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3 minutes ago, koechophe said:

Heya, as a Christian writer (I don't write "Christian" material specifically, I'm a Christian who is also a writer), props to you for being so straightforward and honest with your faith. I'm not sure if it means anything, but you're not alone as a Christian in the pool of aspiring writers 😃

Hi! :) Awww, thanks, that totally made my day! I too am a Christian (Catholic Christian) who is also a writer, and sometimes I'll write poems as prayers, but my writing is very much just "normal" (if there even is a "normal") old fiction as well, ha! :) In any event, glad to meet a fellow Christian and person of faith here--it's been lovely hearing everyone's stories, and I'm honored you shared yours with me, too! :) We've got lots of awesome people from a variety of backgrounds here, and not sure how long you've been a part of this board, but we have some all-star writers on our hands here. :)

And, tbh, not acknowledging my faith is like not breathing for me; it gets pretty suffocating after awhile. It's a huge foundational part of my existence, and it's kind of hard to keep silent about the Guy who gave me my heart back when I was on the brink five or six years ago. The whole "saving my life and sanity" thing, to me, at least, means I'd say we're in it for the long haul at this point. 😜 

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I've not been here long, just lurking for the past couple of weeks. There's something to be said of solidarity, this whole "Grad school" thing has been a major stressor in my life for the last five months or so, so it feels nice to get in contact with other people who are going through the same slog. 

And yeah, I feel the same way about my faith. I've never really hit a rock-bottom point in my life, but God has been with me always, and I owe Him everything. In a very real way, one of the only things keeping me sort of okay throughout this process is knowing that He is pleased with my decision to become a writer. 

And you're right, last week was a hard one for me too; not because I got any rejections, but because it's still crickets. But hey, I'll choose to be hopeful, because it's not over until it's over, and even if I'm not the first pick for my schools, I still might end up being pick. So I'm trying (and sometimes succeeding!) to hope for the best. Not sure where you're at with your applications, but I hope all is going well for you!

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7 minutes ago, eternalwhitenights said:

And, tbh, not acknowledging my faith is like not breathing for me; it gets pretty suffocating after awhile. It's a huge foundational part of my existence, and it's kind of hard to keep silent about the Guy who gave me my heart back when I was on the brink five or six years ago. The whole "saving my life and sanity" thing, to me, at least, means I'd say we're in it for the long haul at this point. 😜 

This is generally good. "Breathing" is concrete. "Foundational" is unnecessary fluff. "Silent" is concrete. "the Guy" is kinda spunky. "Heart" is concrete. "Brink five or six years ago": be careful about the redemption story; it's a trope. "Long haul" is cliché. Consider "in it so long as I still breath."  Read Flannery O'Connor. Every theme of hers was Christian, but her stories don't preach and have many bad guys. 

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2 minutes ago, Gertrude. said:

Read Flannery O'Connor. Every theme of hers was Christian, but her stories don't preach and have many bad guys. 

Flannery O'Connor's stories are centered around criticizing Christianity. They are all deconstructions of the Southern Christian tradition in ways that condemn the institutions of it. Having Christian themes =/= actually writing things that are pro-Christianity. 

Also, no offense, but your literary criticism is lacking. You treat words as isolated entities, when in reality, they are appendages to a larger body of ideology complete with various tones, connotations, and intentions. "Heart" in and of itself, is not concrete, it's actually one of the most ambiguous words in the entire English language. The phrase "Long Haul" is just that, a phrase; these only become cliche when used in a cliche context, otherwise they're just accepted as phrases which carry a specific meaning. 

Like, I get that you're trying to be mocking, but is this the type of literary criticism you'd actually engage in? If so, I'd be happy to offer some advice; this is sorely lacking in several key areas. 

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59 minutes ago, koechophe said:

I'd be happy to offer some advice; this is sorely lacking in several key areas. 

I would love some.

