Posts filed under ‘Writing Tips’

Jul 18 2017
0

Writing is carpentry! Must-read Granta post by Natasha Pulley

Writing is carpentry! Must-read Granta post by Natasha Pulley

I came across a post on Granta called “The Myth of the Creative Genius” and it so encapsulates how I feel about writing–not to mention, the Center’s philosophy about writing–that I had to share it here. Author Natasha Pulley writes: It’s tempting to feel like writers have some sort of special, unique connection to a well of creativity – everyone else can look in and make a wish, but writers go down on the chain…

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Nov 23 2016
2

The Back Door Into Creativity

IN MEMORIAM Paul Schulkind 1955-2016. During the Great Depression, there were many “hobos” (today called “the homeless”) wandering across the country. They would often knock on the back door of a house to ask for food. One might say that it was there, rather than at the formal front door, that the ‘action’ happened, that truly meaningful interactions took place. The same can be true for your writing. Is what you want to write about…

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Nov 09 2016
Comments Off on Tips for Terrific Writing

Tips for Terrific Writing

Here’s a new mantra to fiction writing that I learned from WRITING THE WAVE and from my interaction with my classmates during this online writing course: Dialogue should be quirky, indirect, parsed with questions, statements, sounds, pauses and the occasional joke and curse. If your audience will allow it. Mixed metaphors are preferred over known metaphors, but it is the author’s invented metaphor that enslaves the readers’ attention. Be different. Be daring. As to the…

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Dec 09 2015
2

Tips for beginning writers: Word economy, or using five words instead of seven

Tips for beginning writers: Word economy, or using five words instead of seven

One of the earliest pieces of advice a writing instructor gave me concerned my love of adjectives and adverbs. Pare this down a little, she said. I’m being descriptive! I defended myself. Writers should describe, right? We should paint a scene, give as many details as possible, right? Wrong, she said. Use five words instead of seven. OK, so we should absolutely strive to paint a scene and offer details in our writing. But there’s…

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Nov 06 2015
2

Take initiative or take time? On whether or not to wait to write about difficult experiences

Take initiative or take time? On whether or not to wait to write about difficult experiences

There are some pieces of writing advice that you’ll hear over and over again. Create a routine, participate in a writing community, and, if you’re going submit your work to publications, know your market, are a few that I’ve tried to expand into more specific and useful advice for beginning and “stuck” writers via a Tips for Beginning Writers series. But one piece of advice I’ve heard so many times and have never fully absorbed…

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Oct 08 2015
1

Tips for Beginning Writers: Start your literary community with a one-on-one writing exchange

Tips for Beginning Writers: Start your literary community with a one-on-one writing exchange

  In previous posts in this Tips for Beginning Writers series, I’ve focused on knowing the literary market and developing a writing routine. Next, I want to talk about the idea of community. It’s a word I use a lot, and I have a very clear idea of what it means to me; but it occurs to me that a beginning writer might not visualize “community” the way I do, let alone know how to…

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Sep 10 2015
Comments Off on Tips for Beginning Writers: Developing a writing routine

Tips for Beginning Writers: Developing a writing routine

Tips for Beginning Writers: Developing a writing routine

Maybe you aren’t a routine kind of person. Some of us are; some of us aren’t. But I’m guessing that if you’re reading a blog post about writing tips, you’re open to suggestion. Because there are precious few writers out there who can subsist solely from practicing their craft, most of us tend to fit writing in where we can, between paying jobs, managing households, raising children, and engaging within our communities. As such, don’t…

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Aug 28 2015
Comments Off on Tips for Beginning Writers: Knowing the literary market

Tips for Beginning Writers: Knowing the literary market

Tips for Beginning Writers: Knowing the literary market

The web is rife with articles of the “tips for writers” variety. I’ve written them, and I regularly read them. Sometimes, they all start to sound alike. It’s not that it isn’t good advice. I tried to give good advice in this post for the Center last fall, too—the first post I ever wrote for the Center blog. But after a while, “read widely” and “revise often” can start to sound like mere buzz words—especially…

