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
Tags: , , ,

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.

 

Jumbled Thoughts Saturday, February 28, 2015

Filed under: Dorienne,Writing — kaitco @ 11:06 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

I’ve been thinking quite a bit these last few weeks, but as my thoughts hurry from one to another, I’ve not got much to say on anyone thought, so I’ll speak on several. Nearly all end with questions I’m unable to answer at present. I suppose that says a lot about me, doesn’t it?

 

Educated Unhappiness

I experienced a somewhat interesting event a few weeks ago.

I was engaged in small talk with my co-workers when the subject of reality TV was discussed. Having not watched “normal” TV for the last six or seven years, I was unaware of this particular show and asked for more details.

“Oh, it’s so great!” I heard. “These people are ridiculous. You have to see it!” I was told. So, out of curiosity and out of a desire to relate more with my peers, I downloaded an episode of Extreme Cheapskates to see for it myself. I got about 15 minutes into the episode when I had to just stop the video entirely. I just couldn’t take anymore.

I’m unsure whether it was the pregnant woman dumpster diving for expired medication to use as “prenatal vitamins” or the guy who was willing going to have one of his testicles removed just for the 20K payout associated with it, but I didn’t last more than 15 minutes and this distressed me.

When I find myself unable to relate to the world around me, I behave like a good Christian and look internally to see what I’m perhaps doing wrong. What is wrong with my tastes that I couldn’t sit through something so popular with people from my own age and (more or less) economic group?

That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy anything that other people do. I’m in the midst of binge-watching House of Cards as I recap and prepare for Season 3, a show which, it seems, nearly everyone loves. That said, almost everyone I know adores Breaking Bad, yet I’ve not geared myself up to watch another episode of Breaking Bad because after pushing through three seasons of it, I hate Walter, I hate Jesse, I hate Walter’s wife, and her sister and her brother-in-law, and I’m not too crazy about Walter Jr. either, but he’s at least tolerable for me.

This goes beyond television as well. I’ve disliked most popular music since I last put away my NSYNC CDs in the twelfth grade and, as a black American woman, my dislike of rap music and indifference to all things related to Beyoncé, and my right-leaning politics, my vegetarianism, and my relative introversion have all thrown the slurs of wigger and oreo at me more times than I care to count.

The books I enjoy most were written at least 100 years ago in a country an ocean away from me and even my favorite video games aren’t considered “good” games by most gamers.

What is it that prevents me from relating to those around me? Why must I be so different?

 

What Does The Old Man Want of Me?

In cruising Reddit some time ago, I became intensely discouraged by an article on writing as a craft and a profession.

I even asked God for a moment, “Well does this mean that writing isn’t for me? What else am I supposed to do?”

I immediately dismissed the thoughts, saying to myself that it didn’t matter because this is what I do. Everything that makes me Dorienne has always led back to storytelling.

As I continued with my work (i.e., browsing Reddit), a random X-Files story popped into my mind. I don’t think of X-Files stories often as I don’t really have much time for fan fiction these days. It sounded so good, however, that I had to write it in my list of “book ideas” and it seemed as if, again, I was met with what seemed like an answer to my aforementioned question.

Should I continue to write? Am I meant to write? The instant story would point to yes, but I can’t help my doubts over coincidences.

Going back to X-Files though and one of my favorite quotes from it…if coincidences were just coincidences, why do they always feel so contrived?

 

Dysfunction Suction

To call recent months with my family dysfunctional is to not do them credit.

I’ve uttered aloud that I hate some of them, and I’ve even become so overwhelmed by emotion that I cried in public.

I’ve tried to pray prayed over my heavy heart again and again. Some days I get an inkling of the answers I want. Other days, I’m left in such darkness that I don’t know if I’m there because I won’t accept a hearty “No,” or if I’m just too impatient to see the answer in front of me.

In general, however, all this dysfunction has sucked much of my creativity. I continue working on Anne because I need to do something to pretend I’m not just standing still; waiting for answers I’ve likely already received.

I’m reading through the entire Bible and I’m into Proverbs. I’ve read, several times in these chapters, that I must lean not on my own understanding and depend on God. I do…but…

I’m often left asking “why” as I’ve done so many times this month. Why must I wait? Why must I be different? Why can’t I tell the difference between coincidence and providence? Why can’t I have what I want in life and, if what I want isn’t good for me, why can’t The Old Man just tell me what to do so I can just do it and go home?

 

 

It’s been a while Sunday, March 10, 2013

Filed under: Dorienne — kaitco @ 9:21 pm
Tags: , , ,

Like the title suggests, it’s been a while since I’ve been in the blogging mood. Half the reason is due to re-evaluating what I can do with myself as I work these ten-hour days, but mostly I’ve just got tired writing over and over about how close I am to finishing the novel.

Don’t get me wrong; I am very close. I’ve got it down to 131,991 words. It’s still 12K over what I need and at this point it’s seeming more and more possible like I’ll need to lose a major plot point to bring it down to what I want, but I’m still closer to the goal than where I was a month ago, so on and so forth. Though I tire of repeating myself, I’m about to do it again.

