I am kaitco

a writer's log

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.

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A day of rest Sunday, July 1, 2012

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 11:49 pm
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I got power back yesterday around 2 o’clock in the morning and the Internet some time this afternoon. Rather than begin streaming things and jumping right in where I’d left off on Thursday, I decided to let today be a true day of rest and reflection.

I went to Sunday School this morning, drawing the surprise and awe from all those who know I don’t typically arrive for the normal 11:00am morning service until about 11:45 each week. I felt good to just talk about the bible for a bit.

I’d decided to go to Sunday School this morning, power or not, as a part of my celebration for completing this edit and I’m very glad to have went. In continuing with my planned celebration, I’ve spent the better part of this afternoon playing Minecraft as Downton Abbey played in the background, just like I’d wanted.

I’ve got loads of notes for this next draft and even though I still just say “It’s coming along. It’s coming along.” when others ask about the novel’s progress, it really is in it’s final steps.

Tomorrow, apart from taking this blasted COMPASS test to see where I place for math to start school again, I plan to just dive right on in and continue with my second edit of the novel. It will be difficult to spend yet another month thinking about the novel non-stop, but if these last few months have shown me anything, it’s that I don’t do well with a break lasting more than a day or two at the very most.

 

30-Day 5K – Day Twenty-Five Monday, June 25, 2012

Filed under: Gaming,Writing — kaitco @ 11:50 pm
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Today was a good day. I removed an entire chapter because all 2400+ words of it was just plain dribble and was summarized nicely in the following chapter. I got through a total of 6396 words tonight (sketch after sketch of Brit’s eyes) and have just 7 chapters left in this edit.

I also played around with some Minecraft texture packs and a couple mods and showed some restraint in not starting a brand new project to add a mini-Mincraft image site to kaitco.net since I’ve still got this novel to finish, so it was very good day.

In keeping with this good day, I’m going to do something I’ve not had the resolve to do for most of this month and keep writing after hitting my daily 5K goal. At the start of this month’s quest, I would write for hours, post and then keep writing, but my recent love of Minecraft has had me simply working until I reached 5K, posting and then going right back to my game. Not tonight, however.

With 52 pages and 21K words before I reach the end, I’m going to just push. Minecraft will be there for me when I’m done and I’ve already decided to take a day off from first-job once this edit is done to celebrate with a marathon session of both Minecraft and Downton Abbey. I may even sneak in a fanfiction I’ve been wanting to write since I found the old notes for it a few weeks ago. Either way, I’m going to finish this edit this week.

Since the end of this edit will only mean the beginning of the next edit, I’ll not be as celebratory as I was in March when I actually finished the story, but I’ll take my accomplishments one step at a time.

 

30-Day 5K – Day Eighteen Monday, June 18, 2012

Filed under: Gaming,Writing — kaitco @ 11:40 pm
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Every once in a while, I experience one of these great moments in time where everything seems to sync together. Tonight, this came in the form of music.

While working on a chapter I’ve titled “Foolish Games”, the song of the same name by Jewel began playing from my writing playlist. I’ll not deny that the song is likely where I pulled the chapter title, but I find it so fun when these sorts of things happen.

I’ve decided that I won’t be keeping the chapter titles when I finally start sending this thing, but I like keeping them at this point to keep me focused in each chapter and ensure that everything flows.

Something else interesting I came upon in my writing tonight was some prose and dialogue surrounding March Madness 2008. While I did play basketball for about 7 years and even took a basketball refereeing course to boost my GPA in school, I rarely watch the sport anymore. I suppose this has to do with knowing far too much about the mechanics of the game, so that I spend more time critiquing the follow-through on a player’s shot, rather than enjoy the game. The fact that I’ve not had cable or access to any live television should also be noted, but that’s all for another post.

I’ve got my characters discussing March Madness with a fervour I can barely remember sharing, but I do remember spending hours researching brackets and teams from that year through Wikipedia. What’s sad is that, not only have I got to cut the majority of this from the book now, I can’t even remember half of what I researched. Oh well…I suppose it’s better for my mind to push out the useless information to leave room for all these characters and stories.