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Jun 04 2015
4

Keeping a second journal, for connection and validation

Keeping a second journal, for connection and validation

A while back, I wrote a post called “Writing through resistance: Tips for getting to the page and staying there.” One of my suggestions was to track your writing projects in a journal. I said, “Writing about my writing life might seem superfluous, but it helps me qualify the time I spend. After I write a book review, edit someone’s work, blog, finish an essay or poem, or read a great book, I reflect on…

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Dec 31 2014
4

Writing-related resolutions for 2015

Today’s post is a simple one in honor of the coming new year—some quick suggestions that might deepen your writing practice, in the spirit of New Year’s resolutions: Start a new journal. Sign up for a writing course or group, or start your own. It can be as easy as sharing email addresses with other writers who want to give and receive feedback on each other’s work. Be a better observer of the world around…

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Dec 23 2014
Comments Off on Soulful writing prompts, prompted by Center retreat

Soulful writing prompts, prompted by Center retreat

Soulful writing prompts, prompted by Center retreat

This week’s guest blogger is Donnette Hill Walto. Donnette Hill Walto is a registered yoga instructor who’s been leading yoga classes worldwide for more than 15 years. She especially loves to guide women and girls as they discover connections between life on and off the yoga mat, empoweringing them to move into their futures with confidence and grace. Donnette is currently working on a novel which introduced itself to her accidentally many years ago, when she took Writing…

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Dec 17 2014
Comments Off on Sarah Alan’s DIY blog success story

Sarah Alan’s DIY blog success story

When I wrote the post about starting one’s own blog, I was definitely hoping that some of my students would consider blogging as a way to extend and enhance their daily writing practices. I was not disappointed. Check out this comment on the Center’s Facebook page by Sarah Alan, who is a Writer’s Eye student I’ve “known” through her skilled writing over the past two months:

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Dec 05 2014
1

Daily writing: Journal for you, blog for community

Daily writing: Journal for you, blog for community

One of the common goals that writers have often concerns the frequency of their productivity: I will write every day, or I want to write so many words per week, and so on. I keep a journal, but I also write a blog. Why blog? The simplest answer is because we want our work to be visible and to make connections with other readers and writers. Bonus points if you have some area of expertise…

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Nov 19 2014
Comments Off on Writing needs vs. wants

Writing needs vs. wants

Writing needs vs. wants

I read an essay last weekend called “Body Narrative: Needs, Wants, Desires,” written by Debbie McCulliss and published in the Doctor TJ Eckleburg Review, that discusses our goals as writers. More specifically, the essay discusses how to identify and differentiate between what we need and what we want out of our writing. McCulliss poses four questions to writers: What is it that you want to write? What is it that you need to write? Do…

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Nov 12 2014
2

How To Find the Pulse in Your Comatose Drafts

Guest Blogger Ellen Collins is a Center Teaching Associate.  Here she offers guidance about how to sift through all that freewriting you’ve been hanging onto without believing it would ever amount to much, to find the living heart of a new piece. Sometimes we are lucky, and we sit down to write and wonderful words and thoughts and connections flow on to the paper. Other times, not so much. We all have notebooks and journals…

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Nov 06 2014
2

Fitting in: Is this a poem, story, or essay?

Fitting in: Is this a poem, story, or essay?

Lately I find myself writing things that are not poems. I’ve always considered myself a poet first and foremost, and a year or two ago, it would have been unheard of for me to sit down to write in any other genre. It didn’t even cross my mind. I thought in poems. Then my lines started growing longer. I started reading more poems in prose. Then I wrote a short story. And another. Then I…

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Oct 29 2014
4

Writing through resistance: Tips for getting to the page and staying there

The image I have set as the cover on my Facebook profile bears this quote: “There’s a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don’t, and the secret is this: It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write. What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance.” The quote is unattributed so I don’t know what its author meant by “Resistance,” but I know what it means to me….

