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My life for a screen. But it's worth it. Maybe?

My life for a screen. But it’s worth it. Maybe?

Come and go
This blogging thing: really, what’s it all about?  The blog-shaped hole in the universe that you’re currently in came into existence back in mid-2009 and somehow it’s still chugging along.  I’ve seen some truly brilliant blogs come and go; for whatever reason, the blogger has decided to end it all.  I, too, have thought of throwing in the towel – many times, in fact.  But then I think of the people I’ve met, the conversations had, and the points of view and life experience shared, and I realise that there’s no real harm in continuing on.  Perhaps I also like the fact that Under the counter of a flutter in the dovecot (which is still officially the most ridiculous name in all of the blogosphere) is archived by the National Library of Australia.  What’s been created here will exist forever.  In theory.

The pieces
Across the years I’ve often wondered about the point of a blog like this one.  It’s partly a depository of pieces I write for the Canberra Times and related Fairfax publications; if the house burns down and I lose the physical file of clippings there will always be the digital copies kept here.  Then there are the outrageously self-serving updates on my adventures in Fiction Land – frankly, they rarely sit comfortably with me, but writing and publishing literature, especially in Australia, is too difficult to justify being a wallflower.  Then there are the brief, diary-like flashes about my home or my hometown or the writing life.  Then there are the reviews, mostly of albums that I’ve bought and I want to talk about – some of the albums I’ve loved, others not so much, but I still want to work out what I think by writing about them.  Have I ever mentioned how hard it is to write about music?  It’s near impossible!  Finally, sometimes I post collages or simply photos with captions. When I’m all out of words.

For the stumblers
Does all this add up to much?  I’m not sure it does.  But for the bugger who produces it all there’s still some enjoyment to be had, and I sincerely hope there’s still enjoyment to be had for those who stumble here.

Lashings of thanks
As others have noted, what keeps a blogger going are the comments, many – most – of which have been amazingly thoughtful and thought-provoking.  So thank you to everyone who’s commented.  What surprises me even more are the subscribers, some of who have been with the blog from day one.  So here are lashings of gratitude to each and every one of you for following UTCOAFITD – I appreciate it very much.  I do hope you get something out of what’s posted and the comments that generated.  All writing, even if it’s fiction, is an exchange of information.  I just hope that you enjoy the exchange that happens here.

All the best, till next week. Unless I get hit by a bus.

Let’s be honest: when all this started I had no idea what I was doing.  But it’s best we go back a bit.

In the autumn of 2009, I spent a month as an artist-in-residence at Bundanon, Arthur and Yvonne Boyd’s gift to the Australian people on the Shoalhaven River just south of Sydney.  On the last night the other artists and I had a few drinks and shared stories of our time in the glorious creative isolation as well handed out business cards and email addresses and website URLs.  I had none of those things – really, how committed was I to writing?  By the time I’d driven home, I resolved to at least get the internet put on at home and set up an email address.

By October of that year, I had indeed got these things, but I also had a website designed, and I set up this blog.  I knew next to nothing about blogging other than it might be a good way of sharing news, if, that is, anyone was interested.  So here we are, in October 2012 and it seems almost impossible to believe that Under the counter or a flutter in a dovecot (which is, to be frank, a ridiculous name for a blog, a ridiculous name for anything) is heading into its fourth year.

It’s probably as good a time as any to reflect on the positives and challenges, so let’s do it, the reflection thing.

On the whole, I’ve enjoyed my time in the blogosphere, even if most of the online energy appears to have shifted to Facebook and Twitter, leaving blogs to feel just a little old-fashioned, which to a certain extent suits me fine because I’m an old-fashioned kind of guy.  Thankfully, when I started this thing, I promised that I’d post only once per week, and I’ve kept to that, more or less.  Is it true that at the beginning I had no idea what I was doing?  Yes, it’s true, and I still might have no idea, although I have come to think of this blog as a diary that I write with other people in mind.  But it’s not a personal diary; I’ve been fairly keen to focus on writing and literature, music, other arts activity, and some quirky investigations into those little things that happen in a day that might have deeper meanings.  Like the last days of a chook.

