#BlogIntroChallenge 3: My Usual Blogging Process

Kelly is in the middle of it, Preoccupied has caught up, and Perry has already finished hers – how come Guylty is still fuseling around with question 3??? My usual problem with follow-ups? Nope. RL is to blame. And my puritan stand-offishness when it comes to blogging introspectively. Ok, and the fact that I have loooooads to say about the writing process. There, consider that a fair warning. It is still time to jump ship. In fact, it was that particular question (which I originally directed in a comment at Servetus) that set off the idea for a blogging challenge for *all* in order to deflect the vanity accusation away from me.

writing process 1

So, the blogging process for Guylty Pleasure. Ugh. I have just realized I have written too much, and that makes me feel uncomfortable. So I am hiding it all under the cut below. If you really want to read a convoluted, self-aggrandizing, self-important post on the minutiae of Guylty’s writing process, you may precede. But you have been warned! As a short answer I give you this: I spontaneously decide on the topics of my posts, depending on my mood, on Mr Armitage’s current project, Armitage-related news, fandom goings-on, and on my creative output. Then I usually brainstorm and take notes for posts in my trusty notebook, including sketches and photos. I prefer writing for my blog in a Word.doc and then copy and paste them into the WordPress back-end. All very simple.

Reader-commentators – how do you approach commenting? Do you take notes? Do you just plunge in? Have you got a process?

[Immediately ETA: Where TH is the cut??? Sorry, folks, the “Read More” tag does not seem to work with my blog theme. So take this line as a cut and leave now if you don’t want further insights.]

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As for the convoluted answer on the “usual blogging process”. Let’s turn that into the “writing process” because I am not really a news blogger but I am just following my own personal flow, first and foremost enjoying the discussion and banter that I hope to prompt with my posts.  Topic selection is not really an issue for me – there are the round-ups on Saturday, few and far between *ooof*s, RAPS presentation posts and the occasional review, all personal and not news-driven. An entirely selfish endeavour, then, all just for the purpose of creative writing.

Writing is something I have always done, enjoy doing now and will continue doing in the future – with or without Armitage. I am a spontaneous writer, pretty good at making editing decisions and at signing off – the latter probably due to my short attention span. I get bored with a topic quite quickly, so if I do not finish a post quickly, chances are that I will never get back to it. I am not particularly precious with my writing, both creatively for my own purposes, but especially as a professional writer (I earn part of my income with daily news articles in the area of tech-, marketing- and internet-news). I have always considered my submissions to my editors as an offer, a suggestion, which others are welcome to improve. There is little vanity *there*.

For my professional writing I cannot afford to spend much time on planning and editing. Internet news are a short-lived, fast-paced environment where items have to be produced in an extremely timely manner. To balance it out, I give myself plenty of time for recreational writing – enjoying the process more than the final product, if I am honest. The process differs slightly depending on the type of post I write – a photographic analysis (*ooof*), a ficlet, a commentary, a review, a (fake) press release, a (fake) newspaper article. I like to have a distraction-free environment – no music, no family members hovering around me. And I need plenty of time. I need a free mind to develop my thoughts, and I feel terribly frustrated when the creative urge, the need to express myself, is hampered by circumstances. Many of my posts take their initial shape from an irrepressible internal monologue. Could someone please invent an app for that – posting would be so much easier!

writing process 2

All my posts start in my notebook. I love the tangibility of writing on paper – or maybe it is the visualization of  the thought, expressed in lines and dots and dashes, that attracts me. Writing with a fountain pen on smooth, white paper has a meditative quality. Occasionally I find my eyes glazing over and I am only perceiving regular curves and lines but no words anymore. The act of writing becomes meditation and painting rather than writing. But when I switch my brain back on, my notes first and foremost serve as reminders to work from. The process of handwriting also forces me to slow down my thoughts – good for structuring the post, but can also have negative effects. I can forget things or I can endlessly add new ideas to my notes. However, the notes serve as a tool to structure my thoughts (and posts) by creating a chain of related topics.

