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My Creative Writing piece

2 years ago

Suggested by Mayana to give writing a short story a shot, here is my English internal exam creative writing. About 450 words.

I keep my head low as possible, tucked cozily  into my tattered coat. Taking a few quick steps down the cracked, moss filled brick stairs. Darkness surrounds me with a few streaks of light piercing the smog overhead.

Turning to walk down the street, sighing as I pass stores and vendors. Planting my hands against the freezing store windows to see the new items. There is one item that always catches my eye. A gorgeous mahogany yoyo; waxed and polished to a mirror shine. It would’ve been a great 8th birthday gift.

Suddenly, The great chimes of Big Ben ring through the air and its happy melody makes the day a little brighter. A little merrier, I jaunt down familiar and comforting streets. There’s one street in particular that mummy stays at night. She talks to different men and they’ll usually enter an inn nearby. Later finding out that “The Red Light” inn was a place for unsavoury acts. It explained why Mummy was a barbie doll when she leaves and a ragged dog when she’s home. Sometime black and blue sores cover her body but she always has a few pounds after.

The soft thump of my boots against the cobblestone, lost in thought. 

“CRUNCH!” Broken away, I cast my eyes at the ground, to see a poster. Tentatively lifting the poster, sounding out the word “S-serve your Nation, Serve the Empire!”. A proud lion gazes, standing upon a rock. Tears well in my eyes, as my face boils red.

 

Fathers face flashes in my mind. Waving on top of a boat. The façade of a smile disguising the worry and dread emanating from his eyes. I could see it. Never returning from his grand adventure, his valiant quest on to the unknown continent of Africa. Struck down by some filthy savages. I wipe away the tears that flow down my face.

 

Returning to my walk, starting to whistle a tune. A lullaby that I sang to my sister. That was before the sickness that corrupted her, before it stole her innocents, before it destroyed my beloved sister: Polio is what stole and changed her. I would do anything to see her smile again.

 

I puff out an enormous sigh; a white cloud streams out. Slowing my walk to a crawl arriving at my destination. No matter how many times I see the great foundries that spew black mist, I’m stunned by the sheer magnitude of them. A lone familiar harsh voice cries out “Thomas your late! Hurry up and grab your pick!”.

Lifting a pick that leans on a wall and diving into the abyss of the coal mine. With all it entails the blisters on my hands, the aching pain in my back, the burning coughs it causes but it affects me not. For I have felt a worse pain. The loss of a happy caring father, who loved his country greatly. Knowledge that your mother would trade her body to save your own. Finally a sister that you played with, laughed with, whose heart will never grow. This is my life, a life all too common for me and many; many others.

So yep this is it. Give your thoughts and any advice.

My Creative Writing piece

2 years ago
Is this the 'great potential, lacks execution' bit? I can see where they're coming from but I'm surprised a high school English teacher is so picky; from what I've seen it seems like it's a good day for them if a student proves capable of printing their own name.

There are a few technical issues with spelling and sentence structure, and stylistically it's maybe a bit overwritten, but nothing is really leaping out at me as a major problem and for such a short piece there are a lot of details here to draw the reader in and the imagery is pretty good.

So in short...great potential, lacks execution? But I'll come back to this when I'm not phone posting from work.

My Creative Writing piece

2 years ago

Yeah New Zealand English standards are pretty high during high school. Almost everyone gets not achieved or achieved first try. This is actually my first resubmission, about a high merit or low excellence. The story is a bit wordy for my taste but my first try had wayyy to many “I”s in them for sentence starters.

My Creative Writing piece

2 years ago
Commended by EndMaster on 3/27/2018 7:31:58 PM
This is a short one, but I’ll give it a go. First, the disclaimers: this is my review. It is likely not like anyone else’s. In fact, you probably couldn’t find anyone else who completely agrees with what I write here. But it’s my opinion. I’m also writing this as I read through this for the first time. These are my first impressions as I read it. I’m not saying they’re right, just what I’m thinking. This is written in the spirit of helping you see how others see your story and to perhaps give you ideas for improvement, and not to be mean or anything else. Please don’t take it personally. This review is likely worth exactly what you paid for it. Finally, you did ask.

