Archives: April - May 2003
May 25, 2003
I decided to take the plunge and attend the Los Angeles Book Expo next week. I wasn't going to go, but since Cuqui placed in the IPPY Awards and the Foreword Magazine Awards, I have a reason now. It will cost me a little bit of money to go, but the rewards could be great. But, it could be a bust. Being in the writing game, you have to take risks.
Sometimes these risks involve money, as in trip expenses. Sometimes it is postage and copying for sending out manuscripts and such. Sometimes the risk is just one of losing face; getting a cold slap in the face in the form of rejection. Some of my risk-taking has paid off, some hasn't. But just like writing itself, one must take the plunge now and again, no matter what the cost.
May 22, 2003
Just when you think things are looking dim, a light shines at the end of the tunnel. I wrote about this in my last blog entry. Things seem to happen this way. I got an email today and found out Cuqui placed 2nd (a finalist) in the annual "IPPY" Awards. These are sponsored by the Independent Publishers Association and are kind of like the Grammys or something for small press publishing houses. The winners will be announced at the L.A. Book Expo next week, with the appropriate parties and galas, etc. Unfortunately, I won't be there... That same night, Foreword Magazine will announce its winners as well, and Cuqui is a finalist in that contest, too. Lots of press, lots of publishers, lots of movie people will be there...very nice. Hell, I didn't even know I was an entrant in the contest; I almost deleted the email from the IPA today because it went to my junk mail folder. Just goes to show.
It also proves that you can't tell how people will respond to your work. I wasn't going to publish Undercover White Trash or Cuqui because they aren't my best work (at least I thought they weren't) but they have turned out to be the works that have gotten the most attention, the most positive comments, and the biggest potential to make real money for me. Go figure.
May 18, 2003
It is a part of this game, this business of writing. And it is a business, you see. We hock our wares like shills on an infomercial. Only we have books, not Ginsu knives, to sell. We whore ourselves sometimes, kissing ass and practically begging for notice. But it doesn't always come.
I've found that encouragement comes in waves, like every tenth wave in a riptide. One in, nine out. I send out my queries, email my contacts, hoping for a return.
Sorry, we're not booking any signings until next year...
I check my web pages for new reviews, good reviews. They are idle. Sales crawl to a stop. Web counters tick slowly.
I follow up with those who I know have a book.
Sorry, been really busy lately; haven't had time to get to yours yet, but...
At the low end of this ebb, the darkness comes. A shadow over the room that whispers give up.
Many writers fall to this goblin that hovers behind them, whispering its negativity. I've seen some go to pieces at the first rejection letter. They put away the manuscript and never open it again for the rest of their lives. I have 160 rejection letters, and those are only the formal ones. The list of actual rejections probably runs into the thousands. Sometimes I ask myself why the hell I go on with it.
Maybe its for that one email from a stranger that says how much they love my work. Maybe its for that one person who sends me a little elephant gift of some kind, giving their thanks for the joy that Noah brought to them. Maybe it is for that good review I see someplace. Maybe it is for that fat royalty check this quarter instead of the one for 38 cents last time... Maybe.
I guess what keeps us all going during the dry times is hope. Hope that the cycle will swing up again. It always does, at least for me in these past two years. But one day it may stop altogether. I guess the only thing to do then is to write another book and start the whole thing all over again.
Am I an artist or a masochist?
May 15, 2003
Walgreens is not my usual place to find inspiration. But inspiration is best taken wherever one may find it.
I was in line at my neighborhood Walgreens today. Buying a few items I needed. The usual little old lady was at the front of the line, laying out a dozen or so coupons with her items. I've learned to be more patient with these Walgreens regulars, for it will be me there one day, hoping to save a nickel on a tube of denture paste, a dime on a box of tissues. The savings will add up so I can afford a luxury item like...food. A woman was behind her, and a young girl behind her, then me. The girl was tall and blonde. Taller and blonder than me. By her clothes and posture, I could tell she was a teenager from my 'hood. Lower-income. Single mom as parent or even more likely, an alcoholic father who cost the family more money than he brought in. One step away from Section 8 housing. She had a defensiveness about her, the posturing of someone who wasn't going to let anyone get the better of her on the street.
She turned her head quickly to take a glance at me. Hmmm. You might be an old fossil, David, but you still got it, baby...