Now, I'm no expert on Flannery O'Connor. I was citing her for Christian themes without sounding preachy. EternalWhiteNight usually has a preachiness to her, like she is calling herself to testify for what Jesus did for her and has an agenda, that is getting you to join the fold. 

Yeah, I was wrong about "heart." It should go. 

LaPlante at page 121 says there are two stages of metaphors.  Cliché (raved like a lunatic) and Dead Metaphor (ran for office.) The metaphor starts as a cliché, and with enough use become a regular part of English, that is a Dead Metaphor. I call "long haul" still a cliché (not allowed). You argue it has already reached the dead metaphor stage, so is allowed. I guess that's a judgment call. 

"You treat words as isolated entities."  I did so because I attacked objective errors that added no "tones, connotations, and intentions." Can you cite one of my edits and advise what "tones, connotations, and intentions" I missed. 

Edited by Gertrude.
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40 minutes ago, koechophe said:

I've not been here long, just lurking for the past couple of weeks. There's something to be said of solidarity, this whole "Grad school" thing has been a major stressor in my life for the last five months or so, so it feels nice to get in contact with other people who are going through the same slog. 

And yeah, I feel the same way about my faith. I've never really hit a rock-bottom point in my life, but God has been with me always, and I owe Him everything. In a very real way, one of the only things keeping me sort of okay throughout this process is knowing that He is pleased with my decision to become a writer. 

And you're right, last week was a hard one for me too; not because I got any rejections, but because it's still crickets. But hey, I'll choose to be hopeful, because it's not over until it's over, and even if I'm not the first pick for my schools, I still might end up being pick. So I'm trying (and sometimes succeeding!) to hope for the best. Not sure where you're at with your applications, but I hope all is going well for you!

I feel that assertion, owing Him everything, in a very real, visceral way. Thanks for sharing. :)

Sorry to hear it's been a rough one for you; I think the volleying of emotions is the hardest part, honestly. I hope you hear back soon and can have some consolation in the knowledge of certainty, at the very least.

I actually only applied to one school (Notre Dame), and I found out yesterday through an informal email that my application wasn't accepted. I was gutted, but I also was so grateful because I know how hard it has been for me to even get to this point in the first place. God's had to do a lot of softening on my heart, that's for sure, but He's stuck with me through it all. (I tell Him all the time that I'm so glad He's God, and that I don't have to do it all by myself. Yay Jesus. ✌️) I am so, so proud of myself for even applying in the first place, and over these last few months, God has made crystal-clear to me that Notre Dame is where I'm supposed to be and where I will thrive the most as a writer, so I'm going to take this year to pivot, reassess, improve my fiction, hone my craft, and come back stronger than ever for the fall 2022 cycle, where I will be applying to ND again. :)

What's your top choice? I'll keep you in my prayers--you've got this!

(Also, as a PSA, Gertrude/Marshall Goodman/King Frock/whatever iteration he's going under atm, has been a consistent trolling presence on here-we've lost track of how many accounts he's created just to spam the boards--I think it's at least over 10 by now?--so unfortunately we're quite used to these types of posts. Just wanted to give you the heads up to engage with caution; it quickly veers into headache territory, if you're not careful. :))

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43 minutes ago, Gertrude. said:

I would love some.

I'll take this as genuine; my offer was likewise. 

31 minutes ago, Gertrude. said:

I did so because I attacked objective errors that added no "tones, connotations, and intentions."

I think, in a lot of ways, this is fundamentally misunderstanding the English language. Everything in text adds some form of tone, connotation, and intention. To say that any bit of text is objectively wrong, particularly when dealing with word choice, is failing to fully identify a rhetorical situation. 

For example, you cite "foundational" as being objectively unnecessary and fluff oriented; however, this still pulls on various connotations. We generally associate the word "foundation" with being sturdy and being a necessary base for things to actually function. From a Christian standpoint, this word draws connections to the scriptures where Christ discusses either building His church "upon this rock" or the ones where He claims that if you are built upon His "rock", the winds and waves will not prevail against you. 