Here we go:

Why is the font so small? No, seriously. All the other font on my page is not that small, and it’s annoying. I’m going to guess that was accidental from a copy and paste, and not done intentionally. I’ll move on now (at least it’s not in a poorly contrasting color as well). Ok, this is first person. Nice. “cozily tucked?” What’s that? And into a tattered coat? Most of the tattered coats I have don’t really work well with the work “cozy.” And if it’s tattered, I’d often associate that with smelly, so I’m not sure I want to put my head in there, too. But hey, if that’s what works for this guy, okay, but I’m not sure I’d write it that way.

“Taking a few steps…” Yes? Yes?!? What next? Don’t leave me in anticipation (that’s a sentence fragment there, with no verb). “Darkness surrounds me” Hmmmm…I build pictures in my head when I read. In this one, if I get past the sentence fragment, I think I’m walking down stairs, maybe into the ground. And it’s dark. But there’s smog. And streaks of light. The picture in my head isn’t working. How did I see the moss and the brick if it is so dark? Where is the light coming from? Is that sunlight? I feel like it is so dark it is nighttime, so I don’t understand the light. And why would light pierce smog? Usually smog is pretty even, so light might filter through it, but I can’t see it piercing.

Next sentence, oops, I was wrong. I wasn’t going down stairs into the ground because now I’m turning and walking down a street. I’m trying to adjust the picture in my head now. So I walked down some brick stairs, but onto a street. Maybe I just left a house or something. But it is still pitch dark outside. Oops, I was wrong again, because there’s vendors on the street. Surely if it were the middle of the night there wouldn’t be vendors outside. Well, I guess there could be if we were in a vampire-themed story. Are we? I don’t know. Anyway, so now it isn’t night time. But it is dark? Okay, I have no idea what time it is, but I’m walking through Georgetown, because that’s what I conjured with the brick front steps to a house and moss-covered stuff.

Oh wait, it’s freezing out. I really didn’t get that from the opening. Was I supposed to? Maybe if there were something in that first sentence that let me know that the guy was ducking his head because it was cold. I don’t know about you, but it’s pretty rare for me to say I’m “cozy” when walking outside when it’s freezing out there. But hey, this guy isn’t the sharpest bowling ball on the rack there, placing his hands on the freezing store windows (not just one, but more than one).

The yoyo: the extra adjectives felt a little forced here. It might be perfectly okay there, but something just felt a bit off when I read that part. Also, I think I would have used a colon there between “eye” and “A.” Eighth birthday gift… when I read that, all I know is the person is more than eight years old. My mind kind of wandered back and forth there because I was trying to decide if the protagonist is eight years and four days, and is wishing he just got the yoyo; or if they are 53 years old and really, really wanted to get one for his eighth birthday and still just hasn’t forgiven his parents for not getting it for him. Perhaps I’ll find out as I read on.

The capital “T” after “Suddenly” is confusing because I don’t think it’s supposed to be there. Do chimes ring? Especially great chimes? I think maybe those giant bells toll, but that’s okay. But in that sentence, the “its” doesn’t work for me. Since that word appears directly after “air,” it feels like it belongs to “air,” but I don’t think that the happy melody belongs to the air. I realize it might actually be very technically correct because air is actually part of the phrase “through the air,” but it just doesn’t read that well (at least for me). I think something as simple as replacing “its” with “the” would just make that sentence more readable. As for the content, it was dark and midnight, now it appears to be a bright day with lovely songs playing. That is quite in contrast to that start when it was dark and I was walking down steps into the ground in the pitch black.

“Jaunt?” Do you really jaunt? I suppose if that is the personality of this person, then it is very appropriate. In fact, as I read further, and include things like “jaunt,” and “Big Ben,” the setting appears to be London, and now I wonder if the smog would have worked better as fog. I don’t know what is going on with mummy. I can’t figure that sentence out. Is it missing words? She “stays,” not in the street but “one street?” How do you “stay one street?” I don’t know if she lives there or just hangs out in the street, “walking” the street (nudge, nudge). Oh, next sentence, I guess she does walk the street. I’m still trying to figure out how to re-word that other sentence. Could it be, “There is one street where I often see mummy at night?”