The notes are bullet points and keywords or elliptical sentences. I have my own system of abbreviations in place since my (first) college days. I only write full-sentence notes occasionally – for a particular turn of phrase for instance. My notes are usually written in the target language, with the occasional German word thrown in if I can’t think of the English equivalent off the top of my head. (I look those words up once I transform the notes into digital text.) Even though my professional work is predominantly in my mother-tongue, and even though I speak German every day with my bilingual children, I prefer writing in my second language. English flows so much better, is precise, unpretentious and concise, yet it is also slightly further from my heart, and therefore allows me to make conscious decisions about tone, vocabulary and register. Very important tool for distancing yourself when you are a fangirl who is rationally conflicted about the emotional effect which a celebrity, whom she does not know, has on her.

writing process 3

My notebook is littered with photos, drawings and post-its. For photo analyses and creative writing I need a visual prompt. That will usually consist of a photo (for the *ooof*s) or an image in my head – which could just be a detail like a body part. Then I just free-flow write whatever comes up. If the thoughts are jumbled, I highlight passages in different colours to separate them and mark where they sit in the text. I am a fast writer – both on paper and on screen, so I do not find the process too time-consuming. It also appeals to me because I like to document and record my thought processes, and my notebook is my own, personal, mixed media work of art. However, it is strictly private – and in that respect I can relate to Mr Armitage’s resistance and reluctance to widely share his character diaries. They are of great, sometimes sentimental, value for the writer – but also a tiny bit cringe-worthy…

After note-taking I predominantly write in an Office doc, or even WordPad, rarely directly into the WordPress backend. The main reason for that is that I get distracted easily, and the comment notifications in the shape of a tiny orange speech bubble in the top right corner of the screen have proven irresistible. In my Word.doc OTOH I am undistracted by e-mails, writing comments or even feeling the need to watch a clip. The old-fashioned way of typing in a separate document basically creates a clean slate to work on.

Then all that is left to do is copy and paste the text into the editor window in WP, iron out inconsistencies in content and font, add strike-throughs and links, upload illustrations, categorize, tag, spell-check and “go”.

Phew, just made it in time before Tuesday Muse-Day ends. I think this has been a rather revelatory post, very much designed to satisfy my own vanity document my own process, and to give me opportunity to talk about myself. Ugh. Apologies. I really look forward to question 4 of the challenge when I will reign myself in again. Promise!

33 thoughts on “#BlogIntroChallenge 3: My Usual Blogging Process

  1. You and me both sister…I was supposed to do something today, but here I sit, 30 minutes before class and I’ve not looked at my prep yet – maybe later…I’ll also be a better reader, because there is a lot here I want to digest.

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  2. I found your comments about writing in English b/c you have to slow down, interesting. I think faster than I can write or talk but I have a better chance of keeping up when I type. also, when I write I tend to use the “rural” version of talking that I grew up with, which is limited and thus harder to express myself in. I don’t know why that all strikes me as vastly interesting but it does; the brain is a mysterious place!

    and quit apologizing for your “vanity”, we like learning about you! do you think the rest of us are vain when we talk about ourselves? hmm? *taps foot & raises eyebrow*

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    • It’s not so much the (second) language that slows me down, but writing by hand, on paper. English is actually faster in my head than German – maybe the synapses have to work a bit harder for it, or maybe it is because it simply has shorter words, shorter sentences than German… It is far more lively in my brain than my native language…
      Re. vanity – yeah, I guess I am a bit obsessed with the whole idea of vanity, or rather: my suspicion of it. Funny thing is – as you said, I never regard similar posts on other blogs as vain. They just seem interesting to me, and I tend to be grateful that the writer shares insights into their thoughts. For me, I know my weaknesses. And vanity is one. Which is why I react extra-sensitively when I spot it on my own blog 😉

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  3. I’m not sure how to say this, so I’ll just say it — it’s not vain to write. What you in particular write is neither vain nor a symptom of vanity. I really envy your “wash and wear” writing capacity. I’m getting a lot better at just sitting down and writing, but there’s still always a question about whether I’ll manage it, and I totally have crutches that I use to prevent outside interference in the process.