I’ve enjoyed asking myself during the week, what will I post this weekend, what’s happened or happening that others might be intrigued about?  There’s a discipline to that, on a number of levels.  I’ve also found it fun to try out different things: writing music reviews (which is surprisingly difficult), trying to approach technology in new and weird ways (the On the other side of the city ‘survey’, and what sprung from it, has been a highlight), and it’s good to know that every one of the fifty or so First Word columns that I’ve written for The Canberra Times is stored here, and the features I’ve written have also had a second life online, meaning that the artists I’ve interviewed have been able to link to them (The Canberra Times has only very recently made Panorama, the paper’s weekend magazine, available electronically).

Plus there’s been the great pleasure of getting to know a number of the regular readers of Under the counter – all of whom, it’s amazing to realise, aren’t from my real-world community, some are even from overseas.  In a way, you are modern-day Pen Friends, or maybe that should be Keyboard Friends.  Some of you have become significant contributors to Verity La, that other part of my online life, and for that I thank you.  And, of course, there’s the handful of blogs that I comment on regularly, because the posts are frequently excellent and thought-provoking – have a look at the blog-roll to the left for the links.  Some of these blogs, for example Whispering Gums, are becoming influential, particularly in the funny little world that is literature, and that’s a great thing – a strong and sophisticated writing culture comes from articulate and erudite public discussion about creative practice (even if that observation and the sentence make me sound like a wanker).

What about the challenges?  There have been times, it’s true, when I’ve been all out of ideas, though this can also be a positive, as it’s forced me to still produce something, even if it’s a hastily put-together collage that looks like a six-year-old did it.  A key part of my blogging routine is commenting on other blogs – I can hardly expect readers to comment on this blog if I don’t comment other blogs.  Do comments matter?  Yes, they matter.  I do want to know what people think; I do want to know if readers have been moved, and a comment is a sure sign of that.  I’d like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for commenting – it’s made my day.  But it can be exhausting – and time-consuming – to find posts that I want to absorb and comment on.

It was – and continues to be – most gratifying that the National Library of Australia selected Under the counter for archiving in-perpetuity (if that isn’t a tautology) as part of its PANDORA program.  To think that maybe, just maybe, a researcher will stumble across this little old place in a hundred years time is a bit special.  There’s no doubt that without the commenters commenting and the National Library’s interest I would have stopped long ago – there’s only so often you can call out into the digital abyss.  And there have been times when I’ve wondered if the end might be in sight; in fact, to be completely frank, I can see the end right now.  I won’t keep this blog going forever, nor should it just keep rolling on and on and on.  But I’m not done just yet; there’s a bit more fuel in the tank, even if the engine’s developed a rattle.

Many many thanks again, and here’s to a bit more Under the counter or a flutter in the dovecot.  For the time-being at least.

It’s 8.15, Sunday morning.  Outside there are just a few wispy strips of cloud in an otherwise perfect blue sky, the sort of sky only my country can do.  There are still leaves on the trees, but there’s some yellowing at the edges.  It’s crisp out there, as in the temperature is low, probably around five degrees, which is nothing – in a couple of months it will be minus five, or less, much less.  So here I am, in the dining room, where I am writing this post by hand.  I have the heater on, and three layers of tops, and tracksuit pants, and ugg-boots, but that’s already too much information, isn’t it.

The fact is that I can’t wait to get outside.  There’s a chook-yard to clean, and a veggie-patch that’s starting to look just a little bit sad and sorry for itself – the basil’s long gone, and the tomatoes only have a week to go before they’ll be done and dusted.  Most of all, however, I want to plant bulbs, yes, daffodils, jonquils, snow-drops and more.  Despite this house being 120 years old, there wasn’t much garden when I moved in; the place would have been decimated by decades of searing summers and pitiless winters, and, far too regularly, drought.  But I’m getting it together, it’s a cottage garden now, I think that’s what I’ve created.

But here I am at the dining-room table, writing this post, because that’s what I do first thing every Sunday morning.

This time three years ago I didn’t have the internet at home, not even a private email address that I could access from someone else’s computer.  It was when on residence at Bundanon on the Shoalhaven River that during the final-night celebration the other artists handed out business cards with details of their on-line lives.  On the drive home I resolved to at least get an email account – how much of a professional writer could I be without it?