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Oct 04 2013
Comments Off on Overcoming Writer’s Block (Barbara Kingsolver)

Overcoming Writer’s Block (Barbara Kingsolver)

Overcoming Writer's Block (Barbara Kingsolver)

This series is a repost of a November 3, 2012 blog by Emily Temple in Flavorwire magazine entitled “13 Famous Writers on Overcoming Writer’s Block.” “I learned to produce whether I wanted to or not. It would be easy to say oh, I have writer’s block, oh, I have to wait for my muse. I don’t. Chain that muse to your desk and get the job done.” — Barbara Kingsolver

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Sep 27 2013
Comments Off on Overcoming Writer’s Block (Laurence Sterne)

Overcoming Writer’s Block (Laurence Sterne)

Overcoming Writer's Block (Laurence Sterne)

This series is a repost of a November 3, 2012 blog by Emily Temple in Flavorwire magazine entitled “13 Famous Writers on Overcoming Writer’s Block.” “[When] the thoughts rise heavily and pass gummous through my pen… I never stand conferring with pen and ink one moment; for if a pinch of snuff or a stride or two across the room will not do the business for me — … I take a razor at once;…

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Sep 20 2013
Comments Off on Overcoming Writer’s Block (Hilary Mantel)

Overcoming Writer’s Block (Hilary Mantel)

Overcoming Writer's Block (Hilary Mantel)

This series is a repost of a November 3, 2012 blog by Emily Temple in Flavorwire magazine entitled “13 Famous Writers on Overcoming Writer’s Block.” “If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to ­music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don’t just stick there scowling at the problem. But don’t make telephone calls or go to a party; if you…

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Sep 13 2013
Comments Off on Overcoming Writer’s Block (Norman Mailer)

Overcoming Writer’s Block (Norman Mailer)

Overcoming Writer's Block (Norman Mailer)

This series is a repost of a November 3, 2012 blog by Emily Temple in Flavorwire magazine entitled “13 Famous Writers on Overcoming Writer’s Block.” “Over the years, I’ve found one rule. It is the only one I give on those occasions when I talk about writing. A simple rule. If you tell yourself you are going to be at your desk tomorrow, you are by that declaration asking your unconscious to prepare the material….

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Sep 11 2013
Comments Off on Writer’s Block (Philip Pullman)

Writer’s Block (Philip Pullman)

Writer's Block (Philip Pullman)

This series is a repost of a November 3, 2012 blog by Emily Temple in Flavorwire magazine entitled “13 Famous Writers on Overcoming Writer’s Block.” “Writer’s block…a lot of howling nonsense would be avoided if, in every sentence containing the word WRITER, that word was taken out and the word PLUMBER substituted; and the result examined for the sense it makes. Do plumbers get plumber’s block? What would you think of a plumber who used…

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Sep 06 2013
Comments Off on Overcoming Writer’s Block (John Steinbeck)

Overcoming Writer’s Block (John Steinbeck)

Overcoming Writer's Block (John Steinbeck)

This series is a repost of a November 3, 2012 blog by Emily Temple in Flavorwire magazine entitled “13 Famous Writers on Overcoming Writer’s Block.” “Many years ago, I met John Steinbeck at a party in Sag Harbor, and told him that I had writer’s block. And he said something which I’ve always remembered, and which works. He said, “Pretend that you’re writing not to your editor or to an audience or to a readership,…

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Aug 30 2013
Comments Off on Overcoming Writer’s Block (Orson Scott Card)

Overcoming Writer’s Block (Orson Scott Card)

Overcoming Writer's Block (Orson Scott Card)

This series is a repost of a November 3, 2012 blog by Emily Temple in Flavorwire magazine entitled “13 Famous Writers on Overcoming Writer’s Block.” “Writer’s block is my unconscious mind telling me that something I’ve just written is either unbelievable or unimportant to me, and I solve it by going back and reinventing some part of what I’ve already written so that when I write it again, it is believable and interesting to me….

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Aug 23 2013
Comments Off on Overcoming Writer’s Block (Ernest Hemmingway)

Overcoming Writer’s Block (Ernest Hemmingway)

Overcoming Writer's Block (Ernest Hemmingway)

This series is a repost of a November 3, 2012 blog by Emily Temple in Flavorwire magazine entitled “13 Famous Writers on Overcoming Writer’s Block.” “The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day … you will never be stuck. Always stop while you are going good and don’t think about it or worry about it until you…

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Aug 16 2013
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Overcoming Writer’s Block (Mark Twain)

Overcoming Writer's Block (Mark Twain)

This series is a repost of a November 3, 2012 blog by Emily Temple in Flavorwire magazine entitled “13 Famous Writers on Overcoming Writer’s Block.” “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.” — Mark Twain