    There was a fifteen year period of my life when I was trying to keep an academic career going in two languages, and I found the process of writing in each very different (and instructive). If I wanted to brainstorm or think creatively how to answer a question I always wrote in my native language because I sometimes found myself writing down ideas without knowing exactly what they meant, and found the process of fleshing them out really productive. If I needed to express exactly what I thought I chose German, though, because the need to think consciously about how to put the sentences together forced me to know what I meant before I said it. (I always had to have my ex correct my German, though.)

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    • You are probably right – I have a strange definition of vanity, which is actually almost biblical in its interpretation. A bit like the Amish’s who consider a pretty button an unwanted expression of vanity… You can probably relate – it’s that Lutheran ethic again. “Don’t talk about yourself – that’s vain”. In relation to the blog I am always conscious that readers come to it because they want to read about Armitage (which is its intention). Conversely I interpret that (possibly falsely) to mean that that excludes (too much) reference to myself. I know, I know – my blog, my castle, my focus, my topic choice. Maybe I need to rethink my interpretation of the readers…
      Second part of your comment: Yes, I agree, it is very handy to have two languages at your disposal for writing (and organizing thoughts) in. I have different voices in each – even though I use both languages for professional and creative writing. My German voice is (even) more convoluted and slightly more sarcastic, possibly a bit pompous. My English voice is sweeter, more focussed on entertaining. I certainly have much more fun finding the right way of expressing myself through English than through German. I have always admired English writing and writing conventions. I love the accessibility of English – the superficial simplicity of it. It makes the language more inclusive than German. And conversely it reflects the nasty German habit of trying to impress (and exclude) by using complicated sentence structures and foreign words.

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  4. As one who comments, I thought I didn’t have or need a process to write so few words. But I guess I do, starting with deciding to wade in or not. If I have nothing to add, ask, or no opinion, I try to stay quiet. But sometimes, I chime in just to let writers know someone is reading. I spend as much time editing as writing, trying to get to the point in a clear, brief and/or humorous way
    (“but it is not this day”). I prefer to use pen and paper for my silly poetry, but I like to write fast, so I use the keyboard to create at least 90 per cent. Limericks are more difficult, so I have to write them in longhand first. I always read other comments. For me they are an irresistible extension of the blog.

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    • really good point about the comments, Kathy – yes, they are, and I always read comments on all blog posts, not just mine. That’s where things *happen*

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  5. Ich unterschreibe einfach mal Kathys Kommentar, allerdings mit dem Zusatz, dass ich öfters mal ansetze, mich zu Wort zu melden, aber im letzten Moment doch lösche.

    Außerdem unterschreibe ich deine Erfahrungen zur Handschrift: Ich habe den Eindruck, dass ich dabei anders denke. Zum Teil muss man das natürlich schon allein deshalb, weil man nicht so einfach löschen und umformulieren kann (außer man steht drauf, mehr durchgestrichene Stellen als lesbare Sätze auf dem Papier zu haben). Aber da ist noch mehr, glaube ich – ich weiß nur nicht, was es ist. :-/ Vielleicht einfach der meditative Effekt. *Schultern zuck*

    Und dir eitler Rübe 😉 sage ich noch: Wir lesen deinen Blog, weil wir deine Ansichten interessant finden und weil wir deinen Humor mögen. Übrigens auch dann, wenn du dich hoffnungslos langweilig und öööööde findest. Widerspruch deinerseits ist also zwecklos 😉
    Aber wenn du dich unbedingt weiterhin zieren willst, verteile ich gratis Bauchpinsel-Pinsel an alle! *drohend guck* 😀

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    • Jou, das geht mir bei Kommentaren auch oft so – ich schreibe drauf los, und lösche dann doch die Hälfte wieder weg, weil’s einfach nicht zum Thema gehörte. Ist schon interessant, diese ständige Schere im Kopf…
      Hehe, und ok, bloß keine Bauchpinselei, darauf reagiere ich allergisch 😉 Ich lass dann mal meine Eitelkeits-Phobie und kotze mich in Zukunft höchstpersönlich aus 😉

