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My Freedom Flame

Motivating Writers Worldwide

Category: Lifestyle (page 1 of 14)

Dear Writers: Say ‘No’ to Social Conformity

As Writers, We’re Idea Creators, Not Conformists

Writers are idealists. We’re not one to follow in line and live life in ways society tells us to. You know, the old get up, fight traffic, sit in a job for eight to ten hours a day while making someone else a lot of money and helping them see their dream come true, and fight traffic on the way home. No, social conformity isn’t appealing to us writers.

 

We’re the idealists, the thinkers, the creators. We see a problem and must speak of it, regardless of the opinions of the masses.

 

We might get hammered for our work and ideas, but if we believe in the real concept of what we preach, not a soul on this planet can stop us.

 

This article outlines social conformity and what we can do to spread our own ideas through our writing. Join the courageous pact of authors.

 

Social Conformity

We witness social conformity each day.

 

How many of us have parents who woke up and go to work on weekdays and come home stressed out of their minds?

 

Many of us have parents who are still in the neverending cycle of the everyday workforce. They work for the money, but what else?

 

Dreams? Ambitions? Creativity? Thrown out the window.

 

If you’re an observer like myself, you may wonder why they’re doing this to themselves. It’s not even healthy, and neither is social conformity.

 

This begins in school, where we’re subject to talking when permitted, walking in single-file lines to and from class, being told when we can and can’t eat, and being conditioned to sit in class and become indoctrinated into a one-sided debate school teaches about today until we hear a bell in which we all make a mad dash out of the classroom only to have between two and four minutes until we’re required to be in the next class.

 

Worse yet, what about our creativity?

 

In such a uniformed environment which in many cases is one size, fits all, our creativity is squashed out of us. We’re taught we need to graduate and maybe attend college in hopes of joining Corporate America as one.

 

As homogenous drones, as I like to say.

Once we graduate and think we’re free from the reigns of societal structure, life hits us and by the way, we become conditioned into being sheep of mass media while in our latter half of school to the point it’s all we pay attention to. And in life after school, it’s thrown at us, morphing our minds and teaching us not to argue specific points.

 

Like when in school, we’re told when we need to be at work, when we can leave, when we can have a lunch break, and when recess (the gym, in my case), is. School never ends.

They say school prepares us for real life. It does, because conformity has become real life, and it sucks. I mean, ask yourself whether you’re the free spirit or a simple slave to society you’d rather not be in or would rather be doing something else.

 

As writers, creators, bloggers, artists, I think I know where the answer lies.

 

Fixing the Mess

How does one fix the mess?

 

Since Middle School, I thought to myself why am I doing this?

 

Like, why am I even going through this crazy indoctrinating prison each day?

 

To prepare you for life in the workforce, they said.

 

Slave away for someone else, they said.

 

Translation: to prepare you to make a lot of money for someone else under the strict micromanaging of someone else.

 

Are you free?

 

Storytime!

 

I had my first job at Riesbecks Foods in Wintersville, Ohio, making $7.85 and hour and still thought why I’m doing this?

 

Bagging groceries for angry customers, stocking produce only for the angry customer to ask why the price of cherries was so high.

 

Did I want to be there?

 

Of course, not!

Want an even more comedic story? This one outlines the truth of social conformity and how damaging it can be to the individualist soul looking to sell their ideas to the masses.

Back at Riesbecks, this man named Rick from Caito Foods directed our department two days a week. He told me what awesome deal I had and how lucky I was to work in produce. He said the customer buys, Riesbecks gets money, Caito gets money, he gets money, the department lead gets money, and I get the remainder. Sound good?

I’m not sure what twenty-one-year-old Todd said back in July 2012, but I’m sure twenty-seven-year-old Todd would’ve told Rick, who was in his mid-forties and had been involved with produce since age sixteen, to go screw himself, pay his taxes, retire, and await death’s hand.

 

Isn’t that what any conformist tells you?

 

Yeah, Todd, you’re here for two things: pay taxes and die.

 

My middle school teachers told me this.

 

Questions my younger self had for the soul.

What kind of life is this? Why am I here? Is this life? This isn’t life, there has to be something better.

