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Wall Street Journal Takes Another Look at Meyer’s Decision Not to...

Days after the blogworld was abuzz about Stephenie Meyer's decision to not finish Midnight Sun and instead provide the first twelve chapters to the reading public after learning that the leak had been online for over a week, the mainstream press has started to report on it.  Purportedly Meyer could have sold the domestic rights to Midnight Sun for at least $5 million and that deciding to move onto different publishing projects Meyers is turning away a substantial amount of money.  The publisher denies that the leak came from Meyer or the publisher which is likely true.  The leak came from someone else.  We don't know whether it is an authorized leak or whether Meyer will not finish it.  She's tabling it for now.
One part of the article that I found surprising is that only 165 fans of the millions of readers of Meyers books have signed a petition urging Meyers to finish Midnight Sun.  
Via Wall Street Journal.  Thanks, Kay, for the link.
 

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

24 Comments

  1. Libby
    Sep 03, 2008 @ 15:37:16

    I would love her to finish Midnight Sun. But does that mean I’m going to sign an online petition on some generic petition site where anyone can post for their cause? That would be a big NO. 165 out of millions means nothing to me, except that most of us are smart enough to know where and when to focus our efforts (or as Kenny Rogers would say, we know when to hold, know when to fold, etc etc). Also interesting is that when I did a search on that site for the petition the WSJ cited, I found four PAGES of petitions devoted to saving Midnight Sun. The WSJ didn’t give a title or link for the petition they got their figure from; it could have been any of them.

    The choices are in Stephenie’s hands now, and it’s doubtful a petition is going to sway her, no matter how many people sign. I mean, what’s going to change her mind if $5 million doesn’t? A petition seems a little week next to that.

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  2. SonomaLass
    Sep 03, 2008 @ 19:16:11

    Considering that Meyer’s webmaster (her brother, as I recall) is EXTREMELY dismissive about web petitions and their ability to accomplish anything, I’d be surprised if she paid much attention to such things herself.

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  3. Melanie
    Sep 03, 2008 @ 20:32:34

    I just wanted to say about the petitions? THey had the information wrong – even if it is a waste of effort:

    http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/savemidnightsun/ –> 5,244 signatures as of this moment.

    http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/MidnightsunSequel/ — has 3,388 signatures

    http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/SupportStephenieMeyer/ has 247 signatures

    http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/midnight_sun/ has 352 signatures

    http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/MidnightSunSm/ has 212 signatures

    Which means between the five there are a total of 9343 signatures

    So yeah – just an FYI. Most petitions don’t really mean anything but at least more than 200 people have shown on ipetition that they care.

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  4. Andi
    Sep 03, 2008 @ 22:58:32

    I’m with Libby about wanting Meyer to finish Midnight Sun, and not wanting to sign a petition (because I also don’t feel it’s going to make much difference).

    Frankly, I was shocked and angry when so many people thought the Midnight Sun leak was a promotion stunt. Why do people seem to believe the worst about others? (Especially writers about OTHER writers? What, once we get over being overly sensitive, we turn into cynical sharks? Why?)

    Success comes with a very heavy, painful price. Sometimes I think Meyer isn’t being given enough of the benefit of the doubt. It hurts, too, because I love her TWILIGHT series characters. I can understand all too easily how violated Meyer must feel. Yeah, that’s one of the risks any successful public entertainer takes. I’m sure it doesn’t lessen the pain, though.

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  5. B
    Sep 03, 2008 @ 23:52:29

    Frankly, I was shocked and angry when so many people thought the Midnight Sun leak was a promotion stunt. Why do people seem to believe the worst about others? (Especially writers about OTHER writers? What, once we get over being overly sensitive, we turn into cynical sharks? Why?)

    Why is it turning into ‘cynical sharks’ to question the circumstances? The leak happened a good week before anything was stated about it on Meyer’s website. Yet anyone who was following the issue will know that tons of e-mails were sent to Meyer, to her brother, possibly to her publisher, agent, whoever anyone could find. It was all over the internet, yet nothing was said or done for a week.

    As a writer, I would be on that the minute I heard. And frankly I find it hard to believe with the way the information was flying around everywhere that it took her that long to find out.

    There are other reasons too. Suffice to say, I find the circumstances fishy. I’m not being a ‘cynical shark’. I’m looking at the evidence and how I would feel as a writer and drawing the only conclusion that fully makes sense to me. And I’m not the only one.