And this is where you have to be careful as a critic. There is almost nothing you can refer to as "objectively" being bad in writing. Certainly, you can help to streamline someone's prose, but much of your criticism seems based largely on your own personal reactions rather than any sort of established basis for critique. 

Essentially, every word we use creates a specific feeling/image for specific audiences. To truly criticize the quality of a writer's work, one must first identify what feelings they are creating and then show how they are inconsistent, inappropriate, or unnecessary to their audience.   

Essentially: When you begin to treat things as "universally wrong," you ignore much of the complexity that goes into crafting language effectively. I've never encountered a rule in writing without an exception which is both necessary and brilliant to the text. 

We also run into an error of mindset for you as a critic: you "attacked" the errors. Criticism is not a cudgel used to beat others over the head. When we attack literature, in any way, shape, or form, we lose our objectivity. In this sense, a rhetorical critic must be able to look at how the words are actually functioning and, if they identify problems, point out said problems based on function, not feeling. 

In its purest form, criticism is, by nature, both deconstructive and reconstructive; it shows not only how things may be pulled apart, but also how they may be put back together again in a way that is more consistent with the goals of the text. 

27 minutes ago, eternalwhitenights said:

What's your top choice? I'll keep you in my prayers--you've got this!

Thanks! All of the schools I've applied to provide funding, so at this point, I'm just praying I'll get into any of them. Top pick is probably University of Houston, for nothing other than the fact that both me and my fiancé have a good feeling about their program.

And a lot of why this is rough is because I've worked hard at this; I've spent the last 3 years sending pieces off for publication (5 literary magazines and counting have published me 😃 ), I've done a lot to keep up my GPA, I did an internship as a content writer, I've held down jobs as a transcriber, a copy editor/ content editor, and now, currently, a tutor (and training supervisor), I've been the manager of a writing workshop on my campus for more than a year...  

I truly think that the more you pour yourself into something, the more stressful it can become. But at the end of the day, if everyone says no, none of it will be wasted effort. 

40 minutes ago, eternalwhitenights said:

I will thrive the most as a writer, so I'm going to take this year to pivot, reassess, improve my fiction, hone my craft, and come back stronger than ever for the fall 2022 cycle, where I will be applying to ND again.

Seriously, good for you! And that is a good mentality to have coming off of the rejection. The application cycle can definitely be a bump in the road, but it never has to be the end of it. 

 

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22 minutes ago, koechophe said:

I'll take this as genuine; my offer was likewise. 

I think, in a lot of ways, this is fundamentally misunderstanding the English language. Everything in text adds some form of tone, connotation, and intention. To say that any bit of text is objectively wrong, particularly when dealing with word choice, is failing to fully identify a rhetorical situation. 

For example, you cite "foundational" as being objectively unnecessary and fluff oriented; however, this still pulls on various connotations. We generally associate the word "foundation" with being sturdy and being a necessary base for things to actually function. From a Christian standpoint, this word draws connections to the scriptures where Christ discusses either building His church "upon this rock" or the ones where He claims that if you are built upon His "rock", the winds and waves will not prevail against you. 

And this is where you have to be careful as a critic. There is almost nothing you can refer to as "objectively" being bad in writing. Certainly, you can help to streamline someone's prose, but much of your criticism seems based largely on your own personal reactions rather than any sort of established basis for critique. 

Essentially, every word we use creates a specific feeling/image for specific audiences. To truly criticize the quality of a writer's work, one must first identify what feelings they are creating and then show how they are inconsistent, inappropriate, or unnecessary to their audience.   

Essentially: When you begin to treat things as "universally wrong," you ignore much of the complexity that goes into crafting language effectively. I've never encountered a rule in writing without an exception which is both necessary and brilliant to the text. 

We also run into an error of mindset for you as a critic: you "attacked" the errors. Criticism is not a cudgel used to beat others over the head. When we attack literature, in any way, shape, or form, we lose our objectivity. In this sense, a rhetorical critic must be able to look at how the words are actually functioning and, if they identify problems, point out said problems based on function, not feeling. 

