Tag Archives: goals

2015: Sign me up, Scotty!

Happy New Year!Celebrate

About this time every year, I sit down and write a blog post detailing my goals for the year. This year, I’m going to break from tradition and not do that. Why? Because my overall theme of 2015 can be summed up in three simple words:

Be More Awesomer.

This is going to be a big year for me; a great year. A year of Adventure and Authenticity and Awareness. Yes, a AAA-rated year. And while I have my own smaller, bite-sized goals, I don’t need to share them to make them a reality.

(Look, I’m getting all grown-up-ified.)

There are some exciting things on the horizon for me, and I’m looking forward to sharing them all with you — and, of course, to continuing to share the occasional foray into writing about parenthood, social justice, and world events.

But, for right now, let me stick to my announcement of the day. I am incredibly excited and proud to say that I am a new monthly contributor for the amazing Writer Unboxed — a blog that has been named one of the top websites for writers by Writer’s Digest for the last eight years in a row. It is a HUGE honour to be there, and I am alternately overwhelmed with joy and positive the writer-police are about to show up at my door and demand to see my credentials.

WU

My first post went live today. Click here and have a read. I talk about ants, naked druids, and flash fiction. And then I roll out a year-long Flash Fiction competition. I’d love to see you over there, and would love it even more if you’d participate in the contest.

But wait, there’s more. (And no, it’s not steak knives.)

With so many exciting things on the horizon, I’ve decided that it’s time to take the plunge and set up a mailing list. If you enjoy my writing, are interested in what I’ve got going on, and would like yet another way to keep in touch, I’d love it if you would sign up for my newsletter: Words and Stuff.

“But, what’s in it for me?” you ask.

Well, aside from all the stuff I just mentioned, here’s a brief FAQ:

Do I really have to do this? I mean, my email inbox is always so full…

No, of course you don’t. Signing up is completely optional But I guarantee that if you do sign up, you’ll never regret it. (Not a guarantee.)

You’re not going to email me every day, are you? Because that would be super-annoying.

Really, who has time for that? I’ll be sending out a newsletter twice a month.

Give it to me straight: You just want our email addresses so you can sell your mailing list to some big multi-national telemarketing conglomerate and use the proceeds to buy yourself an island paradise, don’t you?

Uh…. I don’t know what planet you live on, but I’d love to come and visit. No, I won’t give or sell your details to anyone else. Even if they offer me an island paradise in return.

Will your newsletter include the same stuff as your blog? I already subscribe to The Happy Logophile.

No, my newsletter may touch on some of the same things, but it will be an entirely different animal. Possibly a bat. So if you want the whole picture, stay subscribed to my blog (or subscribe now — there’s a button just over there on the right sidebar) as well as signing up for Words and Stuff. And, while you’re at it, you may also want to follow me on Twitter and/or Facebook. Let’s share the love, people.

So… a newsletter means I get Free Stuff, right?

Actually, yes. Each edition of my newsleter will give you exclusive access to a piece of my short fiction. It’s quite a while since I’ve posted any fiction on my blog, and I know you’ve been missing it, so consider this the carrot to encourage you to sign up. (Sadly, I left the stick at home.)

This all sounds too good to be true! How do I sign up?

I’m glad you asked. Just click here and fill out the sign up form. It should take about 5 seconds (unless you’ve forgotten how to spell your name).

Thanks for all your support throughout 2014. Let’s have a great 2015, my friends!

What do you have planned for this exciting new year?

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Filed under Opinion, Writing

2014: The Future’s So Bright…

It may be late, but never fear:
My annual goal-setting post is here!
I do this every single year —DCF 1.0
Post my aspirations here —
It always feels beyond compeer
(Not like my rhyming. Dear, oh dear!)
To know my goals and give a cheer
When my actions bring me near
To achieving something I hold dear.
I may even shed a tear.
But don’t you cry, oh reader dear.
My rhyme is done. My goals are clear.

My good friend Tonia has a theme for this year. #BeBravein2014

Being brave is something I always aspire to — sometimes I succeed more than others. But just knowing that out there in the world, there are other people doing their best to be brave is a beautiful thing.

In the spirit of being brave, here are my goals for 2014.

