3/31/21

Hump Day Submission Carousel 10

#10: 3/31/21

It's Wednesday, so you know what that means! HUMP DAY SUBMISSIONS! Because it's easy to fall off the submission train during the week I'm presenting you with 3 cool and very different small journals currently open for submissions to save you research time! Pick one of the three journals presented and read some of the pieces in your genre. If you're not digging them, check the next journal. Don't agonize over it, if you're not enjoying the writing or you don't feel your writing would fit in there move along to the next journal. If none of them seem to fit... maybe next week? 

Journal 1Figure One. Figure One is an online journal of innovative poetry. As always read the newest issue. Click here for their submission guidelines. They read no fee submissions via Submittable. "Send us poems, send us sharp-edged word-objects you can’t quite call poems." 


"Figure 1 is a digital poetry journal founded in 2017. We’re committed to writing that reconfigures how we see the world. We aim to publish new and underrepresented voices that push against any slack thinking in the current literary scene."

2021 Writing Exercise Series #90: Three Things, Five Words 10

The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their creative mind stretched and ready to go—fresh for your other writing endeavors. The writing prompts take the impetus—that initial crystal of creation—out of your hands (for the most part) and changes your writing creation into creative problem solving. Instead of being preoccupied with the question "What do I write" you are instead pondering "How do I make this work?" And in the process you are producing new writing.

This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—to keep your brain thinking about using language to solve simple or complex problems. The worst thing you can do is sit there inactive. It's like taking a 5 minute breather in the middle of a spin class—the point is to push, to produce something, however imperfect. If you don't overthink it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

#90
Three Things, Five Words 10
For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which contains the following three things, and these five individual words. The three things should be important to the piece, not just a throwaway reference used because it has to be. This is prompt time, baby! 

If you're not sure where to start, begin by finding a connection between two of the 'things'—whether that is a shared appearance, locale, one of the things might interact with another (or all three), some way that the two are likened or could be physically together. Use one of the things with two of the 'words' in the beginning of the piece and explore for a bit, knowing that you're aiming at the second ''thing' (where the two 'things' have their connection) about 1/3-1/2 of the way through what you imagine the length of the piece (which may be totally off). By then you should have a direction and it's off to the races, with that third 'thing' in your pathway to the finishing line.

'Three Things'
  1. Scissors
  2. A Peach
  3. The Pacific Ocean
'Five Words' 
Include these five words in your piece: 
Fractal, Opal, Beat, Wig, Lip.

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If you'd like some background music to write to, try this ambient guitar mix "In The Branches - Wilderness Time".

3/30/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #89: Erasing Roger Ebert 25 "Oliver"

The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their creative mind stretched and ready to go—fresh for your other writing endeavors. The writing prompts take the impetus—that initial crystal of creation—out of your hands (for the most part) and changes your writing creation into creative problem solving. Instead of being preoccupied with the question "What do I write" you are instead pondering "How do I make this work?" And in the process you are producing new writing.

This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—to keep your brain thinking about using language to solve simple or complex problems. The worst thing you can do is sit there inactive. It's like taking a 5 minute breather in the middle of a spin class—the point is to push, to produce something, however imperfect. If you don't overthink it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

#89
Erasing Roger Ebert 25 "Oliver"

For today's exercise we have split paths for fiction and poetry, though I highly recommend that even fiction writers try the poetry exercise, because erasures can be a blast!

Poetry: For poetry do an erasure or black-out poem from the following:  Roger Ebert's review of the 1968 film "Oliver" (four stars).

Roger Ebert has been the archetypal film critic for decades, and he's written thousands of reviews. Because of their nature, almost their own bit of ekphrastic art, this series of erasures will be lots of fun!

An Erasure/Blackout is really simple: you take the given text and remove many words to make it your own new piece. One way to go about the erasure that I like to do is to copy the text and paste it twice into your document before you start erasing or blacking out (in MS Word set the text background color to black), that way if you get further into the erasure and decide you want a somewhat different tone or direction, it's easy to go to the unaltered version and make the erasure/black-out piece smoother. Another tip is to look for recurring words, in this example 'bingo' occurs multiple times and could be a good touchstone for your piece.

Fiction or (poetry): If you insist on fiction (or just feel like writing a "Title Mania" piece), write a piece with one of these  titles taken from this section:

  1. Sweep and Zest
  2. It will stand the test of time, I guess
  3. A Marvelous Collection of Heroes and Villains
  4. The Movie Should Stop Right There
  5. The Quintessence of Artful Dodgerdom
  6. The Rowdy Life
  7. Cheap Effects


Erasure Selection:

Roger Ebert's review of "Oliver"

Sir Carol Reed's "Oliver!" is a treasure of a movie. It is very nearly universal entertainment, one of those rare films like "The Wizard of Oz" that appeals in many ways to all sorts of people. It will be immediately exciting to the children, I think, because of the story and the unforgettable Dickens characters. Adults will like it for the sweep and zest of its production. And as a work of popular art, it will stand the test of time, I guess. It is as well-made as a film can be.

Not for a moment, I suspect, did Reed imagine he had to talk down to the children in his audience. Not for a moment are the children in the cast treated as children. They're equal participants in the great adventure, and they have to fend for themselves or bloody well get out of the way. This isn't a watered-down lollypop. It's got bite and malice along with the romance and humor.

The basis of its success, perhaps, is that Reed took a long look at the character of Oliver Twist. The problem with Oliver is that he isn't really very interesting, is he? He's a young, noble, naive lad whose main duty in Dickens' novel is to stand about while a marvelous collection of heroes and villains struggle over his destiny.

