Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Prejudices within the Writer #IWSG

The community of writers is a special one. It’s full of insane, generous people who have chosen writing as a pastime—or perhaps writing chose them. However, we’re not immune to prejudices—mostly against ourselves.

There’s a common belief that there are classes of writing. The good, the bad and the ugly. The literary, the genre and the first draft. Like all prejudices, they only damage. Not all writing needs to change the world. Not all of it needs to dig deep to uncover truths meant to change a person’s life. And not all of it needs to be perfect at every stage.

I’m a genre writer, my favourite being anything speculative. In some circles, science fiction and fantasy lack a certain kudos that literary works hold. Romance writers seem to be on the back foot as well and let’s not talk about the poor horror writers. Not only that, it’s easy to get fooled into thinking you’ll never be good enough, never get noticed by a publisher, and certainly never hit the bestsellers lists. That only happens to the lucky people.

Well, excuse my language, but pish posh to prejudices! Don’t let yourself lose focus. When I returned to the roots of why I started writing in the first place, I was suddenly okay with being a genre writer.

Writing is a form of expression that’s crucial to my sanity. It doesn’t matter what type of stories I create. It doesn’t matter that my work won’t turn into classics for generations to come. All I need to do is cast aside the damaging prejudices that are both contagious and toxic, and write what I love.

How about you?

This post was written for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. To join or check it out, click HERE.

Also we, at the IWSG, have a special announcement for the IWSG anniversary coming up. Stay tuned!! (Psst, it's super exciting).

And for those of you who have joined the IWSG Facebook Group, we've turned Fridays into promo day when you can share your links to your books, blogs or whatever you'd like to promote, or simply share any great news you might have.

Note: my main computer died (thus no pics in this post). The harddrive went boom. I'm not a happy camper. Luckily I can write anywhere (yay for crappy old laptops). Unluckily, however, it means my game project is on hold. Sigh. 

112 comments:

  1. Oh I love your thoughts! I never thought about the writing prejudices. You are so right! Writing is writing.

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    1. And we get the most satisfaction from writing the stories closest to our hearts.

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  2. Pish posh is bad language? Damn I've been doing it wrong lol

    There are many indeed, there will always be those with the stick up their bum, but write what we feel we must and screw them.

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    1. That's right, Pat, you need to break loose once in a while and really let 'em have it, language-wise ;)

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  3. Sorry about your computer!
    You're right - no prejudices. Why should us speculative fiction writers feel inferior? What I write isn't going to change anyone's world and I'm all right with that. If I entertained, that's good enough.
    And if my books can become best sellers, anyone's book can!

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    1. I think entertainment does change the world, especially if it puts a smile on a person's face. Unfortunately the value of a smile is often underestimated.

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  4. I'm tired of seeing writers throw mud at each other over genre or because of the publication path they choose. It's hard enough, no matter what we're writing, we don't need grief from each other too.

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    1. I totally agree, especially because we start to believe all the nonesense ourselves.

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  5. I so agree that it's essential to write what you want to write, and because you want to, rather than trying to write to please a certain audience or a certain notion of what "good" writing is.

    I am a genre writer as well, and I love reading it too.

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  6. Say Lyn, such offensive language -- pish posh to prejudices! Love it! I think the opinion that you write what you want to read, or you write what you want to know more about...but most importantly, you write what you want to write. I think if we write to a trend, a fad, which we're not really into, we'll never succeed. Here's to whatever success we wish for ourselves in the writing world. No place for genre snobs.

    I love Bryce Courtney -- not all his novels, but especially The Power of One. Was talking to a South African lady in a coffee shop recently and the novel came up. 'Oh, no, I don't read popular fiction. I only read literary fiction.' Good luck with that!!

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    1. My apologies for the offensive language, but I get so riled sometimes (giggle).

      That reader you chatted to is missing out. And it makes me sad.

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  7. Hi Lynda, I've been there trying to post when your main computer is no longer there for you.

    And I don't worry at all about genres. I let me editor classify my books for me. I just write without hinderances or borders.

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    1. It's good to hear your contentment in the type of stories you write.

