Friday, October 24, 2014

Such Outward Things Do Dwell in My Desires

Maybe next year St. Crispin's Day will fall on a day when I'd normally blog, but this year it's tomorrow, October 25, 2014, that the anniversary of one of the bloodiest single battles in the history of Western civilization (a more ironic term in this case even than usual) falls. If you didn't know about it, you've got a year to learn until the 600th anniversary. I might throw a party. I threaten to throw a Battle of Agincourt/St. Crispin's Day party every year and never do, but a 600th anniversary of anything is rare enough that I might actually follow through.

Not pictured: St. Crispin Glover

Anyway. Since it's not actually October 25th, and posting the Henry V speech would be a very lazy way to fill this space, I'll address some of the other stuff that was in my Facebook feedback a couple of weeks ago. These are questions that didn't lead to long or good answers, unfortunately, so I'm going with a Q&A format.

Q. Tips about being a good editor of one's work?

A. See, great example. My tips include a) practicing, a lot, for yeeears, and b) buying Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Dave King and Renni Browne. That's it. Not that interesting an answer.

The more you practice on other people's work, the better you'll be at your own. If you don't have any other people's writing to practice on, find a text copy of Oliver Twist or another Dickens novel on Gutenberg and try editing it, just omitting needless words and making sentences clearer and punchier, in your word processor. That sounds unkind, or presumptuous, but...just try it. I think you'll see what I mean.

Art by Kate Beaton

Q. All About Fonts?

A. I sort of love fonts, although having learned about the existence of true font nerds, I don't fall in that category. I really like Bookman Old Style and Book Antiqua, I am not that excited about Arial, and I dislike Courier. Of course Comic Sans is a scourge, and the font that Slate has been using of late is such a travesty that I've stopped reading the site altogether, when it used to be an everyday thing. Those ys, ugh. TNR is completely transparent to me, with no inflection at all, so that's always my preference. I do think fonts have inflection, and affect the way readers read, but I couldn't begin to interpret how they work.

You thought you were writing a joke comment, didn't you? Ha! HA! I even edited down that paragraph because I went on too long about sans serif.

Q. What are they teaching you in that [workshop] class of yours?

A. Lots of stuff. If I learn anything that seems worth chewing over or passing on, I'll probably write whole posts about it, like this one. Sadly, I haven't garnered any more faith in the process. In my workshop class last semester, we focused on "What is this story doing?", which turned out to be a lot more fruitful than other methods. But I think you need a lot of skill, both in the group and in the workshoppee, to do it from that angle.

I could write a whole post about what I think of workshopping, but it would not be especially positive. So I'll set that aside for now.

Here's a hint. Art by Peter Brueghel. 

Q. Writing rituals?

A. It's kind of silly how superstitious I am. However, the only element that's not negotiable is food. I can't be hungry or I can't write. Funny, because historically many writers have been motivated by hunger, but I can't concentrate for shit if my stomach's not full.

Otherwise, this is how I prefer to do it. I keep a notes book, always smaller than 8.5 x 11, where I write down dreams, character ideas, stuff I saw out in the world that I want to preserve for later, etc., all the way up to many-page plot outlines and poorly drawn maps of fictional cities. Any notes I take elsewhere - on my phone, in a .txt on my desktop, etc. - eventually get transcribed in the notes book. I keep a separate drafting book, a lined A4 or 8.5 x 11 Moleskine, where I write the first draft of everything longhand with specific Sharpie pens, which cost too much and don't last long enough, but I'm addicted to them. When drafting is done, I type from that notebook, and in typing I'm revising. So the first typed draft is like the second or 2.5th draft of the work, because I'm usually correcting the draft even as I'm drafting, because I am annoying.

Not everyone needs writing practices this specific.

This was by far the oddest Google Images search result for "meticulous." 

None of these elements other than the full tummy is 100% required. Sometimes I'll write in ballpoint on notebook paper. (Not often, though.) And sometimes I need a small alcoholic beverage to lose my fear of the blank page, but getting too drunk to go on is a bad idea.