That was back in 2012, and here in 2018, I can sit back in my personal trainer’s office and write on my downtime and openly wonder why people are still doing this? I’ll go get a bowl of chicken, rice, and pinto beans at Chipotle (clean meal) and see everyone on my way to and from in a hurry, beeping and yelling at each other and wondering why are they doing this?

 

Staying the Course

Most would’ve given in to our increasingly Big Brother society by now but I haven’t. I won’t, and I refuse to. In fact, the older I get, the more content I am with staying away from it. I like training, I love writing, and I want to sell my works and ideas to the world…and never, ever, ever punch a time clock.

Where are you?

Are you punching a timeclock and miserable or are you out doing something you want to do?

Are you writing your next work, selling something you believe in one-thousand times over, or are you punching the timeclock like you did in school?

Are you eating lunch when you want?

Are you setting your own schedule?

Are you free?

Just because we live in America doesn’t mean we’re free. Free isn’t free, unless we’re free from the stresses of the real world.

 

The way out is to realize this harsh reality, take control of your life, and work like hell to become an authority in your respective niche. Whether it’s writing, blogging, or both, become an authority and slowly climb the ladder to success, where your dream ends at the top.

 

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Creative Writers, Let the Universe Know

You’re a Creative Writer First

If writing is your passion, I have good news for you. You’re a writer before anything else.

 

Any motivational teacher will tell us the universe needs to know. I don’t care how absurd it sounds to people or how crazy they’ll think you are, because trust me, the everymen and women of our world will think so, and they encompass ninety-eight percent of the population.

 

You’re Crazy Enough to Succeed

Back in 1985, someone said a phone would tell us anything we’d ask it. I often ask people in their forties and fifties what their response would’ve been to the one staking this claim, and the answers are identical; they would’ve thought the person to be out of their mind.

You’re not out of your mind.

 

You’re a thinker and being a thinker means you’ve already risen above the status quo of slaving away to make a living at maybe a decent salary, but you’re still slaving away stocking the grocery aisle at a local grocery store.

 

Did you see yourself fronting items for a living making your corporate overlords a lot of money?

 

Sure, your store manager may put on the happy charade that he and everyone else is glad to be here, working away, slaving away, making a living, and gaining their family’s and friend’s respect.

 

But are you truly happy stocking store shelves for a living, regardless of the pay?

 

Right, didn’t think so.

 

Why not turn it into a motivation for writing?

 

Why not go out of your way to remind yourself daily that you’re a creator first, and more specific, a writer first.

 

Don’t ask if you’re crazy for being a dreamer.

 

Ask if you’re crazy enough to pursue your passion and not only pursue it, but have succeeded in doing so.

 

Avoid Haters

Caution!

 

When you make the announcement that you’re a writer, the world will sneer back at you.

 

All those miserable souls in the grocery store, or wherever it is you work will be all too happy to give you a lesson in their own perceived reality.

 

Such perceived reality is they’ll say you’ll be stuck in grocery-land dealing with angry customers one, five, and ten years from now. They’ll say you’ll be stuck in your current job or managing a department if you’re lucky.

 

If you’re lucky.

 

They’ll say the company picks and chooses who moves up and who remains in their grunt jobs at the front of the store bagging groceries, ringing customers out, stocking store shelves, crushing bins, and taking out loads of garbage.

 

But, perceived reality is how we perceive it. If we’re conditioned into perceiving reality as nothing more than working in a grocery store, it’s all we’ll amount to. But, if we remind ourselves daily that we’re writers, we’re creators, we’re dreamers, we’re seekers, we can recondition our minds.

 

Rewiring the Brain

You want to know something?

 

It is possible to rewire the brain.

 

When Joanna Penn first started, she constantly reminded herself while commuting to and from her miserable corporate job that she’s a creator.

 

The brain, when exposed to constant repetition, conditions, or reconditions itself. Because those miserable souls working in a grocery store spend their breaks sitting outside wondering why such misery and rotten luck was bestowed upon them, remind yourself it’s not the case.

 

People who are miserable choose to be miserable. Of course, when brought to the individual, there are exceptions, and some people never catch a break, but when zoomed out collectively you’ll find most choose misery.

 

They’re conditioned, sometimes since childhood. They’re told it’s not in the cards to make a living doing what they love. They’re told the world doesn’t act that way. They’re told to make a living, they’re going to spend their lives slaving away for someone else.