CST

I am really pleased with this novel. It’s the best thing I’ve ever written. The manuscript is with beta readers at the moment, and I’m eagerly anticipating their feedback. My goal is to sell this book in 2014. But, since there are so many elements to that goal that I can’t control, let me be more specific in the actions I will take.

  1. I will edit and make revisions based on beta reader’s feedback.
  2. I will write the query letter of all query letters.
  3. I will query agents with all the tenacity of a puppy chasing a milkbone.
  4. When I (inevitably) have a moment of despair, I will remember Tonia’s theme and I will #BeBravein2014.

Unnamed Novel

I’m 500 words into my first draft with this as-yet-unnamed WIP. I love it already. (Don’t worry, the Honeymoon period will come to an end soon, I’m certain.) I’ve started it at the same time I started CST last year, and so I’m confident that, even if I have major life upsets this year, I can have it finished by 31st Dec , 2014. Specific goals and deadlines? I’m glad you asked.

  1. I will work on the first draft one hour a day, and have the draft finished by 30th June.
  2. I will give it a break, and then do a read-through and first revision.
  3. If necessary, I’ll do another round of revisions.
  4. I will send it to beta readers by 1st of January, 2015. (Even if, like 2013, it means working my fingers off until almost midnight New Year’s Eve!)
  5. When I (inevitably) feel like I’m not up to the task up completing this in time, I will remember Tonia’s theme and #BeBravein2014.

TNT #1

It’s over a year since I’ve looked at this manuscript. In that time, I’ve found my true voice, I’ve learned a LOT about who I am, what I write, and what I want the story’s focus to be. I love this story. It’s a story that spilled out of my heart and soul, bringing with it my joy in fairy tales, and my belief that stories can change the world.

This year, I want to get back to TNT #1.

So while I’m giving my Unnamed Novel time to marinate, I will start rewriting this story. I’m not going to give myself specific deadlines at the moment — it depends on too many other factors — but I’ll revisit and set them when I do my mid-year goal-setting post. Also, I’ll #BeBravein2014. (Are you picking up the common thread here?)

Other Exciting Things

I have a lot of other non-writing related projects happening at the moment, and a lot of my attention will be focused towards those. I’m in the process of starting two separate (and unrelated) businesses — one on my own, and one as part of a partnership. I’m also doing various other bits and pieces of freelance work, and trying to focus on the more visceral, physical work of gardening, home improvement, and learning how to be a country-dweller.

Plus, of course, I have two beautiful boys who take up a vast majority of my time and my heart.

DSCN0796131022 - Max

 

 

 

 

 

 

2014 is going to be a great year. I can feel it in my fingers (and feel it in my toes).

What are your plans/goals for 2014? (Link to a goal-setting post if you’ve got one!)

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A Year in Review: Revisiting 2013

For those of you who’ve been reading my blog for a while now, you may have noticed my lack of goal-checking and goal-setting post at the start of January. There are good reasons for that. Many of them revolve around not having time to write one.

We shall have to remedy that.

First up, let me say that 2013 was the most intense, heart-shattering, life-changing, wing-growing, exciting, devastating, emotional, challenging, rewarding, and intense (did I already say intense?) year of my life. There were days I was so happy I couldn’t even feel the ground beneath my feet because I was flying too high. There were days when I literally cried non-stop for over 24 hours straight. There were days when I felt a zen-like sense of peace and well-being, and days when I was sure I’d ruined not just my own life, but also the lives of my children (and possibly their children).

It was a big year.

Goalpost

But let me start with my writing goals because, after all, that’s what this blog is supposed to be about. (Except when it’s not.)

How did I go with the writing goals I revised in July?

TNT #1

I was aiming to have revised this novel by October, and be ready to query it. This didn’t happen. Largely because in early September, I realised that the manuscript doesn’t just need a simple revision, it needs a complete break-down and rewrite.

This is a good thing and came about because (a) I finally “found” my true voice, and (b) I realised that I have recurring themes in my work, and discovered that those themes are there in TNT #1, but they’re hidden beneath a veneer of self-consciousness. So once I dig them out and make them shine, the whole story will be better for it.

I didn’t make my goal, but I’m darn happy with the revelations I had along the way.