Walgreens management has a policy of no more than three people in line. I, being number four, triggered the cosmetics counter lady to come out and shout an offer to take the next person in line. The girl spun around and stared at me. She was very beautiful: green eyes, perfect skin, long shiny hair. But her eyes had a strange look, a look of panic. She stared at me while I ignored the cosmetics lady's call; I never jump to another line. I always wind up with even more people getting in front of me on my way there, or a broken cash register, something... The girl stared at me until she realized I wasn't going, then spun back around.
That's weird. Does she want to talk to me? Flirt with me? Or did she want to go to the cosmetics counter? This is awkward.
The coupon lady was finished, then the next woman bought a pack of smokes and left quickly. It was the blonde girl's turn. I wasn't trying to pry, but I did look at the counter as she plopped her purchase on it, along with a few wadded-up bills. She glanced quickly back at me, then turned around.
It was a pregnancy test.
In that instant, I understood. The glances, the stares, the strange defensive posturing. That little white box on the counter told a story as big as life itself. A story the girl had not wished this stranger to know. I felt embarrassed, not for her, but for myself. I thought I was Mr. Intuitive, able to size up another human being in a heartbeat. Hell, I do it for a living. And I'm a writer, pray tell. Everyone knows we have this sixth sense about people... But it simply wasn't true. I had stereotyped this person to the point of a caricature, missing completely the pain and anguish she must have been feeling. Here was a young woman on the brink of what could be the most trying and decisive moment in her life. And it was all riding on what a ten-dollar Walgreens test kit would tell her. I looked at her again. She seemed vulnerable now, not tough. She was quivering inside, watching her dreams for the future fade away like morning mist in the garden.
She shot a quick glance at me, grabbed her bag and headed out the door. With her went the ending to the story, an ending I'll never know.
David's Tip of the Day:
File away these experiences in your mind. Make notes and put them someplace if you have to. When you write, draw upon these experiences to enhance your characters as you create them. The feelings you experience in real life, these little Polaroids of humanity, are the paints on your pallet; use them to color life into your characters.
May 13, 2003
Independent writers get little respect.
This seems hard to believe, but it is true. When my first book was published, I got a little attention locally. The Fort Worth Weekly reviewed it, a full page's worth. Nice. My alma mater's magazine gave me a little blurb. It was supposed to be a full feature but wound up being a two-inch blurb after another story bumped me and another TCU alum writer. I guess a football team story was more important... Anyway, I managed to land a few book signings in local Barnes and Noble stores. When Undercover White Trash came out, I did a couple of spots on a local TV book review show. Then Fort Worth, Texas magazine did a little blurb for Trash, too. The mainstream press, namely the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, refused to review any of my books. Why? "It isn't available in hardback" was the first excuse. Then it was "We don't review subsidized books." They followed up with this lie by printing a full-page review on a Texas journalist who wrote a book that not only wasn't available in hardback, but also was not even available in bookstores: the guy printed the books himself and sold them out of his garage, literally. To this date, all my requests for a review have been unanswered. Ditto the Weekly. Ditto the Barnes and Nobles; there isn't one of my books in any Barnes and Noble in the entire Dallas/Fort Worth area. I have more books on the shelves in Los Angeles than I do in my home town. I sell more books in the U.K. than I do in my neighborhood.
So what's the deal? Why do the local media tend to promote out-of-towners more than their local writers? Why does your local newspaper spend more time covering national music stars than local bands? What is more important? Maybe my philosphy is just wrong; I think that one of the missions of local media is to promote not only local sports teams and politicians, but also local artists. If local media won't do it, who will? Perhaps my way of thinking is just old-fashioned, but the phenomenon of being ignored by your own people and accepted by those outside your city is not a new thing; it is as old as civilization itself.
Jesus Christ, as told in the first four books of the new testament, said: A prophet has no honor in his own country and in his own house. First, let me say that I am no prophet, nor is any other writer. Nor is this me preaching at you. I think Jesus was speaking not only about a spiritual phenomenon, but a psychological one as well. He recognized this part of the human psyche for what it was: a sense of jealously, maybe a sense of competition. I think people are reticent to accept a success from their own ranks because it is easier to accept a stranger's success than it is to accept a neighbor's. Placing honor or attention on a stranger is easier because one can always say to themself that this person acheived their success because their circumstances were different than mine. They must have gone to better schools, had more encouragement, had more opportunities, than I did. Accepting the success of someone from their own community may be to admit that the success they desire for themself was just as attainable for them as it was for the outsider. Maybe that feeling is what is so difficult for some people to swallow, either individually or collectively. Thus, it is easier to pay attention to those from the outside and ignore those from nearby. Whatever the reason, this phenomenon is indeed a fact.
