Sunday, October 23, 2011

The most convenient power outage. On Friday I got a grovelling letter from the power company.
Dear Sir/Madam 
…We are aware that your property experienced an unplanned power outage on 04.10.2011 and apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused…

I was like, "Really? I didn't even notice!"

Then I checked my calendar. Unusually for someone who works from home, I was out all day – that was the day I went to Bendigo to see the White Wedding Dress exhibition. I'd meant to go see it as research for the book I'm planning to write (part of the proposal is about how clothing from the past is saved, preserved and curated by museums), but since I am super poor right now, the only way I could afford to get to Bendigo was by hitching a lift with my parents, who were going on that Tuesday.

I got home at perhaps 7pm and there was no sign of any power outage. Apology accepted, CitiPower!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A weedy fringe. Yesterday I was on a bus on Lygon Street and noticed that there are weeds growing out of the guttering at Edward Beale hair salon. They look like a fringe of hair - someone at Edward Beale needs to trim them, and then demand $100 for the privilege.

You can't see it very well in the pic, but I guess that's the nature of camera phone pics snapped from a bus.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Horrible Coughing Man. I use a service called Back Up My Tweets to… well, to do just that. Tonight I logged in to work out when I'd tweeted about my Ryan Gosling Dream (it was the morning of 12 September: "Last night I dreamed I was hanging out with Ryan Gosling in McDonald's. He was really nice & normal. We were talking about our Book Deals") and it occurred to me to look up all my references to the Horrible Coughing Man.

This guy lives down the street from me and there's something NQR about him that I can't quite pin down, but I bet you would pick up on it if you saw him. He is relatively young and has fleshy, slack, wet, pink lips, a little like the Guy Who Never Closed His Mouth, and always wears faded tracksuit pants whose gathered ankles are a little too short.

I think he has OCD because I have walked behind him and watched him do weird things such as tapping particular fences and poles as he goes past. Perhaps another compulsive behaviour of his is the trademark cough… but then I have also witnessed him purchasing jumbo packs of cigarettes at Safeway.

This is a very mean speculation, but I wonder if the house he lives in is some kind of assisted living place, as another oddball lives there too – a guy in owlish, non-ironic child predator glasses who's always awkwardly hanging out the front, smoking and wearing headphones, like the younger brother from There's Something About Mary. But maybe I'm wrong and it's just an eccentric all-male share house like in The Young Ones.

The first time I noticed his Horrible Cough was a morning when I happened to be walking behind him on my way to work, and it turned out that we both went to the same tram stop and got on the same tram. I'd noticed that he was coughing and thought – as a reasonable person might! – that he had a cold.

But then on the tram he just kept coughing in a very deliberate, regular way that didn't seem driven by a spasm of any sort, and I found it completely revolting. EUGGH-huh! EUGGH-huh!

He tends to walk past my house at 8am, and I can hear him coming because he's wracked by horrible coughs that echo down the street. I wish I were a better, kinder, more patient and sympathetic person, but the coughing is so loud and visceral, and being a freelancer who works from home I am sometimes still in bed – with my head only a couple of metres away from the footpath outside – when it happens, so it just inspires revulsion, and sometimes paranoia that stopping outside my house to cough is part of his OCD ritual.

Obviously I don't comment on his every approach, but since it bothers me, I have tweeted about him many times. Here they are. Twitter is a constantly flowing stream and it's unusual to view it as an archive, so it's embarrassing to see how often I have repeated myself.

8 June, 2009: "Ugh, that horrible coughing man just walked past my house."

21 July, 2009: "Ugh, that horrible coughing man just walked past my house again. In other news, story still not done after all-nighter. Utterly destroyed."

4 August, 2009: "Oh god, the awful coughing man is in my street again! He's getting closer!"

11 August, 2009: "The Horrible Coughing Man approaches! (Earlier than usual, today.)"

26 August, 2009: "Ugh the Awful Coughing Man approaches!"

16 November, 2009: "Honestly, the Horrible Coughing Man needs to get his cough seen to. Hearing him hacking down my street is a revolting way to start the day."

1 February, 2010: "Oh gawd, the Horrible Coughing Man sounds like he's going to barf up a lung outside my house."

4 February, 2010: "If I find the Horrible Coughing Man this revolting simply walking past my house, imagine his poor family or co-workers."