I find myself either going back to old habits in times of stress or obsessing wholly about something. Whether it’s playing Rock Band or Minecraft through all hours of the night or trying to learn a new language or re-re-reading books like my current protagonist, I attach myself to something whenever I feel like Ulysses.

Anyway, I could go on about my recent issues with trauma to my eye or the growing concern that the first-job that I’d specifically asked God for may not be the best option for me or even, in this stressful time of my life, my new-found devotion to X-Files, in its episodes, movies, music and books, but I won’t.

Instead, I think it’s just worthy to note that I’m alive and still writing and since it’s been a while, I thought it was time to say it.

 

“The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore” Monday, October 29, 2012

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 5:39 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

I’ve decided that today is as good as day as any to update since, if I don’t update when I’ve got the thought to do it, I’ll never do it all. The title comes from the Cher song of the same name. I don’t actually have that song on any iDevice I own, but it features in an episode of The X-Files and I’ve just watched a good episode of X-Files (not that one), so that’s likely why it’s stuck in my head at the moment. The fact that this Hurricane Sandy is dooming my area with grey for the rest of the week is likely a coincidence.

I think I should mention NaNoWriMo as it’s just around the corner and I consider myself to be a writer. Part of so-called gloom throughout the majority of this month was due to my desire to have my novel completely edited and ready to send on the 1st of October so that it could be on someone’s desk or at least their trash bin before NaNoWriMo began.

I’ve been following this industry for a long while and if there’s anything I’ve learned it’s that NaNoWriMo can be rather undesirable for agents and editors. What often happens every November is that people who perhaps have always wanted to write a novel or folks who had never even considered it are inundated with cheers from peers pressing them to write 50K words in one month. The way NaNoWriMo SHOULD work is to force a person to write every day for 30 days, planning for a total of 50k before the month’s end, and then use the product from 30 November to begin crafting a real novel over the course of another year or so. This way, one has a real novel to present to an agent, thus beginning their career and so forth.

What ends up happening, however, is that folks write every day for 30 days, hit their 50k mark and then, with perhaps a quick Microsoft Word spell check, they send whatever they’ve crafted in 30 days to every agent in the world and are somehow surprised when nothing comes from their efforts.

While the above doesn’t truly concern me since I’m writing my fourth novel and I know, for certain, a final product is not really possible to note, draft, complete, cut and edit in 30 days, what is a devastating concern for me is that since so many of NaNoWriMo submissions get sent out between December and February, a real writing effort could get easily lost in the pile. So, if I finish off this four-year effort and send it off now, my chances for being noticed are tissue-paper thin all because of NaNoWriMo.

All this notwithstanding, I’ve decided to participate in NaNoWriMo this year, but I’ll be using this as more of a writing exercise than an attempt at a real novel. I’m not even going to think about a topic until the 1st of the month so that I can push together whatever can, missing words, plot holes and all, in 30 days.

I’m no longer in a slump of missing my given “due date,” but I’ve not been able to push myself into daily writing yet, so my goal with NaNoWriMo, as much as I detest it and as much as I like to blame it for everything from Hurricane Sandy to poor American voting decisions, will be to just get myself writing again.

 

A chapter a day, makes the book…yeah Sunday, April 15, 2012

Filed under: Dorienne,Writing — kaitco @ 11:01 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

I’m currently on Chapter 14 of 40 and I’m down about 44K words, which brings me to a current word count of 243K words. Still quite a behemoth, but it’s getting manageable. If I stay at a rate of about 40K words deleted per 12-13 chapters, I should be able to hit my ideal word count. The problem, however, is tackling that length.

I’ve fallen into this routine of measuring the word count first (10K for Chapter 14) and then reading through the chapter figure out where I was going with it. Sometimes, I’m lucky and I can even recall saying to myself, “I’ll have to cut this on the next draft.” as I was creating the original prose or dialogue, but sometimes this involves almost re-writing an entire chapter. Chapter 14, at first glance, looks like one of those luckier chapters since I know I’ve got loads I can just strikethrough and keep trucking, but it’s tying together the relevant pieces that will require a general re-write that is so infuriating.

Some days, it’s like I take two steps forward and three steps backwards.

I keep praying and asking God if any of this is at all relevant and at all a part of His plan. I don’t get the booming voice from above saying, “Yes, Dorienne. Stay the course.” so there’s that part of me that’s unsure whether some of this frustration is coming from some nagging voice telling me there’s something better I should be doing or if an “I quit” attitude is just so much easier than pushing and pushing.

I suppose the real frustration comes from knowing that I’m not quite sure what else I could do outside of write. When I look back on my childhood and adolescence, all I remember is storytelling. Verbal stories I would tell myself as a very young child and then putting those stories to paper as I reached the latter end of elementary school. From there, I started to write novels and even finished two of them before my eighteenth birthday. Writing is all I know. It’s who I am and to be so close to just touching my goal, only to sit and wonder what else I can do with my life if I fail is a little discouraging.

