I am kaitco

a writer's log

NaNoWriMo 2015 – Day 2 Monday, November 2, 2015

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 10:07 pm
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I’ve decided to take a different approach to NaNoWriMo this year. In previous years, I’ve started by writing and writing, but end up failing to follow through with this venture because, as I’ve learned the hard way over the years, I have a very specific method for constructing my novels.

I can’t simply begin with Chapter One and proceed with the story until all is done. If I start “pure” writing, I will definitely get lost along the way. I get bogged down by the craft because I have no idea where the story is going and, as my short-term memory is shot and I get bored easily, I lost interest in the idea and fail at the NaNo project. This year, as I proclaimed to myself last night, will be different.

I liken my writing process to old scanners. The first wave over the image looks distorted, but has some shape and each consequent wave over the image brings about more and more detail until it’s complete. I’m going to approach this year’s NaNoWriMo the same way I approach any novel, just doing it a bit faster. I’m going to spend the first 15 days of this month outlining my project and then spend the last 15 days of the month filling it out and adding the relevant detail. With this method, unlike past years, even if I fail to reach 50K words by November 30th, I will have a strong outline and partial draft of a complete story. Rather than a chapter or two of a story I can’t bare to even glance at a year afterward because I recognize I’d got lost early in the unnecessarily deep prose, I’ll have a project that I can revisit and even flesh out to completion.

It’s the little experiments like these that make life interesting, I suppose. On I press!

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Year 30 Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Filed under: Dorienne — kaitco @ 6:36 pm
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Do you ever have so much to say that you no longer have anything to say?

A lot has happened recently. I’ve turned 30. I’ve traveled alone to London and returned, safe with no drama. I’ve finished another stage of Anne and I’ve even given this stage its own name: the grave phase. The grave phase of a novel is where I’ve got it to the point where when I ask myself, “If I die tonight, will I rest peacefully in my grave knowing this novel will be posthumously published from its current state.” If the answer is yes, I’ve reached the grave phase and can rest happy.

In turning 30, I’ve also decided to make some major changes in the way I live my life. I read this amazing post on procrastination the other day, ironically, while procrastinating, and it really got me thinking about my capabilities. Just today, I’ve etched out time to do what would normally take days to accomplish by simply putting post-its all over the place to remind me to keep away from my favorite procrastination hobbies, such as Reddit, Dorienne TV, and the Banished game. Another major change will include changing careers, but I’ve decided to keep the specifics there to myself, as I tell far too many people far too many details about far too many of my life’s plans.

My visit to London was short but lovely. My mother was originally supposed to travel with me, but my stepdad got injured on the job and she had to remain behind to care for him. There was a moment when I considered cancelling the trip altogether, but as nearly all of Year 29 surrounded the actions needed to get me to London for my 30th birthday, the thought of not going depressed more than I’m willing to put into writing today. In the end, I’m glad I went on my own because I had a trip that only I could have. Everyone I mentioned the trip to had all this commentary about where I should go and where I should stay and what I should do on different days, but no one seemed to fully grasp my intentions with the trip.

I’d never left the US and thus, had never experienced an international flight. Now that I have, I’m not enthused about doing it again, especially in coach, but I know how best to prepare myself. I had never viewed the sites of a city via tour bus and I wanted to simply sit atop a double-decker bus and just snap pictures. I had a half dozen people telling me there were better days to spend my first day in London, but I after a nine-hour flight (in coach!), I didn’t want to do much else aside from Ooh! and Ah! and take pictures.

I wanted to visit Bath, England and I did. Everyone I mentioned this to looked at me like I had six heads. Where is that? What’s there? That’s it? Why would you want to go there when you only have four days? Even the car service driver on the way back to the airport had commentary about seeing Bath which was “so far away” when I could have visited Windsor Castle, etc. I, however, wanted to see Bath. I wanted to visit Bath Abbey and walk the 212 steps in its tower. I wanted to pass by Queene Square and marvel at the Royal Crescent and visit the Jane Austen Centre. Specifically, as the Austen fan I am, I wanted to walk the streets that she would have walked two hundred years ago. I wanted to take in the modernized sites that she would have seen. Visiting the Austen centre was an almost religious experience for me, even though, I know she never lived at that site and she didn’t really care for Bath as she got older. I learned that she first started writing a novel at age 11, just like me. I got a deeper understanding of her family and how she lived, the likes of which I’d never received throughout my whole degree in English literature! I had an English tea in the Regency Room and loved everything about it, from the extra sweetener they used to the soft cucumber sandwiches they presented. After this, I went to the Royal Crescent and spent almost an hour, just walking and staring at it as a marvel of architecture and of history. I then visited No. 1 Royal Crescent to see what a house would have looked like during Austen’s day and had such lovely conversations with the staff that I didn’t mind that my feet ached after traipsing across central Bath all day. I loved every moment of my time in Bath and I only got a day to experience it, but no one else understood, even after viewing my Facebook pictures and seeing my little souvenirs, why I wanted to visit Bath.