The sentence that starts with “Later” also appears to be a fragment. Maybe it’s “Later I found out…” Why is “Mummy” capitalized here, but not in the previous sentence? But that sentence (with “explained why Mummy”) has some strange stuff going on with verbs. She was when she leaves and [is] when she is home? Is that active and passive at the same time? Have you ever had black and blue sores? I never have. Oh, I’ve had bruises that were black and blue. But my sores tend to be red and bloody, or sometimes yellow and nasty…but never black and blue. And that cover her body? Do you know what it would take to cover and entire person’s body with bruises? I mean sores, maybe, if they had the plague or something for a couple weeks. I know what you mean by “pounds,” but in a sentence with the body description, many readers might more quickly associate that pounds with bodyweight. I know I did. I was trying to figure out how she got fat from getting beaten. So maybe “coins” would work better there.

Damn it, there’s another fragment! I want to say that it’s not a big deal, but it is. Sentence fragments like these are really obvious when they are read. They might not be to the author, I know I very often don’t write what my brain is thinking, but these are killing me.

Okay, I just got totally lost. What the hell is going on? The boots are softly thumping on the cobblestones, and then they suddenly crunch and something breaks. The person doesn’t look up, but sees a poster on the ground. What the hell? Did the poster just crunch? Did the poster break? Is my tattered coat breaking onto the poster? Did I step on a damn Lego? I have no idea what just happened, but clearly it was something damn important. I hope I figure it out as I read on.

No, I’m going to gently reach down and carefully pick up the poster that just broke my ankle or foot or boot or something. But hey, the star of the show can’t read, either, so I’m going back with my idea from earlier that they really are eight years old. I wasn’t there until just now, I thought they were a little older for some reason. It just wasn’t really clear to me. But the poster is of a nice lion recruiting for the jungle police or something like that. Which apparently this person in the story doesn’t like because they’re crying from looking at the picture of a lion, but not when they broke their entire leg walking over the picture of the lion.

Oh. The lion reminds me of a father (if the face belongs to father, that might work better as “father’s”). And this father’s face is waving. What the hell? How does a face wave? Maybe the face of the boat? Heck, how does this damn kid even know who his father is, his mom is sleeping with half the town? Wait, what the hell? This kid is barely eight, can’t read, but can think about a face showing “a façade of a smile?” AND able to recognize hidden worry and dread? Come on! The damn kid is eight! I’m not buying that. If you want to show that, you’ve got to find a way to do that without the kid remembering those kind of emotions from a floating face that waves.

“Never returning” is another fragment. So is “Struck down.” And I’m still wondering about this kid and his vocabulary, using words like “valiant” and “filthy savages” as eight, the son of a whore. But hey, even though he just broke his hip (or something, I can’t tell any more), and he’s had this incredible, vivid flashback of his father after seeing a crackling poster of a lion; and even though that was so serious that he cried; he’s apparently completely okay, as he just started to walk away whistling a tune. What the hell? Unless this kid is a sociopath and has serious bipolar, this doesn’t make any sense (and “Returning to my walk” is a fragment, too).

“A lullaby?” Yeah, that’s a fragment. You can’t steal an innocents. Well, I mean, I guess you could steal a whole bunch of innocents, but that would take like a bus or something, because you can’t fit that many people in a box (unless it was a really big box, I guess). You could steal someone’s innocence, if that’s what you meant there, but I’m not sure. But that whole sentence is a train wreck. If you want a build up there to the climax of identifying the disease, you end the sentence with that, not the dribbling on about “is what stole and changed her.” And the disease didn’t steal her, anyway. Or maybe it did, I don’t know, it’s not my story. Maybe the disease picked her up and carried her away or something. Or I guess you could be talking about it killing her, but since in that very same sentence you were talking about it stealing her friends (the innocents?), so it appears to be the same stealing going on there. Did I mention that entire sentence is a train wreck?

What the hell? I’m glad I’m nearing the end, this is getting tougher to read as I go on. Who the hell puffs out a sigh? What is that? Is that something you do in New Zealand that no one else in the world actually does? There are things you can puff, but I would not say that a sigh is one of them. But hey, that puff made a white cloud. Were you smoking something there? ‘Cause that’s what I’m thinking. If you’re not smoking anything, and that’s not a special thing down under, it might just be simpler to say something like, “I sighed and could see my breath in the cold air.”