The weakness in the stage musical "Oliver!," and even in David Lean's film "Oliver Twist" (1948), was that they made too much of Oliver and didn't quite know what to do with him. Reed does; he establishes Oliver as a bright attractive young boy: gives him some scenes so we get to care about him and admire his pluck; and then focuses his movie on the characters who are REALLY interesting: Fagin, Bill Sikes, the Artful Dodger and Nancy. The movie belongs so much to Fagin and the Dodger, in fact, that when we see them marching down the road in their last scene we think the movie should stop right there, instead of giving us a final look at Oliver. Still, Oliver is well acted by Mark Lester (who played the youngest boy in Jack Clayton's "Our Mother's House").

Reed gives us the seedy Underworld of London (with shadows as long and cobblestones as rough as the Vienna of his "The Third Man"). We get Bill Sikes and his mangy dog. We get the rowdy life of the alehouse under an embankment, and we get a Nancy who is, at last, as tough and harshly beautiful as Dickens must have imagined.

And we get Fagin! Ron Moody, who is hardly over 30, has somehow stepped into this character twice his age and made it his own. When he advises Oliver, "You've Got to Pick a Pocket or Two," and when he sings "I'm Reviewing the Situation" he creates a marvelous screen portrait.

The other really memorable characterization is by Jack Wild, the quintessence of Artful Dodgerdom. But the film is strong in casting, and we get a villainous Bill Sikes from Oliver Reed and an unctuous Bumble from Harry Secombe; and Shari Wallis, as Nancy, makes us believe in her difficult, complicated character.

The problem with the roadshow format, as I've observed before, is that the movie has to be longer and more expensive than usual: Those are the ground rules. Many a delightful movie has been ruined by being bloated up to roadshow "standards," and the challenge to a director in this genre is to spend his money wisely and pace his movie well.

"Oliver" succeeds at both. John Box, the designer, has created magnificent sets that reproduce Victorian England in perfect detail --and never to excess. John Green, musical director at M-G-M during its "golden age of musicals" in the late 1940s and early 1950s, was brought in to do the music and has hit the right balance.

"Oliver!" succeeds finally because of its taste. It never stoops for cheap effects and never insults our intelligence. And because we can trust it, we can let ourselves go with it, and we do. It is a splendid experience.

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If you'd like some background music, try this video of Ojibwe Flute with ambient noise.
 

3/29/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #88: Beginning, Middle & End 9

The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their creative mind stretched and ready to go—fresh for your other writing endeavors. The writing prompts take the impetus—that initial crystal of creation—out of your hands (for the most part) and changes your writing creation into creative problem solving. Instead of being preoccupied with the question "What do I write" you are instead pondering "How do I make this work?" And in the process you are producing new writing.

This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—to keep your brain thinking about using language to solve simple or complex problems. The worst thing you can do is sit there inactive. It's like taking a 5 minute breather in the middle of a spin class—the point is to push, to produce something, however imperfect. If you don't overthink it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

#88
Beginning, Middle & End 9

For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which begins with one image, scenario, line of dialog or place, includes another thing or event somewhere beyond the first and before the last stanza/paragraph, and ends with another required 'thing'.

Begin WithA group of teenagers running from the police (or security guards).

Somewhere in the middle: A tennis court appears (but no rackets).

End WithA flowerbed or garden being destroyed.

Extra Credit RequirementsYour title must be exactly 7 words long and somewhere in the final 20 words "Nothing" and "Enveloped" must appear.

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If you'd like some unobtrusive background music try this minimalistic marimba music for meditation.

3/28/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #87: Dueling Six Word Shootout 9

The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their creative mind stretched and ready to go—fresh for your other writing endeavors. The writing prompts take the impetus—that initial crystal of creation—out of your hands (for the most part) and changes your writing creation into creative problem solving. Instead of being preoccupied with the question "What do I write" you are instead pondering "How do I make this work?" And in the process you are producing new writing.

This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—to keep your brain thinking about using language to solve simple or complex problems. The worst thing you can do is sit there inactive. It's like taking a 5 minute breather in the middle of a spin class—the point is to push, to produce something, however imperfect. If you don't overthink it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

#87
Dueling Six Word Shootout 9
For today's writing exercise write a piece that includes one or both of the following sets of 6 words. Don't front-load them all into the beginning of your piece, save at least one or two for somewhere to 'aim' your piece. Remember sestinas have 6 different end-words, but don't let me tell you what to write. Just use all 6 (or twelve) words in a fashion that isn't throw-away. Don't put them in in a way that you'll definitely later edit them out because they don't add to the piece. Make them important. This might require a little brainstorming at first. Don't be afraid, you can do it!

Set 1: 
1) Fleet 
2) Discrete
3) Knee 
4) Leaf 
5) Deplete 
6) Reef

Set 2:
7) Gnat 
8) Plaits 
9) Banshee 
10) Flat
11) Wheat
12) Sleet

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Bonus Exercise: If that's not enough, also include the following three things: A Blender, A Flashlight and Pancakes.
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If you'd like some background music to write to, try this lofi play list "Swing Beats"

3/27/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #86: Title Mania "Happiness" 9

The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their creative mind stretched and ready to go—fresh for your other writing endeavors. The writing prompts take the impetus—that initial crystal of creation—out of your hands (for the most part) and changes your writing creation into creative problem solving. Instead of being preoccupied with the question "What do I write" you are instead pondering "How do I make this work?" And in the process you are producing new writing.

This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—to keep your brain thinking about using language to solve simple or complex problems. The worst thing you can do is sit there inactive. It's like taking a 5 minute breather in the middle of a spin class—the point is to push, to produce something, however imperfect. If you don't overthink it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

#86
Title Mania "Happiness" 9

For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose that utilizes one of the following titles, and if you want extra 'bonus points' also include the three items from below the title list. All of today's poems come from the wonderful poem "Happiness" by Jane Kenyon.