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  6. Also üblichereise schwalle ich immer sofort los. Und strukturiere dann so beim Schreiben. Organisiert ist anders. Lediglich bei der samstäglichen Tumblr-Runde mache ich mir beim Durckklicken nebenher Stichworte. Sonst gingen mir meine geistvollen Repliken doch glatt verloren. Ich denke, wenn ich direkt bloggen würde, dann käme auch ich um eine strukturierte Herangehensweise nicht herum. Also mit Stichpunkten, und einer gewissen Idee, wohin die Reise gehen soll. Am besten hat mir bei deinem Notebook diese geradezu gespenstische Regelmäßigkeit des Schriftbildes gefallen. Das ist echt vom anderen Stern. Erklärt aber vielleicht auch, dass du dich beim Schreiben in irgendeinem Flow befindest… Neid! Mein Schriftbild wird i.d.R. immer gruseliger, sobald ich mich ins Thema hineinfresse. 🙂

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    • Schwallen ist auch eine Herangehensweise – oder netter gesagt: “free flow”. Macht es dem Leser nicht immer leicht, hat aber dafür den Touch des Authentischen. Ganze Bücher sind so geschrieben worden. Ich sage nur Jimmy Joyce…
      Bei der Tumblr-Runde merke ich auch immer wieder mein Alter! Wenn ich die Kommentare durchgehe, kann ich meistens nicht mehr erinnern, was überhaupt in dem jeweiligen Link drin war. Peinlich!
      Regelmäßiges Schriftbild – oh, danke 🙂 Ich gebe zu, dass sich bei meiner Schrift auch eine gewissen Eitelkeit breit macht. Schon seit der zweiten Klasse 😉

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      • Ja, Authenzitität ist einer meiner Vornamen. Und natürlich kann das einen echte Herausforderung sein, auf den free flow (besten Dank, bist ein Schatz) zu reagieren. Merke das manchmal, wenn ich nicht die Reaktionenn erfahre, die ich doch so wahnsinnig deutlich eingefordert habe. Bloß warum hört keiner meine unausgesprochene Appelle?
        Glaube es oder nicht. Auch ich hatte mal eine 1 in Schönschrift. Wenn ich da heute so zurückblicke, dann war das wohl nur meiner damaligen Überangepasstheit geschuldet, dass die kleine (!) C. so schön gezirkelt hat. Heute lernen unsere Kinder nur noch die sog. vereinfachte Ausgangsschrift. Das hat mit dem Geschwinge unserer Schultage der lateinischen Schreibschrift nicht mehr so wahnsinnig viel zu tun.
        Bei der Tumblr-Runde merke ich auch, dass mich beim Lesen der anderen Kommentare die schiere Menge überfordert und ich eigentlich keine Lust habe nachzusehen, auf welchen Punkt wer geantwortet hat. Ich prüfe dann bestenfalls noch ab, ob jemand das gleich gut fand wie ich. Für dich ist das Herausfordernder, wenn du sinnvoll antworten willst.
        Jetzt komm aber bloß nicht auf die Idee, irgendwas einzustellen. Mach du deine Aufstellungen bitte so weiter. Wenn ich auch noch bei Tumblr rumwaten sollte, dann würde ich den Fön kriegen. Lieber leihe ich dir meine Schulter, wenn du eine brauchst, um den Jauchegeruch zu veratmen.
        Und ja, auf dein Schriftbild darfst du dir was einbilden. 😀