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  6. emmy
    Sep 04, 2008 @ 06:00:28

    Meyer has more than a little Bella in her. What’s with the childishly whiny “awww, you leaked my book. now I shall NEVAR finish it, so there!” Srsly? Uh…Midnight Sun would be Twilight from Edward’s pov, so we already know how it ends. Durrrrr.

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  7. Christine Merrill
    Sep 04, 2008 @ 08:27:30

    Meyer has more than a little Bella in her. What's with the childishly whiny “awww, you leaked my book. now I shall NEVAR finish it, so there!” Srsly?

    Yes, Srsly.

    That is probably the tack I would take, if I’d just gotten a lot of negative feedback over my last book, and then someone I trusted with the earliest of early work on the next book leaked it to the internet.

    I am not a fan of this series. Haven’t read it. Not likely to. But I am feeling a lot of sympathy to the writer. I am one of those people that NEVER shows the early drafts to strangers. If someone walks into the room while I’m typing, I will switch pages so fast you’d think I was surfing porn in church.

    There is a very short list of people who I’ll share stuff with, if I think I need help. These are people I trust a lot to give me criticism that won’t block the process. Because a wrong word at certain stages in the work? I could be blocked for months. Or have to throw the whole thing out.

    And her not responding for a week doesn’t surprise me either. I would probably spend a couple of days in bed, either drunk or in tears. A betrayal of this size really would hit me that hard. People might think that’s overly sensitive. Sorry. But it can be hard to underestimate how thin the skin is on some of us creative types. And where the vulnerable spots are. Hit me with a bad review? No big. Look over my shoulder when I write? I’ll either bite your head off, or I’ll want to throw up. Or I’ll stop writing.

    What I see, when I look at this story, is a writer who was already feeling vulnerable about her craft because of the reviews on the last book. But she was having enough fun with the new story that she decided to show it off. And someone she gave it to also liked it, and thought that it would create positive buzz on the movie/last book/next book to leak the new work to fans.

    It could be someone who couldn’t keep a secret.

    It could be a calculated move to kill the bad chat, after the last book.

    But it does not have to be the writer doing the leaking. There are a lot of other people who have a stake in her success, especially if there is a 5 million dollars on the table. And a lot of pressure on everyone involved. If a deal this size gets screwed up, people could lose their jobs. So there could be many people with many reasons to get this stuff out on the net.

    Why automatically assume Stephenie Meyer has a hidden motive?

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  8. CHH
    Sep 04, 2008 @ 09:13:39

    The leak most probably came from the movie end. Meyer gave a copy of the manuscript to Robert Pattison, the actor playing Edward, because he couldn’t get a sense of him as a character. There are hundreds of people on a movie set and any one could have come across the manuscript and made a copy and given it to someone who they knew enjoyed the series and so on.

    As for why people suspected Meyer, look at it this way. When in the history of publishing has a WIP manuscript of a book this anticipated been leaked? This was not a “bound and published just waiting for the sales date to release” book but a work in progress, something I thought were second only to a writer’s children in terms of protecting with her life. Coming so soon after a high profile book that has gotten a lot of negative reaction and with a movie on the line, why shouldn’t people think that either Meyer or someone who probably has just as much on the line released it to curry the favor of the fans who hated Breaking Dawn? Who else but Meyer or a friend or family would have access to the manuscript?

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  9. Robin
    Sep 04, 2008 @ 11:12:36

    Let’s asssume for the sake of argument that the leak was neither authorized nor “malicious” as Meyer put it. That is, if we accept that Meyer knew nothing about it and that she does not believe it was done with bad intent, why punish her fans for passing it around once it becomes publicly available. Why punish herself – because wouldn’t giving up a book you are passionate to write be more self-punishment than anything else?

    As for the fans, copyright issues aside, these are the folks who are buying multiple copies of Meyer’s books to begin with; these are the folks who are going to be lining up to see multiple showings of the Twilight movie; these are the folks who are keeping the extreme love alive for the series. No kidding that they’re going to want to read those first twelve chapters. So now she’s going to punish them by not writing the rest of the book? That doesn’t make logical sense to me — to punish your loyal fan base, when one person supposedly made the reveal, and Meyer doesn’t think it was badly intended.