 

It’s not true.

 

Writer’s Gauntlet

The writer’s gauntlet is a tough road, no doubt. I’m not going to lie, you’re going to have obstacles, roadblocks, adversity, and days where you ask why you’re even bothering.

 

The good news?

 

Such times never last. If we remember why we’re doing what we’re doing. If we can wake up each day, each morning, and can’t wait to roll up our sleeves and get to work on our writing passion, we’re going to find ourselves getting more and more successful daily.

 

It’ll be a slow build, but progressive. With each passing week, month, set of months, we’ll notice the changes we make. Others will notice the changes, too.

 

The sneers and eyerolls will vanish and those who once panned you will look back in awe, admiring the work you accomplished.

 

You’re going to gain a following. Such a following is going to talk about you to others in a good light.

 

You’ll build a tribe, and you’ll be a known authority in a field you love.

 

One day, you’ll be glad you took the time and told the universe you’re a writer, a creator, a dreamer, a seeker, and anything else you want it to know.

 

Conclusion

Sometimes, it’s a scary process.

 

We’ve been conditioned to work for others, help our overlords see their dreams come true, make them a lot of money, and are expected to be grateful for the opportunity.

 

They expect us to credit them for saving us from living in constant poverty, on the streets, and a life of misery.

 

But when we see misery in the workplace, we realize otherwise.

 

When we see others complaining about waking up early on a Monday or Tuesday morning, fighting traffic to work, reminiscing about and looking forward to next weekend, we discover it’s not how we want to live.

 

It’s no way to live.

 

Worse yet, the remedy is tabooed, because such remedies require courage from you to take a stand and demand you’re more capable than what others are saying.

 

Have the courage to state with conviction that you’re a writer, command they listen to you, and worry not about initial backlash you face.

 

Because adversity often leads to beautiful destinations.

 

 

 

 

 

How to Concoct Creative Writing Topics

Stumped for Ideas? I’m Here to Help

Okay, so you’ve hit the inevitable writer’s block and are out of creative writing topics to brainstorm upon.

 

Well, these are obstacles that will bounce in your way every now and again unless you take preventative steps in the process.

 

Even the best of us, bestselling authors included have had a time or times where they drew a massive blank.

 

Do we hear crickets in the mind?

 

Not to worry, because sometimes drawing blanks and staring at the blank computer screen for hours at a time writing a few words before hitting backspace can be remedied if you know what to do.

 

Below are four awesome tips to combat the inevitable writer’s block and will give you, my readers new and awesome outlooks on what to do when you’re stuck staring at a blank computer screen.

 

Remedy Number One: Turn Your Standalone Work into a Trilogy

So, we’re out of ideas but we can cut our stress in half by writing a standalone novel into a trilogy.

 

Or a prequel?

 

Anything that motivates you to start writing again and fill your Word documents (or whatever word processor you like) into a new, awesome work.

 

Why a trilogy?

 

Easy. You only need to invent a plot. The characters have been invented. Their personas, characteristics, likes, dislikes, everything you need except a plot.

 

Though it’ll take a little bit of mental exercise you’re already halfway home and that is ten times further along than most of the general population. Take a moment and congratulate yourself.

 

So, get cooking for a new plot but if you’re still stumped and staring at a blank screen trying to get Cain to do this or Cain to do that (Cain’s my main character in Northern Knights so I use his example often) don’t worry, just move on to Remedy Number 2.

 

Remedy Number 2: Mirror a Plot of Another Work

Sound dirty?

 

Eh, it might be.

 

How many of you have seen Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace?

 

Did you know George Lucas borrowed another plot?

 

Go to Wikipedia right now and look up The Hidden Fortress.

 

It’s identical to The Phantom Menace.

 

However, you have your own unique characters, situations, backgrounds, and every other element to make your work unique. So, though you may end up borrowing a plot from another work, it’s by no means fan fiction.