I haven’t any snippets of inspiration for myself today’s post. The sermon at church today was all about how frightening and hot hell is and while fear can motivate, it does little to inspire.

Maybe I just need to get some sleep…

 

C-C-C-Changes! Saturday, February 18, 2012

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 2:30 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

My life is experiencing an abundance of change all at once. Fortunately, much of it is good change.

Things at first-job are the biggest change since I’m on a temporary assignment. How this will affect my writing is beyond me for the moment, but the change will be nice.

With regard to my writing, I’ll admit that I’ve not been doing as much of it as I should, but I think this has more to do with the sudden changes I’m experiencing and a lack of inspiration for Damen. A long-standing problem I’ve seen while writing is when I get bored with a project. It’s not to say that the story is boring, but that my attention span is so short that once I’ve other ideas running through my mind, it gets harder and harder to focus on my current project.

The other day, I spent some time backing up a bunch of files to Dropbox and found my original one-page note file for Damen. I was in the middle of writing Flight and was determined to see it through to completion, but even then, I was starting to focus on other things. That is where I am now; Reruns is almost daily at the forefront of my mind, but then there are the other little stories that keep me distracted.

I tell myself that God has led me to this passion and has made me focus on it, hence the reason I see these providentially coincidental happenings in my life. Earlier this week, I was in the middle of playing Guitar Hero (and finished the Hard Tour for GH2, btw 😉 ) and all of a sudden, I had this incredibly urge to watch The X-Files. Not just X-Files, but a very specific episode, EBE. I’ve seen this episode probably 100 times since I was 9, but in doing something completely unrelated (though this random spaceship does appear on the screen while playing Freebird), I had the desire to watch this episode. So, I queued Netflix on Xbox and watched the episode I’d watched so often I can practically quote it. The difference, however, is that Mulder and his Deep Throat were arguing about conspiracy and I looked up one of the conspiracies he mentioned, The Tuskegee Experiment. After a simple, but troubled read on Wikipedia, a new story and then a whole series developed within the hour after I’d completed the episode.

I call this experience providential because…well, honestly, how can I be prompted to watch a random episode of a beloved show that I’d seen dozens upon dozens of times and only then have my interest piqued in something that led me to a brand new project? To quote X-Files, If coincidences are just coincidences, why do they feel so contrived?

I suppose all this is just an elaborate excuse for why I’ve not come any closer to completing the novel this week, but I thought it worth mentioning just in case I ever desired to recollect how my Lucy Chambers stories became more than just one novel.

I’ve got a lot of changes upcoming at this venture in my life, but with all of this, I realize that I need to change God from something I want to make a priority and instead to something that is the priority in my life. If one whisper in my ear can lead me to a whole series of stories when I’ve not been to church for 2 weeks, what would happen if I did what’s said in the old song: I woke up this morning with my mind…set on Jesus…

 

The fourth day Saturday, June 25, 2011

Filed under: Writing — kaitco @ 11:19 pm
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After I’d finished writing yesterday, I decided to take all my new Harry notes and add them to the old file. I searched for ten minutes before I found what I thought was the old file, but after reading through 20+ pages of notes, I remembered that there were some great scenes I’d written that weren’t included, so I off I went further into to the folders of shared drives across my three PCs in search of this file.

On this journey, I found what I can only describe as “old friends” neatly tucked away in various folders. I probably scanned through several dozen little beginnings of stories while searching for this file, many I could barely remember starting and many more I couldn’t remember the story. Instead of watching my movie last night or even reading, I spent the majority of the night reading through a dozen of my long, but harried notes from one story and then another.

I made a lot of X-Files stories in the past decade and if I make it to 100, I probably still won’t have enough time to flesh out the dozens of book and short story ideas I’ve got littered around my external hard drive. Some of these notes hadn’t been touched since 2003. 2003! I may have been 19! To think that I’ve got all these stories just sitting there…waiting for me.

I have to say that stepping away from the Xbox and the television has made everything appear more vivid. I’m suddenly anxious to do nothing more than write and read, read and write. As if taunting me with the desire to finish all my unfinished stories, I even got a message on an old SVU fanfiction I haven’t touched since 2009 asking me to update. I took the story with me today and if I hadn’t had so much actual work to complete, I probably would have at least read through what I’d written.

I wrote 623 words tonight (started down the hall where Anthony had pointed) and unlike with most nights earlier this month, I’ve not had to struggle for each sentence or stare blankly at the screen wishing for inspiration on how to link two parts of the same scene. I’ve not even had to do more minor note-making before beginning my prose; I just sit and I start writing.

I’d like to think that some of this has to do with writing this scene where Damen goes church and, if I’m honest, it probably is. The best thing about it though, it that it’s got me excited for the first time in ages to get to church. I want to go to Sunday School. I want to hear the message. These are really the only two things I want to accomplish tomorrow.

Since I won’t be nerding it up and playing Rock Band or watching Frasier all night, I hope to be asleep at a decent hour so I can successfully make it to church and Sunday School on time. It’s the fourth day without my usual distractions and I already feel cleaner.

 

 
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