15 February, 2010: "Oh god, the Horrible Coughing Man is currently menacing my street just as I plan to duck out for lunch! This isn't his usual timetable!"

28 March, 2010: "Today it was as if the Horrible Coughing Man actually paused outside my house to barf up a lung."

5 April, 2010: "Just saw the Horrible Coughing Man in the supermarket... buying 4 packets of Horizon cigarettes."

13 October, 2010: "The horror! Due to lateness I find myself at tram stop with the Horrible Coughing Man"

15 October, 2010: "Even the rain hasn't deterred the Horrible Coughing Man, who's currently hacking his way down my street."

23 January, 2011: "The Horrible Coughing Man just paused outside my house to hack up a lung. In my more paranoid moments I worry he does this deliberately."

27 March, 2011: "Oh goooood the Awful Coughing Man approaches, sounding even more consumptive than usual."

17 October, 2011: "The Horrible Coughing Man just paused for an epic bout of revolting death-rattling outside my house. I swear he does this deliberately."

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

MegaClover. Yesterday I noticed that there is MegaClover growing in my back yard. It is very large clover.

In case my fingers don't give you an idea of the impressively large scale of this clover, I saw some ordinary-sized clover in the median strip on Rathdowne Street today and photographed that for comparison.

Graham was also very impressed by the MegaClover and tried to eat it.

Thank you for reading my blog post about MegaClover.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Possibly my favourite cinematic moment ever. I was Googling something and found the screenplay of Total Recall, by Ronald Shusett and Dan O'Bannon (with revisions by Shusett, Steven Pressfield and Gary Goldman). I thought perhaps you might like to see how one of my favourite movie scenes of all time is written.


     CLOSE ON PASSPORT:  BAM!  An official seal stamps down on the
     document, leaving the circular imprint:  MARS FEDERAL

     An IMMIGRATION OFFICER hands the passport back to its OWNER,
     who takes it and moves on.

                         IMMIGRATION OFFICER

     The Immigration Hall is filled with passengers arriving from
     Earth, queued up in three long lines.  SOLDIERS on a high
     state of alert stand guard with AUTOMATIC RIFLES.

     QUAID'S SATCHEL sits on the floor behind a white line.  A hand
     reaches down, picks it up, and carries it forward.  FROM THE
     BACK, we see that the person carrying the satchel is a tall
     FAT LADY in a loose-fitting dress.  She steps up to the
     Immigration Officer at his desk.

                         IMMIGRATION OFFICER (CONT'D)

     As the Fat Lady hands over her passport, SOLDIERS rush
     directly towards her from the rear of the hall, shoving people
     aside.  Richter, Helm, and EVERETT, a stern military officer,
     urgently follow in the path cleared by the Soldiers.

     They get closer and closer to the Fat Lady...and pass right
     behind her without noticing anything in the least suspicious.

               Mr. Cohaagen wants to see you right

               Any news of Quaid?

               Not since you lost him.

               Watch your mouth, Captain.

     The group walks past the Immigration desks and exits the
     frame.  HOLD ON the back of the Fat Lady.

     The Immigration Officer studies her passport.  CLOSE ON her
     PHOTO.  He looks up.  CLOSE ON her FACE.

     She bears no resemblance to Quaid.

                         IMMIGRATION OFFICER
               How long do you plan to stay on Mars?

                         FAT LADY
               Two weeks.

               Look at this shit.

                         RICHTER (O.S.)
               What the hell is this?

     BEHIND THE DESKS, Richter stops at a wall defaced with
     graffiti: "KUATO LIVES!".

               The Martians all love Kuato.  They think
               he's fuckin' George Washington.

               Kill the bastard.

               Nobody knows who he is.

     The Immigration Officer picks up the seal, ready to stamp the
     Fat Lady's passport after one last perfunctory question.

                         IMMIGRATION OFFICER
               Have you brought any fruits or
               vegetables onto the planet?

                         FAT LADY
               Two weeks.

     He stops himself from hammering down with the seal.

                         IMMIGRATION OFFICER
               Excuse me...?

     Fat Lady covers her mouth, embarrassed.

                         FAT LADY
               Two weeks.

     Richter glances at the Fat Lady but keeps walking toward the

               And things are getting hot around here.
               The rebels took over the refinery last
               night.  No turbinium's going out.