Within months, I had not only an email address, but also Open to Public, my formal web home, if that’s what it is, and Under the counter, which quickly became Under the counter or a flutter in the dovecot.  And then I started Verity La, and then the Childers Group, an arts advocacy body, which, of course, needed a site.  And then bloody wretched Facebook reared its ugly head; I signed up because I’d been invited to participate in a writing project and the only way the organiser would communicate was through FB, those initials sounding like those of a close friend, but that’s hardly the case.

This week I realised that I now have five active email accounts.  And then there are the Facebook messages, and mobile-phone calls and messages, and sometimes even the land-line rings, though mostly it’s only telemarketeers who call these days.

I confess that it’s quite a struggle to juggle all these strands of what’s become my own on-line life.  I enjoy this blog, very much in fact – it’s become something like a diary that I write with other people in mind.  However, I’m glad that from the outset I committed to doing only one post per week, and only an hour or two of participating in other blogs.  Facebook has become a necessary annoyance more than anything else (and I’m avoiding Twitter like the plague).  It’s the whole email thing that’s got out of control.  On the back of an envelope I’ve estimated that I receive between three- and four-hundred emails each week, and the vast majority of them are important and/or interesting.  So my laptop has become a source of stress, with only the odd bit of pleasure thrown in, if I’m lucky.

How do you keep your on-line life in check?  What rules do you put in place, if any?  What do you do when your digital living starts to unravel in front of your eyes?

I tell you what I do.  I go out into the garden and remove plants, or plant plants, or clean out the chook-yard.  Or sometimes I just sit outside on a little bench with a cup of coffee and simply watch the chooks – how good it is to observe them going about their lives.  Do they care that they don’t have access to Youtube or 24/7 coverage of what’s happening in the world through multi-media newspaper sites? Do they care that they don’t know that someone on the other side of the world has just had the worst cup of soy-chai latte in the history of the universe?

No, not in the slightest, and I envy them for that, I really do.

Not that I’m counting – okay, I’ve been counting just a little – this humble little blog-shaped place in the world came into being a year ago today.  This is quite something for someone who didn’t even have the internet on at home until the beginning of 2009.  One minute, so it seems, I was happy going about my life ignoring all the possibilities that the on-line environment has to offer, the next I was creating Under the Counter or a Flutter in the Dovecot, posting this and that, finding other blogs to love, and – gasp! – even getting to know people through the interwebs.

Crazy, just crazy.

I won’t deny that there have been times when I wonder why I keep doing it; indeed I only committed myself to blogging for a year, promising that I’d review whether or not it was worth continuing.

What do I like about blogging?  I like the fact that it makes me engage with the world – seeing something interesting, taking a photo, then writing a post about it, then editing that post so it’s something that might actually be read.  I like the fact that I’ve realised that writing about a new book or album is actually really hard – I never set out to write reviews, but I do set out to write something of value about something that I’ve valued.  I like the fact that when I post a piece I’ve written for another format, for example something written for a newspaper, people actually comment, and the comments are almost invariably thoughtful and incisive.

I like the fact that I’m realising that a blog is simply another tool to create – a tool to explore and record and communicate.

What don’t I like about it?  Sometimes – not often, but sometimes – it feels more like a game than a serious pursuit: it’s easy to get trapped by the stats: subscriber levels, daily visitations, who’s googled what to reach the Fluttering Dove (except the latter can be pretty hilarious, it has to be said).  And sometimes – not often, but sometimes – it takes me away from the main game, which is writing good fiction.

But the pros outweigh the cons so I’ll keep this little guy going, at least for another year.

Which is handy, because I’ve just been informed that the National Library of Australia has selected Countering the Under-Dove for archiving as part of its PANDORA project.  According to the National Library of Australia, PANDORA is:

‘a growing collection of copies of Australian online publications, established initially by the National Library of Australia in 1996, and now built in collaboration with nine other Australian libraries and other cultural collecting organisations. The purpose of the PANDORA Archive is to collect and provide long-term access to selected online publications and web sites that are about Australia, are by an Australian author on a subject of social, political, cultural, religious, scientific or economic significance and relevance to Australia, or are by an Australian author of recognised authority and make a contribution to international knowledge.  PANDORA is a selective archive. The National Library and its partners do not attempt to collect all Australian online publications and web sites, but select those that they consider are of significance and to have long-term research value.’

So there you go: all contributors to Fluttering Cot-Counters are imortalised in the National Library of Australia!

Thanks to everyone who’s visited, thanks to those who comment, and a special thanks to those who comment regularly.