David's Tip of the Day:
Focus your marketing efforts elsewhere, not in your home town. You'll be surprised at the attention you get from book buyers, reporters, book reviewers, and bookstores elsewhere. Of course, try to do some marketing where you live, but don't be discouraged by a lack of response. The larger your town, the less response you'll get. Believe me, it isn't anything personal. And from a purely mercenary standpoint, remember that the world is a bigger place than your town. There are nearly seven billion people out there, each a potential buyer of your book. If your neighbors ignore you, that's their loss. You will just go beyond them to the rest of the planet.
May 12, 2003
Contributed by my friend Barry Fitzsimmons, author on the edge...
This is fellow 1stBooks author B.P. Fitzsimmons blogging you now. This writing business is bugging me, mostly because these days I'm not writing the stuff that makes my heart pound, which is because I am blocked and in the proverbial sophomore slump and the economy sucks and I'm not making enough to afford the lavish lifestyle I'm used to. Don't feel sorry for me yet? I don't blame you. And yet I feel sorry for myself, and that makes me feel even worse. We're just a mess, we writers. I live in Connecticut and work in New York City -- when I've got work, that is. I write and produce little TV promos for various stations and networks. (ESPN used to be a client, ever heard of it?) These days I'm schlepping 1 1/2 hours each way (that's 3 hours a day, math students) to and from WCBS-TV, which -- duh! -- is the CBS-owned station in NYC. What a hole. I mean, what... a fucking... hole! I worked there, on staff, 10 years ago, doing exactly what I'm doing now, hating every God-blessed minute of it. The only high-point of my experience then was roller-blading through the long halls one Saturday when they made me come in (the place is about a block long -- narrow halls that go on forever). Now, I'm whoring myself to them for the May sweeps, which means a lot TV people, mostly money. It's not glamorous. It's not fun. It's not even a growth experience, career-wise. It's just a drag and I am a big fat baby for bitching like I am, with all the poor bastards out there not able to make a living at all. At least I still have my house, my wife, my kids. My pride I seem to have misplaced, however.
Next subject: I met a nice kid on the subway coming home tonight. A writer. Feel kinda bad for her. First, a preamble: I've just ordered stickers that say "lifeaskew.net" and "READ A TOMATO!" and I'm plastering them where I can on the streets of New York. It's my grass-roots attempt at getting people to visit my site and sample my book and help me on my way to fame and financial freedom. (It's gonna work, man!) So, after throwing stickers on a flagpole or two on the way home from the aforementioned "hole" I see this girl on the shuttle (the "S" train, goes from Times Square to Grand Central and back). She had a box on her lap that said something like: I'M A SAD-SACK WRITER WHO CAN'T GET PUBLISHED SO PLEASE BUY MY SHORT STORIES FOR $2 -- BY THE WAY, I'M A COLUMBIA GRAD, ETC." My heart just went out to her and I said three words: Pee Oh Dee. And she said, huh? And I gave her a Life Askew card and she gave me one of her stories and I read it on the train home to CT and... sorry to say... it wasn't good. And now I'm thinking, what up? She's Ivy and shit. Shouldn't her writing be leagues above mine? Is mine awful, and I don't know it? The answer is... and emphatic... HELL NO! My book is called Life Askew and you can check it out at www.lifeaskew.net. My name is Barry Patrick Fitzsimmons, and I wish you all peach of mind!
May 9, 2003
My Epilary Manifesto
I receive an inordinate amount of shit about my hair. "What's with the hair, David; trying to make yourself look YOUNG or something?" "Is that some kind of writer look?" Because of the constant flack I receive, I have developed a mild obsession about the subject.
This phenomenon has been going on just about all my life. In first grade, it was the Brylcreem swoop the barber gave me, that little curly-cue on my bangs that made me look so innocent and endearing to little old ladies. I made it a point to push it back with the rest of its clan as soon as I walked out of the barber shop; only sissies had swoops.