     THE FAT LADY is having some kind of fit.  She keeps repeating
     the same phrase over and over, each time SLOWER and MORE
     DISTORTED, like a phonograph record running down.  Everybody
     stares at the poor woman.  She holds her mouth and tries to
     shut herself up.

                         FAT LADY
               Twooo weeeks.  Twoooooo weeeks.
               Twooooooo weeeeeeks.

     Richter stops and looks suspiciously at the Fat Lady. The
     Fat Lady sees him staring.  They lock eyes.  Richter knows!
     He points!

               Quaid!  That's Quaid!


               There!  The woman!

     The Fat Lady edges to the side along a wall.

               Get him!

     Everett and his men are confused.

                         RICHTER (CONT'D)

               Arrest that woman!

                         FAT LADY
               Twoooooo!  Weeeeeks!

     Richter, Helm, Everett and soldiers run over.  The Fat Lady
     twists her ear.  She is shaking radically.  Her face splits
     down the middle, revealing Quaid inside!


     Quaid throws the split face at a SOLDIER near a window.  The
     Soldier instinctively catches the face, which snaps together
     and addresses him in a normal voice.

                         FAT LADY FACE
               Get ready for a big surprise.

     Just as the Soldier reacts, BOOM!  The face explodes.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Inner-city palimpsest. At the moment there's a new complex of Fender Katsalidis "lifestyle apartments" being built on the site of the former walk-up Housing Commission apartments on the block between Elgin Street, Nicholson Street, Canning Street and Palmerston Street, Carlton. The hoardings on the outside of the site boldly trumpet that whoever ends up living here will be "PROUD TO BE LOCAL".

This pisses me off for many reasons. First, it echoes the phrasing of "PROUD TO BE UNION" bumper stickers, and hence harnesses a mildly progressive and rebellious politics that is utterly at odds with the wealth and individualistic ethos that the owners of the apartments will likely possess. 

Second, the new residents will be, by virtue of only just moving in, not local at all. If they're empty-nesting bourgie boomers, they'll probably have moved in from the suburbs. And if they're cashed-up international investors buying a pied-à-terre for their student children, they won't be locals either.

But most of all – most of all – I'm annoyed by the way this evocation of 'localism' completely elides the violence with which previous generations of 'locals' have been evicted and the spaces they called 'home' demolished. The Wurundjeri were the first people to call this place 'home'.

And by 1961, Carlton and Fitzroy were inner-city 'slums' targeted by 'slum clearance' programs. Atherton Street, Fitzroy, depicted in this photo, no longer exists: it's now part of the Atherton Gardens Commish.

The boy on the far left of the pic is Tony Birch, who set his novel Shadowboxing in the lost inner-city of his childhood. Birch also wrote a great essay about the duelling imperatives of slum clearance and bourgification that change both the streetscapes and the 'locals'.

The multicultured Commish residents who followed Birch's contemporaries have now been scattered and redistributed. There was a self-consciously therapeutic/rehabilitative public art project that took the form of interviews with the tenants who had to move, and photos of the space, things like: "I had to move my pot plants on the tram to Glenroy, one by one."

I remember being really angry with my mother, who never tires of mentioning in a slightly alarmed voice the proximity of the Commish to my house, and having a fruitless discussion with her that consisted of me going, "Poor people have a right to live close to the city as well, we're creating economic ghettoes," and her going, "Well isn't that what these flats are?"

Also, I was thinking about the death of the local pub and the fierce territorial response when pubs shut down or change, particularly the Champion Hotel which was a pivotal site for the 'Little Bands' scene in the '80s, and is now a post office. Or the Punters Club, or even the Tote.

It seems that people need certain urban spaces to enact their senses of belonging and social capital. And that's why any narrative of 'progress' that focuses on changing or renovating the spaces always seems traumatic and alienating.

But does socioeconomic alterity or displacement confer a kind of authenticity and legitimacy to one's relationship with inner-urban space? Am I being hypocritical in mourning the things that have been lost when my own bourgeois/bohemian tenancy in inner-city Melbourne is part of the problem? And am I over-romanticising 'space' when perhaps urban renewal actually opens up spaces for new and potentially exciting and iconic things to happen there?