Speaking of which, don't let any rogue Agincourt partiers slip you anything too strong this weekend. It's only the 599th anniversary, after all. No need to really let your hair down.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Control Ain't Just a Janet Jackson Song

The Girl Scout story got workshopped yesterday. It was a confusing, difficult workshop. There was no consensus; everyone had something different to say about what they wanted it to do and be. Usually when that happens, it means the story needs pitching, not rewriting, but I'm certain that is not the case here. So I don't really know where to go with it, aside from just trusting in what I wrote, which is an extremely arrogant thing to do. I think I'll submit it a few places and then look at it again in six months or thereabouts.

The most worrisome comment was from the professor, who told me that I needed to "let go of intent" to give my work "a more organic feel". This is more or less the same thing that my workshop professor from last semester told me. She gave me feedback that has haunted me insanely since I got it: that my control over the writing was too tight, that the story was constructed too meticulously and that I needed to let go and write with more freedom. I have no idea what this means or how to improve it (particularly with the story I workshopped that led to this feedback, which required strong control, dammit), but hearing an echo of it in another professor, who has no idea what the prior one said, makes me want to wail and rend my garments.


(She also said the Girl Scout story was "nearly flawless" in its surface aspects. Which is a nice adjective, one I'm happy to take away with me.)

Aside from that, something else happened since last we spoke. Over the weekend, I had a fit that is seemingly becoming a part of my ritual for beginning a big project. I drew you a highly professional diagram for this process.

So this weekend I kicked and screamed and yelled and whined about the wikibook, because no fooling, you guys, I am genuinely scared out of my skull about writing this thing. But I can't keep pretending that I can put it off until next year, or next century. I have to begin. So I had the tantrum, and now I can buckle down.

I have no idea how this project is going to go. Not a clue. Generally it takes me something like a quarter of a year to write a novel (which, please, writers who are reading: don't use that as an example for your own work or a way to shame me about the shoddiness of my effort), but the nature of this book means I could be working on it for much longer. Years, maybe. I hope I won't be, but I'm not eliminating it as a possibility.

Matt advised me to set a deadline for review on it. That is, he said I should work for a certain number of months and then make a mandatory stop to reevaluate the project, see if I should keep going or stop or set other deadlines or what. I thought this was fucking amazing advice, and I plan to implement it.

I don't know how to organize my work on it around my other responsibilities, which have changed dramatically since the last time I worked on a novel. But I hope to get going before the end of October. Now that I've punched pillows and moaned sufficiently, work can really start.

It's work that needs tight control, so I guess my professor's feedback is well-timed. Either that or I'm not ready to write this book at all and it's going to be a big disaster. I guess, in the coming months, we'll see.

Friday, October 17, 2014

It's the Law, Except When It's Not

Is this a From Me to You post? I don't really know.

I asked for some feedback on what to blog about on Facebook last Friday. Responses ranged from helpful to scatological:

The only thing (aside from poop) that came up more than once is time, so let's go with that for now.

I've heard of writers who get up at 4 AM to write for an hour every day before they fix their kids' breakfasts, functioning on six hours of sleep for years on end. I've heard of writers who compose novels with their thumbs, on BlackBerries, while they sit at security-guard jobs. I've heard of writers who do a couple hundred words at a time on their lunch breaks.

I do not write this way. I admire the dedication of those writers, but OMG no.

This past spring I went to a reading by Aimee Bender, whose novel The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake I adored. Someone asked her during the Q&A how she found time for writing, and she gave an answer that, while not personally helpful to me, I pass on whenever I'm asked a question about finding time to write. She said that for most of her writing life, she got up every morning and wrote for an hour. This was not a new suggestion to me, but the way she phrased it was novel: she told herself this is the law. You have to write for an hour, no matter what; it's the law. Something about that phrasing worked extremely well for her, and I can see how it would be helpful for other writers.

So yeah, just put Judge Dredd over your desk and you'll write up a storm

Pretty much the only rule of writing that I've heard repeated everywhere, that does not change from site to site and teacher to teacher, is that you have to write every day. And I don't do it. I don't like to advertise this, because it makes me feel like I'm doing something wrong, but I just can't write every day. It would become rote and unfun and impossible if I had to do it every day, and how could I build a fulfilling life out of that?