CST

My goal was to finish the first draft, finish revisions, and start querying. I did finish the first draft on schedule — even though it meant writing my way through pneumonia to do it — and I finished my first-round revisions at 10:30pm on New Year’s Eve.

I’m not ready to start querying. Although I feel like I’m close. The manuscript is with beta readers at the moment, and I’m (eagerly) awaiting their feedback.

And feeling ill every time I think about it too much. But, you know, I’m not as bullet-proof as I like to pretend. 🙂

Novel C

I didn’t start writing or outlining before the end of the year, but I’ve started it in the first couple of weeks of January. So I’m about a month behind schedule on this. But I have worked out what I’m writing. I’ll give you a little hint to whet your appetite (and encourage you to nudge me if I stop writing!).

The story involves Greek mythology, violins, and a female protagonist with delusions of monsters and an acerbic wit.

Outline TNT #2 and #3

Yeah, whatever. Who wrote these goals???

Short Stories

Bum-bum. No more short stories written.

Reading

I don’t know if I read anything in the last few months of the year. It just wasn’t a priority for me.

Other

I think my favourite writing-related part of 2013 was becoming part of a great group of enthusiastic, supportive writers. No matter what else happens in my life, I always have these writers there, supporting and encouraging and generally being awesome. Thanks to my P&Peeps for everything. *mwah!*

And that brings to the non-writing related part of this post.

In about August 2013, I got pneumonia pretty bad. It took over a month to recover. I didn’t end up in hospital — although, really, I probably should have. But I have two children, and going into hospital just wasn’t an option for me. So I spent weeks feeling miserable, struggling to breathe, and still doing the cooking, cleaning, raising the children, blah blah blah. You know how it is. But that put a few things into perspective for me. Things like: What’s really important? And: What do I really want?

Just prior to that, I’d been pulling my hair out over finances. So much of our money was being spent on rent and electricity that no matter how I sliced and diced, cut and shaved, managed and over-managed our budget, there was never enough left over for anything. And sometimes not even enough for the most basic of “extras”. Renting a movie to watch with the kids meant not being able to afford more breakfast cereal. Getting haircuts for the boys meant eating nothing but pasta and rice for a week. 

Between those two things, I came up with a radical and crazy idea.

What if we sold or gave away every single possession we didn’t actually need, jumped out of the “rent this expensive house” game, and lived as simply as we possibly could?

What if we abandoned the life we knew ,and started a new one. A cheaper one. A simpler one. A life more in tune with the world, and with nature, and with the values that are close to my heart?

My husband agreed, and we set about the project.

We bought a dodgy, 30-year-old caravan, and I started renovating it from the inside out. (This is an ongoing project.) We bought a tent for the kitchen, and another one for the chemical toilet. We sold or gave away everything we didn’t need. Everything. It was a much bigger (and more emotional) job than I expected. And then we moved out to the middle of nowhere, and set up in a paddock that belongs to a friend of a friend.

DSCN1565[1]

This is where we live now.

It was a massive adjustment. Suddenly, weather plays a massive part in what we can and can’t do on a daily basis. We have to schedule time to move the cows off the road every time we go somewhere. Snakes are a major threat, as are paralysis ticks and venomous spiders. We can’t race off to the shop on a moment’s notice — it’s at least 20 minutes each way to the closest not-all-that-convenient convenience store. We have to go outside in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. I hand wash the clothes, carry water to the kitchen and shower, and I even planted a vegie garden.

It was a massive adjustment.

And in the middle of this adjustment, on October 31st — our 9th wedding anniversary — my husband and I reached a point where we realised that, no matter how much we wished it was different, and no matter what we tried, our marriage was over.

Amidst tears and feelings of guilt and grief and pride-killing failure, we made the decision to separate.

For the good of our children.

For the good of ourselves.

Suddenly, in a change that felt like it happened overnight, I wasn’t a stay-at-home Mum and writer living in the suburbs with a husband who supported us financially. I was a single mother living in a trailer in the middle of nowhere. With no income, and no easy answers.

It was tough.

It was tough saying the words “single mother”. 