Titles:
  1. Accounting for Happiness
  2. Having Squandered
  3. A Feast in Honor of What was Lost
  4. Happiness Saved
  5. Asleep Midafternoon
  6. Rain Falling on the Open Sea
Bonus Exercise: Three Things
(Your piece must also include the following three 'things', if you choose this option)
  1. An Airplane
  2.  A Monk
  3. A Wine Glass
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If you'd like some background music try electronic artist Elijah Nang's album - Gaijin 外人.

3/26/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #85: Ekphrastic Fantastic 8

The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their creative mind stretched and ready to go—fresh for your other writing endeavors. The writing prompts take the impetus—that initial crystal of creation—out of your hands (for the most part) and changes your writing creation into creative problem solving. Instead of being preoccupied with the question "What do I write" you are instead pondering "How do I make this work?" And in the process you are producing new writing.

This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—to keep your brain thinking about using language to solve simple or complex problems. The worst thing you can do is sit there inactive. It's like taking a 5 minute breather in the middle of a spin class—the point is to push, to produce something, however imperfect. If you don't overthink it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

#85
Ekphrastic Fantastic 8
For today, we're pairing images for you to respond to. The two images will be contrasting and it will be up to you how they can interact, how your writing can make the two pieces of art meet. Or, just pick one of the images and run with it if you'd rather. I'm not here to tell you exactly what to do, just to help you get the ball rolling. But if it was me, I would look for commonalities or how one image could be an imagination or memory or media within the other image, or if they exist in the same 'world', how you can get from one point in space and time to the other. But you do you boo-boo.

Image 1: This digital painting "Rain" by Ukrainian artist Alena Aenami.


Image 2:  This "Magical Powers" digital painting by artist Benjamin Wiesemann.


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How do these two images play off of each other in your mind? Is it the same person in both images? Is it even the same 'world' or is one a fantasy world? Is the boy now grown up, or is he a 'puppetmaster' for the other image? Are they siblings playing on the same day? Grandpa as a child playing in a 'simpler' or 'more magical' time? Something completely different? You decide. Don't overthink it, take a couple minutes perhaps, but dive in and make this happen!

You got this!
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If you'd like background writing music, let's go with this 1960 debut album "South Side Soul" by the John Wright Trio.

3/25/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #84: Between a Fact and an Exact Place 6

The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their creative mind stretched and ready to go—fresh for your other writing endeavors. The writing prompts take the impetus—that initial crystal of creation—out of your hands (for the most part) and changes your writing creation into creative problem solving. Instead of being preoccupied with the question "What do I write" you are instead pondering "How do I make this work?" And in the process you are producing new writing.

This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—to keep your brain thinking about using language to solve simple or complex problems. The worst thing you can do is sit there inactive. It's like taking a 5 minute breather in the middle of a spin class—the point is to push, to produce something, however imperfect. If you don't overthink it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes. 

#84
Between a Fact and an Exact Place 6

For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which contains the following place (either as the setting, referenced or some aspect of it described) and the following fact in some way (its discovery, used as a metaphor, witnessed etc).

Fact: There is a mega-colony of Argentine Ants in Italy that extends for 3700 miles.

As an additional assignment, should you choose to incorporate it, is as follows: Also include the words "Rust" "Fevered" "Grout" "Debt" and "Antlers".

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If you'd like some background music to write to, try the dark ambient album "Drowning" by Japanese artist Steam 汽≈ - 溺死.

3/24/21

Hump Day Submission Carousel 9

#9: 3/24/21

It's Wednesday, so you know what that means! HUMP DAY SUBMISSIONS! Because it's easy to fall off the submission train during the week I'm presenting you with 3 cool and very different small journals currently open for submissions to save you research time! Pick one of the three journals presented and read some of the pieces in your genre. If you're not digging them, check the next journal. Don't agonize over it, if you're not enjoying the writing or you don't feel your writing would fit in there move along to the next journal. If none of them seem to fit... maybe next week? 

Journal 1Mojo. Mojo is the online journal from Wichita State University, they are currently reading all genres for their 19th issue until March 31, 2021. As always read the newest issue. Click here for their submission guidelines. They read no fee submissions via Submittable.




"We’re dedicated to the revolution of literary spaces—the breaking of conventions, the exploration of provocation, the inclusion of all voices. Established, emerging, or identities often marginalized by our society’s narrative—we want your work. Bring on your off-the-wall, genre-mixing, mad-scientist-experimentation of the written word. Bring on your wildest imaginings of just how far you can push form, structure, the foundation of human moments and what it means to share them. Bring on your best. We don’t sacrifice quality for novelty. The best way to see what we’re interested in? Read our past issues."

2021 Writing Exercise Series #83 Micro 101 Episode 07

The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their creative mind stretched and ready to go—fresh for your other writing endeavors. The writing prompts take the impetus—that initial crystal of creation—out of your hands (for the most part) and changes your writing creation into creative problem solving. Instead of being preoccupied with the question "What do I write" you are instead pondering "How do I make this work?" And in the process you are producing new writing.

This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—to keep your brain thinking about using language to solve simple or complex problems. The worst thing you can do is sit there inactive. It's like taking a 5 minute breather in the middle of a spin class—the point is to push, to produce something, however imperfect. If you don't overthink it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

#83
Micro 101 Episode 07

For today's writing exercise you will write a few micro-poems or micro-fictions. These will be either poems under 12 lines or stories under 100 words.

For inspiration go read some micro or hint fiction in this Buzzfeed article, at Microfiction MondayAlbaMolecule50 Word Stories and Nanoism. Or also this Barnstorm blog post "How Microfiction Could Transform Social Media".

Read the full prompt twice before you start writing, because you're looking to keep it minimal, so have ideas. If your first draft is longer don't fret. Hone it down. And the piece will be what it is. I've started out with a goal of 100 words but hit on something and had to cull the end result from 1350 to 1200 for a contest because I loved the result. So each story will be its own beast, but we're ideally aiming for 12 lines or 100-200 words with these.