Look ma, a sentence fragment (“Slowing my walk…”). Now I’ve arrived. This is a few seconds after I walked past the vendors, split my ankle open on the sharp edge of the lion poster, and puffed. So my destination appears to be very close to where I started (or at least that’s how I’m reading this section, I had no feeling of distance here, but I don’t know if I was supposed to). Black mist? What damn kind of place is this person headed? Mount Doom?

“lone familiar harsh voice?” Why do many adjectives? And why no commas? It just reads weird. And for dialogue, it needs a comma after “out.” *you’re. But hey, at least the whore’s son with the broken foot is “diving” into the coal mine. I guess that’s where the story ends, because usually if you dive into a coal mine you fall a long ways and end up dying. Maybe this is a different kind of mine.

What the hell? I don’t even know what’s going on with the sentence, “With all it entails.” I can’t tell anything about that sentence. What is “it?” The coal mine? What about the blisters? Did the coal mine do that? But hey, it affects him not. What the hell? I’m going to go ahead and call that sentence train wreck #2 because I just don’t even know where it’s going or what to do with that. The last few sentence vary between missing commas and fragments, like you just ran out of steam or something.

So there you have it. This appears to be a crappy story about a crappy kid and his crappy life. My guess is he’s an eight-year-old who works in coal mines in 1800s England or something. It felt a little like “Napoleon Dynamite” – I kept reading, waiting for something to happen, anything, but nothing really did. It was like all backstory that wasn’t even all that interesting.

Sorry if this sounds brutal, again, I just write about what I see, while I see it. Please don’t take any of this personal, I don’t mean it that way at all. And I do honestly hope that something of what I wrote would help you understand how I saw the story, and help you, if you want to, learn to write better.

My Creative Writing piece

2 years ago
You said 'What the hell' eight times. Try varying your exclamations, that's too much repetition, even for an essay this size.

My Creative Writing piece

2 years ago
I use it as a measure of how lost I am during the review.

My Creative Writing piece

2 years ago

 

First off, I have read your whole reply and accept some of your criticisms such spelling errors, grammar and punctuation and others (but be mindful that I didn’t copy paste as my actual work was done by hand). First off this is a creative writing piece so it doesn’t have to follow a character arc or plot line. I know a story should have conflict or something to resolve but the guide lines set were that the creative writing piece has to at least have 300 words but no more than 600 (teachers have life’s apparently) so it would have been difficult to add, so I did pretty much make a backstory. In this story it is merely describing a 1800’s, Victorian England, coal working boy. 

 We can agree that the kid has a crappy life, that the crappy story is your personal opinion (that you have a right to have) and that the story is set in the 1800’s, England. 

Thank you for your opinion and criticisms (some of which I will take into consideration in the future) and thank you for taking the time to read my creative writing piece.

I have edited this down a lot as my first reply came off as whiny.

My Creative Writing piece

2 years ago
Commended by EndMaster on 3/28/2018 2:18:10 AM
Oh right I promised to have a go at this too. Although I'm less inclined to now as the text is super tiny on my screen now with weird gaps in the spacing. It looked normal on my phone so I don't know what's happening there.

First, just a couple of general things to keep in mind. Earlier when I said overwritten, I was referring primarily to the fact that for such a short piece, this has a LOT of adverbs and adjectives and unneeded synonyms or more serviceable words, which become more distracting than anything. Focus on communicating ideas clearly before you worry about getting fancy. Strong nouns and attention to sentence structure that leaves with no room for misinterpretation go a long way there. @Bucky made a thread on adjectives being bad once and maybe he still has the link so that no one has to use effort to dig it up. But as a rule of thumb, adjectives and adverbs, especially the kind that end in -ly (cozily, suddenly...) should be thought of as a kind of crutch and used sparingly. They're not always a bad thing, but you want to choose them carefully and not just shotgun them at your story.

A story also really should have some sort of conflict resolution or twist going on. That is hard to do in under 500 words, granted. I have a hard time keeping a complete story down to 1000. But, you also clear up some extra space on the page by stripping out some of the excess descriptive stuff and rearranging a few sentences so there's that. Right now you have a kid walking to work while thinking about his tragic backstory and being sad. Not a lot actually happening.

There's some oddness in the actual structure of the sentences I noticed in several places too, but I'll just take it paragraph by paragraph and point those out as I go.

I keep my head low as possible, tucked cozily into my tattered coat. Taking a few quick steps down the cracked, moss filled brick stairs. Darkness surrounds me with a few streaks of light piercing the smog overhead.