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  9. Sorry about your computer Lyn. Hope your computer problems are sorted out soon. I find it quite irritating when some agents specify that they don't want to represent genre books or fantasy or horror. I wonder then how these stupid prejudices came about.

    And why should every story try to change the world. Isn't it enough that people are entertained by it?

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    1. It's human nature to classify, qualify and organise into neat little packages. It's the way we think and even the way we look at things, physically--something I learned while studying artistic compositions.

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  10. Oh my gosh, this is fantastic. And so true. I think I needed to read this right now because I've been questioning . . . well, everything. But you're right, its okay to be a genre writer and to write for ourselves. Sigh. I feel better right now lol

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  11. I love your honesty, it is so refreshing. I agree, write the stories you love. I used to worry about what others will think of me being a romance writer, but these days I don't care anymore. I enjoy writing them so that is what counts to me. Great post.

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    1. There's a freedom in not caring what other people think

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  12. So sorry about your computer. I just fixed mine by resetting it to factory settings.

    I hope the prejudices go away especially with all the genre writing that's popular in MG and YA.

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    1. I fixed mine by marrying an IT expert who does heaps of extra backups and knows how to get the computer back up and running, although apparently I did a good job and it's still not up and running. Sigh.

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  13. What's wrong with being a genre writer? Genre books are what I prefer to read anyway. And if people are enjoying them, that's what matters.

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    1. Genre books are the most popular so I don't get the prejudices either.

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  14. Well, I'll ignore all the prejudices and continue on my journey. Life is too short.

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  15. just a thought of a dead computer gives me deepest of creeps....

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    1. Yeah, it's a worry, thank goodness for my hubby who knows how to fix these things.

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  16. 'Well, excuse my language, but pish posh to prejudices!'

    :D

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  17. I focus on the story, the writing style, the voice, the characters. If I am intrigued, I will investigate, no matter the genre. I've discovered a number of great reads that way. :)

    Madeline @ The Shellshank Redemption

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    1. Same. I used to read exclusively fantasy, but I've branched out so much that the only genre I won't read is erotica.

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  18. I've read/been told that anthropomorphic stories are just not the thing to write. But do I care? No! Why? Because I love reading and writing them!

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    1. There's a market for every story. It's just a matter of finding it.

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  19. "It's Dead Jim!" R.I.P.
    I write for me and my enjoyment, so I hope I have no prejudices.

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  20. Prejudice, in any form, is difficult. I get annoyed when people roll their eyes when I tell them I write women's fiction, as if stories about women's lives are less important than other stories. I see the same thing when my writing buddy talks to people about her speculative novels. We write what we write, and hopefully entertain people.
    Elizabeth Hein - Scribbling in the Storage Room

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    1. The people who roll their eyes are missing out.

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  21. Sorry about your computer. Love "push posh". I must remember to say that and say it often. I'm sorry there is such a prejudice about genre fiction. I write a little of everything: some literary, some genre, some poetry, and I read everything. I have a whole stack of mystery novels next to some poetry and short story collections. I couldn't give up reading any of them, they all give me a different kind of pleasure.

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    1. Hehe, glad you like pish posh. And it's awesome to hear your broad range of reading and writing.

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  22. That was supposed to be love "pish posh" :-)

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  23. I'm a genre writer and proud of it! I've also been around long enough to notice that many prejudices are fading. Remember when if you were self-published you were delusional? I remember when Canadian agents and publishers would only publish literary works. LOL. My publisher's site says that still. Makes me laugh because I'm one of their authors and I'm not a literary writer. Happy IWSG Lyn. Sorry about your bad computer. I beg mine to behave every Monday morning regardless.

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    1. It is good to see some of the prejudices fading, though they aren't gone altogether. Yet.
      Happy IWSG to you too.

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  24. I write MG and YA in all sub-genres of fantasy, and I have no intention of writing what's "respected". As long as my readers enjoy my books, I'm happy! :)

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  25. Oh Lyn, you really hit a nerve!
    I've always had this feeling that some people regard flash fiction as the 'stepchild' of the literary family... and somehow 'inferior' to the full length novel! When people ask: what do you write? The answer: flash fiction. Then someone will say: oh, we thought you are writing a story? *confused look on person's face* As if FF pieces are not stories...
    (Sorry about the computer troubles...)