I appreciate all the thoughts and opinions and feedback.

An unexpectedly intriguing aspect of blogging is the opportunity to see how it all operates behind the scenes.  With a click of your mouse on the button that says ‘My Dashboard’, you are privy to the deep, dark workings of the on-line machine.  It is like being able to see the strings that hold up a puppet show, or visiting the Ghost Train ride when they’re doing maintenance.  On offer are oodles of stats – visits per day, week, year, ever.  You can see all the sites that are referring internet surfers to yours.  But the real delight is being able to view what people around the world are typing into search engines to inadvertently find their way to you.

To get to my blog-shaped home, people have made the funniest searches, for example ‘In what year did Tony Abbott get merried?’  Yes, ‘merried’.  Was an over-worked journalist writing a character sketch of the current leader of the Opposition but slipped a finger?  Or maybe a cheeky internet sleuth was wondering about when this prominently fit Australian man last got himself inebriated on the sauce?  The fact is we can only imagine the scenario, and there’s much joy in that.

Some searches are straight-out bizarre, for example ‘Every city has a sex quote’ (really? I’d not noticed), while others are just plain worrying, such as ‘Asian pop degrading nationalism’, which could end up as a PhD thesis for someone brave enough to give it a go.  And ‘pretty brain’ – was that typed in by Hannibal Lecter?  One of the more disquieting searches that have turned up on my site is ‘what women really should look like’.  Frankly, if you need to ask Google that question you probably need more help than the internet.

But I’m being unnecessarily cruel.  The most interesting search-engine references are the saddest.  To reach my blog, people have done a search on ‘holding hands’ (did they need to know how to perform this particular action?), and the rather terrifying ‘last hours living’.  But the one that stuck in my throat was this: ‘true love is not for me’.  It’s rather final, isn’t it.  Of course, these might be half-remembered song lyrics or lines of poetry or even titles of books, but what if they aren’t?  What if someone really did want to know how to hold hands, or how to live the last hours of their life?  What if someone really had decided that true love wasn’t for them, and they only wanted to let someone know?

Having shared this with you, I should admit these references wouldn’t be ending up at my blog if a search engine wasn’t linking it to something I’d written and posted – a battalion of Google-type technologies was matching my written words with someone’s desire for information, or answers, or the truth.  So it could be just a case of my thoughts coming back to haunt me through the endless electronic fog that is the internet.  Is it a cyber mirror to my life?  Perhaps when posting on-line I am calling into the void, and days, weeks, months later, an echo finds me.  Yes, perhaps.  Though I should be very clear with you about something: I have never once wondered about the year that Tony Abbott got merried.

(First published in Panorama, The Canberra Times, 8 May 2010.  The wonderful illustration by Michael Mucci originally appeared in conjunction with ‘Bloggers Unplugged’, first published in The Canberra Times on 10 April 2010 and can be found here; this article was then magically posted and can be found in this little e-loft.)

But what makes them vivid is the force of James’s interest in them, his manner of pressing into their clay with his examining fingers: they are sites of human energy; they vibrate with James’s anxious concern for them.

– from How Fiction Works by James Wood

What distinguishes a great artist from a weak one is first their sensibility and tenderness; second, their imagination; and, third, their industry.

–  John Ruskin

It’s banal to start a looking-back piece with ‘what a year it’s been’, because years can be nothing but themselves – years. So I’ll start somewhere else (although I haven’t started somewhere else, I’ve just started where I’ve begun) with a challenge: to think about the year ‘that’s been’ (I typed ‘bean’ just then, which is rather lovely), and to write about it, and see what learnings bubble to the surface.  Because we’re about to head into the ridiculous fake-snow-in-summer season – or, as a colleague said to me yesterday, ‘Shitmass’.  Which means the brain will turn off and then another year will get sprinting and before we know it we’ll all be two decades older, greyer, and probably not that much wiser.

So, to begin.  Somewhere.

