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Old 01-23-2013, 07:08 AM   #1
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Lost Time

I know that if I really apply myself, I can be a prolific writer. At the moment I work in fits and starts, and whenever I try to make myself go above and beyond I find myself pulling back. I've thought about it a bit and I'm now 100% sure that it's because of this unpleasant feeling of anticipation I have... like if I get serious, I'll lose something. Time. Opportunities to enjoy myself in other ways. Something like that.

I want to be up to date with current gen console games. I want to watch lots of awesome TV series through to their finales. I want to to sit through all sorts of cool and/or hilarious videos on youtube, and I want to have fun getting to endgame with newly made friends on MMOs. I want to just be around my friends and enjoy it, even if we're not doing anything productive. To make memories.

As time passes, these opportunities go away... or get staler. Games become old, friends change, new trends appear. I want to enjoy them all before they vanish or lose their glamour. It's true that there will always be more stuff in the future, but... it'll be different. And if I'm enjoying things as they come, I can have the old and the new. Then I can remember the old as fond memories. If I'm writing, these things go by, and when I go back to try to watch/play/do things I skipped in the past the experience is sullied (like NES games or movies from the early 2000s -- they're nowhere near as awesome as they would have been!!!).

I missed the Harry Potter period, too. I read the books after it was all over and I never got swept up in the whole phenomenon like everyone else did. The magic of waiting alongside the rest of the world was gone, trying to figure it out alongside everyone else... it was over. They were just books. I hate that feeling.

At the same time, I know I won't achieve anything worthwhile if I carry on as I am. I don't want to be unremarkable. I can be like the people I admire.

So how do I stop feeling like every day I spend at the keyboard is such a big loss? Like life -- and the constant stream of timely memories -- is passing me and my computer screen (lol) by, and when I finally take a break I'll just be looking at other people's pictures or watching entertainment that isn't as great as it would have been at the time?

Errr, and just to lighten up the post... this is how I feel whenever I finish a novel:

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Old 01-23-2013, 07:14 AM   #2
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Old 01-23-2013, 07:19 AM   #3
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Well, it's a matter of priorities, isn't it?

What matters more to you? Being part of "the flow," connected to modern trends in games and pop culture and the like? Or working, day after day (or evening after evening, or weekend after weekend, or stolen hour after stolen fifteen minutes), to build a story brick by brick, word by word, edit by edit? There's something to be said for looking back on a life enjoyed in the moment, just as there's something to be said for being able to say "I did that - it was hard work, but I did it."

We all get the same 24 hours in a day... whether you use it to write or draw or work or level up in Skyrim is up to you. The only constant is you don't get those hours back if you don't like how you spent them.
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Old 01-23-2013, 07:22 AM   #4
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So how do I stop feeling like every day I spend at the keyboard is such a big loss? Like life -- and the constant stream of timely memories -- is passing me and my computer screen (lol) by,...

maybe it is.

not everyone SHOULD write, and I'm not saying you should or should not, but if it isn't giving you anything back, I'm not sure you should engage in ANY activity. But what it gives back is personal, to you...I can't quantitate that.
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Old 01-23-2013, 07:32 AM   #5
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So how do I stop feeling like every day I spend at the keyboard is such a big loss?
That is a question you have to ask yourself.

Personally speaking, I've never regretted the time I've spent writing. I may not be happy with what I've written, or how little I've managed to write on a given day, but I still enjoy it. Even on the most frustrating days, when the words just seem to struggle their way out, in the end, it still feels good to write.

If you're feeling like you're losing time and missing out on other things, maybe you could take some time away and see if the need to write returns.
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Old 01-23-2013, 08:16 AM   #6
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If I'm bored at an event with friends, I can go home. If I dislike a TV programme, I'll watch something else. If I've had enough of a game, I'll stop playing. If I'm tired of writing a story, I finish it anyway.

The other things are fun and relaxing activities you do to fill your free time. You can switch to something else anytime you want, with no consequences. Writing (when you're hoping to see it published) is a job. If you want to see a result, you have to finish, even if it feels like a waste of time and you'd rather watch a movie.