    I can see why — if all is true as Meyer claims — why she would be angry, but it’s her decision not to continue writing MS that raises my eyebrows far more than the reveal itself.

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  10. MoJo
    Sep 04, 2008 @ 11:28:18

    because wouldn't giving up a book you are passionate to write be more self-punishment than anything else?

    Not if it destroyed your passion for it, which is how I’m reading her unwillingness to continue.

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  11. B
    Sep 04, 2008 @ 11:45:19

    Not if it destroyed your passion for it, which is how I'm reading her unwillingness to continue.

    Why, if she believes the leak wasn’t malicious, would it so utterly destroy her passion for it? Because people all over the internet have already read it? Sorry, but I simply do not believe that not a single person in the Meyer camp failed to notice this situation for a full week. If she didn’t want people reading it, she should have taken action a lot sooner, feeling of betrayal or no. People weren’t even certain it really was her work. How can anyone say that the people reading it were doing something wrong when no one bothered to tell them that it was, in fact, hers?

    Who is she angry with? If the leak wasn’t malicious, where is this dramatic feeling of betrayal coming from?

    To me, she sounds burnt out. And intentional or not, the leak would look like a great opportunity to an author who either doesn’t recognize their own burn out or is unwilling to admit it to themselves. When you’re truly passionate about something, one incident like this isn’t enough to stop you from writing. If, however, your passion was already waning quickly then it wouldn’t take much to put you over the edge.

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  12. MoJo
    Sep 04, 2008 @ 12:04:58

    B, honestly, I don’t give Meyer much credit for deep thinking. I read Twilight and while it had a lot of layers of subtext, I know I’m not alone in thinking she A) didn’t write any of it on purpose AND B) doesn’t really get that they’re there.

    Given that that’s my take on the book, I’m also not giving her a lot of credit for cleverly manufacturing or encouraging Teh Drahmah. Maybe someone in her camp did it, maybe a friend was feeling extra-bitchy that day, maybe the friend/fan relationship got overwhelmed by irrational exuberance. Who knows? But her? I…doubt it.

    I think it’s extremely possible she felt betrayed, got embarrassed, hid for a week and got woozy on Cherry Garcia, tried some spin control (which didn’t work), and now looks at that manuscript as the instrument of her embarrassment.

    When you're truly passionate about something, one incident like this isn't enough to stop you from writing.

    Unless I’ve missed something, I believe she’s stopped writing on THIS book, not her other projects. It’s totally normal to fall out of love with a book you’re writing. Yeah, you were passionate about it YESTERDAY, but today, not so much.

    As for burnout, I agree with you there. I ALSO don’t give her enough credit to know if/when she burns out.

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  13. Robin
    Sep 04, 2008 @ 12:26:18

    Why, if she believes the leak wasn't malicious, would it so utterly destroy her passion for it? Because people all over the internet have already read it? Sorry, but I simply do not believe that not a single person in the Meyer camp failed to notice this situation for a full week. If she didn't want people reading it, she should have taken action a lot sooner, feeling of betrayal or no. People weren't even certain it really was her work. How can anyone say that the people reading it were doing something wrong when no one bothered to tell them that it was, in fact, hers?

    Exactly. And I throw my vote in for the ‘burnout’ theory — that’s exactly what I thought reading her comments, and if that’s the case, then just say so, for heaven’s sake. I hate the ‘blame the fans’ rhetoric, although IMO it’s one thing, at least, Meyer has in common with Rowling.

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  14. Janine
    Sep 04, 2008 @ 12:34:43

    Let's asssume for the sake of argument that the leak was neither authorized nor “malicious” as Meyer put it. That is, if we accept that Meyer knew nothing about it and that she does not believe it was done with bad intent, why punish her fans for passing it around once it becomes publicly available. Why punish herself – because wouldn't giving up a book you are passionate to write be more self-punishment than anything else?

    Because the creative process isn’t logical. Look at Lisa Valdez, the author of Passion. She had readers clamoring for the sequel, Patience, but apparently she got some nasty emails about the book and it blocked her. She’s back to writing it now, according to her website, so she clearly wanted to write, but wasn’t able to.

    I can see why -’ if all is true as Meyer claims -’ why she would be angry, but it's her decision not to continue writing MS that raises my eyebrows far more than the reveal itself.