I wrote 6005 words tonight (and offered to keep score) despite putting several hours towards Minecraft, Super Mario World and Chrono Trigger on SNES and then Grand Theft Auto IV today and I’m just happy to still have the inspiration keep writing in a world of so man, many distractions.

 

30-Day 5K – Day Three Sunday, June 3, 2012

Filed under: Dorienne,Writing — kaitco @ 11:56 pm
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Coming to 4418 words (that made Damen slightly uncomfortable) out of 5000 is very much like tripping at the finish line of a mile race, but behold…I’ve tripped.

I’ve only tripped because I’d spent the better part of this day procrastinating like it was my job. I got to the point that I’d grown bored with playing Minecraft for 3 hours and I just stood in my kitchen for ten minutes trying to think of something else I could besides write.

Anyway, 4418 is still another 4418 that I’d not had yesterday, so even though I tripped in the race, I still succeeded.

With regard to successes, Thursday afternoon the thought came into my head that I wouldn’t go to church today. I tried to push away the thought since I’d been on my best attendance streak since I first got saved, but the idea of it nagged at me on Friday and again on Saturday and I found myself still in bed this morning at 10:30, preparing to tell God, “I’ll try for next week, I swear.”

I’m the last person to always think the devil has any real impact on my life, but I know these thoughts had to come from somewhere and, since I’m a rather ridiculous control freak, I leapt from the bed, even though “I” wanted to go back to sleep and said, “I’m in control here!” and then went on to church.

I’ve mentioned this struggle in the past, but it still tickles me when I overcome and that victory makes me smile more than anything else today.

 

Minecraft Abbey Friday, May 25, 2012

Filed under: Dorienne,Writing — kaitco @ 1:11 am
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Yesterday was the first day in almost three weeks that I did any significant writing. I’ve known for about a month earlier that I would get the writing “bug” again once I returned to my normal job at first-job, but it wasn’t until I actually returned that I saw my own “prophecy” fulfill itself.

I’ve only got excuses for the last week; the rest of this month has been a blur of fatigue. I was on vacation last week and instead of using the time to just plow through and finish this book once and for all, I spent ten days watching the old X-Men cartoon, the old Pirates of Dark Water cartoons, reading X-Men comics and watching and re-watching Downton Abbey. On the latter end of this vacation, I discovered Minecraft which, like The Sims, is the detriment to all things literary. My blame, however, for not writing will be placed mostly on the shoulders of Downton Abbey.

I love the characters of this show and I am really invested in a TV show for the first time since I started watching SVU, almost a decade ago. Given that they only produce 7 or 8 episodes a YEAR, I’ve taken to watching the available episodes often and often while playing Minecraft, either on the iPad or just on the laptop. With such focus, I’ve been oddly left with my literary tastes whet and with no desire to write at all. I even found myself wondering if I should even continue writing anything at all.

Thankfully, I died an aggravating and horrible death in Minecraft and decided to shut off Downton for the time being and this cleared my head long enough to for me to want to write again.

It’s rare for a TV show to satisfy me in a way that previously only the act of writing could, which I think speaks volumes about it, but it troubles me that I could be swayed into giving up my very being over something so simple.

I’m back to writing, thankfully, and I am, in many ways, back where I belong. That said…

I’ve been having flashes of all sorts of nightmarish conditions for myself as I consider what could possible be wrong with my left hand and wrist. Some time last week, in the midst of Minecraft, I noticed some pain in my left pinky finger. The altering numbness and pain spread into my ring finger and now across the back of my hand, making it very difficult to type normally, hence the reason I’ve decided to pen this via iPad, while it would take half the time on the laptop.

I’m not sure if this is carpal tunnel or something worse, but a writer, at least in this day and age, who is unable to type is really quite crippled, isn’t she? I know I have to keep writing no matter what, so for now, I’ll revert back to my old ways when playing soccer and basketball in high school and “play through the pain,” but I can’t help noting that I’m a bit worried.

…all this not withstanding, I know that whatever happens, God will provide.

 

 
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