Micro Exercise 1: Death at a Party. Tell the story of a friend's death at a party by telling about what four other people were doing when the person died, without ever explicitly saying what happened, only hinting at the incident by the details you give about what the person was doing. As in, if the person fell from a balcony/building/height, someone could drop their keys and realized they were too drunk to drive, another person could be waiting for their favorite song's bass drop, something could tumble or whatever, give hints and keep it subtle.
Micro Exercise 2: Blue. Make a list of at least ten items which are a bright blue color. Write a micro piece which uses at least seven of the items you listed, but does not (at least not conspicuously) draw the reader's attention to the items all being blue. That's not to say they can't be described, not at all, but it can't say "and another blue thing is..." if that makes sense.
Micro Exercise 3: Blue Paint. Write a micro which uses at least three of the items not used in Micro #2, as well as someone writing graffiti and a human must swallow something. If that is too open-ended, try to impart upon the reader the theme of rebirth/renewal.
Micro Exercise 4: The Random Riptide. Pick two interesting words from this Random Word Generator. One of those should be in your first sentence and one should be in your last sentence. The narrative of this piece should involve a riptide. If you're not familiar with riptides, watch this short video first and then either literally have a riptide in the piece, or use it as a metaphor.
Micro Exercise 5: The Family Recipe. Write a piece that describes a 'secret family recipe', which includes the basic ingredients for a simple dish, but also implies that there are additional steps/ingredients or that the person teaching the narrator the recipe (or who had taught them in the past, or wrote it down) was not telling the whole truth or was leaving out steps. Make it a piece that touches on family mythology while including legit recipe ingredients or steps mixed in with those bits of family and narrative.

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If you'd like some background music to write to, try the album "A Letter from Slowboat" from the amazing Japanese jazz pianist Ryo Fukui.

3/23/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #82: Erasing EAP "The Premature Burial" 8

 

The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their creative mind stretched and ready to go—fresh for your other writing endeavors. The writing prompts take the impetus—that initial crystal of creation—out of your hands (for the most part) and changes your writing creation into creative problem solving. Instead of being preoccupied with the question "What do I write" you are instead pondering "How do I make this work?" And in the process you are producing new writing.

This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—to keep your brain thinking about using language to solve simple or complex problems. The worst thing you can do is sit there inactive. It's like taking a 5 minute breather in the middle of a spin class—the point is to push, to produce something, however imperfect. If you don't overthink it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes. 

#82
Erasing EAP "The Premature Burial" 8

For today's exercise we have split paths for fiction and poetry, though I highly recommend that even fiction writers try the poetry exercise, because erasures can be a blast!

For poetry do an erasure or black-out poem from the following selection of Edgar Allen Poe's 1850 short story "The Premature Burial".

Edgar Allen Poe is considered by some to be the writer that solidified the short story genre as, well, a genre. Not the first writer of short stories, or even popular short stories, but he wrote enough of them that with the stories of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Charles Dickens, Irving Washington and others, critics were finally like—fine. Short stories can be a thing.

An Erasure/Blackout is really simple: you take the given text and remove many words to make it your own new piece. One way to go about the erasure that I like to do is to copy the text and paste it twice into your document before you start erasing or blacking out (in MS Word set the text background color to black), that way if you get further into the erasure and decide you want a somewhat different tone or direction, it's easy to go to the unaltered version and make the erasure/black-out piece smoother. Another tip is to look for recurring words, or themes.


THIS IS THE FINAL SECTION!!!!

The next time we're erasing Edgar Allen Poe it will be a different short story. It's been a long ride with The Premature Burial", and I'm excited to start a brand new one as well as to wrap up this series. If you insist on fiction (or if one of these strikes you), write a piece with one of these titles taken from this section:

  1. A Long, Wild, and Continuous Shriek
  2. The Subterranean Night
  3. Without Ceremony
  4. A Small Sloop Lying at Anchor
  5. The Crew of the Sloop
  6. I Burned
  7. The Semblance of a Hell  


Erasure Selection:

from "The Premature Burial"

As this awful conviction forced itself, thus, into the innermost chambers of my soul, I once again struggled to cry aloud. And in this second endeavor I succeeded. A long, wild, and continuous shriek, or yell of agony, resounded through the realms of the subterranean Night.

"Hillo! hillo, there!" said a gruff voice, in reply.

"What the devil's the matter now!" said a second.

"Get out o' that!" said a third.

"What do you mean by yowling in that ere kind of style, like a cattymount?" said a fourth; and hereupon I was seized and shaken without ceremony, for several minutes, by a junto of very rough-looking individuals. They did not arouse me from my slumber -- for I was wide awake when I screamed -- but they restored me to the full possession of my memory.

This adventure occurred near Richmond, in Virginia. Accompanied by a friend, I had proceeded, upon a gunning expedition, some miles down the banks of the James River. Night approached, and we were overtaken by a storm. The cabin of a small sloop lying at anchor in the stream, and laden with garden mould, afforded us the only available shelter. We made the best of it, and passed the night on board. I slept in one of the only two berths in the vessel -- and the berths of a sloop of sixty or twenty tons need scarcely be described. That which I occupied had no bedding of any kind. Its extreme width was eighteen inches. The distance of its bottom from the deck overhead was precisely the same. I found it a matter of exceeding difficulty to squeeze myself in. Nevertheless, I slept soundly, and the whole of my vision -- for it was no dream, and no nightmare -- arose naturally from the circumstances of my position -- from my ordinary bias of thought -- and from the difficulty, to which I have alluded, of collecting my senses, and especially of regaining my memory, for a long time after awaking from slumber. The men who shook me were the crew of the sloop, and some laborers engaged to unload it. From the load itself came the earthly smell. The bandage about the jaws was a silk handkerchief in which I had bound up my head, in default of my customary nightcap.