I'd scrap the 'cozily' altogether, you don't need an adverb like that, especially in a first sentence. Nothing cozy about a tattered coat anyhow and that word evokes the entirely wrong tone for the grim sad sadness you were going for. Meanwhile, 'Taking' is...present continuous, I think? Whenever you start a sentence like that it's implying one action happening at the same time as another. In the case of a simple statement of walking down the stairs, it's not needed. In the case of some stairs that are just being noted in passing as old with nothing really special or important about them, three separate adjectives are really unneeded as well. What I'd do here is combine the first and second sentences. 'I keep my head low as possible, tucked into my tattered coat, and take careful steps down the cracked, mossy stairs.'

The number of steps doesn't matter and I've changed quick to careful to reinforce the fact that they're old, crappy stairs. Stepping carefully means there's a concern of slipping and busting his ass, while quickly implies being in a hurry or lightheartedness, and your guy is sad and taking a lot of time to think and mope.

The third sentence is fine. It's great actually. Very strong imagery without the story dwelling too long on it. Do more like that.

Turning to walk down the street, sighing as I pass stores and vendors. Planting my hands against the freezing store windows to see the new items. There is one item that always catches my eye. A gorgeous mahogany yoyo; waxed and polished to a mirror shine. It would’ve been a great 8th birthday gift.

Again with the -ing verbs. Technically I don't even think these are real sentences, they always leave you hanging and waiting for the second half. 'Turning to walk down the street, I sigh as I pass stores and vendors.' is an easy fix. The first three can even be combined. 'Turning to walk down the street, I sign as I pass stores and vendors, planting my hands against the freezing shop windows to see the new items.' Store becomes shop the second time because I can't handle seeing the word twice in a sentence, that's triggering.

Suddenly, The great chimes of Big Ben ring through the air and its happy melody makes the day a little brighter. A little merrier, I jaunt down familiar and comforting streets. There’s one street in particular that mummy stays at night. She talks to different men and they’ll usually enter an inn nearby. Later finding out that “The Red Light” inn was a place for unsavoury acts. It explained why Mummy was a barbie doll when she leaves and a ragged dog when she’s home. Sometime black and blue sores cover her body but she always has a few pounds after.

Okay, this paragraph is all over the place. One, don't start sentences with 'suddenly'. Just don't. Train yourself out of that. Slam your hand down on a hot stove coil if you ever catch yourself doing it again, whatever it takes. And obviously 'the' should be lower cased there. The bigger issue is the tonal one though, the one sentence of jaunting merrily along does nothing and is at odds with the entire rest of the story and particularly with the stuff about his mom that follows immediately.

'Later finding out'...later compared to what? This is a sentence fragment anyhow but it's awkward for other reasons. If he doesn't realize what she's doing at the time of writing this then you do enough to imply it already without the weird time jump in perspective. Also, 'barbie doll' is not a term a character in this setting would be using. Those didn't become a thing until the 1960s or so.

My attempt at a quick fix would be, 'The great chimes of Big Ben ring through the air, its melody never failing to remind me of happier times jaunting down the familiar and comforting streets. How things have changed. There’s one street in particular that mummy stays at night. She talks to different men and they’ll usually enter an inn nearby. It took me a few years and cruel whispers to learn it was a place for unsavory acts. It explained why Mummy was made up like a china doll when she left and a broken vessel when she was home. Sometimes black and blue sores covered her body, but she always has a few pounds after. But could any amount be worth it?'

Major changes would be making the tone more consistent and changing the barbie doll/dog comparisons. A china doll fits the setting and means about the same thing and the comparison is still a pottery/ceramics reference. Also changed unsavoury to unsavory because fuck you, that's how it's spelled. :[

The soft thump of my boots against the cobblestone, lost in thought.

I'm assuming neither your boots or the cobblestone are the things lost in thought here. Try 'My boots thump softly against the cobblestone, my mind drifting to the past.' Or something like that.

“CRUNCH!” Broken away, I cast my eyes at the ground, to see a poster. Tentatively lifting the poster, sounding out the word “S-serve your Nation, Serve the Empire!”. A proud lion gazes, standing upon a rock. Tears well in my eyes, as my face boils red.