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        • Hahaha, “den Jauchegeruch veratmen”. Manchmal bin ich froh, dass hier der Filter der Fremdsprache drüber liegt… (Was übrigens auch auf das selfiegate zutrifft!)
          Die tumblr-Runde ist kommentiertechnisch äußerst anspruchsvoll, das kann ich dir sagen. Allerdings effektiver als dieses Doktor Kawasaki Gameboy-Gedächtnisspiel (kennt das noch einer?).
          Leserliche Schreibschrift – das war einmal. Ich bin immer wieder entsetzt, wenn ich ansehe, dass meine Kinder in Druckschrift schreiben!!! Was für ein langwieriges Unterfangen. Aber meine Ansichten sind da steinzeitlich. Die Jugend von heute schreibt nicht mehr mit. Da läuft entweder die Aufnahmefunktion des Smartphones, oder es wird getippt, was das Zeug hält. Boah, der Geräuschpegel in den Hörsälen von heute, wenn 500 Studenten gleichzeitig mittippen. Das ist so ähnlich in der Resonanz, wie wenn 5000 Marathonläufer im Gleichschritt über die Golden Gate Bridge joggen. Das hält die stärkst Statik nicht aus!

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          • Dr. Kawasaki, doch ich erinnere mich undeutlich. Es gab da immer so einzelne Tests, die ich nicht mochte und andere, fand ich großartig. Mensch, ich mache mich morgen mal auf die Suche nach dem Gameboy und lege das Spiel ein. Review folgt.
            Ich fand den Jauchegegriff auch stark (nicht selbstbauchpinselnd, sondern im Sinne von deutlich). In jeder Hinsicht. Findest du nicht auch, dass Worte riechen können? 🙂
            Und dass es mal ein Statikproblem in Unisälen heraufbeschwören könnte, weil unsere Kinder keine vernünftige Schreibschrift mehr lernen, finde ich auch höchst bemerkswert. Es wird ja vielfach darauf hingewiesen, dass sich eben die Zeiten ändern und die Kinder statt der lästigen Schreiberei dafür eben andere tolle, in Verbindung mit den Medien stehende Kompetenzen erwerben. Als da wären? Ich kann nur sagen, dass es natürlich für das hinreichend begabte und aufgeweckte Kind, mal eben keine Problem darstellt, wenn es keine perfekte Schreibschrift gelernt hat und nur noch auf der Tastatur klimpert. Aber ich glaube es macht sehr wohl einen Unterschied, ob man es zumindest mal gelernt hat, Inhalte flüssig runterzuschreiben, die man vorher im eigenen Hirn entwickelt hat. Thema Konzentration z.B. Das lernst du nicht, wenn du nur von Thema zu Thema hüpfst. Das Schreiben zwingt irgendwie dazu, dass die Dinge sich besser im Hirn verankern. Wir werdne sicher keine Generation von Dusseln erleben, aber das Schreib- und Textverständnis wird sich ändern. Schau doch mal, was alleine schon in manchen Printmedien oder auch im Netz los ist. Dieses Infotainment, wo du nur noch Schlagworte und maxiaml 3-4 Sätze geliefert bekommst. Wer hat denn schon Lust, sich mit längerne Texten auseinanderzusetzen (wird implizeirt). Das hat auch was mit der Lust auf Konzentration zu tun. Äh,sorry, bin gerade etwas abgedriftet. War wohl der free flow…. 🙂

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            • klasse, mir gefällt der free flow sehr gut – so kommen wir dann auch mal auf andere, ebenfalls besprechenswerte Themen. 😀
              Ja, Worte können riechen, ohne Frage, oder haben Farben und fühlen sich irgendwie auch an. Wahrscheinlich aber bei jedem anders.
              Zuletzt zur Schönschrift – stimmt, da gibt es einen deutlichen Zusammenhang zwischen dem heutigen Multimedia-Happenangebot von Inhalt und der Unfähigkeit nachfolgender Generationen, mit Geduld und Ruhe an ein Thema ranzugehen, ausgedrückt u.a. in der Digitalisierung des Schriftbildes. Sehr schade, das – obwohl ich denke, dass es immer Menschen geben wird, die den tatsächlichen Schreibvorgang lieben und ehren werden. Zu meiner eigenen Schande sei hier gestanden, dass ich schon seit Jahren keinen Brief mehr handschriftlich verfasst habe – eben weil es so lange dauert. Man gewöhnt sich eben an alles.

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  7. This is a fascinating post. Thanks for sharing.