The tortures endured, however, were indubitably quite equal for the time, to those of actual sepulture. They were fearfully -- they were inconceivably hideous; but out of Evil proceeded Good; for their very excess wrought in my spirit an inevitable revulsion. My soul acquired tone -- acquired temper. I went abroad. I took vigorous exercise. I breathed the free air of Heaven. I thought upon other subjects than Death. I discarded my medical books. "Buchan" I burned. I read no "Night Thoughts" -- no fustian about churchyards -- no bugaboo tales -- such as this. In short, I became a new man, and lived a man's life. From that memorable night, I dismissed forever my charnel apprehensions, and with them vanished the cataleptic disorder, of which, perhaps, they had been less the consequence than the cause.

There are moments when, even to the sober eye of Reason, the world of our sad Humanity may assume the semblance of a Hell -- but the imagination of man is no Carathis, to explore with impunity its every cavern. Alas! the grim legion of sepulchral terrors cannot be regarded as altogether fanciful -- but, like the Demons in whose company Afrasiab made his voyage down the Oxus, they must sleep, or they will devour us -- they must be suffered to slumber, or we perish.

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As your background music sommelier I've chosen Vangelis to pair with your "Erasing The Premature Burial" series. For this sampling I've selected Vangelis' soundtrack to the 1981 movie "Chariots of Fire".

3/22/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #81: Rhymebank Rounds 4

The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their creative mind stretched and ready to go—fresh for your other writing endeavors. The writing prompts take the impetus—that initial crystal of creation—out of your hands (for the most part) and changes your writing creation into creative problem solving. Instead of being preoccupied with the question "What do I write" you are instead pondering "How do I make this work?" And in the process you are producing new writing.

This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—to keep your brain thinking about using language to solve simple or complex problems. The worst thing you can do is sit there inactive. It's like taking a 5 minute breather in the middle of a spin class—the point is to push, to produce something, however imperfect. If you don't overthink it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes. This may be pushing 40 unless you're really writing fast, but writing fast is the goal.

#81
Rhymebank Rounds 4
Rhymbank Rounds are a new type of exercise. Kind of like the Sentence Calisthenics, but there will be more focus on fragments instead of full sentences, and you'll complete a piece, with the main focus of the exercises being on Like Sounds. Save your sentences with your Sentence Calisthenics raw writing for later harvesting. The timer settings you'll be using today are (in minutes) 3, 3, 10, 5, 5, 7. 

Before you start each timer reread the set's guidelines at least 3-5 times so you are sure what you're doing and don't have to waste time checking.

SET 1: Take three (3) minutes and jot down/type all rhymes and slant rhymes (include phrases for multi-syllabic words/feminine rhymes) you can think of just off the top of your head for the word: Beat. If you have trouble getting more than ten or so remember to rhyme with Bead, Beak and Beep. You want to have close to thirty (30) words (when possible) even if they're only kind of rhyming.
SET 2: Now take another three (3) minutes and brainstorm rhymes for Sew. Be sure you get at least fifteen (15), but aim for thirty (30) again.
SET 3: Fragment time! Take ten (10) minutes and write down six (6) sentence fragments which use two words from one of your lists and at least one from the other list (so something like "The new A/C deleted the heat when set to low." would work).
SET 4: Fragment time 2! Take five (5) minutes and write at least six (6) 5-word partial sentences that use at least two (2) words from only one of your lists. Don't worry about context or what might be being said, just make sure you can make some logic of the phrasing.
SET 5: Short fragment time! Write five (5) three-word partial sentences which use two (2) words from one of your rhymebanks back to back. No dawdling, but try to switch it up and use words you hadn't yet if you can. An example would be "From deep sleep" or "a neat streak".
SET 6: Fragment time! Take seven (7) minutes and write ten (10) 5-7 word fragments that include a vegetable and two words from either of your lists (you can do one from each for this one).
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Poem or story time!
  1. Rhymed Poem: Write a poem that is 16 lines in eight couplets with the rhyme scheme AB AB AB CB CB CB AC AA. Try to use fragments from the previous exercises and even the rhymebank itself to fill out your poem with as many 'like' sounds as you can within the lines. Use at least five of your fragments, if not more like eight to ten of them. Start your poem by picking your fragments and determining your rhymes. Don't write to the end words every time, like swinging a golf club or bat, follow through that line break with what's called enjambment and it will be more smooth/organic.
  2. Free form narrative: Pick your ten favorite fragments and find a way to fit those pieces together. What do I mean by fit them together? I mean that you're required to use ten of the fragments you'd written in a coherent piece by adding connective tissue and exposition/whatever needs to get you narratively from one line to the next. Whether you write this as a story or a poem is up to you. Think of it like a 100 piece puzzle which is missing 85 pieces, but you still want to make a picture from it. Take what you have, and create the rest by filling in the missing places.
  3. Title Mania: Write a piece that uses your favorite fragment from #4 or #5 as your title.
  4. Randomize: Pick your favorite ten fragments, and six words from the rhymebanks, either or both. Type Random Number Generator into google and randomize 3 numbers from 1-10. The corresponding lines must be used in your piece. Next, pick 6 strong words from either of your rhymebanks. Randomize 2 words from that list of 6 using 1-6, you must use both of those words in your title, no matter how strange it seems at first. Now make it work.
  5. Beginning and Ending: Pick your two favorite sentences or fragments—those will serve as your first and last sentences in some shape. Polish them up and expand/cut down however you need to in order to facilitate that beginning and ending.
  6. Short Rhymed Poem: Write a poem that is 8 lines long with the rhyme scheme AABBCCAA, which includes two emdashes (—) and at least three of your fragments/sentences. If that's too open-ended, also set your poem in the kitchen during the morning.
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If you'd like some background music that's a little trippier, let's go with acid jazz legend, American trumpeter David Byrd's 1972 album Ethiopian Knights.