It seems like there's a narrative of 'progress' with a counter-narrative of 'nostalgia', but as I argued at Crikey, nostalgia doesn't need to be retrogressive, but can also be progressive, reminding us of the valuable things we've been too short-sighted to remember.

This year at MIFF I watched two programs of short films about Melbourne, and I loved seeing various visions of a vanished Melbourne. But it was The City Speaks (1965) that I found most confronting. Produced by Crawford Productions for the Housing Commission at the height of the reforming moment, it disapprovingly tours various inner-city slum dwellings. Honestly, the cracked walls and back yards full of junk didn't look that bad. They reminded me of my own house.

Then it presents provocatively utopian visions of children playing in the first of Melbourne's new Commish estates. It's easy for a contemporary bourgie audience to ironise such sights, given that we think of Commishes as near-derelict crime traps rather than havens from slum poverty. But just recently, my mum was telling me about a BBC documentary she'd seen called Poor Kids, and how moving it had been to watch a poor family move into a new estate house and marvel at having two toilets, and both a front door and a back door. Perhaps the Commish was transformative for its early residents, even as it was destructive of the older modes of being a 'local'.

In a 2008 email exchange from which I've cribbed large chunks of this post, Ben Gook told me, "There were things involved in public housing -- political or ethical or moral commitments -- that are worth salvaging. The new book by Matthew Sharpe and Geoff Boucher argues that postmodernism has bestowed to both Right and Left a relativism that makes such commitments seem untrustworthy, old-fashioned. So not only is the articulation of these past ideas held to be quaint, the very act of even committing to a position in such a manner is held to be old-fashioned."

Indeed, another short film I saw, the modernist architecture manifesto, Your House and Mine, was a particularly fascinating artefact because of both its savagely satirical attitude to suburban home architecture and, as David Nichols notes, its relentless progressive momentum that comes across like a kind of blank-slate philosophy, never building on the past but aggressively erasing it. Early on, Robin Boyd's narration makes the startlingly shortsighted assertion that the founding of Melbourne in 1835 signified the "last days of the Aborigines”.

At any rate, we must recognise that no one group, at any one time, has the definitive and authoritative claim to be 'local'. Rather, places are palimpsests, constantly being overwritten but leaving tantalising traces of their past iterations behind.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Just to lift the mood. It is getting rather grim in here, but this made me laugh last night:

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Vale Diana Gribble. This morning I found out that Australian publishing legend Diana Gribble died overnight after a short illness with pancreatic cancer.

I didn't know Di as well as either WH Chong or Sophie Cunningham, who have paid tribute to her today, but she was my boss at Private Media when I worked at The Reader. My memories of her are of her playful, egalitarian manner and intolerance for bullshit. I saw her put her foot down on more than one occasion about aspects of the editorial, in a quiet but emphatic way, and when she did that no amount of cajoling could budge her.

But mainly I remember her laughing at our cheesy headlines, or at Chong's unflattering Photoshop caricatures of politicians and celebrities.

It's a real privilege to have worked with someone so influential – Di's contribution to Australian culture can't be understated. She co-founded McPhee Gribble, one of the most influential publishing houses of the '70s and '80s, kickstarting the careers of many currently prominent writers and thinkers. She then went on to co-found Text, another Australian media company that's shaped the landscape, and when Private Media acquired Crikey, Di helped steer yet another influential outlet for Australian ideas.

Her multiple board roles underline her commitment to working behind the scenes, and she poured the influence she commanded back into Australia's creative community. She wrote me a really nice letter of recommendation when I left Private Media and put me in touch with a 'mate' of hers who was, oh you know, just the director of ABC Radio!

When I found out Di was seriously ill three months ago, I meant to email her but couldn't think what to say and how to say it, although I have thought about her and wondered how she was.

This morning, when Sophie drove me to RRR (we are filling in on Aural Text for two weeks), we drove past Di's house – it turns out she lived just around the corner from me. First Dog On The Moon's cartoon beautifully illustrates how sad I feel that I never told her how much I admire her and her work.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The saddest show on TV. I know – you're thinking that this probably isn't the actual saddest show on TV, but right now it feels like, well, I was going to say 'a canary in a coal mine' but things have got way past this. It feels more like someone running around holding the cage with the dead bird in it and going "WE'RE FUCKED!"

Presenting: Hardcore Pawn. (8:30pm Wednesdays, 7MATE.)