In its purest form, criticism is, by nature, both deconstructive and reconstructive; it shows not only how things may be pulled apart, but also how they may be put back together again in a way that is more consistent with the goals of the text. 

 

Read the sentence without the word foundational: “not acknowledging my faith is like not breathing for me; it gets pretty suffocating after awhile. It's a huge foundational part of my existence, and it's kind of hard to keep silent about the Guy who gave me my heart back when I was on the brink five or six years ago.”  I assure you most creative writing professors would strike the word foundational. Whatever the word connotes is connoted elsewhere enough.

From a semantic perspective the word adds nothing. We already know breathing is foundational. Do we need to emphasize it again? No. The error is about as objective as you will get in writing.

Your basic premise is that there is no objective right and wrong, or better and worse. It would make MFA applications a ridiculous exercise. It would make Nobel Prizes in Writing ridiculous. Some words in some instances add more verbiage than anything else.

Some things are best characterized by a reader as an objective error, and some things are best characterized as subjectively declared an error.

When I say fluff, I mean the verbiage overwhelms any advantage, any extra information.

Foundational also breaches another guideline: to be concrete.

Edited by Gertrude.
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Gotta say I’m enjoying the writing analysis tutorials here. It reminds me a bit of that hoary chestnut imperative: “show, don’t tell.” But what if your showing sucks and your telling is sublime? Are you done for? Anyway, I’m gonna miss this community. I got a feeling the cliched or insentient metaphorical axe is coming down this week for most of our apps. 

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27 minutes ago, Boomer not Ok said:

. I got a feeling the cliched or insentient metaphorical axe is coming down this week for most of our apps. 

Here's legitimately hoping 😃 Glad you're enjoying the conversation, I always love a good discussion on criticism. 

 

6 hours ago, Gertrude. said:

Your basic premise is that there is no objective right and wrong, or better and worse. It would make MFA applications a ridiculous exercise. It would make Nobel Prizes in Writing ridiculous. Some words in some instances add more verbiage than anything else.

The idea that there is no objective "better or worse" in writing is something that I didn't realize was an actual argument people have; of course there's no objective better or worse in writing. Even the most broadly accepted means of critical literary analysis are subjective in nature, they're just subjective to the collective consciousness that we as literary critics have created. A bit of this might be the difference between (what sounds like) you being a creative writing major and me being an English  major--I deal more with popular literary criticism than creative writing majors would. Still, even though we establish "rules" in creative writing, a rational human being must recognize that these rules are not objectively "better" or "worse," they are subjective metrics developed to suit the needs and wants of what we consider to be the general academic audience.

 

6 hours ago, Gertrude. said:

Foundational also breaches another guideline: to be concrete.

And this is where I think you're still not understanding my point. Even if you are correct in removing the word (I would actually argue that "huge, foundational" is where the issue in needless repetition is and "foundational" is bringing more to the table than "huge", so "huge" should go, but that's a separate issue), your criticism of the word (just saying that it is unnecessary) is the issue. It is not enough to cite a rule and say, "therefore, based on this rule, it should go", because that fails to fully address A. what the word is actually doing and B. why there is more value in removing it than keeping it.

In other words, it's not the actual fact that you said the word needs to go; it's the fact that the way you presented it didn't supply any information about the rhetorical situation and why the word itself doesn't fit into it. 

It's a different way of thinking, but it is necessary. If you view writing as a conglomeration of universal rules and objective facts, you will end up slashing some extremely valuable writing on the basis of rule. There are times when abstraction is better than concretion. There are times when fluff is preferable to streamlined prose. Without a deep understanding of the rhetorical situation (rather than just a statement of "this is the absolute correct thing 100% of the time), you lose the ability to both adapt your writing to your audience and to recognize when other writers are doing the same.

It's not the removal of the word that's the problem; it's the mentality behind why you did it. 