I saw the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London and saw the African and the Egyptian and just a bit of the Assyrian exhibits at the British Museum. The Tower was interesting, to say the least, but I could have easily spent two whole days in the British Museum. I can’t wait to go back and peruse again when I have more energy. There was something magical about the Egyptian exhibit and fighting my way to see the Rosetta Stone was well worth it. I consider museums to be very personal experiences, not requiring a lot of talk, and I’m glad I got to see what I wanted to see and stare at the sculptures and art for as long as I wanted.

I visit Westminster Abbey and took a “selfie” with Big Ben and then went on to Buckingham Palace to finish my trip. I only visited two sites and had the most wonderful day in doing so, even though I was beginning to get a cold. I walked past Elizabeth I’s tomb in awe of her death mask and I stomped on Dickens’ memorial, though I later chided myself for doing so and prayed for forgiveness for my immaturity (I still hate Dickens, though). Buckingham Palace was everything I expected it to be and the fact that they allow you to view at your own pace was downright beautiful. I spent an entire day marvelling and staring and taking pictures to the point that I hated knowing I had to leave. By the time I got back to the hotel, I found myself even saying my “thank yous” like the Brits I heard all around me.

I’d planned for a year for this trip to London and, though it was technically short, it was everything I needed it to be. I got to view London through the eyes of a writer and a lover of architecture and British literature and history, which I think is what most people fail to understand when they ask me, “Oh, why didn’t you go on the Harry Potter studio tour?” or “You mean, you didn’t see the Downton Abbey place?” when they consider my trip.

Anne is now its grave phase, which leaves me perfectly happy. I had no grandiose plans for finishing a novel this year, considering what I’d accomplished with Damen last year, but I’m glad I’ve even reached this point. There’s lots to do, though at 185k words, it’s in far better shape than I was with Damen starting at 285k words. Anne still has room to take on a life of its own. While I try to quote Austen wherever feasible, this is my novel and at this stage, I’m comfortable in deviating from the parent story enough to tell the entire story properly.

I still think Anne will be my first foray into the self-publishing world, though I think I may wait until 2015 to start pushing Damen on agents again. I have no delusions of becoming one of those self-publishing successes; I just want my story to given to the world. Speaking of giving my story…I lost my beloved Kindle Paperwhite during my travels to London. I think I put it in the seat flap on the return flight and forgot to take it with me in the bustle and confusion of leaving. I’ve already removed my Amazon credentials from it, but I’ve got a version of Damen on there that’s now floating around lost on the device. I doubt I’ll ever get it back and, oh darn, this means I’ll have to get the brand new even more awesome Kindle Voyage, but the fact that Damen is where I can’t reach it, leaves me a little irritated.

These first 30 years have presented me with quite a lot. Oddly, I don’t feel as old as I did last year. On the trip home from London, I was surrounded by a group of people in the security line who were amazed that I was 30, as they all said I didn’t look like I could be older than 22, which just cheered my heart. 🙂 I went into this year expecting an early mid-life crisis, but instead I am rejuvenated for all of life’s possibilities.

So, Year 30. Onward and upward!

 

Marching Forward Thursday, March 13, 2014

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 2:25 pm
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I’m starting to grow weary of Anne, which means I’m in a good place literarily. I only grow bored and tired when I’ve been pushing hard on a project, and I’ve definitely been pushing with Anne. I’ve been setting goals of writing 500 words daily and since I’m so early into Anne, this has included 500 words daily of pure writing.

As March begins to wind down, I recognize that my sabbatical is ending and it’s time for me to begin sending query letters again. I’m in no way discouraged about Damen, as I understand I come knocking at the traditional publishing world’s gates at one of its most tumultuous times in history. The world is reading less; I know this from the number of people I’ve unfriended on Facebook for Liking groups like “I Don’t Read.” Not only is the world reading less, the people who are reading are buying fewer books, and when they do buy, more often they are going for e- rather than traditional. It puts everyone, aspiring authors, agents, publishers, in a tough place, which is why I no longer roll my eyes when I see the same themes of books paraded in front of me by the same authors who have always sold well; I understand why the publishing world does how it does. All this notwithstanding, I go into this round of the agent search a little colder and a little more worldly than I was last July.