3/21/21

2021 Writing Exercise Series #80 The Fire... Anaphora—Repetition Files 2

 

The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their creative mind stretched and ready to go—fresh for your other writing endeavors. The writing prompts take the impetus—that initial crystal of creation—out of your hands (for the most part) and changes your writing creation into creative problem solving. Instead of being preoccupied with the question "What do I write" you are instead pondering "How do I make this work?" And in the process you are producing new writing.

This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—to keep your brain thinking about using language to solve simple or complex problems. The worst thing you can do is sit there inactive. It's like taking a 5 minute breather in the middle of a spin class—the point is to push, to produce something, however imperfect. If you don't overthink it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

#80
The Fire... Anaphora—Repetition Files 2
For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which focuses on repetition. In this instance we will work with anaphora. It's a handy little bit of poetic craft that goes a little something like this:

the repetition of a word or words at the beginning of successive phrases, clauses, or lines to create a sonic effect.
Take a moment and read the above-linked Poetry Foundation article, even if you know the term. For even more fun check out this longer article called Adventures in Anaphora.

Your mission is to use the following phrase to begin at least 4 sentences.

The word or phrase we'll use for our exercise today is:

"The fire..." 

    There are a number of ways you could approach this bit of anaphora—is 'the fire' a destructive force or a lifesaving one? Is it just one fire or the concept of fire? Is Prometheus getting involved here? Just be sure that the repeated phrase earns its worth in your piece, and it should in some way build upon what came before it. The repetition should be necessary and not merely redundant.


    Bonus Exercise:
     Include these five words into your piece "Bolivia" "Vice" "Doll" "Flexed" and "Paneled".
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    If you'd like some background music to write to, try this "Inside is a Weak Soul" lofi mix.. 
     

    3/20/21

    2021 Writing Exercise Series #79: How to... 4

    The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their creative mind stretched and ready to go—fresh for your other writing endeavors. The writing prompts take the impetus—that initial crystal of creation—out of your hands (for the most part) and changes your writing creation into creative problem solving. Instead of being preoccupied with the question "What do I write" you are instead pondering "How do I make this work?" And in the process you are producing new writing.

    This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—to keep your brain thinking about using language to solve simple or complex problems. The worst thing you can do is sit there inactive. It's like taking a 5 minute breather in the middle of a spin class—the point is to push, to produce something, however imperfect. If you don't overthink it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

    #79
    How to... 4

    For today's prompt we are focusing on imperative directional pieces. What does that mean? A "How to"! You don't have to title your piece "How to ..." (though you certainly can if you'd like to), you could write a prose piece that merely includes someone giving another directions or you could make it a step by step process like a recipe, however you want to interpret the prompt, the process that is the 'how to' should merely be described at some length during your piece, in some fashion. 

    For a couple examples of "How to" pieces. "How to Get There" by Philip Levine, "How to tie a knot" by James Kimbrell, the villanelle "The Grammar Lesson" by Steve Kowit, Mónica de la Torre's wonderful "How to Look at Mexican Highways". and the awesome short story "How to Write a True War Story" by Tim O'Brien.

    How toDeny an Obvious Truth.

    Extra Credit RequirementsYour piece must include a celebrity animal, and within the first 25 words a texture must be described.

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    If you'd like some unobtrusive background music try jazz guitarist Ed Bickert's 1975 album "Live at George's".

    3/19/21

    2021 Writing Exercise Series #78: Three Things, Five Words 9

    The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their creative mind stretched and ready to go—fresh for your other writing endeavors. The writing prompts take the impetus—that initial crystal of creation—out of your hands (for the most part) and changes your writing creation into creative problem solving. Instead of being preoccupied with the question "What do I write" you are instead pondering "How do I make this work?" And in the process you are producing new writing.

    This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—to keep your brain thinking about using language to solve simple or complex problems. The worst thing you can do is sit there inactive. It's like taking a 5 minute breather in the middle of a spin class—the point is to push, to produce something, however imperfect. If you don't overthink it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

    #78
    Three Things, Five Words 9
    For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which contains the following three things, and these five individual words. The three things should be important to the piece, not just a throwaway reference used because it has to be. This is prompt time, baby! 

    If you're not sure where to start, begin by finding a connection between two of the 'things'—whether that is a shared appearance, locale, one of the things might interact with another (or all three), some way that the two are likened or could be physically together. Use one of the things with two of the 'words' in the beginning of the piece and explore for a bit, knowing that you're aiming at the second ''thing' (where the two 'things' have their connection) about 1/3-1/2 of the way through what you imagine the length of the piece (which may be totally off). By then you should have a direction and it's off to the races, with that third 'thing' in your pathway to the finishing line.

    'Three Things'
    1. A Great Dane (dog)
    2. Popcorn
    3. A Lawn Mower
    'Five Words' 
    Include these five words in your piece: 
    Droop, Clueless, Foal, Waiver, Denigrate.

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    If you'd like some background music to write to, try this "Zelda and Chill 2" lofi mix.

    3/18/21

    2021 Writing Exercise Series #77: Inspired By 6... "Stage 4"

    The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their creative mind stretched and ready to go—fresh for your other writing endeavors. The writing prompts take the impetus—that initial crystal of creation—out of your hands (for the most part) and changes your writing creation into creative problem solving. Instead of being preoccupied with the question "What do I write" you are instead pondering "How do I make this work?" And in the process you are producing new writing.

    This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—to keep your brain thinking about using language to solve simple or complex problems. The worst thing you can do is sit there inactive. It's like taking a 5 minute breather in the middle of a spin class—the point is to push, to produce something, however imperfect. If you don't overthink it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

    #77
    Inspired By 6... "Stage 4"

    For today's writing exercise you will first read a short piece of writing, and then respond using one of the following prompts. 