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Aug 09 2013
Comments Off on Overcoming Writer’s Block (Ray Bradbury)

Overcoming Writer’s Block (Ray Bradbury)

Overcoming Writer's Block (Ray Bradbury)

This series is a repost of a November 3, 2012 blog by Emily Temple in Flavorwire magazine entitled “13 Famous Writers on Overcoming Writer’s Block.” “Now, what I’m thinking of is, people always saying “Well, what do we do about a sudden blockage in your writing? What if you have a blockage and you don’t know what to do about it?” Well, it’s obvious you’re doing the wrong thing, don’t you? In the middle of…

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Aug 02 2013
Comments Off on Overcoming Writer’s Block (Anne Lamott)

Overcoming Writer’s Block (Anne Lamott)

Overcoming Writer's Block (Anne Lamott)

This series is a repost of a November 3, 2012 blog by Emily Temple in Flavorwire magazine entitled “13 Famous Writers on Overcoming Writer’s Block.” “I encourage my students at times like these to get one page of anything written, three hundred words of memories or dreams or stream of consciousness on how much they hate writing — just for the hell of it, just to keep their fingers from becoming too arthritic, just because…

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Jul 26 2013
Comments Off on Overcoming Writer’s Block (Neil Gaiman)

Overcoming Writer’s Block (Neil Gaiman)

Overcoming Writer's Block (Neil Gaiman)

This series is a repost of a November 3, 2012 blog by Emily Temple in Flavorwire magazine entitled “13 Famous Writers on Overcoming Writer’s Block.” “Suggestions? Put it aside for a few days, or longer, do other things, try not to think about it. Then sit down and read it (printouts are best I find, but that’s just me) as if you’ve never seen it before. Start at the beginning. Scribble on the manuscript as…

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Jul 12 2013
Comments Off on A Writer’s First Audience

A Writer’s First Audience

This week our guest blogger, Judy Halldorson, shares a very useful tip that avoids worries and bolsters self-confidence. I have tried various ways to help myself as I try to upgrade my writing efforts.  Taking Elizabeth’s courses was one way.  Reading a fair number of books was another.  And now I am teaching myself certain techniques from Fiction Writer’s Workshop by Josip Novakovich.  He is really quite a wonderful teacher and gives several excerpts from…

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Mar 22 2013
Comments Off on Notes Towards Revision

Notes Towards Revision

When I discovered Haiku, particularly the Japanese poet, Basho’s, work, I sensed that I’d found an important key with which to approach revision. Words have to work hard in writing, so they have to, each one, mean something.  Like pieces of supportive architecture, words have to construct writing. One word can often do the job of three, and likely do it more potently.  In a Haiku every word is jam-packed with effect. What if I…

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Mar 08 2013
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Finding an Authentic, True Voice: One Writer’s Story

This week our guest blogger, Karen Karper Fredette, describes the risks — and rewards — of discovering a true and authentic voice. The need to write was hounding me but whenever I tried, my thoughts flitted in fifty odd directions, and whatever I produced was scattered and shallow.  A habit of concealing my feelings, my fears, and my weaknesses kept me spinning my wheels, writing only superficial events. I seldom wrote directly of myself or…

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Dec 21 2012
Comments Off on What Are You Birthing?

What Are You Birthing?

What Are You Birthing?

Today, December 21st, marks the end of the Mayan calendar. Tomorrow, December 22nd, is Birth 2012, “an unstoppable global effort to create systemic changes in all sectors of society.” Writers can make their own unique contribution to the shift in consciousness.  As part of the world-wide birthday celebrations tomorrow, you can publicly declare your commitment to write something that moves us all “another step toward a peaceful and sustainable world.” Watch evolutionist Barbara Marx Hubbard…

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Dec 07 2012
Comments Off on Inspiration Is Everywhere

Inspiration Is Everywhere

Inspiration Is Everywhere

“I don’t have any ideas.” “My mind is a blank.” I can’t think of anything to write about.” It seems as if almost everyone I’ve worked with has said something like this. Okay, I’ve said it, too. But here is the world, available to us in all kinds of dimensions, scales, emotions, colors, activities, histories and possibilities — and we can’t think of anything? A long time ago, my economics professor held up a book…

