I am kaitco

a writer's log

The X-Files!! (add 10 exclamations!!1!z) Saturday, January 30, 2016

Filed under: Dorienne — kaitco @ 6:08 pm
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This was originally going to be a review of the first two episodes of The X-Files’ “reboot”/Season 10/etc., but since so much press has already been given to that, I’m going to take a different approach altogether.

Considering the fact that “x-files” is an old tag on this blog and practically any other blog I’d ever created, I think I can realistically call myself a fan. To be honest, however, The X-Files has made me the person I am today, so I’d like to think that in relation to X-Files, I go far beyond “fan.”

On a Friday in 1993, at age nine, I sat in the living room flipping through the channels while my mother worked in the other room. I knew it was past my bed time, but I figured as long as I stayed quiet and didn’t make too much noise, Mother would let me stay up a bit longer. In my flipping, I came to a “grownup” show where some sort of invisible monster was running through the woods and, when it came upon other people, it would attack them with an intense light and kill them with burns. I was so intrigued by what I was watching that I couldn’t turn the channel and continued watching as these two people, a man and a woman, seemed to be searching for this monster. In the end, one of the people that they were working with, named Max, was found hovering in the middle of a room. There was a blinding light and then he was gone. The man saw the whole thing, but the woman had just missed it and, in the end, they both seemed a little miffed at one another. Overall, I was terrified by what I’d watched and vowed to never watch the Fox channel around 9pm on a Friday ever again. I didn’t know what I’d watched or what had actually gone on, but I knew I didn’t want to see anything like it again. If I’ve learned anything about life it’s that whenever I say never, I’m almost willing it to happen (obligatory: I’m never getting published. I’ll never win the lotto.)

While I can’t succinctly place how and when I became an obsessed fan within the next year, I clearly recall watching what I later learned was a Season 1, and likely first run, episode “Fallen Angel” when I was nine. I do know that I didn’t watch Scully’s Season 2 abduction first run, but I did watch “Firewalker” first run (the first new episode following the abduction series) and I was already obsessed by that point. It’s likely I caught the X-Files “bug” during a set of reruns. I don’t know which episode did it, but by the time I was ten, I was hooked forever on what I’d said I never wanted to watch again.

When I finished watching that first Season 10 episode this past Sunday night, I just sat in pure silence, revelling in the opulence of a moment I hadn’t experienced since high school. I thought about what I’d watched and how much I’d enjoyed it, and with the thought that there was another episode happening the next night, I actually cried happy tears. It’s almost like a religious experience for me. Yep…I’m a big dork, but that’s fine, because X-Files has made me the person I am.

 
X-Files is why I learned to code:
I love all things tech; from operating systems, to hardware, to programming languages, I love it all. I’ve got dual boots of Windows and Linux on my two “main” PCs and I bought a Macbook Air a few years ago mainly to learn OS X, though my “official” rationale was the need for a light-weight travel laptop. I know the ins and outs of iOS better than most iOS device owners and it’s only out of a strong desire to stop buying things I don’t need that I haven’t bought a cheap Android tablet just so I can learn the OS as well as Apple’s. I also love learning programming languages. I’ve been slowly teaching myself Java and C++, which I don’t find terribly daunting because I’d taught myself HTML and CSS long ago, and why did I teach myself how to code? Because I wanted to create an X-Files website of my own.

As with spoken languages, learning one programming language makes it considerably easier to learn others. Without knowing any programming languages, viewing any code will look like a giant wall of letters, but understanding just a single language can bring a sense to the unknown without a lot of effort. While playing Minecraft, I decided to have a go at creating my own mods and started to tweak the Java code quickly because I’d already had experience reading code. At first-job, I create and edit Excel VBA on various projects often, not because I received a degree or even a certificate in the process of being taught VBA code, but because my experience learning HTML/CSS on my own had already taught me how to generally make sense of any code. Following all of this from beginning to end, no matter how silly it sounds, my love of X-Files has actually helped my career.