 

For instance, I used Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince as a basis for Northern Knights. But since Cain and company are a different band than Harry, Ron, and Hermione, it’s a different story. Below I highlight some examples:

1. Summit University = Hogwarts

 

2. Cain Riscattare = Harry Potter

 

3. Shotball (think rugby plus American Football) = Quidditch

 

4. Scotty Volt = Draco Malfoy

 

5. Adam Syndari = Severus Snape (sort of)

 

6. Santos Complex = Gryffindor House

 

7. Freedom Flames = Order of the Phoenix

 

8. Southpoint Empire = Death Eaters

 

9. King Rooney = Lord Voldemort (sort of)

 

10. Richfield = Hogsmeade

 

Now, there are differences between all the comparisons here. For instance, Richfield, North Columbia is comparable to Hogsmeade Village but it’s based off my hometown of Wintersville, Ohio, a small town about forty-five miles west of Pittsburgh. In other words, it bears zero resemblance to Hogsmeade.

 

Cain and Harry Potter are comparable but Cain’s personality is more akin to James Potter and Severus Snape. Lira, Cain’s best friend may remind a reader of Hermione Granger, except Lira’s exceptionally talented in athletics.

 

I can go all day between Harry Potter and Northern Knights, but while we’re comparing the works as one plot mirroring another they’re still different. Your works can do the same.

 

Just because you’re “borrowing” a plot, you’re still creating your own, unique, original content.

Remedy Three: Use a Plot Generator

Sure, it may seem generic but if you’re truly stuck, at least give it a fair shot. Try Masterpiece Generator at plot-generator.org.uk and let it go to work for your depleted mind.

 

It’s the hottest generator on the net today and you can tailor it into anything specific you’re looking for.

 

For instance, if you’re a short story, screen, or novel writer, there are unique generators for each. It also can generate recommendations for first lines in your own story or even plot twists if you’re stuck in the middle of a story.

 

Find all of its cool details here.

 

There are thousands of plot generators and creative writing topic prompts out there that you can use. Maybe you have a favorite you love to generate awesome ideas from.

 

The goal here is to fill your Word document or spreadsheet with ideas and I guarantee you something will click before you know it.

 

Remedy Four: Music and Movies

Yes, music and movies inspire us to write. Some of us love to listen to music as we’re writing or simply to brainstorm and movies are no different.

 

Think of movies that inspired you to write your work. Movies that helped me write Northern Knights were Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince as discussed earlier, The Hunger Games, and Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.

 

Read up on movie plots on sites like Wikipedia and soon the inspiration to get cracking on your next awesome plot will flow through your creative veins.

 

What’re You Waiting For?

Okay, creatives, what are you waiting for? Stop staring at your blank screens and do something few dare to do: take action!

 

Go through each of my steps until you get a winner. There is no right or wrong way to approach any of the remedies; the key is to get moving.

 

Don’t stress and just write. We’re in the brainstorm phase and writing is not a race; it’s a marathon and if you finish the marathon, it’s all that matters.

 

But, the first step is to move forward, jotting ideas onto a screen or a notepad will lead to another idea and soon you’ll be crafting a full outline or if you’re a panster, will be writing at a rate of a thousand words per minute.

 

Thanks a bunch for coming across My Freedom Flame, please come back soon.

Christmas in September?

Strange, Vivid Dreams: Part III

Here’s a short Friday evening article for you. You all know I love writing about my vivid, whacked dreams. Well, the next one is entitled ‘Christmas in September.’

 
What a name, right?

 
Here’s a rundown:

 
1. It was at least eighty-degrees. The sun was out, it was clear, and perfect late-summer, early-fall weather. Best time of the year, right?

 
2. You know how dreams change? Ditto. After spending time in the pool, splashing around, carrying on, the snow comes.

 
3. At this point, I’m scrambling out of the pool, rushing to the house as now ‘thunder-snow’ is beginning like some late-summer, early-fall snowstorm. It’s freezing at this point.

 
4. Few hours go by, or however long, time doesn’t know any different in these dreams, the ground’s covered. Vehicles are covered. As in the popular U2 song, “A world in white, is underway.”

 
It went from September to December within minutes, and from December to February (by far the coldest, snowiest month here in the Ohio Valley) within hours.

 
Few minutes later, here’s where things get real interesting, it’s back to September, as if nothing happened.

 
Well, kind of. It was still colder than normal, but warm enough for the snow to melt. Give or take a few minutes, or hours, and the snow’s gone. Without a trace. As if it never happened.

