I am kaitco

a writer's log

Madness? In March? Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 10:40 pm
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I’ve decided to try and write something every day this month. I only managed a handful of words yesterday (like 90), but this evening I got up to 1865, which is moderately respectable. The other day, however, I found myself in a very odd place that doesn’t come around often for me: facing a block.

It’s reasonable to say I’ve got a war chest of book ideas and projects. Several years ago, I chronicled writing Damen here, then Anne occasionally got some notice, and of course, Flight was ever/is ever at the forefront of my mind. Currently, there’s Nostrum and Teyrrah, but there’s even projects that haven’t been given nicknames yet, and even more that are still simply small notes and ideas in Evernote. I probably have more ideas than I have life to bring even a 10th of them to light. As there are so many ideas floating around in this head of mine, I’ve rarely faced a block since I started to write stories when I was eight years old. There’s always been something to write, some part of some story to tell.

Monday, however, presented me with a block. I sat down with the intention to write, and I even spent a half an hour just reading through notes to figure out about which part of a story I wanted to continue, but nothing came to me. So many things to write and so many stories to tell, yet nothing came to me. Perhaps it was because I had my KaitcoTV going on in the background instead of music. Perhaps it was just fatigue or stress. Maybe my mind just needed a break from constant bombardment and activity and plain noise. Maybe I’m just getting old…? Whatever the cause, it was a bit worrying.

A friend told me that I was a pencil pusher living with a wildly creative mind. There’s some truth to that. My father was an artist and was constantly creating, but my mother was the one who raised me and she has always been the ever-striving business woman. I’ve got a constant battle going between nature and nurture with external noise trying to drown out both, and the other day, all the battling parties left me with nothing to say.

Obviously, the block was short-lived and I can’t discount just plain laziness at its core, but the block gave me a pause. Will I have more blocks? What will I do if I find myself unable to continue the story? I’ve spent nearly 30 years writing stories. What else am I if not a storyteller? Questions, questions, questions. Maybe if I keep asking the questions, the stories will continue to flow…

Also, Putin sucks.

 

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!

 

In THIS Economy? Saturday, February 12, 2022

Filed under: Dorienne — kaitco @ 10:53 pm
Tags: , , ,

I spend a fair amount of time chatting with people from all over the world across multiple online outlets which has its pros and cons. As a benefit, it’s very interesting to see what’s normal for others around the world and have a brief look into how others see Americans. A major con, however, comes from the fact that it’s easy to develop a bleak outlook for the US. Healthcare, governments, book bannings, and imminent wars notwithstanding, there’s something so demoralizing to face a hit to one’s finances.

The rent’s going up by about 15%. This wouldn’t be an issue, but my annual raise was only about 3% and the whole idea of such an increase provides a dismal overcast for everything else. I’ve been on the hunt for a new job for about 5-6 months and there’s good things on the horizon, but the only positive I can see in this financial hit is that my rent is still much lower than that of similar places and I’m getting a bit of a break for being a good tenant.

I complain about all of this because I hadn’t felt much like writing today after this news, but I still caught a wave of inspiration and wrote a brief scene of Nostrum, so I’ve got that going for me, which is great! The streak continues.

I think the most frustrating part of all this is that the simplest expenditure to suspend is my weekly tithes, but tithing has long been a major facet of my Christian walk. If I’m going to stop tithing, I might as well just give up my faith altogether. Lame. Anyway, despite the “easy” solution presented before, on I’ll trek doing what’s right. My ugly increase means that the bulk of my mad money is zonked and that I’ll actually have to follow a budget, but…what God has for me, He has for me, and I’ll be fine in the end.

I hope to get some real writing done tomorrow before Sports Ball starts, so hopefully just writing out some frustrations here will be the catharsis needed to focus on tomorrow’s positives.

 

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.

 

Relief Saturday, July 30, 2011

Filed under: Dorienne,Writing — kaitco @ 12:02 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I’m starting to feel a bit better and I owe a lot of that to Aleve which is brought me out of a lot of pain since I was just a schoolgirl. 🙂

I haven’t much to say this morning, but I’m happy for once that I’ve slept without any dreams. Perhaps, it’s timing my meals in relation to when I decide it’s time for sleep, but I’m thanking God daily that they’ve stopped for now. Today may hold a whole new handful of troubles, however, so I won’t get up my hopes just yet.

I wrote 489 words this morning (She’s just gonna leave it like that?”) and I find myself with this sudden of rush of adrenaline when it comes to Damen. I thought after watching HP7 that I’d have to physically tear myself away from Nostrum, but all my thoughts have surrounded Damen lately. I think I may have been right the other day when I said I needed “closure” on my Harry Potter experience. Not that I won’t give Nostrum my full attention one day, but that it could slip so easily from the forefront of my mind…I guess I really am an adult now.

 

Dorienne e l’opera Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Filed under: Music,Writing — kaitco @ 11:59 pm
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Every so often, I hit a new musical stage in my life. Many times these overlap with one another and some come stronger than others, but by the time I recognize that I’m in love with a new musical genre, I’m already way too obsessed to extract myself from it and can only ride the wave of music. A year ago, it was J-pop; a few months ago, it was Green Day and anything I could play in Rock Band; currently, it’s opera.

The song I posted yesterday (Con te Partiro by Andrea Bocelli) has become my current favorite song and if I was in the mood to update Dorienne Smith.com, I’d list it as such. I’m not even entirely sure how I came across this song…It may have come up on Pandora as a cover and perhaps I searched out the original; I’m not entirely sure and it doesn’t really matter. The fact is, if I wasn’t completely enamoured with opera music prior to “discovering” this song, now, I’m totally there. I’ve even decided to incorporate some opera into Nostrum for now, though, this may change as I continue writing. I originally intended to spill Michael Jackson songs all through Damen, but have since scaled that back to just one song and then added a Green Day song when all I listened to for a month straight was their music.

I wrote 362 words tonight (shook his head, though he agreed with them) despite the day I’ve had. I think what I enjoy most about opera is that, aside from being able to write to it just like I would any chosen playlist of “writing music,” I don’t understand a word of Italian or French or German, but I still understand the emotion from the music. Now, I’ve just got to find my way to a live opera while this desire is still kicking…

 

 
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