    To me the decision to stop writing the book is very understandable. I think it’s very possible that the negative reviews of Breaking Dawn were a factor in making Meyer feel too vulnerable at the keyboard while working on this book, but the leaking of the manuscript before it was ready for publication was the straw that broke the camel’s back — making her feel even more vulnerable and that her weaknesses as a writer were exposed without her consent.

    I can really relate to what Christine Merrill said above since I’m one of those writers who can only write in a very private space, who stops working on my writing if someone comes into the room where I’m writing.

    I don’t know, I guess I think that for me at least, my writing comes from some place deep inside and even though I write fiction, I try to get at emotional truths. When I write about my characters, I get into their heads, and it’s a very vulnerable place to be. To translate the characters’ thoughts and emotions into words can be like trying to execute a balance beam routine (to use an Olympics metaphor) — the wrong words and the whole thing teeters and loses that sense of ground. I become conscious that it’s a fiction, not a truth. But sometimes the right words don’t come, and then I have to put some wrong words down, but I do it in the knowledge that no one will see them until I’ve changed those words. Now if my writng were shown before that point came — I can totally see how that would block the creative process, because that feeling (illusory to begin with, perhaps?) of safety at the keyboard would be gone.

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  15. Janine
    Sep 04, 2008 @ 12:42:14

    Who is she angry with? If the leak wasn't malicious, where is this dramatic feeling of betrayal coming from?

    I think she it’s quite possible that she is angry with whoever put it up on the internet (whether that was the same person she gave it to, we don’t know). Maybe she doesn’t want to show her anger publicly, though.

    I can also believe that it took her a week to assess whehter or not she could continue work on Midnight Sun.

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  16. B
    Sep 04, 2008 @ 12:54:22

    I can also believe that it took her a week to assess whehter or not she could continue work on Midnight Sun.

    Fair enough.

    But why should it take her a week to tell people that it was really hers? To tell people to stop distributing it and reading it? Heck, to have someone do that for her? Why? I just don’t see a single good reason for that. She could have made that announcement separate from the one about not continuing to write Midnight Sun. In fact she should have.

    If it made her feel so vulnerable to have people reading it, there was something she could have done about it.

    I’m plenty emotional about my own writing. I’ve had plenty of instances where I couldn’t finish something. Sometimes I just wrote something far too personal, and other times I grew out of it. Sometimes I tried something different from my usual and it didn’t pan out. But no matter what may or may not have been said on the matter I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older to take responsibility for the decisions I make.

    If she decided to wait a week before even admitting the writing was hers, that’s her responsibility, not anyone else’s.

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  17. Janine
    Sep 04, 2008 @ 12:59:38

    But why should it take her a week to tell people that it was really hers? To tell people to stop distributing it and reading it? Heck, to have someone do that for her? Why?

    Maybe because she felt that saying something about it publicly would just draw more people’s attention to this leak and cause more of her readers to read the leaked manuscript. I could buy that as a reason, given her enormous fame.

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  18. Christine Merrill
    Sep 04, 2008 @ 13:55:43

    But why should it take her a week to tell people that it was really hers? To tell people to stop distributing it and reading it? Heck, to have someone do that for her? Why?

    It’s like Janine says, the creative process isn’t rational. It isn’t logical. It’s very hard to work on something you never want to see again, and make it good enough to satisfy the readers. With a book just out and mixed reviews, Meyer might already be edgy. She might have turned off the internet and stuck her fingers in her ears. She could have been angry or scared or depressed, or a hundred combinations of emotions that might explain a week’s delay.

    A week isn’t that long, realy. Enough time to notice the problem, go into shock, come out again, and go gunning for the leaker. And to worry about the futility of stopping anything, once it hits the net. Once it’s out, it’s never coming back. What’s the point of trying to stop it? A day. A week. It doesn’t matter. Done’s done.

    And she didn’t owe anyone an explanation, if she didn’t leak the info in the first place. She doesn’t really owe fans a book, come to that.

    I am not, repeat not saying that an author should go out of their way to piss off the fan base. Or be a tease, show a little book and then yank it back and yell ‘thou shalt never see the rest, dirty peekers.’ I really don’t think that’s what’s happeneing here.

    But I’ve got stuff under the bed that, if it got leaked, I would think twice before claiming it. Because it’s crap. I’ve got stuff on the computer right now, that will be really good in a few months, after lots of rewriting, that is too fragile for anyone to see right now.