So don't compare writing to watching TV. Compare it to office work or whatever other job you see yourself doing in the future. Is it more worthwhile than those jobs?
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Old 01-23-2013, 12:08 PM   #7
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Set aside just one or two hours a day, or even every other day, to write. MMORPGs are a huge time sink because they make you lose track of time. I should know...when I played WoW, I'd sit down to play in the afternoon and the next time I looked at the clock, it would be 3 am. So write before you play. Write just 500 words a day, and in about half a year you'll have your first draft. That's not a bad rate at all, and you won't have to sacrifice your social or gaming life for it.
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Old 01-23-2013, 12:51 PM   #8
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It's all about priorities. If you want to write, then you will. If you want to play games or sit back and do nothing with your mates, then go ahead.

Just bear in mind you're not a writer if you're talking about it with your mates instead of actually writing.
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Old 01-23-2013, 01:06 PM   #9
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It comes down to strict partitioning of time. Timetable your day into periods you spend with each thing you like to do and stick to that as much as humanly possible. Your situation is no different to those of us who have full time jobs or families (or both) in that there are other things that might take priority over writing and the solution is the same for those people - block out times when you are writing and doing nothing else. I would even go so far as to set an alarm clock to tell you when the periods change so you remember to log out of the MMO and get on with something else.

In any lifestyle there is always going to be several things competing for your time and often something has to be sacrificed. Choose what is sacrificed and bear in mind that this is not a permanent decision. Maybe this week you are focussing your non-writng time on the MMOs but next week you are spending it on you tube.

A trick that has been used by a number of professional writers is to set a target each day. A number of words, an amount of time spent writing, a chapter, whatever you think works best. The rule is that you cannot do anything else (surf the internet, play MMOs, whatever) until you have achieved that target. It's an incentive to give you reason to push through to your target. Give it a go, it might work for you.
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Old 01-23-2013, 01:56 PM   #10
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I don't think you have a writing problem; you have a life problem. That is, you don't seem to have accepted yet that we can't have everything we want.

Each one of us has to consider the things we want, which ones are accomplishable and which ones aren't, which ones are worth pursuing and which ones aren't, which are the most important to us.

This is called growing up.

I would rather not have to work and instead be able to read, write, get into shape, and pursue a couple of other hobbies. Oh, yeah, and eat, keep my house warm, keep my car running, and so on. Guess what? That last bit comes first in importance. So I work, and that reduces the amount of time, energy, and creativity I have available for the first. I prioritise the rest of the things and do whatever is at the top of the list.

If you *feel* like time spent writing is wasted, then maybe for you it is. Maybe you're not a writer. Like, yanno, I'm not a singer, much as I wish I were. When I stopped trying to be a singer, I became a much happier person. Maybe your feelings are trying to tell you something about yourself.

If you're really a writer, you won't *feel* like time spent writing is wasted. So examine yourself, decide what you really want, and set your priorities accordingly.

Again, it's called growing up.
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Old 01-23-2013, 03:08 PM   #11
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Everyone else has said it better than I could.

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Originally Posted by Brightdreamer View Post
We all get the same 24 hours in a day... whether you use it to write or draw or work or level up in Skyrim is up to you. The only constant is you don't get those hours back if you don't like how you spent them.
Ahyup. That's rub.

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It's all about priorities.
Indeed it is.

and

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Originally Posted by seun View Post
Just bear in mind you're not a writer if you're talking about it with your mates instead of actually writing.
This.

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Originally Posted by Terie View Post
I don't think you have a writing problem; you have a life problem. That is, you don't seem to have accepted yet that we can't have everything we want.

Each one of us has to consider the things we want, which ones are accomplishable and which ones aren't, which ones are worth pursuing and which ones aren't, which are the most important to us.
Sucks that it's true but it is.

and

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Originally Posted by Terie View Post
If you *feel* like time spent writing is wasted, then maybe for you it is.