It was tough falling asleep at night, listening to the wind buffeting the trees outside, and telling myself that everything would be fine, and I could do this — I could do this on my own. I could face this new challenge, this new life, and I could do it with all the strength in my soul and my arms and my heart. It was tough cuddling my son when he asked when Daddy was coming home.

It’s been almost three months.

And I can do it.

DSCN1566[1]I don’t hate my ex-. Far from it. In fact, we get along better now than we have at any other point during the last six years.  We both love our sons intensely, and want the best for them. And I’ve learned that I can grow vegies. I can make new friends, and be a good parent, and put up a tent, and build furniture, and train a dog, and start a business, and make our money stretch just that little bit further, and I can do it on my own.

With the support of my friends and family.

Now, I stand outside at night, with the stars lighting up the sky, and the damp earth under my feet, and I feel loved and blessed and happy.

I feel like myself. 

I am myself.

And the future’s so bright, I’ve gotta wear shades.

How was your 2013?

 

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The Slow Accumulation of Words

Notebook

There are many times I feel like I’m not getting anywhere with my writing. Or, to be more specific, that I’m not getting anywhere fast enough. Like writing a novel is some kind of race, and I’m forever having to stop to tie my shoe.

This feeling came over me a couple of days ago. I’ve been struggling lately. Three and a half weeks of school holidays meant I was exhausted by the end of the day, falling into bed with a grateful thought to the teachers who somehow manage to entertain and teach 21 six-year-olds every single day without, apparently, resorting to alcohol.

Then school started and I fell sick. For eight days.

Then six-year-old Big Brother developed a crazy high fever and was sick for four days.

And through all this, my writing suffered. I’d sit down at night, for my hour of creative time, and I’d have nothing. I was too drained to think, let alone create interesting and comical scenes for an increasingly complex story.

At the end of July, I missed my monthly writing goal by almost 10,000 words. And all those feelings of insecurity and guilt and why-do-I-do-this-anyway-ness crept over me like a thick, woolly blanket. Comfortable and familiar and stifling.

So I took a deep breath, and looked back over the my writing calendar.

You see, at the end of every day I feel in a calendar with how many words I wrote for the day, how many words I’ve written for the month so far, and my updated daily word count goal. It looks something like this:

Calendar

At first glance, it looks pretty dismal. The green highlights are the days I hit my target. There’s not a lot of them some months. 

But then I got to thinking. And to adding. And to working out some stats.

And suddenly, the world didn’t seem quite so bleak.

In the last six months, from the 1st of January to the 31st of July, I have written a total of 103,000 new words.

Over a hundred thousand words.

That astounds me.

And some more stats:

  • On average, I’ve written 5 out of every 7 days.
  • I’ve written an average of 670 words per writing day.
  • Those words have been written on a combination of two novel manuscripts (one finished, one >< close to being finished), and a short story.

Over the last six months, I’ve really developed my style and my voice, and I’ve turned writing from something I want to do, into something I do do. Plus, I’ve discovered a secret love of outlines. (Shhh!)

And do you know what the most amazing thing about all that is?

I’ve done it all in one hour a day.

 

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The Mid-Year Goalpost

Goalpost

I love goals. I’ve mentioned this before. I grew up in a family where setting goals was as commonplace as brushing teeth and complaining about siblings. So I’ve developed something of a tradition here on my blog. In January, I set my goals. In July I revisit them.

That’s a bit misleading, though. I’m actually re-evaluating my goals on a weekly and monthly basis. Because goals are living things, better set in silly string rather than concrete.

Nonetheless, tradition is as tradition does. Here’s how I’m tracking with the goals I set in January.

TNT#1

Achievement unlocked!

I had set a goal to complete the first draft this by March 1st. I actually typed ‘The End’ on February 1st.

I also set a goal to do a once-over revision by May 1st. I actually completed it on Marsh 14th.

Moving forward, my goal is to finish revisions on this novel by October 1st, and have a query letter ready to go by November 1st.

Novel B CST

I set a goal to complete this first draft by the end of 2013. Really, that was a generous time period. I knew that even when I set it. And considering I’m 2/3 of the way through it, I’m revising my goals for this novel to:

  • Finish first draft by 1st September.
  • Finish revisions by 1st November.
  • Have query letter written by 1st December.