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43 minutes ago, koechophe said:

And this is where I think you're still not understanding my point. Even if you are correct in removing the word (I would actually argue that "huge, foundational" is where the issue in needless repetition is and "foundational" is bringing more to the table than "huge", so "huge" should go, but that's a separate issue), your criticism of the word (just saying that it is unnecessary) is the issue. It is not enough to cite a rule and say, "therefore, based on this rule, it should go", because that fails to fully address A. what the word is actually doing and B. why there is more value in removing it than keeping it.

Every phrasing is a simplification, including “objective.”

I had one teacher with the attitude that there is no objective better. You could give anything a third grader wrote, and he would think it isn’t necessarily any worse than Shakespeare. He would want to weigh pros and cons. If he taught Directed Writing, he would give no edits. He is in the minority. There is no point to school if he is right.

Objective error in writing doesn’t mean someone claimed 1 + 1   =  3, which is literally the only objective error possible. Objective error in writing mean 9 / 10 good readers or writing professors will agree one version is preferable. If only 7 / 10 will agree, the error can only be called subjective.

It probably would be better to take out “huge” also. I actually found “foundational” more distracting because it is more an abstraction and pretentious. It gave an aura of a writer trying to impress (or indulge his idea) with a complicated or fancy form, when there was no new substance. I didn't sense the author's appreciation of the need to keep a vigil for simplification. 

Repeating things can be a valid tactic. An author might decide that comparing something to breathing wasn’t enough. She might want some elaboration, but that is usually done through an image, not a petty abstraction, like adding the word “foundational.” This is sometimes called "overwriting." It is a rookie instinct that always fades. Hemingway goes aggressively in the other direction. 

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1 minute ago, Ydrl said:

Guys, what the flying fuck is going on with the rest of the colleges? I haven’t heard from six of them still, how???

I’m waiting on five! I’m pretty sure one of them is out, and I know a couple others have started contacting people, but I don’t know if they’ve finished. Radio silence from the others though... and BU is one of my schools so I feel like I’m going to be waiting until, like, April to actually know what’s going on in my life. 😂

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Hamlet's mom makes some good points here. But for me the test of "good" writing is how long the writing can sustain my interest and what at the moment I'm looking to get out of it (laughs, escape, frisson, distraction, etc.). Under this test, though, I do find myself enjoying a lot of commercial genre fiction that some discerning folk may look down on. But I do agree with the overall idea that good writing involves a kind of rhetorical manipulation of reader by writer and to some extent those rhetorical skills can be measured and judged. 

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8 minutes ago, funfettuccine said:

I’m waiting on five! I’m pretty sure one of them is out, and I know a couple others have started contacting people, but I don’t know if they’ve finished. Radio silence from the others though... and BU is one of my schools so I feel like I’m going to be waiting until, like, April to actually know what’s going on in my life. 😂

Four of mine are out in some capacity, and the other one I care about is Maryland.

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9 minutes ago, funfettuccine said:

I’m waiting on five! I’m pretty sure one of them is out, and I know a couple others have started contacting people, but I don’t know if they’ve finished. Radio silence from the others though... and BU is one of my schools so I feel like I’m going to be waiting until, like, April to actually know what’s going on in my life. 😂

Yup. Waiting on seven! A couple of these have notes in Results, but if I haven't received an explicit rejection via email or portal, I'm still holding out hope. 

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Waiting on 9 apps. But I figure on 4 of those I’m waitlist at best. Which reminds me: did Rutgers Camden make their decisions on fiction? I’ve seen nothing in the results page about notifications for interviews or decisions. I don’t have access to Draft but maybe it’s been reported there. Anyone knows, that would help. Thanks 

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1 hour ago, funfettuccine said:

I’m waiting on five! I’m pretty sure one of them is out, and I know a couple others have started contacting people, but I don’t know if they’ve finished. Radio silence from the others though... and BU is one of my schools so I feel like I’m going to be waiting until, like, April to actually know what’s going on in my life. 😂

Same here... BU is probably my first choice (along with BK)! I would advise people against applying to BU in the future just because this wait is torture. Application advice: apply to schools that notify in January and February. LOL 

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14 minutes ago, M-Lin said:

Same here... BU is probably my first choice (along with BK)! I would advise people against applying to BU in the future just because this wait is torture. Application advice: apply to schools that notify in January and February. LOL 

Also waiting on BU. Highly unlikely I’ll get in. Also it’s a 1 yr program which I’m ambivalent about. I really think I need more time than that, though for others I can see the attraction of completing the degree in less time. Also applied to Emerson but if that works out not sure now I’d want to relocate. But Boston is a great city...