 
I go back to the pool, which has remained open the entire time, and stick my hand in the water. It’s so warm you can see steam emerging from it, as if the pool had a heater.

 
What do I do?

 
Hey, I’m climbing back in the pool.

 
Once again, here comes the snow. About five minutes, or however long, after I hop in, it’s coming down harder now than it did the first time. Imagine being in a pool and the temperature drops below freezing. About ten degrees below freezing.

 
Yeah, even in a dream, you’re feeling it.

 
Time lapses, and now my family thinks it’s a good idea to go out to eat with a good six inches of snow on the ground. Fantastic. It’s twenty-degrees, but the day’s relatively long since it’s still technically summer.

 
I’ve had dreams like this before and I call them nightmares since I’ll wake up, praying it wasn’t real life. It’s not until I take a look outside and remember what day it is, do I feel a sense of relief.

 
Now, in the winter and there’s a blanket of snow on the ground, those spring/summer/fall dreams are heartbreakers. Man, you wake up after a vivid summertime dream beside a pool and it’s eighty-degrees only for your heart to sink when the ground’s covered in white.

Make Monday Morning Feel Like Saturday Morning

The Pain of Discipline Destroys Pain of Regret

So, you want to make Monday morning feel like Saturday morning?

 

Get ready take some shots, because the pain of discipline hurts, but it feels so much better than the pain of regret.

 

That’s what it takes to Make Monday feel like Saturday.

 

Ready for the commitment?

 

Hop on.

 

Let’s make every single day feel like a day off from the workforce.

 
No, I’m not a Democratic Socialist Liberal and never will be, so I’m not talking about a way for government to provide welfare to the masses.

 
I’m also not talking about government providing dream jobs to the masses either. Jobs like go dig a hole and fill it back up so I can pay you $15 an hour. Nada. I’d rather do something productive.

 
Either way, it’s impossible unless government wishes to steal vast amounts of income and redistribute which kills motivation and it’s what My Freedom Flame is all about; motivation. Motivation to turn Monday morning into Saturday morning.

 

And challenge the hell out of mainstream thought.

 
First, you need to embark on a journey you see worthwhile.

 
For me and many of my readers, it’s writing. Write, speak your mind, sell ideas, make money off your ideas, and turn Monday into Saturday.

 
We love to write so much we’ll stay up until two in the morning to get our thoughts down. Or, if we’re writing a book, we’re up editing. I’ll stay up until two on these nights and wake up at six the next morning.

 

And feel like Superman off four hours of sleep.

 
And I’m on the same journey you’re on: To make Monday morning feel like Saturday morning.

 

By writing. By selling ideas. By earning money in a field I can see myself working in for the next forty or fifty years.

 
Imagine waking up each Monday morning and while the masses are off fighting traffic to their stressful day jobs, you get to do what you love…and make money off it.

 
Sound good?

 
Where’s the catch?

 
Oh, let’s talk about it.

 

The Catch: Congrats on Your New Full-Time Job!

Wait, you only have time for one full-time gig?

 
Oh, it’s time to think again, because we’re going to treat your passion like a second full-time job.

 

Are you green in the face yet?

 
Great!

 
Now, step out of that comfort zone and say bye-bye (for the most part) to:

 
1. Friday Night Happy Hour

 
2. Going out Friday night to begin with

 
3. Weekend outings

 
4. Television. We’re turning the TV off and keeping it off

 
5. Recreational reading unless it has something to do with your passion

 
6. Beginning Phase One of distancing yourself from your day gig and starting the process of firing your boss

 
7. Beginning Phase One of creating a new gig where you’re your own boss
Yep, you read Six and Seven right. Fire your boss!

 
Because evil mean bosses deserve to be fired, and you’re going to enjoy this process; I have already and I’m still a rookie.

 
As for steps One through Five, it’s going to test how bad you want something.

 

If you’re going to take instant gratification rather than looking at the big picture, don’t even bother with this. You’re either in, or you’re out.

 

The choice is yours, because when it comes to passion pursuit, if you’re not one-hundred-percent in, you’re going to slave away at your current or future gig you either hate or will hate.

 

Trust the Process

Why do most people give up or fail at pursuing their dreams?

 
They don’t like the idea of working for free.

 

Want to make Monday feel like Saturday?