Novel C

Because… why not? I have three ideas that I really want to write, as well as the sequels to TNT. So come the end of the year, I will have decided what I’m writing next and got to work. Really, my only official goal is to have an outline done by December 31st. But I’ll be thrilled if I’ve started writing it as well. (Comic dystopian? YA Urban fantasy? Paranormal Thriller? Or something I haven’t yet dreamed up…. Only time will tell.)

TNT#2 and #3

I’ve got the stories mapped out in my head, so my goal is to have the outlines written for both by November 1st. It never hurts to be prepared.

Flash Fiction

I set a target to write and share 12 flash fiction stories, and so far I’ve done none. As you may have noticed, I haven’t been blogging as often. This is partly because Life has thrown me some curve balls, and I don’t have as much time as I expected, and partly because my main focus is on novel writing. So I’ve officially removed this goal from my 2013 plans.

Short Stories

My goal was to submit six short stories to contests and/or fiction markets. As with above, my priorities have changed. I have submitted one, and have plans for another. But I don’t anticipate any more than that. So consider my goal down-graded to two.

Reading

I was going to read 75 books. I was. And then… life. So I’ve only read 20 books at this stage. I’m revising back down to 50 books for the year, and that will be a stretch target.

Overall

What a great year so far! I’m loving my novel writing, and can’t wait to get stuck into writing every day. I’m part of a great writing community on Facebook (seriously, if you’re not part of Writer Unboxed, you have no idea what you’re missing out on!) and have made amazing, supportive, and encouraging friends and colleagues through both WU and a second, more intimate writing community.

I said in January that this is the year I’m moving from “enthusiastic amateur” to “professional writer”, and I feel well and truly on the way there.

How are you tracking with your goals?

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Goals & Desires — The “Why” of Being Published

Photo by Ben Gallagher

I’ve wanted to be a published author since I was four years old.

Despite the twists and turns my life has taken, that dream has never changed, and certainly never died. I’ve never questioned the desire. But a couple of weeks ago, I read something that posed a question I’d rarely, if ever consciously considered.

Why?

Not “What do I want?” but “Why do I want it?”

That question made me stop. And think.

Two weeks on, I’m still thinking.

On the 9th of January, the always inspiring Vaughn Roycroft wrote a  heartfelt blog post examining his motives for pursuing publication for his fantasy trilogy. His journey of self-discovery touched me deeply, and encouraged me to question my own thoughts, feelings, fears, and motivations.

Vaughn is a writer I admire deeply. I got to know him first through the Writer Unboxed Facebook Group, and then through his blog. He has the ability to express his thoughts and emotions in such a way that it’s almost impossible to avoid being drawn into his story, what ever that story may be. (And this is just one of the many reasons I’m eagerly awaiting the day when I can buy and read his novels.)

Over the last two weeks, I’ve thought about his post a lot. It’s rarely been far from my mind. And that’s why I want to share both Vaughn’s beautiful words of wisdom, and my own response to it. Please click through to Vaughn’s blog and read Goals & Desires — Not What But Why. I’m certain it will touch you as much as it touched me.

My comment in response to the question of why I’m seeking publication is as follows:

“I reveled in the glory, the friendship and the honor I found in the pages of historical fantasies. I felt renewed by the sacrifices for love, and experienced cathartic sorrow and release in the losses. In a real world that seemed unmistakably darker, I found light in fiction. I was healed, in no small way, by reading.”

This section of your wonderful post moved me to tears. I know what you mean. I’ve been there, more times than I care to count. When life is too dark and too heavy, fiction brings the light of hope and wonder into my heart and lets me see the darkness for what it truly is — a shadow that will pass in its own good time.

I read to feel. To feel warmth and love and pain and despair and passion and humour. To immerse myself in worlds where integrity and honour define success. To experience good triumphing over the darkest of evils. And I cherish those feelings, those experiences, and hold them close to my heart as armour against the emotional slings and arrows of the world.

I write to share my heart’s story. My pain and triumph, my love and fear, my uncertainty and my faith that the bad guys can never truly win as long as a single person is willing to stand against them. I write because in doing so, my heart is strengthened and my resolve renewed. And I share what I write in the hope that I can do for others what so many authors have done for me and set their minds and hearts free.