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    1. I've seen similar responses toward flash fiction, yet to write good FF takes skill.

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  26. I hear you! It took a number of years to come to terms with what I like writing, especially for myself. BUT, once I got there I was in heaven. Still am. In fact, I like my cloud throne, almost as much as my cheese throne. ;)

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    1. Won't your cheese throne get jealous and turn... nasty?

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    2. Oh... Good point. I better not tell the cheese throne about the clouds. =)

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  27. I've found that most categories are artificial. I simply write and let someone else tell me what genre they think it is. That being said, I read everything:)

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    1. reading everything is important, even for genre writers.

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  28. Lynda,
    I hope you get your pc working again soon.
    Too true that some genres aren't considered respectable, but it never ceases to make me smile when a reader who enjoyed a story I wrote tells me how much they liked the characters and how the novel unfolded. Writing anything but what we love will eventually sap our creativity.

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    1. Thanks, Joy. And yes, when a reader loves one of our stories, it's so worth it.

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  29. Oh yes, such language! Shocking!!! *ROFL*

    I don't think of it as "oh, I'm going to write a cozy mystery" or whatever, it is more just starting. And when that station comes on...you know the one, with well-meaning friends and acquaintances say, "you should do this instead" (on infinite loop) I've learned somewhat to turn it down or tune it out.

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    1. ah, yes, I'm all too familiar with that station ;)

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  30. I want to scream when people say things like, "I don't read young adult (which happens to what I write primarily) because it's all about romance." No It's Not!

    The problem is if you don't put your writing into a category, the bookstores won't know where to shelve it (hard copy or virtual). It's all about business and not about creativity.

    Here's to getting that computer up and running. Mine's about to quit, so will have to take some time to sort that out and soon.

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    1. Don't leave it too late to sort out your computer.

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  31. You made me laugh - "pish-posh" - yes, you're excused for your dreadful language. Almost all my CPs write genre and they're great writers - I'm proud of them. But I have a friend who isn't a writer who dislikes spec-fic. She only reads "realistic" novels and won't read mine. It's OK. To each his own. :)

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    1. Thank you for excusing me. You are too kind :)
      And yes, it's about finding the right audience/readership.

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  32. This is great, Lynda! You are so right. We all need to enjoy writing and create what we do best, no matter what the genre, There is EXCELLENT writers in all these groups.

    Each of us can learn so much when we step out of our chosen genres and write in another... That is why I ENJOY writing my intros so much. I get to experience writing in genres I never would have dreamed of exploring. This way I get a taste of all... and it's awesome!

    I think, as an assignment we should all write a flash fiction piece in a genre we never would write in and do a hop or something.... What do you think?

    IT would certainly open up the eyes of those who are prejudice.

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  33. Sorry about the computer. I write what I'd like to read. I have some serious opinions of what is called literary fiction and the snobbery that sometimes goes with that.

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    1. There is a wonderful, freeing simplicity to "I write what I'd like to read."

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  34. We need to give up our prejudices and ignore those of others. Writers are writers. There's a lot of prejudice as to how one is published these days that has to go away too. The industry is changing. We have to be flexible.

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    1. At least the prejudices behind the 'how' are slowly fading.

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  35. I agree, we should write for the sake of writing and keeping our sanity! I think when we think too hard, we lose our love of writing.

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    1. Yes, we can think ourselves into a hole. Never a good thing.

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  36. I'll admit that the writing came easier for me once I realized I should worry more about pleasing myself than trying to please an editor who might be more worried about the rules of writing than I am.

    Sorry to hear about the delay in the game project.

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    1. I'm a rule breaker, so I love your statement.

      Hopefully my game project will get back on track soon.

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  37. I feel really offended when I read a book review or blog post by a contest judge that outright states, "I don't like historical," "I don't normally read historical, but...," "Will I consider historical? Nope," etc. I know mine is currently an unpopular genre, but couldn't you just politely list which genres you don't feel qualified to judge, or just list the genres you are willing to critique or that you like? I'd never say something like, "I don't normally like high epic fantasy" or "I hate YA paranormal romance" if I knew some of the people reading that post might indeed love those genres.