In third grade, I had a crew cut. In 1969, crew cuts were as passé as poodle skirts, even in Beaumont, Texas. My dad had one, but then again, my dad was a football coach and an ex-marine. He EARNED that crew cut. My brother had one, too. He was a star athlete and as my dad said, no athlete had that "hippie hair." I played basketball and such, so I thought I had to join the ranks of the cropped. I got it done and went to school. My head was cold. Only one other guy in the school, some kid who ate Pink Pet erasers, had one. His was red. Within a few months, I got hit on the head by a swing seat, which split my scalp open a couple of inches. The doctor said I would have been fine if I had "had a little paddin' of hair" up there. He butterflied my wound (my dad didn't believe in stitches unless it was an arterial cut) and sent me back to school with a bandage glued to my scalp. It stuck nicely to the square he had shaved onto my head. Wendy Johnson giggled at me; my heart was crushed. I was ecstatic when the butterfly ripped open and my head started bleeding like a scene from Carrie; I could go home now.
By eighth grade I had grown it out a bit, but still under the "above your collar" rule. I went out for the basketball team. Coach Schneider grabbed the back of my hair and asked, "Just how bad do you want to play, son?" I cut off the extra half-inch and made the team. We lost just about every game, and I developed tendonitis wearing these stupid leg-weights mandated by Coach Schneider. By ninth grade, I told the world to screw itself and grew my hair clean down to my ass.
It was beautiful. At least the girls thought so; it was blonde and feathered and layered just like Farrah Fawcett's, only without the wave. Now, the girls loved it but not like THAT; it wasn't an object of eroticism. It didn't make them want to throw me in the sack and rip off my clothes. I say they loved my hair because they wanted it for themselves, on their own split-ended, Toni-perm-burned heads. As soon as they realized this wasn't possible, they tended to get catty and jealous. What little joy I got from the 'do was the cutting itself. I had somehow managed to flim-flam a senior into cutting it for free. She was a big redheaded Amazon of a girl who tended to rub her enormous breasts on my back much more than she needed to. I remember that her dad had this really cool bathroom covered from floor to ceiling with naked women pictures. Good naked pictures from Hustler and Oui, not Playboy, collaged onto the sheetrock. I made it a point to drink a lot of iced tea before I went to her house. I don't know what she got out of the free haircuts, and I was too stupid back then to even wonder why. The hair looked great, but everyone thought I was a girl.
By the time I was a senior, I had cut it all off as a symbolic gesture. The old pot-smoking underachiever was now a straight-arrow Young Republican, and the David Cassidy look just wouldn't do. It got shorter and shorter as I got older, finally culminating in a straight-back, blow-dried TV preacher 'do. Everyone still thought I looked like a girl, only this time they thought I was a butched-up lesbian. I finally got fed up with all the hassle and hair spray, and decided to return to third grade. I got a crew cut again, at a time when the crew was not popular. A friend thought I was going through chemotherapy. It was the most high-maintenance hair style I've ever had. My head is just too lumpy and scarred up (the big one from the third-grade swing episode is still there) to get that good Marine Corps look. Growing even more tired of the hassle, I grew it out all one length, which is where I have it now.
I call it the Lucas McCain look. You know, The Rifleman. Slicked back when wet, straight when dry. It is absolutely no maintenance; just a little gel and I comb it back. That's it. Everyone still thinks I'm a girl; they don't understand this is The Rifleman's look, for crying out loud. He wasn't a sissy; he killed at least two or three guys in every episode. I guess it's just my baby face; I'll always be mistaken for a woman or for someone much younger. Maybe I should shave my head bald and grow one of those goatee-mustache things. Get that bad-ass parolee look. But I bet that everyone would just think I was a lesbian on hormones waiting for her sex-change operation.
My only struggle, except for the comments, is humidity. It really wreaks havoc on the 'do. Maybe I should move to someplace dry, like Phoenix. Maybe someplace cold, like Minnesota, where the dewpoint is low. And maybe I should just go back to my ninth-grade attitude and not worry about it.