    And thank you for inviting us all to participate by replying. I feel guilty, now that I know how much you put into your posts, because I’m the opposite. I often dash off my replies in the moment, right into the WordPress reply field, while they still feel spontaneous. Except when they are long or about delicate subjects. Then I compose them offline and take more care (as I did with this post).

    I decided early on that I’m in this fandom for fun, and it wouldn’t be fun if I let it turn into work (which I do more deliberately with a lot of checking and double-checking). Hence, spontaneity—and let the chips fall where they may.

    I, too, read all the comments. In this fandom, they are the “conversation.” And I’ll admit I have an ego in this, too. I’m especially tickled when I “get something started” in someone’s comments. (Fun comments, I mean. I hope I haven’t been responsible for any of the “fights.”) As my contribution to the BlogIntroChallenge, may I say that I am still proud of this tease-fest with Perry that happened on Frenz’s blog last year: http://rafrenzy.com/2014/01/19/a-little-more-about-the-pinterproust-reading/

    Side note. I don’t understand all the rules about re-blogging, re-posting, pinging back, signal boosting, etc. (Every now and then I think “I gotta learn this stuff,” so I read someone’s rules. But they are often just rants about doing it incorrectly which often neglect to explain how to actually do it correctly and the language is so garbled that it make my head want to explode and I give up.) If I was not supposed to paste that link to Frenz’s blog here, I apologize to you and to Frenz, but it’s the only way I know how to refer to another website, so I did it.

    On the subject of “vanity,” may I lecture you for a moment, Guylty? Stop apologizing. About anything. In your whole life, for that matter, not just on this blog (if I may be so bold and nosy as to give you life advice). You know why? It’s the “woman’s disease,” and it’s how we keep ourselves down.

    Simply by having been born, you have a place in the world. Take it. In thought, word and deed. Don’t equivocate, and don’t apologize: about your thoughts, words or deeds.

    Note to all bloggers and repliers: banish “just my opinion,” “I may be going out on a limb here,” “I think,” and any other belittling, hedging and prevaricating expressions from your vocabulary (online and everywhere else). By definition, if you are speaking (or writing), then what comes out are your thoughts. You don’t have to explain that. When you display the need to defend yourself (often ascribed to “being nice”), it shows that you are unsure and uncertain of your status. That’s when the world piles on (against you). Don’t give the world that opening.

    You need to be prepared to take some arrows when you adopt this approach—because the world does not like it when women are not “nice” (especially if they change course mid-life)—but stick with it. Those who are looking for prey will quickly move on to easier targets, leaving you in peace to enjoy your satisfying life.

    That’s my feminist lecture for the day.

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    • Dear Besotted – thank you for this lovely post. It’s great to hear a bit more about the blogging experience from a reader-commentator POV. And to find out that we are all working along similar lines. Oh, and do not feel bad for me re. “putting so much work into a post”. That is entirely my own decision and my own pleasure. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t enjoy it. And it does not depend at all on how much time commentators spend on composing their replies. I am chuffed with every “like” I can garner!!!
      I am fully with you on the “conversation” and on “starting something”. That is gratifying in the extreme, a sign that people read what we say, and that they feel comfortable enough with it to go on their own tangents. I take such “detours” on my blog as a compliment.
      On the linking etiquette – that may vary individually. Personally, I do not mind at all when commentators paste a link in the comments. It’s simply passing on of information. I do not take that as marketing that is designed to take the spotlight away from me. (Unless it *is* marketing, left here by a bot. That stuff is like a pest.) So link away – if it gets too much I will make myself heard.
      Lastly, I must be a bit emotional today, because I confess I got a bit tearful when I read your advice to me. You are so right, and the words could easily have been written by me – but not for me, but directed at someone else. How infuriating, to be so apologetic about one’s own existence. It is actually destroying some of the fun I am having in this fandom, so I really should cut the cr*p and just be who I am without justification or apology. Also, apologies are lame and get old very quickly. I think I am going to follow that advice from now on – and do with my blog what *I* want to do even if that includes things that are repetitive, egocentric or boring (to others). It’s time to emancipate myself from my upbringing. So, thanks for that! I will bear that in mind. ❤

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