But I suspect few people are as stymied by routine as I am, so "write every day" is probably a good rule for the majority of writers. It means you get in the habit of constant writing, whether you feel like it or not, whether what comes out is good or not. It means you do a lot of work, and that's how you get better. Besides, in truth, I don't recommend my method to anybody. I'm a binge personality (I don't recommend that, either), and bingeing is how I write: for hours and hours on end, for hours every day for perhaps weeks at a time, setting aside food and sleep and husband until the project is done and I go back to my life. My whole focus is on the project and I'm sleepwalking through everything else, and when I try to imagine focusing on the project for a little bit of time every day for months or years of days in a row, it sounds like hell.

Literally the only other writer I've ever heard of who works/worked like this is Faulkner, who, I understand, wrote his books in a matter of months each and then went on alcoholic benders until it was time to write again. It's nice to be in that company (if not that lifestyle), but again, I don't recommend it.

(awkward pulling at collar)

The best way I've ever heard of to write every day when you don't have time to write every day is what my friend Katie does. She has no time to write, and she has a quota of 200 words per day. (Keeping your goal low is crucial for this writing-every-day thing, because 200 words a day, piddling as it sounds, is still 70,000+ words per year.) If she can't meet the quota one day, it's not something for which she berates herself, which is crucial. Even better, she's not allowed to write more than 200 words per day to get ahead on future days, but she is allowed to write more per day to make up for past days. This is such a kind and forgiving, yet steely, method of making writing happen, and I admire it so much. It means that she can feel better about making up for her whole week on a Friday night when she's on fire, but she can't get cocky and give herself days off the next week.

(By the way, check out Katie's new website and, thereby, her essays and fiction. She's the best.)

The heart of this question, for me, is not how to make time for writing in your day, but how to make time for writing in your life. For most people, carving out a bit of time every day is how to do it, but for me, it means non-actual-writing stuff on a regular basis and actual writing only every so often. That is, constant people-watching and eavesdropping is how I build the foundation for a story or a book (sorry, world, but I'm always observing you), and then a big release every so often is how the story or book happens.

Over the past two years, I've pretty much stopped agonizing about dry spells. I'm not sure if I accept or reject the idea of writer's block, but I sometimes fail to write for six or eight months at a clip. I used to fret and complain about this a lot, but now I just shut up and wait. I accept that dry spells are an unavoidable aspect of a binge personality, and that the machine will start up again. (There's proof on this very blog that it will.)

And I will not run out of ideas. I have three book-sized ideas sitting in my notebook, waiting for me to be ready to write them. One of them has a few more years at least (it's about God, so...I could be forty or older before that one comes together), one of them I've tried twice and it's just not ripe yet, I guess, and the third is gonna go, most likely, in the next few months. Plus there's the sequel to Highbinder, which I'm readyish to write, but I don't think it's a good idea to start yet, and a western that I'm not in the least ready to write. That's plenty of work for a while, along with short story ideas that'll crop up along the way and old work that I could retool now that I know more.

So that's how I make time for writing. I spread out my arms and settle into a cross-legged position and wait. It's the attitude of making room in my head for it. When I'm ready, the writing happens, kind of like bowel movements happen - whether you have time for them now or not. I go through the motions of resisting or procrastinating, but every cell in me knows, when it's time, what I have to do: butt in chair, fingers wrapped around pen, concentration on page, until the work is done. When it's time to binge on writing, it's time, and everything else in my life has to move aside for it.

If you don't feel the same get-to-the-bathroom-now urgency that I do when it's time for you to write, then you should probably try to write 200 words every day. If you can't manage that, try first making room in your head for writing to happen, and eventually, hopefully, you'll find room in your life for some small quota per day. I wish I had more reliable and less mysterious methods I could share for how I do it, but I hope I've shared some helpful methods of others, instead.

Also, I managed to write about poop. So there.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

We, the Other Mothers, Do Not Salute You

Over the weekend I revised the story I wrote a couple of weeks ago, the one I thought came out pretty well. I was right, it came out pretty well. I'll name it the Girl Scout story here. It was hard to write but easy to revise (which, like, THANK YOU, LITTLE BABY JESUS), and I'm pleased with it. Matt's read revealed no major problems (which may actually be a first), another reader loved it and had no suggestions, and I even sent it to the hardest critic in my life, who loved it. I have submission plans for it already, but I'm also handing it out to my workshop class. I'll find out next Monday what they thought of it, and of course you'll hear about that.