 
X-Files is why I appreciate music of all genres:
The first X-Files movie came out summer of 1998; I saw it opening day and still have my ticket stub. The movie came out on VHS later that year and I made it quite clear to my mother that it didn’t matter if I received nothing else for Christmas that year, all I wanted was the X-Files movie. Of course, I got my beloved film, and still have the original VHS, but after countless watching, I found myself wanting the soundtrack. Previous to this, most of the music my 13-year-old self liked was pop or hip-hop, with a little early 90s R&B sprinkled in for nostalgia. In watching that X-Files movie for the umpteenth time, however, I started to enjoy some of the music I heard in the background. I received the soundtrack later that next year, but was originally disappointed. What I thought I had enjoyed didn’t sound all that great once I heard the full songs that were all a far cry different from the pop music I mostly enjoyed at the time and I eventually dropped the soundtrack into the pile of other music that I would just keep around to say I had a large music collection. The soundtrack still called me from time to time, though and, after repeated plays, I would find something else to like about one more song. Foo Fighters’ “Walking After You” became the most beautiful song I’d ever heard, the lyrics of Bjork’s “Hunter” were so interesting that I wanted to write a song of my own, and Noel Gallagher’s “Teotihuacan” taught me that instrumental music came in forms other than classical and jazz. It was as if a light had clicked. This single album expelled my musical myopia from the simple pop radio stations to anything that was available. I could like any kind of music, not just pop and hip-hop, not just what was at the top of TRL; all music could have value.

I spent a good part of today cleaning the whole house from top to bottom and listened to a playlist while I cleaned. The playlist starts with 90s R&B, goes into contemporary R&B, continues into Korean pop, then Korean R&B, then techno-punk, then rock music, a David Bowie cover, “edgier” rock music, then spliced rap (specifically, it was The Grey Album), and then new-age hip-hop. All these genres flow from one to another and, if I play this in the car with another person, I have to warn them, “I listen to everything” because I’m familiar with the “What the heck is this?” look received when a playlist goes from R&B to K-Pop to techno-punk. What’s best is that today’s playlist isn’t even a wide spread of the music I like, and I recognize that I’d be stuck in one set of stereotypical music for my race and my upbringing if it was not for X-Files.

 
X-Files is partly why I write:
This may be a slight stretch, but it’s still relevant. Like much of my Oregon Trail generation, I spent a good amount of the late 1990s glued to the Internet, and one of the sites where I spent most of my time was an X-Files fanfiction archive. It’s still around, though I don’t think it’s been updated in several years, but it was through X-Files fanfiction stories that I first started to appreciate characterization and learned how to craft a story.

I think it’s prudent to mention that this site wasn’t like a FanFiction.net, where it’s a huge free-for-all, with neither care nor controls for quality. All the stories had to be reviewed before being added to the archive, so everything I read was written by people who had taken the time to craft a properly written story which, in turn, gave me some insight as to how to tell a story.

Much of the reading I did as a teen came through assigned novels in English class and few of those ever intrigued me enough to think about after I’d finished them. X-Files fanfiction, however, gave me the pleasure of reading stories about characters I cherished and I loved reading how different authors tweaked Mulder and Scully just so much to take their characters into entirely different, yet still plausible directions.

I had written two novels before I went off to college, but neither of them were decent by even high school standards and, in my first few years at school, I nearly abandoned the idea of writing altogether. However, I still read X-Files fanfiction and I still yearned to create. After a good amount of practice trying to emulate what I’d been reading for years, I decided to write my own small X-Files story, and yep, I managed to get it onto the archive ten years ago. From that small story, I decided that I loved the craft too much to give up and I set forth learning how I write a novel, i.e., I started writing Flight.

I’m still unpublished and may never even get there, but I still write because I recognize that it’s part of who I am…and that I love to attribute to my love of X-Files.

 
Following that second new episode this past Monday, I was invigorated with the need to create. I spent much of the week perusing old projects I hadn’t touched in months because I was filled with the kind of happiness that only a simple television show that saw me from the tail end of my childhood, throughout adolescence, and into my early adulthood could bring. I am the way I am because of a TV show. I suppose it sounds trite or sad or pathetic or inane that I place so much onto a set of fictional stories, but as The X-Files has been my source of comfort through the fright of leaving childhood, the pain of adolescence, and the hapless wandering of my adult years, I discuss it proudly. Everyone has vices and I’m fortunate enough to have had one for the last 20 years that has made me, if not a better person, at least a more interesting one.