<more snipps>

If you're really a writer, you won't *feel* like time spent writing is wasted. So examine yourself, decide what you really want, and set your priorities accordingly.
Good advice.

And remember there's no shame in admitting that writing just isn't for you. Writing is one of those deceptively easy things. People always make the mistake of thinking it's 'all you gotta do is' when there's a lot more to it, including the sitting down and doing it part, which does actually take away time from other things, tasks and people and is apparently the hardest part of all.
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Old 01-23-2013, 03:30 PM   #12
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Question: I don't want to be unremarkable.
But if you don't do anything, how can you be anything else?

Correct me if I'm wrong: You know you can write prolifically. You want to leave a mark on the world by writing something. You want to achieve something big. You want to feel that anticipatory spark 24/7/365, but you aren't writing because if you do, you might miss out on Possibility B, which might be fun, which you desperately want, because right now you are unhappy and unfulfilled. . .

Right now, you have no actual goals, nothing concrete, nothing to work toward. I think you need to prioritize--others have suggested likewise. And you need to be realistic about writing. Are you passionate about it because you'll need that to keep you going. It's rarely a fast track to fame and fortune. Maybe you can do it, but do you really want to?

One thing seems clear to me, Question: what you're doing right now ain't working. It's circular thinking getting you nowhere. I do believe it would behoove you to get honest with yourself. You wish, but wishing won't make it so. You have to actually *do* something.
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Old 01-23-2013, 04:06 PM   #13
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... well if you're "finishing novels" then you aren't doing so badly.
Seems like you could be writing more and that you'd like to be.
But credit yourself with some success.
There are a lot of writers who never finish even one novel.
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Old 01-23-2013, 04:11 PM   #14
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Set aside just one or two hours a day, or even every other day, to write. MMORPGs are a huge time sink because they make you lose track of time. I should know...when I played WoW, I'd sit down to play in the afternoon and the next time I looked at the clock, it would be 3 am. So write before you play. Write just 500 words a day, and in about half a year you'll have your first draft. That's not a bad rate at all, and you won't have to sacrifice your social or gaming life for it.
This. I regret, regret, regret all the time and money I spent on WoW. That, to me, was a waste of time. So I guess it's all in your perspective. For me, WoW was waste of time. For you, writing may be a waste of time. What do you want to do?
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Old 01-23-2013, 05:00 PM   #15
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Writing saves me literally. But I have undue stress in my life from trying to fit it in to the tv, video games, and boyfriend time and still get the 9 hours of sleep I need to function. Yes, I know it is a lot, but otherwise I drag and want to curse everyone out around me. It is rough. Life forces you to live whether you like it or not. I hate working. It is miserable, but it needs to be done so I can continue to live own my own and how I want. Also to not plunge into student loan debt. It is all a matter of prioritizing like other people said already. If you believe you can be prolific, then do it, hope the stars are in line and you make crazy money, then not worry as much.
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Old 01-23-2013, 06:25 PM   #16
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I've been thinking about this thread all day so I thought I'd come back for a more detailed reply.

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Originally Posted by Question View Post
I know that if I really apply myself, I can be a prolific writer.
Prove it. Saying it means nothing. Writing and finishing proves it.

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Originally Posted by Question View Post
I want to be up to date with current gen console games. I want to watch lots of awesome TV series through to their finales. I want to to sit through all sorts of cool and/or hilarious videos on youtube, and I want to have fun getting to endgame with newly made friends on MMOs.
Funnily enough, these are all things I couldn't give a toss about. Life is full of shiny things with no long-lasting value. If you want to surround yourself with them, then fill your boots. Plenty of people do. That's why reality TV is so popular. That's why people who have no talent at all (but a good marketing team behind them) are rich and famous. If you want to spend your time watching Youtube and playing games, then go for it, seriously. Just don't tell me about the books you're going to write if only you weren't online.