    Today's inspiring piece of writing is the powerful poem "Stage 4" by the poet Whittney Jones. This poem was published in the first issue of the journal Red Tree Review.

    Seriously. Go read it. It's short. I'll wait.

    I mean it, jumping right to the prompts will be borderline pointless as they won't have context. It's a 1 minute read, you got this.

    This is lovely poem about differences in upbringings, class perhaps, but also about fruit and scarcity. The language is accessible while still evocative. Okay, now that you've ACTUALLY READ the poem, let's write something.

    1. Object: Write a piece in which a bird's nest is very important.
    2. Titles: Write a piece using one of the following titles selected from the piece:
    1) The Brown-Headed Cowbird 2) Relapse 3) Brood Parasites 4) Hoping They Won't Notice 5) Allowed to Grow 6) They Were Killers 
    3. FormPoetry—Write a piece of poetry that is 11 lines, with five couplets and one final line on its own, with a two word title. Fiction—write a flash fiction that tells a small, sad narrative while preoccupied with a science or nature fact that serves as an extended metaphor. The narrative, or what the story is really 'about' should be told very subtle like in "Stage 4". Iceberg stories.
    4. Wordbank: A cross between a cento and an erasure, you can think of this as being like magnetic poetry on a refrigerator. Copy the text from the poem and paste it into a word document. Create a new piece using only words from that 'bank', when you use a word, highlight it in the bank and either 'strikethrough' or add a black background so you don't use a word twice. You'll likely have some words left over but that's ok.
    5. Beginning Middle & End: Using the same 'things' from the piece's beginning/middle/end. For today begin your piece with a Bird's Nest, in the middle there must be the appearance of A Marble, and in the end we must get A Wake (either a 'wave of disturbed water or air caused by something moving through it' or a vigil for someone recently passed), however you get from one to the other, make it your own.

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    If you'd like some unobtrusive background music try the lofi mix "Deep within the Forest".

    3/17/21

    Hump Day Submission Carousel 8

    #8: 3/17/21

    It's Wednesday, so you know what that means! HUMP DAY SUBMISSIONS! Because it's easy to fall off the submission train during the week I'm presenting you with 3 cool and very different small journals currently open for submissions to save you research time! Pick one of the three journals presented and read some of the pieces in your genre. If you're not digging them, check the next journal. Don't agonize over it, if you're not enjoying the writing or you don't feel your writing would fit in there move along to the next journal. If none of them seem to fit... maybe next week? 

    Journal 1Off the Coast. Off the Coast is a biannual poetry journal published out of Maine on June 15th and November 15th. As always read the newest issue to get a feel for their aesthetic which is eclectic but (in my experience) OtC leans a bit to the accessible side, and they have a soft spot for translations.



    "At Off the Coast, our mission is to be Maine's international poetry magazine. We believe small presses and literary magazines are the lifeblood and testing ground for all writers. A handful of writers break through to major houses, but a much larger voice would go unheard if not for small presses and literary magazines. We aim to provide space for diverse voices, particularly poetry in translation."

    2021 Writing Exercise Series #76: Erasing Roger Ebert 24 "Critters"

    The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their creative mind stretched and ready to go—fresh for your other writing endeavors. The writing prompts take the impetus—that initial crystal of creation—out of your hands (for the most part) and changes your writing creation into creative problem solving. Instead of being preoccupied with the question "What do I write" you are instead pondering "How do I make this work?" And in the process you are producing new writing.

    This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—to keep your brain thinking about using language to solve simple or complex problems. The worst thing you can do is sit there inactive. It's like taking a 5 minute breather in the middle of a spin class—the point is to push, to produce something, however imperfect. If you don't overthink it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

    #76
    Erasing Roger Ebert 24 "Critters"

    For today's exercise we have split paths for fiction and poetry, though I highly recommend that even fiction writers try the poetry exercise, because erasures can be a blast!

    Poetry: For poetry do an erasure or black-out poem from the following:  Roger Ebert's review of the 1986 film "Critters" (three stars).

    Roger Ebert has been the archetypal film critic for decades, and he's written thousands of reviews. Because of their nature, almost their own bit of ekphrastic art, this series of erasures will be lots of fun!

    An Erasure/Blackout is really simple: you take the given text and remove many words to make it your own new piece. One way to go about the erasure that I like to do is to copy the text and paste it twice into your document before you start erasing or blacking out (in MS Word set the text background color to black), that way if you get further into the erasure and decide you want a somewhat different tone or direction, it's easy to go to the unaltered version and make the erasure/black-out piece smoother. Another tip is to look for recurring words, in this example 'bingo' occurs multiple times and could be a good touchstone for your piece.

    Fiction or (poetry): If you insist on fiction (or just feel like writing a "Title Mania" piece), write a piece with one of these  titles taken from this section:

    1. Perfect Fools
    2. Trigger-Happy
    3. Little Bowling Balls with Dozens of Rows of Sharp Teeth
    4. Terrorizing the Countryside
    5. Equally Dubious
    6. In his Territory
    7. Roll Away


    Erasure Selection:

    Roger Ebert's review of "Critters"

    If perfect fools can hold driver's licenses, why can't creatures from outer space be just as dumb? And if they are bounty hunters, why shouldn't they be trigger-happy, firing at everything that moves, like a television set, for example? We always assume that visitors from other worlds will be far more intelligent than we are, but maybe they'll just turn out to have faster means of intergalactic travel.

    In the opening scenes of "Critters," a spaceship is approaching a barren asteroid that has been converted into a prison. It is carrying on board several of the dreaded Krites, who are furry little bowling balls with dozens of rows of sharp teeth. The Krites escape, take over the ship and land on Earth. And bounty hunters follow them here, while the nasty little critters are terrorizing the countryside.