May 7, 2003
I made a vow years ago that if I ever "made it" as a writer, I'd do whatever I could to help other independent writers in their craft. I may not have "made it" yet, but I have had a little success. There are many ways I can do this, but the main way is to share things I've done which have led to some success for me. Another way is to share things I've done which have been total failures. At least with these, writers don't have to repeat the mistakes I've made. I'll call these things my Tips for the Day, borrowed from my second favorite software package, Final Draft. (If you are interested in writing screenplays, you MUST get this software. Not only is it the industry standard, it makes writing the difficult formatting of a screenplay a snap. FYI: Amazon has Final Draft on sale for $60 off, which is $120 less than what I paid for the program in L.A. last December!)
David's Tip of the Day:
If you have a book in print already, run its title through a couple of search engines every month or so. You'll be surprised what you may find. For example, I did this yesterday and found a nice little review on bookcrossing.com. I was turned on to this site by an avid reader out in California, but I had forgotten her tip until I found this review. Bookcrossing is an organization that believes in reading a book, then "releasing it to the wild" in a place like a bookstore, coffee shop, etc., where another reader can find it. They provide stickers that give the web address, where people can post a review or recommendation. Then that reader is to release it again, and the book theoretically can travel all over the world until it becomes too tattered to release again. Now, back to my tip: when you run your title through the search engine, you may see all sorts of places who have reviewed your book, are selling your book, or who worship your book. Also run your name in the search engine; you may be shocked about what you find here, but likely you will find even more links to your book. Follow up these links with an email to the site or to the writer of the review and thank them for their consideration. Also ask them for usage rights if you want to copy their review to your own web site or use it in promotional material.
May 5, 2003
My friend Steve Goldstein at Beneath Los Angeles, knowing I'm a fan of Frank Lloyd Wright, celebrity homicide, and 1940's Hollywood, sent me this link to his latest page on his website. It is a ditty about a new book called Black Dahlia Avenger, written by a retired L.A.P.D. homicide detective who claims his father, a doctor, murdered Elizabeth Short at their Frank Lloyd Wright-built Hollywood home. I guess the growing line of people-who-know-who-really-killed-the-Dahlia-and-wrote-a-book-about-it will one day surpass the Jack the Ripper "cold case" book/movie phenomenon because it was in such the recent past that many people are still alive who could have been there. If you haven't visited Steve's site beneathlosangeles.com from my links page, check him out.
May 4, 2003
Received the reviews from the Writer's Digest Book Awards committee for L.A. Stalker and Cuqui. Didn't win any awards this time, and got a good review on Cuqui. But the review of Stalker was interesting. This is all they wrote:
Wonderful front cover.
Ha ha ha ha! Evidently this particular reviewer fell into the group of people that can't handle the subject matter. Oh, well. I'll send the cudo to the cover artist, Samantha Staskal, so she can use it.
May 1, 2003
A condor shit on me today.
I think it was a condor, anyway, judging from the copious amount of excrement falling from the heavens. Maybe it was a buzzard. Being the curious type, I would have looked up to see what it was exactly, but I was afraid of a secondary attack by the beast: an aviary bunker-buster right in the eye.
The assault was sudden and unprovoked. I was walking back to my office with a little brown-bag lunch and Styrofoam cup of iced tea when I heard a horrible splashing sound, like a cup of water falling to the floor. I felt heat on my face and in my hair. I gazed at my bag lunch; the splatting sound I had heard was actually from the excrement hitting the bag. Damn. A $2.49 turkey sandwich and a Moon Pie were inside. I knew the Moon Pie was hermetically sealed in that aluminum plastic wrap, like an MRE: definitely bird-shit proof. The sandwich was questionable. Can salmonella burrow through Saran Wrap? No, but worms can.
Condors have worms.
The sandwich was headed for the trash. I was thinking how I was going to extricate the Moon Pie from the bag, now dripping with the condor's breakfast. What the hell do condors eat, anyway? It was then that I saw the real damage.
The vile creature had aimed well: most of it hit my face and hair, but a huge splooch had landed on my jacket. Of course, this wasn't a jacket that was one step away from going into the Salvation Army bin. No, this was my mint-condition vintage medium-blue silk herringbone job, probably from 1965 or so, with a notch lapel and a black silk lining. I paid $7 for that jacket at the thrift store; a heavy sum for me to pay for a vintage jacket. I have a dozen of them, and I believe the blue one is the most expensive. So there I am, surveying the damage to my wardrobe as cars stream through downtown, the drivers looking at this poor dork covered with bird poop.