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I missed the Harry Potter period, too. I read the books after it was all over and I never got swept up in the whole phonemonon like everyone else did. The magic of waiting alongside the rest of the world was gone, trying to figure it out alongside everyone else... it was over. They were just books. I hate that feeling.
Just a book? Just a book? You're really thinking the value and magic of a book comes from how much of a big deal it is in terms of pop culture or in sharing in the hoo-hah with the rest of the planet? Crap. Hoo-hah doesn't last. Story lasts. Characters last. That's the magic you're dismissing as 'just books'.

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Originally Posted by Question View Post
So how do I stop feeling like every day I spend at the keyboard is such a big loss?
By changing your priorities and accepting that the brief entertainment value you're aiming for isn't worth much in the long run but that the value of a good tale well told goes much further.
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Old 01-23-2013, 06:41 PM   #17
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At the same time, I know I won't achieve anything worthwhile if I carry on as I am. I don't want to be unremarkable. I can be like the people I admire.

I suspect we often call all the wrong people remarkable, and I know most of us admire people who have done nothing except get rich and famous for acting, singing, or writing. I love great acting, great singing, and great writing, but none of these things make people remarkable or admirable to me. It's how we behave when no one is watching, and the people we help without taking credit, that make us remarkable and admirable.

I have a friend who went without food for two days because he gave his last ten bucks to someone he barely knew who needed it more. I found out about it months later from the man he gave the money to. That's remarkable and admirable. I have other friends who run a homeless shelter. They take donations, but at least half the operating capital comes out of their own pockets, and they can't afford it. They do it anyway. That's remarkable and admirable.

But how much time do you have each day? Writing doesn't have to mean you miss out on anything. I make no sacrifices for my writing. I love writing, but I love a lot of other things, as well, including spending time with friends and family, and there's more than enough time to do both.

I have to confess, I don't understand your making memories thing. Memories can be fine things, but living a good life makes for lasting memories. Thinking about things you missed is always self-defeating. You have no way at all of knowing how you would have felt about the Harry Potter phenomenon if you had been there going through i, and no way at all of knowing if those movies would have been more awesome then than they are now.

At the time is what you do today, not what you might have done yesterday, last year, or twenty years ago. I missed Woodstock. I was sixteen, had a pocket full of money, and decided to go. I bought a bus ticket. I had a few hours to wait at the bus station, and while waiting, I met a girl named Angel. We hit it off. She as going to St. Louis. When she asked me where I was going, I said something like, "I was going to New York. Now I'm going to St. Louis."

I did, and that was the best few months of my life up to that point. Being at Woodstock would have been nice. I'd probably still be talking about everything I saw and did there. But I didn't go, and I still have memories worth keeping.

Anyway, if you're writing just because you want to be remarkable and admirable, stop immediately. Writing should be the way you spend your hours because there's nothing else you'd rather be doing at the time. Do whatever makes you happiest. If you live as you should, you'll be remarkable and admirable, even if no one ever knows it.
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Old 01-23-2013, 06:41 PM   #18
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Just a book? Just a book? You're really thinking the value and magic of a book comes from how much of a big deal it is in terms of pop culture or in sharing in the hoo-hah with the rest of the planet? Crap. Hoo-hah doesn't last. Story lasts. Characters last. That's the magic you're dismissing as 'just books'.
I agree with what you are saying, seun, that we should enjoy the book based on its own merits...but at the same time, I see where the OP's coming from. I was a teen when I discovered the HP series, and I had the experience of discussing it breathlessly with my classmates, waiting in line with them for the next book, giggling about the characters and so on. I still remember the first time we all caught the trailer for the first movie. None of us could contain our excitement. I'm sure we all had goosebumps covering our arms. We had fun dressing up and watching the movie together...not to mention our school, a conservative Catholic school, had expressly forbidden anything to do with Harry Potter.

There is magic to be found through the sharing of books. It stems from the book itself, yes, but the giddy excitement of going through the reading and waiting for the next books etc is much better when shared with others.

To the OP, I'm sorry you missed that era, but I'm sure there will be more to come. Spend your time wisely and there is no reason for you to miss the next buzz.
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Old 01-23-2013, 06:43 PM   #19
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It's called opportunity cost. If you do x, you can't do y. If you buy a, you can't have z. If you're posting on AW you're not posting on Reddit.

