First, thanks for the comments. I was given some good advice.
I was told to focus on an API.
I tried SDL. Bloodshed Dev-C++ couldn't find the SDL Devpack. Then I had trouble figuring out how to link mingw. I've got the folders and some files, but nothing that matched the tutorial. So that was all for naught.
Then I tried Allegro. That installed correctly and I was able to open up a template in Dev-C++. Naturally, this template didn't look anything like the stuff I saw in the tutorials. The differences were subtle, but every little thing matters to a compiler. Consequently, nothing fucking worked. I loved how the debugger could tell me that a command was deprecated but not tell me the new command.
Every tutorial I look at seems to do things in a completely different manner. Haven't there been enough programs written that some basic patterns have emerged? And can't those patterns be integrated into a decent IDE? Why doesn't my template ask me questions? What kind of window would you like? Is this a game? Then it points out all kinds of points of interest. Here is the main loop. Here is the rendering loop. Put your input commands here. Set up a buffer and animation loop here.
The struggle continues.