Since Anne is beginning to wear on me, this may be the best time to take another look at Damen now that I’m about nine months from it. Perhaps, with some a clearer, cooler mind, I can make some more worthwhile edits to make the novel a little more appealing to those unsure about offering a chance to this author.

Onward and upward!

 

Turning over my writing engine Thursday, February 13, 2014

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 11:42 pm
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I decided on the first of this month that February would be “Finish the First Part of Anne” Month, which involved my writing a minimum of 500 words every day. When I first gave myself this challenge, I thought nothing of it as I’d been able to write as much as a thousand words a day and I’m in the preliminary stages of writing Anne, where everything is pure creation, with little editing. I find myself, however, struggling to meet word count every day.

The sensation is akin to starting my car in this zero-degree weather after I hadn’t started it in more than 24 hours. It can take several seconds to turn over and even then, the stereo doesn’t quite pick up the iPod as well as in warm weather and skipping tracks involves some guess work. Once I let the car warm up a bit, though, everything runs as fine as the day I bought it.

Jumping back into my old writing habits after taking a 10-words-a-day-minimum “sabbatical” over the last couple months has proven quite challenging. Once I force it a bit, the creative juices start flowing like old times, but getting started is still difficult each day.

While I’d like to say “no more sabbaticals, ever,” I know that’s not feasible. I’ve been often told the best way to keep the pipes in my house from freezing and bursting is to allow a faucet to drip slowly overnight to keep the water in constant motion. As I continue pushing through various stages of Anne, I may need to keep up my 500-word daily challenge on any project (and the older I get, the more projects I conjure), just to keep the words dripping and keep my literary pipes from freezing in the interim.

 

Onto Stage…Whatever Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 3:51 am
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Finally, I’m onto file damen1-13k. Technically, it should be 13h, but I don’t really care for the letters F and J, so they were skipped. This is the 8th edit of Damen and in this version, I’ll be doing a spell check/grammar check that’s not truly possible in the full document. Because Microsoft sucks (though their products are sadly the best currently available), their spell check function stops working somewhere around the 100th page and my only way to catch typos, etc. is to find them on my own or add each of my 36 chapters to their own document and individually review the book again, chapter by chapter, document by document, just to catch if I’ve spelled “thought” as “tohguth.” Mac Office is even worse and stops counting words after 100 pages in addition to jacking up the spell check. Total crap, but my Microsoft rant is best left for another post.

I was a little dazed when I finished the seventh edit yesterday, so I’m not entirely sure if I’m on Chapter 2 or 3 at this point. I’ll pick Chapter 2 because you can’t read through the book enough times.

Current word count is 121,542 which I think is slightly higher than my previous update. Though I told myself that I was through with rewriting anything else in this edit, I ran into the same problems with the middle part of the book that I’ve re-re-re-written more than any other part of the book. What I find is that with each edit, I lose my emotional attachments to specific scenes.

In a previous edit, I’d gone back and retrieved a scene where Jessie Clarke and Brit have a major fight because I wanted so badly to show Jessie’s compassionate side. In the edit I just finished, I realized that Jessie really didn’t need to show that kind of compassion because Brit has enough compassion for the both of them. If I had 500k words to work with, I’d still probably include the scene, but given that it unnecessarily broke up the flow of the book, it had to get cut.

Of course, that scene was wrapped around a more pivotal scene where we see Damen really struggling with his mother’s addictions. What I ended up with was a completely re-written chapter where we see Angel balancing her problems with the love of her son, we finally see some imperfections in Anessa’s character, and we get to see Damen grow a little as he realizes that he’s not the only one in the world handling emotional problems. For the first time since I’d first finished the novel, I can actually say that I enjoy the events and flow of this chapter.

I’d figured I was done at this point since I’d not added to my word count, but then I came again to the chapter where we come to understand the root of Jessie Clarke’s character. I cried through the scene as I always do, but this time around the end was very flat to me. Jessie reveals a very long, painful story about her childhood and then when Damen refuses to divulge anything about himself, she just lets it go without showing the relative crazies Jessie displayed throughout the previous chapters.

