I think one of the more difficult things about writing in modern times is how to relate my characters to current media (or what was current in 2007).

A long time ago, while trying to understand why Damen behaved the way he did, I tried considering what, if any, music he would like. Damen just inherently feels like an indie band kind of guy, but I don’t really know of too many indie bands (outside of those suggested by Jeph Jacques) and it just feels wrong applying popular, or any of the music I know, to Damen. Perplexed, the best solution available seemed to be giving him a taste for classical music.

This being Damen, however, I couldn’t quite see him just listening to all classical music; it just didn’t seem like a fit for him. A quirk for Damen, though, would make it legitimate and the quirk was just listening to only Chopin.

I’ve had this thing for Chopin’s music ever since I was able to properly pronounce his name which comes from a song I heard in an adaptation of The Secret Garden. The nocturne (Opus 72, No. 1 in E minor) is played as a theme to this specific adaptation which happened to be my favorite of all The Secret Garden adaptations I’d seen. I’ve always loved the song, so now Damen loves the song and thus the jump to Chopin-only was the easy decision.

Anyway, I think it would be great to have him watching some TV show or listening to some popular song in the novel, but the problem is that I’ve been pretty out of touch with my own generation for the past five years, which fascinatingly is what endears me so much to Damen. I’m not anti-social, I just hate new television and the techno-over-produced crap that is pop music today.

Speaking of losing touch with society, I watched “Avatar” with my mother last night. Overall, I enjoyed the movie and I know it’s one that I’m likely to own and watch again and again. The problem is that I’ve heard everything from people getting suicidal once the film was over to the idea that it should take it’s place among the greatest movies of all time and it didn’t live up to the hype.

The movie was very pretty and I loved the happy ending, but it was predictable to the point that it was just plain formulaic. An outsider gets thrown into an odd society that he hates and can’t understand at first, but then comes to love and considers himself one of them. I can’t come up with too many titles that match this at the point, but the first that pops to mind is “The Last Samurai” with Tom Cruise. Cruise plays a drunken soldier at around the turn of the 20th century or so and when his troops engage the legendary samurai throwbacks, he gets stranded amongst them. Eventually, he picks up Japanese, learns their ways and fights with them as they battle the Imperialistic force coming to wipe out their way of life. Cruise’s character even comes “home” and goes to live permanently with the Japanese samurai. This sounds painfully familiar…

What also annoyed me about the film was its similar to the Lost Tribe of Sith e-book series. I’m not sure which came first, but one of them ripped off the other. In Lost Tribe of Sith, the old sith (5000 BBY) get stranded on some planet that’s too far into the Outer Rim for them to signal for help and they end up living as gods amongst the locals who call them the Skyborn, which is the name for the locals’ deity. The locals, the Keshiri, are purple-skinned people who are deeply religious and have a group of warriors who ride these winged dragon type animals around the islands and etc. Eventually, some of the Keshiri realize that the aliens are not really their gods, The Skyboarn, and lead a massive aerial attack to drive the outsiders out of their mainlands and hopefully to their deaths. Again, terribly familiar…

Like I said, “Avatar” was great fun and very pretty, but the only thing that actually surprised me about the movie was that the first tree actually fell. I expected the tree to actually protect itself with the locals connected to it, but then the movie would’ve been over far too soon, so what was I thinking?

Anyway…I’ve rambled on far too long about nothing in particular. This was a fun Christmas overall. I got to play (aka: got killed a lot) Call of Duty with my step-dad and I think he enjoyed the gift. I got to sit and talk with my mother for a while, which I hadn’t done in a long, long time. I learned that one of my relatives was the so-called Church Lady Bandit who had been robbing banks for close to five years (yay family…) and I watched a simple and predictable, but fun movie with my mother.

I’d like to get some writing done either this morning or later tonight and it would be a really beautiful thing if I could finish this chapter before I went back to Ohio. It would be the best Christmas gift I could get for myself…ever!