Have you stopped to think about WHY you’re pursuing your dream?

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2013: The Obligatory Goal-Setting Post

Photo by Harold Neal

Happy 2013! I hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday season, and has hit the ground running in 2013. I know I did.

And what would the start of a new year be without the obligatory look back and look forward of a goal-setting post?

As I said last year, I’m not a believer in namby-pamby resolutions. But I love me some SMART* goals. So let’s look at how I went with last year’s goals and then I’ll share this year’s goals with you. You’ll keep me honest, right?

Last Year

Complete First Draft of TNT#1

This time last year, I set myself the goal of completing this first draft by April 30. That date came and went, so I revised my target and set a goal to complete this first draft by September 30. Again, that date came and went without me coming close to achieving the goal.

Research and Plan Novel B

I didn’t even get close to doing this. Bzzzzzt!

Social Media

I originally had a variety of social media based goals to accomplish. But as the year went on, and I embraced this blog, Facebook, and Twitter, social media become a part of my life rather than another task to be completed. I removed any SMART goals based around social media when I revisited my goals in July.

Write and share 26 Flash Fiction stories

When I looked at how I was tracking in July, I’d only posted 2 new flash fiction stories on my blog. I put my head down and worked on writing more FF and by the end of the year I’d posted 15. Although I didn’t hit my initial goal, I’m pretty happy with that result.

Write and submit 6 short stories to fiction markets

I only submitted three over the course of the year, but again I’m pretty happy with that.

Read 50 books

This was one goal I completely blew out of the water. I read 69 books during 2013, and loved taking the time to immerse myself in reading. And I truly believe that doing so has had a positive effect on my writing as well.

Lose 8kg (17lb) and maintain fitness

I didn’t quite make my goal, unfortunately. But I did lose 6kg (13lb), which is great. (Honestly, I’m just thrilled not to have put back on the weight I lost during 2011!)

Overall

I’m pretty happy with my progress over 2012. Although I didn’t meet my writing goals, I made significant progress toward them. And, more importantly perhaps, my confidence in my writing improved and I met a lot of other writers online. I feel that 2012 was a positive year, and I can’t wait to take that positivity forward!

2013

This Year

Complete First Draft of TNT#1

With my new writing plan in place, I will continue to write every day. This will allow me to complete my first draft by 1st March.

I will then do a single revision pass to fix the continuity errors I know are present (because I changed the direction of some of the characters midway through the novel), which will be completed by 1st May. Then I will let it sit and marinate for a while before doing a second revision pass. This will be completed by 1st October. Then it will be in the hands of my Beta Readers.

Complete First Draft of Novel B

When I’m not working on TNT#1, I will use my creative time to start writing Novel B. I will complete this first draft by the end of 2013.

Write and share 12 Flash Fiction stories

Once a month I will write and share a Flash Fiction piece on my blog. These stories will be written during the time I set aside for blog writing, not during creative time.

Write and submit 6 stories to contests/fiction markets

I will identify 6 contests and fiction markets I would like to write for, and use my creative time to write short stories to submit to them.

Read 75 books

This is a slight increase on last year’s result, and means reading 6 or 7 books per month. To achieve that goal, I will continue to listen to audiobooks in the car, keep a book in “the smallest room”, and carry a book with me everywhere I go so I can use every spare 5 minutes for reading. I will also do my best to minimise my “Good Book Hangovers” (that feeling after finishing a great book where you can’t bring yourself to start a new one and say goodbye to the characters you love).

Overall

This is the year I want to push myself to the next level, and make that commitment to treat writing like a real job. No more excuses. No more “I don’t feel creative” or “I don’t have time” or “I have to do the washing/ironing/cooking/cleaning/whatever”. I’m ready, 2013.

Bring it on.

What goals have you set for 2013? (Feel free to share the link to your own obligatory goal-setting post!)

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*If you don’t know what a SMART goal is, you’re missing out on a great tool for success. There are plenty of resources in print and on the interweb to explain how SMART goals work, so I won’t go into too much detail. Let it suffice to say that any goal you set should be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Action-based
  • Realistic
  • Tangible/Time specific.

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