I did lots of other stuff this weekend, too: saw an amazing opera, went to an unbelievable Hollywood costume exhibition, went out to dinner to celebrate my birthday (which was yesterday), did part of a very hard writing exercise, read about half of Toni Morrison's Jazz. Having a real job, even though it's part-time, has really changed the shape of my free hours, which is why so much had to squeeze into those two days. Lots to say about that, but I don't really want to get into it, here or anywhere else, honestly.

Although it is part of the reason why there was no post in this space on Friday. I didn't know what to write about, and I didn't really have the mental time to come up with a topic. I asked for feedback about post topics on Facebook and got some good answers, so look for that this Friday and in other posts to come. In the meantime, I think I'll veer right back to the story I revised this weekend as an opportunity to talk about the first-person plural point of view.

If you don't know what I mean, first-person plural is "we."
We found what we were looking for in the small freezer at the front of the shop - Cornettos, of course, in paper wrappers, which we greedily tore open and crunched and licked until they were gone. 
If you didn't just get the urge to watch Shaun of the Dead, I'm not sure we can be friends anymore

After he read the Girl Scout story, which is written in first-person plural, Matt asked me who else writes in this POV. I told him Joshua Ferris, of course, Then We Came to the End, and he said yeah, you always mention that guy, who else? I said um...well, me, I guess. I'd told him that first-person plural wasn't an uncommon way to tell a story, but promptly failed to think of any other stories or novels I've read in that POV. (Examples are welcome in the comments.)

What is first-person plural good for? I can't give you college-sanctioned answers to that question, but I can tell you that I've used it for two stories (and read it in a well-executed novel) where the intention was to give the sense of a collective mindset. Whether that mindset is actually shared in its entirety by the whole group of characters to whom the "we" refers is part of what gives the stories, or the novel, their tension. In End, the characters are all co-workers, so the POV serves as an interesting commentary on the nature of the millennial workplace. Ferris also positions the co-workers separately from their boss, who is quietly battling breast cancer, throughout the novel. There's a we and then there's a she. It's a useful construct for character conflict.

The characters that compose the we also have separate identities - ways in which they stand apart from what they share as part of the collective. In both of the stories I've written in first-person plural, this distinction crops up at a crucial point in the narrative. It's meant to be the crest of a wave, the point when the prose points out the characters' distinctions.
A few of us wonder again whether she’s sleeping with Ray, and whether this means that she has his ear. Only two of us know that she isn’t and doesn’t.
In the Girl Scout story, my intention was to invoke a specter from my childhood: The Other Mothers. O, the dreaded Other Mothers. The heartless, judgy, gossipy clan of women who do everything right and observe every tiny thing you do wrong. For whom there are evidently thirty hours in the day to accomplish it all, instead of your own twenty-four. Who notice, and remember forever, the one day your child had dirty fingernails or tangled hair, the one day you yanked your kid by the arm and yelled instead of speaking patiently and wisely, the one day you put Doritos into the lunch box instead of apple slices. Of course The Other Mothers are not a united army (God help us all if they become one), but the ways in which they are the same are virulent, and have the potential to form interesting conflicts at, say, a Girl Scout meeting at which there arrives a new and different mom. Enter first-person plural, where The Other Mothers are the we.

I mean, thank goodness

I don't know if I'm doing this right, of course. It's possible that the conclusions I drew about what I observed in End are not the correct conclusions, and I'm using first-person plural wrong. I guess Monday will be an opportunity to hear about that, and to find out from our professor if there's something else I could or should be doing with the POV. If I'm wrong, I will mind, of course, but I'll mind a lot less than I would if I hadn't had the opportunity to put this story on paper in the meantime.

See you Friday. We'll be waiting.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

What I Meant to Say About Sentences

Oh, mercy, I don't even know where to start this post. I guess it starts with Stanley Fish, but if I start with Stanley Fish I really should start with Ron Rosenbaum, just for anecdote's sake, and if I do that, I might as well start with the dinosaurs because I'll go on for thousands of words.

Or I could start with the alphabet. This is my next tattoo:

Because that, right there, is how you write books. You write them with what's inside that monogram, and that's all there is to it: arranging the alphabet over and over. But see, that leads me to a fun encounter that happened during the first or second class period in my workshop this semester, so maybe that's the place I should start. The place where, after a back-and-forth, I shouted "Sentences!" like a child shouting "Ice cream!"