 

Compensating Monday, December 13, 2010

I got through 1355 words yesterday and could have done more had I not turned on the sims, started watching “Coupling” on Netflix and then fell asleep randomly. I spent a lot of the day mixing Job 1 and Job 2 yesterday, obviously compensating for what I didn’t do the previous day.

I’m proud of the work I did and the research I managed to complete (Phillis Wheatley FTW!), but I am still a little bummed that I hadn’t found what book Damen would be reading at the end of the part I finished. I just wrote:

Listening to the murmurs coming from the same room, he read XX from the comfort of his hiding place for a while, when he looked up and saw Jessie Clarke staring

I had just gone on about Invisible Man for a while and would like to use it again, but Damen had just finished the book during the previous scene and it’s a little too on the nose to use Invisible Man when Damen’s…trying to be invisible. It just seems a little hackish.

Anyhoo, I’ve decided to name all the streets after Jane Austen characters (Willoughby Drive, Elliott Street, Dashwood Way) and the reason I remember this, other than the fact that it’s just so fun, is that I’ve created this “Damen reminders” sheet to help me keep things straight. I’ve got two separate files from the novel/chapter that include details about Anthony’s family and Damen’s upbringing as well as Angel’s story (which I’ve got some preliminary notes for, thought I haven’t decided if it will be it’s own novel yet), but the Reminders will be more of a quick reference than the others. The “damen-teachers” and “damen-books” files have grown far to long to remain any type of quick reference and I’ve decided to move fruitful conversations that I’ve just put at the end of “damen-books” until I find the proper place for them to the Reminders.

The thing is, I’ve got quite a few of these conversations, usually coloured dark red or blue, interspersed through several chapters, which makes me think that I should perhaps drop them altogether. I think it’s just a matter of determining whether the little talks between Damen and Brit are moving along the story.

I’ve also been seesawing with my decision to include the “I know what you’re thinking…” pieces for Angel, Anthony, Brit and Corey. I want to include them because Corey’s is very poignant and Angel’s gives the kind of insight into her that would be very long and difficult to explain since novel is a close 3rd on Damen. I have this inkling that Brit’s will be just a rant that’s almost my own words about being a black girl in America and Anthony’s will be just sound like a raving imbecile, which is how I see him at this point.

I don’t know how it popped into my head yesterday, but I imagined Anthony snatching away all Damen’s books and poetry by black authors; everything except Langston Hughes. I don’t bother going into Zora Neale Hurston since Damen and Brit will be reading her later, but somehow I see Hughes work as a little argumentative on the subject of being black. He’s like Malcolm X to Countee Cullen’s MLK and, while it often sounds beautiful, it annoys me. Also, at least at my school, black American literature is not even introduced until the Harlem Renaissance when we’re just doused with Hughes’ work and the teachers make it sound like blacks never wrote a darn thing prior to 1921 (Phillis Wheatley FTW!). Anyway, where I was going with this is that I’m beginning to dislike Anthony even more than when I first started this endeavour.

Two years ago, I imagined Anthony as having his flaws, but still having some good-naturedness to him. Nowadays, I’m about two steps from having him actually strike Angel to make him truly the most vile character in the novel, surpassing even Zach. I don’t know if it’s because I identify more and more with Damen as I continue, so it’s easier to hate Anthony or if I’m just venting my frustrations with so many black American men, but I there’s definitely more hostility in the prose when I write Anthony. Hopefully, all of this will work itself out when Damen later sees a functional mixed family (perhaps “art boy” will have an older white brother…), but for now, Anthony’s getting the third degree from me.

Perhaps all of this stems from reading about Roll of Thunder again. I haven’t read the book since I was in 7th or 8th grade, possibly even 6th, and I’ve included it as one that Kevin had read to Damen often. I suppose it’s just bringing home the point that despite any off hand remarks about blacks, Damen is not actually bigoted, but Anthony’s just an a**. What I can’t seem to get my mind around is why Angel finds the book dear to her. I came up with some info, but I still don’t know…

All right…time to make this day the success that yesterday was, though I must say, working Sundays is probably the worst thing in all the world.

 

 
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