Learning No. 1 – Go away. Under the Counter (or UTC to those in the know i.e. just muggins here, though ‘UTC’ sounds like a university, or a type of farm vehicle; I should drop this over-use of brackets) is littered with references to Bundanon and its far-reaching artist-in-residence program.  Still I can’t help remembering – for the umpteenth time – the Shoalhaven River and its happy leaping fish, the lantana-infested bush and the largest goanna I’ve ever seen (an easy six feet with a tongue the size of an arm), the mother roo and joey grazing nervously at the backdoor of the writer’s cottage, the sounds of busy things in the night that I’ve never heard before even though I’ve spent forty-one years in this part of the world.  And I remember drinks on the verandah at the always-pink dusk and watching wombats emerge from their burrows, and the swallows darting gloriously through the air, catching whatever it is they catch, bugs, they catch bugs.  And I remember working my arse off, so much so that on my fourth and last Thursday I had to have a lie down and listen to some Sigur Ros – yes, I’d over done it, but that’s my usual way, I’m afraid.  Oh woe is me.  The fact is I bring it on myself, it’s my choice, and, as I’ve counselled others, no one cares.  So Learning No 1.1 – no one cares.

Learning No. 2 – I’m in love with the most complex thing EVER. ‘Work-in-progress’: that’s the not-very-inventive title of my, um, work-in-progress, a novel, a very long story.  When people who know about these things say that novels are inherently complex, listen to them, believe them – novels are complex to write, they’re complex to read; they are the hardest thing to bring into the world.  My one, my second, has been in the process of being born since 2006 (I mistakenly typed ‘1996’, probably because that’s how it feels; bugger it, these brackets are just so persistent).  Needless to say, this project – is ‘project’ the right word? a novel isn’t a bridge, though they might be – has taken me here and there, like a wild river, and some of the waters have been fast and rough, some shallow and sublime, some tannin-black and utterly horrifying, and some murky and motionless, the froth of pollution at the edges.  Enough: I’m getting the shakes writing this, though that could be the rum balls I had for morning tea.

Learning No. 3 – good people never stop doing good things. The middle of the year saw the extended family and passionate others come from all over to be present at the launch of the Dorothy Porter Studio at Bundanon (yes, yet another reference to that Boyd place).  This meant taking He Who Originally Came From That Part of the World, Meaning Nowra, A Shit-Hole He Says back to the place from where he came, and also to the place I spent four weeks in a creative La-La Land.  After three hours of driving – up the Hume Highway, down through Kangaroo Valley, with the last half an hour winding our way amongst tinder-dry coastal bush – there it suddenly was, a converted 19th-century barn.  All shiny new, a red ribbon strung up for cutting, dancers dancing, the rainbow lorikeets watching on, as they will always be.  And we knew that within days the Studio would be filled with artists dreaming, imagining, collaborating – and working bloody hard, there can be no doubt about that.  Cuz, there was a tear in my eye when the ribbon was cut.

Learning No. 4 – reading completes me (like Blundstone boots and Arvo Part). 2009 was filled with great books and my favourites are listed elsewhere on this blog, but there are a few notables that aren’t on the list because they weren’t published this year, in fact they were published many years ago.  Holding the Man by Timothy Conigrave – for decades I’d put off reading this book because by and large, and despite my own personal sexuality (which is indeed my own and personal), I don’t read gay fiction, but this novel completely ripped me to shreds.  So much so that, when after the last page was read, I had to go for the longest walk up the mountain (with The Old Lady of the House, obviously) until I felt ready to come back into the world.  Holding the Man went straight onto my ‘Brilliant Books Live Here’ shelf in my work room.  I also thoroughly enjoyed Doris Lessing’s The Good Terrorist, which was no doubt reissued because of our bomb-tastic times.  And – embarrassingly – I finally read DJ Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye; see ‘Caught in an Edgy Trap’ in the First Word 2009 archive for more on this.

Learning No. 5 – there will always be great music. Like the book list, the year’s top albums can be found elsewhere on Under the Counter, but I do have a late entry for the best-of-2009 gang: ‘Hospice’ by The Antlers.  Anyone who likes Jeff Buckley, Deerhunter and Arcade Fire really should check out this extraordinary album; there’s also a hint of Antony Hegarty in the overall aesthetic, which is both gentle and dramatic, always a great combination.  Hospice is hardly a jovial ride – it wallops you in the head and heart, and everywhere else for that matter – but it’s certainly worth the purchase price.  And great cover art, too.