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1 hour ago, Boomer not Ok said:

Waiting on 9 apps. But I figure on 4 of those I’m waitlist at best. Which reminds me: did Rutgers Camden make their decisions on fiction? I’ve seen nothing in the results page about notifications for interviews or decisions. I don’t have access to Draft but maybe it’s been reported there. Anyone knows, that would help. Thanks 

There has been a little bit of Rutgers Camden activity, which I think included one fiction acceptance. I applied too, haven't heard anything, and suspect they may be done contacting acceptances/waitlists. Their funding situation was tenuous and people were getting partially funded offers from them. 

Though, one thing about these small cohort schools with not-great funding is that all the accepted students may decline, so they may end up contacting other applicants late in the game. All conjecture, but have heard of this happening before. 

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9 minutes ago, Boomer not Ok said:

Also waiting on BU. Highly unlikely I’ll get in. Also it’s a 1 yr program which I’m ambivalent about. I really think I need more time than that, though for others I can see the attraction of completing the degree in less time. Also applied to Emerson but if that works out not sure now I’d want to relocate. But Boston is a great city...

I do think the one-year thing could go either way. On the one hand, I like the idea of something so intense, but I could also see it just not being enough time. I was really attracted to BU for the focus on travel/translation in addition to straight writing instruction... I did a French major in undergrad and have always been interested in translation, but never really pursued it. And I did my undergrad in MA (albeit not in Boston), so I have fond memories of the state. Anyway, we'll see!

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Glad to hear that others are contemplating the pros and cons of a one-year program. I also applied to BU; program appears stellar. It would undoubtedly be intense, but that intensity may be somewhat offset by the fact that it is year-round. As a practical matter, when you include summer and the post-degree study abroad, the number of semesters is basically the same. Of course, one lacks the time in between semesters for one's writing to "cure," so to speak.

On the other hand, is anyone out there debating full-res vs low-res? I've been accepted to one of each and had been totally open to relocating, but in recent weeks, an 11-year relationship that had been flagging has had a blooming renaissance. Additionally, I am extremely fortunate to have a rent-controlled studio apartment by the beach and it would be madness to give it up, as the price is impossible to beat anywhere in town. New rent control laws prevent it from being sublet, so if I relocate, I might try to stay with a friend in order to avoid paying rent in two places. 

All of that is rather specific, forgive me; mainly wondering if anyone out there is weighing shifting life factors as part of their decision. Still waiting on word from eight more programs; perhaps all of this will be solved with a fully-funded offer -- both of my acceptances thus far are only partially funded. 

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2 hours ago, Boomer not Ok said:

But I do agree with the overall idea that good writing involves a kind of rhetorical manipulation of reader by writer and to some extent those rhetorical skills can be measured and judged. 

Oh, I agree with this too. But the I don't believe there is a universal metric that can be applied to all writing; each piece of writing must be judged individually in its rhetorical situation for value. Most of my conversations with Gertrude are pushing back against the concept that one can just take writing out of context and call things in that writing "wrong." The only way to tell if writing is wrong is within its rhetorical situation. 

2 hours ago, cecsav said:

Yup. Waiting on seven! A couple of these have notes in Results, but if I haven't received an explicit rejection via email or portal, I'm still holding out hope. 

I'm waiting on 7 too. It's been interesting lol. Honestly, if I just get one acceptance, I'll feel a lot better about life. 

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