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Nov 30 2012
Comments Off on A Catchy New Writing Prompt

A Catchy New Writing Prompt

Scrabble was a popular game in our house when I was growing up.  My goal was to use all the tiles in a single word.  I don’t remember that ever happening, but how I loved moving those tiles around to create as many words as I could. This love is the inspiration for this writing prompt using letter tiles.  You can either raid your Scrabble game, or you can purchase bags of letter tiles in…

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Nov 23 2012
Comments Off on Procrastination: How To Write Around It

Procrastination: How To Write Around It

A famous quote most writers can relate to is Dorothy Parker’s: “I hate writing, but love having written.”   This quote might mean different things to different people, but to me it speaks to one thing above all else: procrastination. Without a doubt, my biggest weakness as a writer is my penchant for procrastination.  I’ve been blessed with the ability to never really have true writer’s block.  I’ve always been able to think of ideas and…

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Nov 16 2012
Comments Off on How To Mine Irritations for Writer’s Gold

How To Mine Irritations for Writer’s Gold

I’m a retired professor of teacher education (Weber State University, Ogden, Utah). Overhearing people’s cell phone conversations often annoys me. I know I’m not alone: in fact, that annoyance is Chapter One of the recent book, Annoying: The Science of What Bugs Us by Joe Palca and Flora Lichtman. Yet these “half-alogues,” as that book terms them, don’t have to be irritating and can actually be interesting, even fascinating, as material for writers. I would…

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Nov 09 2012
Comments Off on Writing the Truth That Must Be Revealed

Writing the Truth That Must Be Revealed

“I can’t think of anything; I certainly can’t think of that!” Has something like that ever silently passed through your mind, perhaps when you were searching for something to write? Of course, it has. We all have thoughts that seem inappropriate and that we’re not going to expose. When images and ideas flash through our minds, we censor them. Either they are just not interesting or impressive enough for our writing, or they are somehow…

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Oct 12 2012
2

A Writer’s Voice

how to write, how to be a writer, writing prompts, writing tips

I’m taking a weaving class.  I’m learning on a small, portable loom, but it has all the necessary pieces of a traditional loom, and it’s great fun to learn an entirely new language, with words like “heddle” and “thrum” and “shed” and “apron” and “shuttle.” I’m learning how to “warp the loom:” to set up the long threads that provide the structural integrity of woven fabric.  It’s extremely complicated, requiring a lot of math and…

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Oct 05 2012
2

Writing Prompts Help

A recent prompt from the Center’s e-mail newsletter led me to a truly serendipitous experience.  As a retiree approaching my 75th birthday, I look around at other folks my age and see many who just stop ‘living’ when they stop working. Here’s the prompt you shared, courtesy Poets & Writer’s:  Pick a poetry book off of your shelf and open it to any page. Read the poem you’ve opened to, then write one of your…

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Sep 28 2012
Comments Off on A New Language

A New Language

how to write, tips on writing, nature and creativity

The seed of the botanical world has finally cracked open for me. I walk as though I were the first man on earth, taking slow steps, my eyes wide. I ask the names of everything I see, testing the patience of those around me, jotting this new language in pocket-sized notebooks: Marigold, begonia, pansy, violet, poppy, chive, iris, pansy, hollyhock, petunia, lilac, shasta daisy, cala lily. In the early spring, the tender shoots in a…

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Sep 07 2012
3

Weaving Words

the words teach writers how to write

I’m taking a weaving class, and my teacher said something the other day I found illuminating for the writer’s life. She said that she never plans a project.  Instead, she goes into the store to see which yarns call out, “Take me home.”  Then she sits with them at home and lets them speak to her as she asks questions of them.  Are you soft and yielding, needing to be made into an airy shawl…

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Jun 27 2012
3

Don’t Worry About It!

“Don’t worry about it,” I always tell my students.  Now, if I could only follow my own advice, but as a writing teacher, I’ve seen that we all do it. Sometimes, it stops us from writing. Sometimes, it just holds us up a bit. We worry about all sorts of things. For one thing, we often get the idea that we should be writing in a different style or genre or about other subjects than…

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