Okay now this is hilarious because it reads as if the character just randomly yelled "CRUNCH!" for some reason. 'There's a soft rustling of paper underfoot. I cast my gaze down, and see a poster. Tentatively lifting it, I sound out the words.' That immediate emotional reaction is maybe a bit strong as well, to the point I'd have to wonder how he functions on a normal day. 'At the familiar words I swallow a sudden lump in my throat. The memory still holds such power when it strikes.' gets the same meaning across with more impact and less over the top 'i cri evrytiem'

Fathers face flashes in my mind. Waving on top of a boat. The facade of a smile disguising the worry and dread emanating from his eyes. I could see it. Never returning from his grand adventure, his valiant quest on to the unknown continent of Africa. Struck down by some filthy savages. I wipe away the tears that flow down my face.

Father's is possessive so put that apostrophe there. Also not sure if I'd buy a little kid picking up on things like dread and worry emanating from someone's eyes, and at a pretty good distance too. A memory about how hopeful and optimistic he'd been before the trip with the now older protagonist looking back wondering whether it had all been a facade, if in his own way he'd been as desperate as their mother is now, or so on might be a different direction to go.

Returning to my walk, starting to whistle a tune. A lullaby that I sang to my sister. That was before the sickness that corrupted her, before it stole her innocents, before it destroyed my beloved sister: Polio is what stole and changed her. I would do anything to see her smile again.

You know the drill with these present continuous verb thingies by now, right? Also consistency of tone yadda yadda. 'Forcing such thoughts from my mind, I return to my walk and in defiance start to whistle a tune. But it's as if memory is determined to haunt me today, and with the first few notes I realize it's the lullaby I sang to my sister.' Also, 'innocence'. Innocents would be the plural of people who are innocent.

I puff out an enormous sigh; a white cloud streams out. Slowing my walk to a crawl arriving at my destination. No matter how many times I see the great foundries that spew black mist, I’m stunned by the sheer magnitude of them. A lone familiar harsh voice cries out “Thomas your late! Hurry up and grab your pick!”.

'My walk slows to a crawl as I arrive at my destination.' Too many adjectives in the dialogue tag and also I can see we may eventually need to have The Talk about how the punctuation goes with those, but this is getting too long already, so I'll pencil you in for later. The voice being 'lone' adds nothing and so that can go. Meanwhile, punctuation goes like this: 'A harsh, familiar voice calls out, "Thomas, you're late! Hurry up and grab your pick!"

Also, I'm pretty uncertain whether a coal mine would be attached to a city that way, and a foundry is something else entirely. He'd perhaps be shoveling coal into a boiler in a factory somewhere which would be just as labor intensive and soul crushing.

Lifting a pick that leans on a wall and diving into the abyss of the coal mine. With all it entails the blisters on my hands, the aching pain in my back, the burning coughs it causes but it affects me not. For I have felt a worse pain. The loss of a happy caring father, who loved his country greatly. Knowledge that your mother would trade her body to save your own. Finally a sister that you played with, laughed with, whose heart will never grow. This is my life, a life all too common for me and many; many others.

Regardless of the realism of the mine being there, this paragraph is painful. Random POV switches from first to second person, that second sentence is meandering, there's strange punctuation everywhere and the sentences are just weird and bad. 'whose heart will never grow' is obviously you saying the sister never got a chance to grow up but it's not what you're actually saying at all. But I'mgetting tired now so I'll just rewrite it for you and wrap this up:

Lifting a pick that leans on a wall, I trudge into the abyss of the coal mine. The blisters on my hands, the aching pain in my back, the burning cough; they punish my body, but I have worse weights on my soul. The loss of a happy caring father who loved his country greatly. The knowledge that my mother would trade her body to save mine. And finally, a sister that I played with, laughed with in the sun, who faded into shadows. This is my life, a life all too common for me and many, many others.'

Although I'd still say this whole story is missing an element of something actually happening as a result of all this introspection, it'll at least flow a lot better with the changes. You can use mine and give it back to your teacher that way if you want, although they were all pretty quick examples and I'm sure it's possible to do better.

My Creative Writing piece

2 years ago

Since I recently just typed to another reply that’s very long, This reply will be shorter. Thank you for your criticisms, personally I find them very helpful. I’ll try to put the technics in my future work although I’ll probably slip up at times.

Again thank you for your time.