    What this gives us is a truly ambitious ripoff of not one but four recent science-fiction movies: "Gremlins," "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial" (1982), "The Terminator" and "Starman." We get the critters from "Gremlins," and from "Starman" we get the notion that an alien can assume the outward appearance of a human being. (That is a particularly attractive quality for an alien, especially in a low-budget picture, because then you can hire an actor and claim he is inhabited by an alien and you can save a lot of money on special effects.) From "E. T.," there is Dee Wallace Stone, who played Henry Thomas's mother in that film. Here she is the equally dubious and harried mother of young Scott Grimes, a plucky kid who goes into battle against the invaders.

    The movie takes place in a small town and the surrounding countryside, where the vicious little furballs start attacking everything that moves. They have a lot of tricks at their command: They can eat you like a piranha, shoot darts at you from their foreheads, and curl up into a ball and roll away.

    That leads up to the big scene in the bowling alley, where we expect that someone's going to reach down and pick up a critter instead of a ball. But as it turns out, that scene contains other surprises.

    We meet the folks in the area. There's the friendly farmer (Billy Green Bush), his wife (Stone), son (Grimes) and daughter (Nadine Van Der Velde). They live on a farm that gives the critters their first haven, and there's the obligatory scary scene where the father goes down in the basement with his flashlight to see what's making the noise.

    Meanwhile, the local lawman (that dependably slimy character actor M. Emmet Walsh) notices that strange things are happening in his territory. Two strangers from out of town have turned up and started to blast everybody away. And dang if one of them doesn't look exactly like the local minister! The other one soon assumes the outward appearance of the village idiot.

    All of these plot threads move inexorably toward the final showdown, but what's interesting is the way the movie refuses to be just a thriller. The director, Stephen Herek, likes to break the mood occasionally with a one-liner out of left field, and he gives the critters some of the funniest lines. What makes "Critters" more than a ripoff are its humor and its sense of style. This is a movie made by people who must have had fun making it.

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    If you'd like some background music, let's get jazzy again with pianist Ahmad Jamal's 1961 album "Jamal at the Pershing" album.
     

    3/16/21

    2021 Writing Exercise Series #75 Micro 101 Episode 06

    The 2021 Writing Series is a series of daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep their creative mind stretched and ready to go—fresh for your other writing endeavors. The writing prompts take the impetus—that initial crystal of creation—out of your hands (for the most part) and changes your writing creation into creative problem solving. Instead of being preoccupied with the question "What do I write" you are instead pondering "How do I make this work?" And in the process you are producing new writing.

    This is not a standard writing session. This is pure production—to keep your brain thinking about using language to solve simple or complex problems. The worst thing you can do is sit there inactive. It's like taking a 5 minute breather in the middle of a spin class—the point is to push, to produce something, however imperfect. If you don't overthink it, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

    #75
    Micro 101 Episode 06

    For today's writing exercise you will write a few micro-poems or micro-fictions. These will be either poems under 12 lines or stories under 100 words.

    For inspiration go read some micro or hint fiction in this Buzzfeed article, at Microfiction MondayAlba, Molecule, 50 Word Stories and Nanoism. Or also this Barnstorm blog post "How Microfiction Could Transform Social Media".

    Read the full prompt twice before you start writing, because you're looking to keep it minimal, so have ideas. If your first draft is longer don't fret. Hone it down. And the piece will be what it is. I've started out with a goal of 100 words but hit on something and had to cull the end result from 1350 to 1200 for a contest because I loved the result. So each story will be its own beast, but we're ideally aiming for 12 lines or 100-200 words with these.

    Micro Exercise 1: Road Trip Incident. Someone on a road trip made a small mistake which could 'snowball' and result in a life-altering incident. Whether that is not changing the car's oil, not getting gas, angering another driver, driving over a pothole instead of going around it etc. Begin the piece with that mistake (not explaining what goes wrong), then list 3 things which could have 'gone wrong' but which hadn't. Whether that's like a meteorite striking, traffic accident, whether it's ridiculous or plausible, write them in a way that tells the reader that the first thing that did happen was important, similarly to those things that didn't happen. When the list is done, give us a snapshot of the character in the aftermath of the incident, the details should be sparse but still clue us into what happened at least to some extent. End on a positive note even if it is a dark one.
    Micro Exercise 2: Orange. Make a list of at least ten items which are orange. Write a micro piece which uses at least seven of the items you listed, but does not (at least not conspicuously) draw the reader's attention to the items all being orange. That's not to say they can't be described, not at all, but it can't say "and another orange thing is..." if that makes sense.
    Micro Exercise 3: Orange Duck. Write a micro which uses at least three of the items not used in Micro #2, as well as melting chocolate and the image of two ducks floating on a pond. If that is too open-ended, try to impart upon the reader the theme of beauty being fleeting/temporal.
    Micro Exercise 4: The Long Random Stairway. Pick two interesting words from this Random Word Generator. One of those should be in your first sentence and one should be in your last sentence. The narrative of this piece should be someone walking up a very large set of stairs (perhaps absurdly large), with something on their mind. Do they pass someone on the stairway? Is it a dark and foggy night lit by 'streetlights' or perhaps in a building or out of a subway tunnel. You pick, but keep it brief and make sure your details work both toward the actual narrative and the theme/subtext, whatever you decide that is.
    Micro Exercise 5: Nicknames and Hobbies. Write a piece that entirely a list of nicknames a character has as they age. Include some childish, some mean, at least a couple hyphenates that were likely not nicknames so much as insults that the character heard a few times (Tim-who-can't-put-the-toilet-seat-down-Jones, etc). Give the character a hobby that they are occasionally picked on throughout their life for, but while it's mean when they're young it becomes affectionate or impressed-with later, implying that they had something which they loved that they excelled in eventually. Yeah, that's nice.

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    If you'd like some background music to write to, try this "All Just a Lie" lofi mix.