 This is a show that dramatises the disturbing race and gender politics of America's broken economy. I was shocked by how few non-African-American people are customers at this Detroit pawn shop, and how many of the would-be customers are trying to raise money by selling crap shit with little economic value. Emotions bubble up when they are told it won't fly.

Other people are protesting in Wall Street – it's unclear how many, or how united they are, because we get so many conflicting reports and counter-accusations of distorted reports – and they have a pretty reasonable list of demands that will be familiar to those who've read and seen The Corporation and Inside Job. The only thing that troubles me about the Occupy Wall Street movement is that there is a strong 9/11 conspiracy undercurrent.

My brother miT strongly believes it was a conspiracy, but I try never to engage in discussions with him about this, because after the last time I have been really careful to avoid fighting with him because I know how much it upsets my mother.

Besides, it's pointless. He already 'knows the truth' and doesn't accept anything less than agreement from others (he always tells me I'm "ignorant" or "naive" if I dispute what he says), but paradoxically it was miT's own questioning and scepticism – his refusal to believe the official narrative – that led him to his certainty.

As the book Knowledge Goes Pop points out, conspiracies always oscillate between belief and scepticism – people 'want to believe' but are never satisfied with any 'official' explanation of events. I think it dilutes the power of Occupy Wall Street to bring 9/11 conspiracies into it. For me, it's on stronger turf when it agitates for legislative and institutional reform rather than 'true answers' about 'what really happened'.

Meanwhile, back in Detroit, Hardcore Pawn says, "I'll buy that for a dollar!"

Sunday, October 02, 2011

AIDS AIDS AIDS-AIDS AIDS AIDS AIDS-AIDS-AIDS! AIDS! Today in the shower I was thinking about how when I was a kid, AIDS was one of the most terrifying things in my life. I fretted a lot about whether I could catch it somehow.

When I was a kid I had a very black-and-white view of health issues generally; I distinguished between minor, common afflictions that always got better, such as broken limbs and chicken pox; more serious things that could have very bad lasting effects, such as snake bites, burns or glandular fever; and things that were invariably fatal. If you had a heart attack, you died. If you broke your neck, you died. If you got cancer, you died.

And if you got AIDS – YOU FUCKING DIED!! You wasted away to a skeleton, and got gross tumours all over your body that made you look like a rotting corpse. And then you died.

Of course, I am probably a generation behind the one that was properly shitscared when AIDS emerged as a global pandemic in the mid-1980s. By the time I was old enough to be sexually active, we'd had the safe-sex message comprehensively drummed into us; magazines, pamphlets and TV told us how it was spread.

But in the '80s, treatment for HIV was not very successful, and there were plenty of misconceptions surrounding the virus. Famous people announced they had it… then died. But since I was a kid, the HIV patients I noticed most were the kids, including Ryan White and Eve van Grafhorst.

And then there was the Grim Reaper TV ad, which I found so terrifying that after one emotionally scarring viewing of it, I would flee the room whenever I saw it beginning. Years later, I couldn't even look at stills of the Grim Reaper character, it was so terrifying.

Now I find its hysterical, panicky tone odd. It's now 30 years since the pandemic was first identified, anti-retroviral therapies are enabling people to live for longer with HIV without developing 'full-blown AIDS', and much of the mystery and stigma surrounding the disease has waned in the West (although there's still an alarmingly mainstream denialist movement in South Africa and wacko conspiracy theories flourishing on the internet).

We've ironised so much about it, from the scary tone of public health campaigns to the community responses to it (for example, making quilts in commemoration of the dead). Thanks to Philadelphia, the public image of the AIDS patient is an effete gay man wasting away in a kimono listening to opera. The Chaser even took the piss out of the Grim Reaper ad, showing the character trying to get work at companies including James Hardie.

And then there's Team America: World Police, which takes the piss out of what must have seemed like a bold and revolutionary revisioning of Puccini's La Boheme – to have the heroine of Rent die of AIDS rather than consumption (although oddly enough, tuberculosis is one of the leading causes of AIDS-related death). The Team America piss-take, Lease, ironises how banal AIDS has come to be – "the Pope has got it, and so do you…"


So basically I was just thinking how odd it is that we've moved from this existential panic and terror to something so blasé.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Audit of my work priorities. I am tired of feeling like a hamster on a wheel, of always scrabbling to meet my expenses, and of overcommitting myself because I see a complex, intangible benefit to the activity such as "good for building your profile" or "important to give back". Whereas the top priorities in my work should be: money; creative satisfaction; psychological well-being. I feel as if I have been neglecting the first and third at the expense of the second, and in pursuing activities that satisfy other, less important criteria.