I suspect this is a problem that'll sort itself out when you figure what it is you really want to do.
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Old 01-23-2013, 06:57 PM   #20
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Like Suen, I've been thinking about this thread all day, too. Funny enough, I grabbed a random book from my 'writing books' shelf to start reading on my lunch break (yeah, from that day job I have to have so I can pay for food, and heating, and clothes, and so on), and read this in the introduction.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Get That Novel Started! (And Keep It Going 'Til You Finish) by Donna Levin
But when I occasionally did get around to sitting down at a typewriter..., I didn't like what I wrote. And I soon experienced problems.... The effort required didn't jive with my belief about how good writers wrote, so I abandoned my attempts each time. After all, there were plenty of other things to keep me occupied: television, movies, meals, phone calls, dishes, shampoos and pedicures.

It is in fact true that not everyone is destined to be a novelist; some of us are better suited to certain professions than others. I doubt that I would make a very good surgeon or fighter pilot. The difference was that I never lay awake at night tortured with thoughts like, "I could be taking out an appendix tomorrow -- if only I'd stuck with biology for a second semester!"

As years passed, I drifted away from writing.
Of course, Ms Levin did take up writing again and is now a well-published author. That would be because in the end, she turned her writing into a top priority and stuck with it.
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Old 01-23-2013, 10:55 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by kkbe View Post
You want to leave a mark on the world by writing something. You want to achieve something big. You want to feel that anticipatory spark 24/7/365, but you aren't writing because if you do, you might miss out on Possibility B, which might be fun, which you desperately want, because right now you are unhappy and unfulfilled. . .
kkbe's comment made me think of an article that someone sent me a few days ago about the difference between living a "happy" life and living a "meaningful" one.

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/ar...-happy/266805/


Quote:
Originally Posted by seun
By changing your priorities and accepting that the brief entertainment value you're aiming for isn't worth much in the long run but that the value of a good tale well told goes much further.
Like seun, the article suggests that the hedonistic pursuits we value in the modern age don't fulfill us. They provide entertainment, but they give us no real purpose or direction. We strive to be occupied with idle enjoyments (that's the new American Dream, right?), but without any obligations or duties--without that one thing that depends on us doing it--we drift, still looking for just the right experience that's going to make life worthwhile.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Question
I missed the Harry Potter period, too. I read the books after it was all over and I never got swept up in the whole phonemonon like everyone else did. The magic of waiting alongside the rest of the world was gone, trying to figure it out alongside everyone else... it was over. They were just books. I hate that feeling.
I understand. I really enjoyed participating in the fandoms of a few phenomenons over the years. You can get caught up in the frenzy and excitement of an era...

Or you can be the thing that sparks it.
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Old 01-23-2013, 11:12 PM   #22
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I'm not exactly sure how one could possibly equate missing HP with being the result of writing. There were plenty of folks who did both when HP was rolling out a new book each year.....surely you ARE reading when writing, no? \

as for the rest, several people hit it on the head, and that's why I said maybe writing isn't for you--if you consider it "time wasted" then why pursue it in the first place?
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Old 01-24-2013, 01:35 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by annaspargoryan View Post
Why do you write?
This is the real question. If you aren't writing because you love it, because you NEED to, then why?
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Old 01-24-2013, 04:04 AM   #24
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For me, writing is one of the few things that makes me feel like I'm not wasting my life. Pre-kids, it was sometimes the only thing that really felt worthwhile. The idea that TV and video games could be more worthwhile than time spent writing kind of boggles my mind. If shared experiences like those, with friends, are such a high priority for you, then maybe writing isn't your calling, or maybe you need to find a way to make it a more social, collective experience. Some writers work as part of teams. Would that be better for you?
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Old 01-24-2013, 04:23 AM   #25
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This is the real question. If you aren't writing because you love it, because you NEED to, then why?

to be fair, I don't need to, not even remotely close. But I DO choose to, and WANT to.
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