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    1. I've received comments like that from past critique partners. Never easy to hear when you aren't asking them to judge the genre. But it shows how subjective it all is.

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  38. Thanks for this! It's something I've been struggling with for a while and it's great to read posts such as this.

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    1. It's heartening to hear this post might have helped.

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  39. I think you may have scandalized me with your language. Lol. Your post tend to be inspirational and practical. Thank you for that. My hand is raised in the air as I proclaim "Write what I love" Yeah!

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  40. Great post. Funny, I am trying my hand at short story in Horror genre for an anthology submission at Charon Coin Press. It is very different from the fantasy and sci-fi fantasy I normally write. It has also been fun. I agree with the comment above very inspirational post.

    Juneta at Writer's Gambit

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    1. Personally I think horror is one of the more difficult genres to write. Best of luck with your short story.

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  41. What a wonderful thing to say. Everyone needs to read this. :-)

    Anna from Shout with Emaginette

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  42. Well written and well spoken! Thank You, Lynda!

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  43. I know the prejudices are around. Even some literary works have been looked down on. We need to realize it's all subjective and that we must write and let our ideas free.

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    1. So true. Understanding and accepting the subjective nature of anything creative will help to let those ideas free too.

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  44. What a bummer about your computer and game project. I hate when circumstances beyond my control interfere with my plans. It’s good, though, that you had an old laptop to fall back on.

    I’m a multi-genre writer, but I feel I do best when deviling into spec-fic and sci-fi. Sometime it is disheartening knowing that what I write will only appeal to a very small audience, but I can’t change what I write. I write what comes to me.

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    1. Yep, I think we have to love what we write.

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  45. I've finally gotten to the point that I'm writing what I really love and not what I think I ought to be writing. If only I believed there were people who want to read what I want to write (planetary sci-fi with psychic 'magic' and dragon-like creatures with names like 'Einigkeit').

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    1. I'm sure there are people who love that sort of thing. You just have to find them.

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  46. Lynda, so sorry about your computer. Hope things get straightened out soon.

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  47. Hear hear! It used to bother me that my writing wasn't 'literary' and probably wouldn't become a classic. So what? I'm the only person who can write what I write. It's me. And that's good enough.

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    1. Excellent point about you being the only one who can write your stories. And yes, it's not only good enough, but it's the way it should be.

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  48. Horror? Really? Then why is Stephen King so widely revered.

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    1. Not counting the already established bestseller authors eg King, Koontz etc

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  49. It's indeed nothing but prejudices. Most romance and horror fans believe literature is boring. Who's right? Every genre has its right to exist.

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    1. It all comes down to the taste of the readers and there's such a wide variety of tastes.

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  50. So sorry your computer died. Happened to mine last fall. No fun. I agree - write what you love to read and the stories you want to tell.

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    1. My computer is up and running--except for Word, lol. Typical!!

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  51. Prejudice within the professions is a sad thing isn't it?

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  52. Well said. Readers enjoy all types of books--not everything has to mean something profound. Isn't having readers enjoy a book a profound experience in itself, w/o having to change the world and be on the NYT bestseller list? I think so!

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    1. I love that--yes, it is a profound experience to have readers enjoy a book. The world could always do with more joy.

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  53. Yes, writing is crucial to my sanity also, and I agree with what you said: "It’s full of insane, generous people..." I love the support that we give to each other as often as possible regardless of any prejudices.

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  54. So right... Not all writing needs to change the world, Lynda.

    Your game project is on hold... How depressing. I'm sorry to hear that.

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    1. It's back in the running!! Hubs got the computer working again. Yay!!

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  55. Excellent post, Lynda. I feel like writers must fight prejudices (not only from others, but also their own) every day, not to mention the incessant pressure to write something meaningful, outstanding, original, complex, you name it, all the time. Thanks for reminding me it doesn't have to be that way.

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    1. And thank goodness it doesn't have to be that way!

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I'd love to hear your opinion. Thanks for leaving a comment.