There was really no difficulty in making a decision. In typical Libra fashion, I weighed the problem based on the priorities in my life.
The sandwich and bag went into the trash can. The Moon Pie went in my pants pocket where it drew an admiring glance from more than one puka-shell-necklaced boy walking my way. The tea was still questionable, but I didn't see any green on the straw. I decided to risk it and took a drink: it was hot outside and I was thirsty.
I went to the parking garage, started my Al Qeda-funding 4-wheel-drive Suburban, and headed for my dry cleaners. I told the lady what had happened and she assured me they had the proper facilities to remove condor droppings, even from vintage silk. Excellent. Then I headed home a few blocks away, where I proceeded to wash my hair, my face, and my hand, upon which I had discovered a large patch of excrement that I hadn't felt when it hit me. Maybe my hands were hot. Had the Moon Pie for lunch, took a Cipro to ward off any staphylococcus that had burrowed into my system, and went back to work. Amazingly, it all took less than an hour.
The lesson learned: Don't walk under the un-netted ornamental trees on the way back from the convenience store. Take the path by the bus stop where the winos encamp.
April 30, 2003
I've read plenty of "blogs" lately to get some ideas for mine. They range from the mundane to the twisted, from the self-sacrificing to the hedonistic. I really don't know where I want this one to go. Perhaps, like a good novel, the joy is just to let it take you where you need to go.
I titled this weblog "No Respect" because, except for a very, very few of us, this term describes the life of an independent writer. Writing is art, just like any other art. We paint with words, we sing our song with syntax and imagination. We struggle like all artists do, for money, for fame, for respectů But little if any comes our way. That's fine with me; I didn't start writing to get rich and famous (well, maybe I did but that's for me and my therapist to work out). Fame and riches don't always follow the artist. But the reverse is often true: bad art is often rewarded by our society with plenty of cash and notoriety. If you don't believe this, please explain to me how Britney Spears is now a millionaire.
Even if artists don't receive the fame and fortune they deserve, at least they receive a measure of respect. Except for writers, especially for independent ones like me.
A musician goes to a party. As he chats it up, people may find out he's a musician. A curious partygoer will ask, "So you're a musician; what do you play?"
"Guitar," he replies.
"What kind of music?"
"A little of everything, I guess."
"You in a band?"
"Yeah, it's called Nocturnal Emission."
"What kind of music?"
"Do you play any clubs or stuff?"
"Sure; we play a few gigs here and there."
"Wow. That's really cool. You have a CD?"
"A few demos and a live gig."
"That's great. I'll have to go listen to you play sometime. Good luck to you."
Across the room, a writer is hovering over the bean dip. The partygoer asks, "I hear you're a writer; what do you write?"
"Novels," he replies.
"Wow. I can't even write a letter."
"Neither can I."
"So what have you written?"
"A mystery, a comic novel and a couple of screenplays."
"Can I get them in bookstores?" (For some reason, this question ALWAYS comes up.)
"Uh, yeah; some stores have them."
(Partygoer is thinking: Why don't ALL bookstores have them?) "So, uh, who is your publisher?"
"Isn't that one of those internet things?"
(Partygoer wants to roll his eyes but doesn't want to get his ass kicked) "Oh. Well, good luck to you." Partygoer returns to his clique and utters, "He's not a writer; he's just a hack."
See the difference in perception? The average person has no problem accepting independent musicians, painters, sculptors, actors, and the like. They don't judge them on their connection to fame and fortune. They accept that such artists are in the phase of their careers where they are struggling to find their place in the world. Even though they haven't reached that place, people still accept the artist as an artist, not as a wannabe. The sincerity and abilities of the artist are not questioned. But for some reason, this is not true for writers. People expect a writer to pony up their credentials: a major publishing company contract, a screenplay sold for seven figures, a book on the New York Times Bestseller list, a book on the shelves of every bookstore in the world. Anything short of that, and you are not a "real writer." Believe me, I've had more eyes rolled behind my back (and to my face, for that matter) more times than I dare to count. I've gotten the 'tude from reporters, book store managers, editors, co-workers and even friends. It is just something that happens, and if you want to be a writer, you had better get used to it. I don't know how this came to be. It doesn't really matter. I just have to take it in stride, absorb that negative energy and transfer it to my work. I recharge my batteries with it, rekindle my desire, my drive. So, that explains my second title to this blog:
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