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30-Day 5K โ€“ Day Twenty-Five Monday, June 25, 2012

Filed under: Gaming,Writing — kaitco @ 11:50 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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 Britโ€™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 โ€“ Day Eleven Monday, June 11, 2012

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 11:03 pm
Tags: , , ,

I know I’m supposed to be saving and all, but I’ve bought a bluetooth keyboard for my iPad and, dear God, do I love it! I’d been researching them for the longest time, but I’d hated the prospect of having to type at a miniature keyboard where I’d have to actually watch my fingers as I typed and the on screen keyboard for the iPad, while useful, is just not useful when it comes to the amount of typing that I like to do. My patience in this regard has paid off and I’ve found the perfect little keyboard that has normal-sized keys and is light enough to carry in my bag.

In honor of my new purchase, I’ve edited my 10,538 words to the end of Chapter 28 exclusively on my iPad today and I’m writing today’s post on it as well. Aside from the delight of being able to type at a normal speed on my iPad, this keyboard is doing wonders on my poor, overworked wrists, which makes me love it all the more.

Despite getting through much of the first-phase cutting of this chapter, I’ve still got to break it apart like I did the previous chapter and eyeball some of these word counts before I begin my rewrite and goodness, what a rewrite this will be. Characters will be stripped entirely and my link to my Reruns project is in jeopardy, but this month is passing far quicker than I would like given my lofty goal at the end of it and, if I expect to have anything to show for this month, I’ll need to continue pushing as much as possible.

I’ll end by noting that, yes, I could have easily edited more this evening, but I’d restarted Downton Abbey on Saturday while taking out my braids and, since I can’t stand to pause halfway through all the episodes, my latest procrastinating endeavour took the stage today…and will likely continue through Wednesday. The important thing, however, is that I write first and then watch as a nice reward at the end of the evening. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

30-Day 5K – Day One Friday, June 1, 2012

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 11:51 pm
Tags: , , , ,

I can’t believe I was actually able to do this today. I fully anticipated that I might get through 2 or possible 3 thousand words, but I was actually able to push through 5700 words this evening. It makes me proud to see that with just a little bit of a push, I can get so much accomplished. Mind you, it’s far easier to re-write and edit 5700 than to write that from scratch, but considering that I’ve got to pause and rub my wrist every two dozen words, I suppose it evens out in the end.

As I push through this edit, it’s becoming glaringly obvious that I may not be able to squeeze this under 120K words before I get to the last chapter. I’m currently down to 203K which, while down from 288K and a vast improvement with still half the novel to go, is still not as thin as I need it to be. Still…if someone told me in February that I’d have the novel done in March and have it cut by almost 30% by the first of June, I’d have called you a bold-faced liar.

So, anyway, cheers to me for getting this month off to a great start. I won’t ignore that I promised myself a single episode of Downton Abbey every night that I meet my goal, with two episodes if I manage to finish more than one chapter in a night, but whatever works.

Edit: Since I’m back to counting daily word count again, I think I’d better start including where I ended each day again (until they arrived at the house) to keep me honest.

 

Minecraft Abbey Friday, May 25, 2012

Filed under: Dorienne,Writing — kaitco @ 1:11 am
Tags: , , , ,

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.

 

Before I Sit to Write… Sunday, August 28, 2011

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

Not much happened today. I went to church, planned this Cape Cod trip with my mother, played The Sims and watched an entire season of Scrubs. That first thing I did, however; that was very enlightening.

I’ve heard my pastor preach about putting God first a million times in the past five years I’ve been attending church and usually I nod and tell myself that I would do better, but sometime between the moment I get back in my car and the next week Sunday, the message disappears. This time, it struck a little deeper.

In order for me to put God first, I must actually do this as a part of my daily routine. Right now, I put my writing ahead of everything else in my life, which is why I believe I suffer so unnecessarily at times. To write right, I’ve got to put Him first in my life, so I’ve decided to start actually studying my bible before I sit to write.

I’d asked Pastor last week or the week prior about the best way to actually get through all the books of the bible since I usually get lost somewhere in Exodus and even when I make it past there Kings rids me of a lot of my interest. He advised to start with the New Testament and then work my way to the old, which makes a ton of sense given that the New Testament holds the truths of the Christian faith and reading through it in its entirety will get me accustomed to studying before I write so that when the usual walls come in Exodus or Kings, I’ll already be in a rhythm.

I managed a bit of before writing in that I studied the first chapter of Matthew, but this was hours before I actually sat down to write. Monday will go much better, or at least that’s the plan. I wrote 523 words today (years in England before returning home) and a part of me can’t wait to sit down to study and then write on Monday.

 

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.

 

 
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