Here's a screen shot of my work commitments for September. In my calendar I use green for work-related events and blue for personal events. You can see how few non-work-related appointments I have. And I didn't even go to four of the ones that are listed here.

So yesterday I decided to list all my commitments and activities, and to rate them all out of ten according to these three criteria. Then I will cut back or cut out the 'low value' activities, and devote more time to the ones that will get me more money while simultaneously being the most creative and best for my mental health.

 Here's how I imagine the categories.

Money: Pretty simple – how financially rewarding is the activity? Something that earns more money is ranked high. Something that's a secure source of money ranks higher than a one-off activity. Something that pays reliably, but not well, is ranked around the middle of the scale. Something that is currently free but can lead to money-making opportunities is ranked low. Stuff that pays in kind rather than with money is ranked low. Stuff I do for free is ranked zero.

Creative: How well does the activity let me pursue the things I'm good at and love to do? Activities in which I get sole credit or am allowed to make my own creative decisions are ranked high. Activities that prioritise my own interests are ranked high. Activities in which I work creatively but within a preset formula or paradigm are middle-ranked. Activities in which I 'churn out' work, work anonymously or with little autonomy are ranked low.

Psychological: How stressed, relaxed or energised an activity makes me feel. Activities that excite me, that I look forward to when I get up in the morning, are ranked high, as are activities I find soothing, comforting or absorbing. Activities I dread and procrastinate about are ranked low. Activities that make me angry and frustrated are ranked low. Boring, repetitive or routine activities are ranked around the middle of the scale. An activity that makes me so anxious and stressed that it feels as though a fist is squeezing my heart, and I basically want to die, ranks zero.

Okay, so I ranked these activities last night, and here are a few insights. First of all, here are all the activities that scored 0 on the 'money' criterion:

Twitter – personal
Twitter – clothes
Hipster Tipster Tumblr
A Wild Young Under-Whimsy
Footpath Zeitgeist
The Dawn Chorus
The Enthusiast
RRR radio shows
A sekrit activity I can't blog about

Here are the most lucrative things I do:

Monash teaching
Age Life & Style features
triple j magazine
Right Angle custom jobs

Here are my most creatively satisfying projects:

Proposed book
The Enthusiast
Age Life & Style
Monash teaching

And here are the best things for my mental health:

A Wild Young Under-Whimsy
Twitter – personal
Proposed book
Twitter – professional

It's probably not a good idea to list the commitments I'm planning to ditch or cut back on, but one thing I've been doing way too much of lately is guest speaking and panel appearances. Lucy thinks "being on a panel" is prestigious in the same way I idealise "a book deal", but public speaking gigs are not well paid unless you're with an agency. Some don't pay at all, or pay with vouchers or bottles of wine.

Catherine Deveny once told me that she considers the low-paying gigs to be high in goodwill capital – they lead to better opportunities in future. However, someone else pointed out to me that Deveny does some very highly paid corporate gigs and hence can afford to be generous to small-time events organisers.

Whereas it's silly for me to gamble on the likelihood that these kinds of gigs will lead to further professional opportunities for me. In September, I did five of them, and only two paid me in real money. In August I did two, only one of which was paid. In future, I'm going to prioritise the speaking gigs that score highest on the money criterion, then on the psychological criterion, then on the creative criterion.

The other weird thing about public speaking gigs is how most of them involve me giving advice to emerging writers. I feel ill-equipped for this because even though I'm in my thirties, I don't feel established in my career. I feel as though the baby boomers and older Gen-Xers have the secure, lucrative and influential positions locked up, leaving me sandwiched between them and the hungry youngsters who are prettier, bolder and less ashamed of marketing themselves in openly narcissistic ways.

Lefa has pointed out that emerging writers find it encouraging to hear from someone who's relatively close to their age and only a little further down the path than they are. It's a good point, but I don't think I can be that person any more. It's time for me to nurture my career, giving it a forward momentum rather than hustling to stay in the same spot, which is how I currently feel.

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