Up until this point, I’d made very few changes to Jessie’s part of the story, but this time around, I added another 4-500 words to the book to make sure Jessie went ape-#$%@ when Damen did not do as she said, just as we’ve seen her do throughout the novel. I hated to add 500 words to the book to show all of this, but scene feels complete and really envelopes you in the pain that’s coursing through Jessie.

Apart from those two re-writes, the book felt really done for the first time since I thought I was done 15 months ago.

Now, my next steps will be to review general spelling and grammar through each chapter file and then make this into a Kindle book that I can read either on iPad or Kindle, like I would a normal book. The goal there will be to ensure that I don’t lose my own interest as I’m reading. Anywhere that I feel like it’s time to put down the book is a weak point of the novel and may need to be revised. Further painful revisions notwithstanding, once I do a Kindle-read through the book and print out and mail the whole thing for my Poor Man’s Copyright, I will finally begin my hunt for an agent.

Phew! It’s been a long ride. Onward and upward!

 

14 Months and 5 Edits Later Thursday, May 16, 2013

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 9:32 am
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So, I attempted to post something yesterday, but I hate just posting for the sake of posting. The good thing is that I’ve actually got something worth capturing today.

I finished a “final edit” of Damen, meaning that outside of anything that irks me as mind-blowingly wrong when I read through this twice more to catch missing words, grammar issues, etc. this book is as done as it can get.

The current word count is just shy of 122k at 121,944. I highly doubt I’ll find 2000 extra words somewhere in the text to excise, so that’s probably the best that I can do. The rest of this month will surround reading the whole book twice, or even thrice more.

I do something a little odd with regard to my paragraph indentations as I write. For some reason, my brain doesn’t switch into “write” mode unless I’ve got the first line of a paragraph flush with the margin and the remaining lines indented as below shown.

20130516-092658.jpg

I’m not entirely sure why I can’t really tell my brain to write, not read without the proper indentations, but it is what it is.

So, I’ll need to read through the book at least once with its current indentation and once with the indented paragraphs of a normal book. If I’m feeling really good about it, perhaps, I’ll Kindle-ize it (yep, that’s a word now) and read it as if it really is a normal book before I begin the agent search.

As strange as it might sound, this point in the process is feeling a little anti-climatic. I don’t know if I was expecting resounding horns and bells or something, but I think all the overabundant joy I had March 18, 2012 melted away once I realized that since no first time author gets published at 290k words, I had a good year’s worth of work ahead of me.

Maybe at this juncture, I’m sensing another year’s worth of agent searching and a lot of disappointment/rejection as I work towards my dream.

I suppose it could be worse. I could have given up on all my writing dreams and settled on “good enough,” but…This is my one and only life (as far as I know) and the last thing I want is to always wonder “What if…” What if I had kept writing? What if I had kept pushing towards my dream?

I don’t want to become the next Rowling or another King at this point. I just want to be a simply published author who can do what she loves.

And so, as I’ve got another two read-throughs of this book to do before I finally start Part 4 of this journey, I suppose I’d better get started. Onward and upward!

 

The Last Ten Thousand Thursday, March 21, 2013

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 7:55 am
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March 18th marked a whole year since I first had a complete edit of Damen. A year later, I’m still snipping away at it with these flimsy editorial scissors of mine. Unlike past months, however, I’m within 10k words of my word count goal. I’ve cut the equivalent of two complete novels out of this thing and yet, I’ve still got a complete storyline that resembles the original.

True, I’ve had to cut some characters and I’ve rewritten the third and fourth to the last chapters over a dozen times in the past year, but now, I sit with just ten thousand words to excise before I can begin Part 2 of this adventure.

The other day, I did what I normally do when I feel there’s no way I can ever get this book down to an acceptable word count; I searched for “typical” novel sizes. What I found on this trip, however, was that there are lots of people who sit at 30 or 16 or even 9K words and worry about how to make the book stretch. What I wouldn’t give for that! To be able to just shut the heck up to the point where I’ve said too little…my God! What a wonderland!

Anyway…As of this writing, I’ve got 9,589 words left to cut before I can begin the hunt for an agent. I’ve probably made more progress in the last 20 days than have in the time since last March.

I suppose cutting 10K may sound like a ton, but when you’ve already cut 160K, another 10K is like living a million years: when you’ve lived a million years, 1 day is really nothing.

Edit: The Last Ten Thousand sounds like an awesome name for a book, no? 😀

 

 
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