There's also Dr. Haake, and what she told us last semester about the spaces between sentences (that's the place where writing happens. Did you know that? I didn't). There's Proust vs. Hemingway: WWE SMACKDOWN. There's brick and spackle and comma and semicolon. There's Chomsky.

It appears that I have already started.

I wanted to write today about sentences. I wanted to write about this book I read last month, How to Write a Sentence by Stanley Fish, which is a wonderful book that I recommend very highly if you give a damn about writing and (not or) you have made it through The Elements of Style and took some of its advice to heart and memory.

I wanted to write about how much sentences mean to me, and how much it consequently meant to me that my teacher told me I write good sentences. Sounds meaningless, but it's a compliment I'll take to my grave, because I knew she meant it. How much I learned from rearranging sentences nonstop for three years as a copy editor, a practice I would recommend to any aspiring writer who can't read How to Write a Sentence, because after three years rearranging sentences as a copy editor you will enjoy How to Write a Sentence, I can pretty much guarantee that. How How to Write a Sentence condensed those three years and the semester of syntax that I took into a couple of chapters, and how grateful I am that Stanley Fish did that, so I can just point to this book and say "You want to write? Listen to Fish."

How I take every sentence seriously. The mouthfeel of it, the sense of it under your eyeballs and between your hands, the rhythm of it from your ribcage to your pubic bone. How I could barely do this week's writing exercise for my workshop class, because it demanded that we go through a prior exercise and rearrange 50% of the sentences with the notion in mind that the shape of every sentence matters, and I'd had that notion in mind when I wrote 100% of the sentences in my exercises, and then again when I revised them, so what was I supposed to do now? Rearrange them in a way that I didn't like, or that didn't suit the story? Just to make sure I did the exercise?

I wanted to write about the essay we read for this week, "The Geography of Sentences," which talks about how readers get lost in long, complex sentences that branch out into crazy kudzu vines that you have to follow out and then read backwards to find your way to the period. Yes, they do. They do get lost. That is exactly what they do. That is the point, essayist, getting lost and then rereading, because the pleasure is in following the winding road and then starting it over again to see all the pretty things on the way to the end twice. That, among so many other things, is what I learned from Proust: making a reader go back over a long, complex sentence is the point of writing a long, complex sentence. (And in Proust it's symbolic, this structure, because the book is all tied up with the winding, nonlinear, nonsimple nature of memory.) The essayist didn't disapprove, per se, of this kind of sentence. She just said to be careful when writing this kind of sentence, because Faulkner can get away with it [, but you can't, was the implication]. My reader-brain finds no greater pleasure than a sentence with a half-dozen branching clauses, and weeps at the penury of a Hemingway sentence, but the Hemingway sentence conquered literature in the 20th century and even a maximalist as brilliant as DFW couldn't bring the long sentence back to popularity, so I guess the war is won, at least for my lifetime, and I need to get over it, but do you see this sentence here? That sentence there is me not getting over it.

Sometimes kudzu will ruin the landscape for all other plants. 

I wanted to write about the sentence. The glory, the hubris, the necessity, the profundity, the iron maiden and the open valley of the sentence. The fact that all I care about as a writer, when I strip away all my ego, my goals, my petty foolishness, bickering with critiquers, inadequacy, discipline, lack of discipline, hunger, pride, beauty, idiotic yearning toward poetry -

- all I care about is writing good sentences.

I wanted to write about all that. But there's just too much to say.

Friday, October 3, 2014

From Me to You: Everything Means Nothing, or a Primer on Rejections

Welcome, one and all, to the fifth and final-for-now From Me to You digital pamphlet. There may be more topics for me to cover in the future, but my download folder is nearly out of favorite images, so it's time to say adios. I wish I'd posted these every two weeks instead of every week, because I think we're all getting a little fatigued, but if wishes were horses, those wishes would all run away, shrieking and bucking, terrified of a great unseen evil.*

You're still not listening to Welcome to Night Vale, are you? 

The first pamphlet regarded looking up markets to which to submit your work. Then I explained about little details in the submission process, followed by cover letters. Last week I ranted about bios and discussed the patience required in waiting for an answer. This week, a survival guide for rejections and acceptances.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Bore-Us Lessing and Other Lore from Last Week

After this weekend, I need to write a postscript to this post about reading. I need to make a correction: sometimes I do read in order to conquer. Because I'm 400 pages into The Golden Notebook and I'm determined to finish it - not because I'm enjoying it, but because it will not defeat me.