Learning No. 6 – so writing conferences CAN be worthwhile! In October the National Library of Australia put on its Flight of the Mind – Writing and the Creative Imagination conference.  Speakers included Geraldine Brooks, Steven Conte, Rodney Hall, Andrew Goldsmith, Kevin Brophy, Claire Thomas, Judy Horacek, James Bradley, Alex Miller, Peter Goldsworthy, Felicity Packard, Sophie Cunningham, Aviva Tuffield, and Peter Pierce; not a bad line-up, it has to be said.  Topics covered creating fiction from fact, recreating other people’s stories, and writing across borders (a session chaired by yours truly; okay, the brackets win).  As one of the more prominent speakers told me at the end of the weekend, ‘This conference was a beauty’.  And good audiences too, in terms of both numbers and engagement.  The other thing that impressed me was the amount of speakers who hung around for the entire weekend, their journals at the ready, pens poised to jot down another pearl of wisdom for safe-keeping.  Yes, a beauty.

Learning No. 7 – posh experiences in poor countries don’t add up. In November He Who Likes A Cool Drink On A Warm Day and I jumped on a plane to attend a wedding in Vanuatu.  Apart from me almost carking it (check out ‘The Trouble with Death’, which is also in the First Word 2009 archive), we did everything you’re meant to do when on a tropical island: ate way too much, drank way too much, got so sunburnt we looked like Iced VoVos, read heaps, in my case Geraldine Brook’s People of the Book, which I enjoyed, though it also wore me out.  But resorts, big ones at least, aren’t my thing – they’re theme parks for the moderately rich and not-at-all-famous.  Still, good times were had, and, most importantly, two friends got married the way they wanted, and sometimes that’s all that matters (says he who over-thinks everything, including the moral responsibility of my local supermarket to provide free trolleys – not everyone has a gold coin in their pockets, you bastards).

Learning No. 8 – there’s nothing freakier than politics. 2009 was also about climate change, Copenhagen (a disaster? no, a little foot-shuffle in the right direction, me-thinks), and…bloody Tony Abbott.  Who’d have thought the Punch-Drunk Mad Monk would get the Leader of the Opposition gig?  Despite being born and bred on Sydney’s North Shore and schooled entirely at private schools, combined with the fact that I can sound terribly, terribly posh went I want to (see?), I’m not one for the conservative side of politics, but at least Malcolm ‘John Howard Broke My Heart By Stuffing Up The Republic Campaign’ Turnbull was trying to move things forward, if only by a millimetre.  Then, however, came the most public coup (of course, I just typed ‘pubic’, which isn’t something I usually associate with the Liberal Party) and Mr Malcolm went down the tube and Tony ‘Verbally Attacking Terminally People Is Such Fun’ Abbott came up trumps.  You know, I was happy give him a go, only because that’s what we do in this part of the world (when it suits us), but then all he’s been saying since he got the job is ‘great big tax’ and I’ve found myself shouting at the radio/television/newspaper, just like I did when John Howard hung around for eleven long, long, LONG years.

Learning No. 9 – the machines may take over. I started the year without having an internet connection at home but have ended the year with a PC on my desk, a laptop in the cupboard, an email address, and a website and a blog.  Next stop digital television and an i-Phone.  Perhaps.  Though probably not – a home is a home, not a computer-corporation outpost.  But it’s nice to be in the blogosphere, or hanging around ‘the inter-webs’ as some like to say, though I do feel as if I’m wandering around a parallel universe stark naked with the CCTV cameras tracking my every movement.  Now I just have to keep all this technology in check.   It’s us human types who control the machines, don’t we?

What, the machines have taken over?  How did I miss that?

Better go and pour myself a glass of crisp, dry Semillon and put on a record, yes, one of those Ye Olde spinning platter things that crackle and hiss like carpet on a hot day.  It might be The XX’s album, or Peaches’ cheeky latest, or something really, really old, maybe even Peter Gabrielle’s So, because So reminds me of being seventeen and school was about to finish and I knew absolutely nothing about anything.  Which, despite this list and all the words that go along with it, is still probably the case, because the sum total of what we know can only ever be a tear-drop in the deep blue ocean.

(Footnote: What’s with the opening quotes? you ask.  Well, I’ve had those two pearlers Blu-tacked onto the side of my computer screen all year.  They’ve hung there, just a little dog-eared and torn, fluttering each time I breathe or I type extra vigorously or the fan finds them; they tell me to work harder, to work deeper, to do good things.  In time, in time.)

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