 
As mentioned above, your forty-hour week became an eighty-hour week.

 
Know what most do?

 
They’ll take their weekly earnings and divide by forty to get an idea of how much they’re making per hour, but once the passion is inserted they’ll take the same number and divide by eighty.

 
You have to get the numbers out of your head.

 
Results aren’t immediate. In fact, they aren’t immediate even in the first six months.

 
Why do people expect immediate results?

 
1. Social media has had a monster influence where people pick and choose what they post. More often than not, people will inflate their success.

 

Every day, I see examples of people posting something successful and will get between one and two-hundred likes. Hey, if someone’s social media famous, take it with a grain of salt. It might be as good as it gets for them.

 
2. We live in a culture of instant gratification.

 

Look, these days you can have access to anything with a click of a button. Better yet, access to anything via touchscreen.

 

Want more fun?

 

Access to anything via voice command.

 

Not just that, TV tells us we can now have a miracle drug to help us lose weight, low-cost, three-step secrets to internet millions, government programs we never knew about that will make us millionaires, and a myriad of other “quick” fix scams.

 

It plants the seed that hard work is no longer applicable and everyone has access to a yellow brick road. If that were the case, we’d all be millionaires.

 
Understand this is a process and it’s one where not everyone is going to survive, mainly for reasons I mentioned above.

 
Every waking moment of free time will be spent toward working toward your ultimate passions. You need to understand this process is going to be a five-year plan, and much of Year One is building.

 

Where Does Exciting Begin?

Well, on the contrary, Year One gets exciting immediately.

 
Why?

 
Because you’re going to do a lot, and I mean a lot, of research. So much research every day may feel like Christmas, because you’re going to find cool new things.

 
This week alone, I discovered things like how to create a writers’ portfolio on Pinterest and how to use Instafreebie to promote my perma-free book, Fighting Tyranny (almost perma-free, because Amazon makes price-matching tough these days). Nevertheless, my email subscription is now trending in the right direction from these two little tweaks.

 
Not just that, speaking of Fighting Tyranny, it’s labeled a Hot Buy on Scribd at the time of this posting, and it’s generating reviews on Playster, plus rising in the rankings on Kobo. If only Amazon complies, I’ll be golden.

 
Why am I talking so much about Fighting Tyranny?

 
Because it’s the ticket to two things:

 
1. It’s a funnel to build an email subscriber list; anyone enjoying the book can sign up for my subscription list and get a free bonus novella (also containing Neo and Seneca, my two main characters).

 
2. It’s a pipeline to my KDP Select and primary work (until October 30th) Northern Knights, Book One in the Lord of Columbia Series, which takes place in the same world as Fighting Tyranny, so there’s a clear connection.

 
Now, back to trusting the process.

 
Want a reality check? A good reality check?

 
I didn’t know any of this three weeks ago.

 
Three weeks ago, neither Fighting Tyranny nor its magnet book existed.

 
In fact, I was spending countless hours tearing the internet apart looking for ways to market Northern Knights.

 
But I didn’t panic. Instead, I buckled down, stayed calm, and trusted the process, knowing I’d stumble upon something.

 
Want a bonus?

 
My Freedom Flame’s viewership has skyrocketed over the past thirty days. Like, off the charts skyrocketed.

 
When I started My Freedom Flame in February, it generated one-hundred-seventy viewers.

 
In August alone, we’re in four figures.

 
It’s been an exciting seven months, and trust in the process has become exceptional.

 

Find Mentors

This never would’ve happened without sound research from various reputable blogs and mentors. Want a list of mine, writers?

 
1. Jerry Jenkins

 
2. Jerry Jenkins Writers’ Guild

 
3. Just Publishing Advice (Derek Haines)

 
4. The Creative Penn (Joanna Penn)

 
5. Nick Stephenson

 
Many fail because they want to go at it alone or think they know it all.

 
Newsflash, no one knows it all.

 
So, get rid of your ego, find mentors, find people either local or online, and get them to show you the way.

 
Again, how bad do you want out of your job?

 
Are you willing to sacrifice your current friend list to make new friends?

 
If the answer’s yes, you’re ready, because it’s time to rebuild your social network with like-minded people.

 
Together, you’ll conquer.

 

Now, go fire your boss, and turn Monday into Saturday.

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