It's boring. It's astoundingly boring. It is this boring:

It combines endless self-dissection of a dull and pretty pathetic woman with political philosophy that has all the maturity of Objectivism with bold pronouncements about how women in general feel about orgasms and menstruation that bear little resemblance to how I (a woman, last time I checked) feel about orgasms and menstruation with UNFATHOMABLE BORINGNESS.

The edition I'm reading is 666 pages long (not a typo). For the first 150 pages I kept going because I was waiting for it to get somewhere, and for another 100 pages I kept going because I couldn't believe it really wasn't going anywhere, and then for another 50 I kept going because I marveled at how the book was almost halfway done and it was still as boring as counting rocks, and for the last 50 pages I've been fueled by vengeance. I insist upon finishing it now. It shall not triumph.

On Sunday I picked up This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, which is a book of shortish essays, just to read a few as a break. I laughed, and nearly cried, hysterical with relief at Patchett's fluid, pleasant prose, her wit, her utter lack of clunkiness and her ears not made of tin.

How did The Golden Notebook ever win such a respectable place in 20th century literature? The more pages I stack up behind my bookmark, the more I find that Lessing really doesn't write well. The structure of the book is postmodern and interesting, but the content sucks. Her word repetition is not a style (like Saunders or Wallace) but just poor editing; her prose is flat and lifeless; her head-hopping and interminable psychological speculation betray an inability to convey character information in subtler ways, not an Auster-like multilevel approach to human behavior.

Well. Now that I've complained at length about an experience I could theoretically stop having at any time, here's what else is up.

Last week felt like a big writing week. I wrote about 5,000 words, which is not actually much when I hold it up next to productive weeks of times past, but it felt like an awful lot. On Thursday morning I set out to do this week's writing exercise for my workshop class, because I had volunteered to share the exercise with the whole class on Monday and I wanted a decent amount of time to get it out. I wrote 1,000 words, but in writing I abandoned caution about how close to my own life I hewed, and I realized in revising that I could not possibly read this 1,000 words aloud to 15 people who do not know me.

So I started over. I had a handful of ideas that stuck to the exercise's parameters, and for two hours none of them worked. I wrote and crossed out, wrote and crossed out. I did finally eke out 1,000 words by thieving part of a friend's stressful job situation to write about. (She was fine with it.) It turned out funny and largely okay; I don't think I'll be submitting it anywhere, but it was competent and it did not embarrass me to read it to the class, which is all an exercise really has to do.

The class liked it. They thought it was funny and they said I read it well. Now I have only to wait and fill my stomach with adrenaline for two weeks more.

See, I signed up for the first workshop slot in mid-October - that is, my story will be one of the first two longer pieces we'll be workshopping in class. (I usually volunteer to go first in a workshop class not because I want to, but to cut down on awkward silence. In my experience no one ever wants to go first.) The story is to be 2,000-2,500 words, and I've had an idea kicking around for several months that I thought would be good for around that length. I intended to write it last week so I'd have two weeks to let it ferment before revising and bringing it in to class.

I set to work on it on Friday and managed 500 words before I ran out of gas. After a long break, I worked for several hours on Friday night, and it was hard, harder than writing has been for many months. I finished a draft (too long, of course), in enough time that I can give it two weeks before I revise, so technically the session was a success. But it was a terrible time. My desperation to walk away and do something else, anything else, was at DEFCON 2. Still, I sat and did it. Because that's the only way it gets done.

I think it's okay, this story. I planned it partly as an opportunity to revisit first-person plural, which I used for this brief story and which I just love. It's limiting and generous in such unique ways, and it's so rewarding to find the right situation for it. I got really interested in the characters as I was writing, and I think that means I'm on the right track.

Is there a situation that can't be covered by a gif from Easy A?
Because if there is, I don't want to know about it. 

In non-writing news, I got a new job, which I start today. I've been working at home for almost three years and I'm frightened about going into an office again. I loved being a copy editor, but the work has dried up as dramatically as California has, and a girl's gotta live. Wish me luck.