    And even if was surrounded by people who felt it was their God given right to see the rest of the story? I would not be able to produce the end, knowing that you had seen an unedited draft. Not even for $5 million.

    (Of course, if anyone wants to test this, they should definitely cut the check and give me a call. I am a little short this month. And I need to pay for two college educations. And a puppy. I could get a really good puppy, for 5 mil.)

    Witholding a leaked work, once the spark is gone, would not be an effort to disapoint or punish the fan base. It could be just the opposite. Try writing a book that you don’t want to write. If you are miserable while writing, it tends to show in the quality of the work.

    The writer has ultimate control over production. It’s not a committee thing, even if the committee is full of people who love you, and want more more more. I wouldn’t ever want strangers trying to decide, with a petition, what my next project should be. I got into writing because I wanted to call some of my own shots. I want to please the readers by giving them the best possible book. But becoming a slave to them would inhibit my ability to do that.

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  19. Mouse
    Sep 04, 2008 @ 14:12:24

    I said it in the last thread, and I’ll say it again. The leak is a carrot dangling over the noses of the fans, leading them along to give Meyers what she wants right now, which is emotional support. She wants the petitions, the tears, the hysterics, the people screaming, ‘but we love you!’, to make up for the other half of fandom that read Breaking Dawn and went “OMG! What have we been reading!?!” then started gunning for her.

    Twilight isn’t about money any more to Meyers, but about the fandom. She’s involved with the Twimoms, reads the Amazon boards, and is helping the movie more so than JKR ever did in Potter fandom. The Midnight Sun leak came right on the heels of all the Breaking Dawn drama, and RPatt’s EW interview where he hates on Edward as a character. The wheels were already coming off the Twilight train, and the leak just has added to it, intentionally released or not. So, what better way to get the hardcore fans going again than to act pissed off and release it officially anyway? To see if any of them were still fanatically attached to it or not and by extension, Meyers, maybe?

    It happens all the time in fanfiction where the fan authors hold new chapters ransom until their fannish readers coddle them enough to make them release the next installment or give up. Because money isn’t involved, it becomes all about the author’s motivation to write or not. Only problem is, most fans don’t take too kindly to unwarrentd self-importance from their fellow fan authors let alone a series creator.

    If Meyers really is burnt out, then why get so worked up over it in her post? Why officially release the 12 chapters if not to tease fans knowing how they’ll react to it? And why take a week to respond? I think the week wasn’t for her to see if she could still write it, but to see what the reaction to it would be, and once she realized people weren’t gushing over it, she flounced for more attention.

    Maybe I am being a cold-heartless bitch about it, but . . . other authors with big fandoms have acted even more nutty than she has about lesser things.

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  20. Emmy
    Sep 04, 2008 @ 19:36:42

    I’m wondering if she wasn’t under contract to write Midnight Sun. Could she just go back to the publisher and tell them she isn’t going to fulfill her contract? Aren’t there any consequences to that?

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  21. Robin
    Sep 04, 2008 @ 19:52:06

    I’m always willing to buy the sensitivity argument when it comes to authors, and certainly, some of the ways Meyer seems to have responded publicly to her new-found fame and to criticism of her work lends support to that argument about her. But what still bothers me — and it bothered me with Valdez, too — is the scolding of readers/fans.

    While people might not react logically to particular things, I still tend to read public statements in search of logic, outside of a simple statement like: ‘this just made me feel too vulnerable and I can’t go back to the book right now.’ Otherwise, statements like, ‘I know the person who leaked this didn’t mean anything bad, but all these fans who did the wrong thing by reading this work have hurt me deeply’ (my paraphrase + interpretation) come across to me as both illogical as a statement and blaming of the very folks whose slavish consumption of anything Twilight have been otherwise encouraged and rewarded for their enthusiasm.

    I can see where Meyer might have felt exposed, but maybe she could just say that and put the onus for the decision on the decision-maker.

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  22. Janine
    Sep 04, 2008 @ 20:19:54

    I see what you are saying Robin. It’s certainly not good manners for Meyer to scold the very people who have made her successful. But at the same time, the leak, if she didn’t authorize it, was pretty awful, so I can cut her some slack for reacting emotionally. I think it’s very possible that the negative reactions to Breaking Dawn were a factor in her decision and reaction, but that does not necessarily mean that she leaked her own unfinished, unedited manuscript on purpose.

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  23. Janine
    Sep 04, 2008 @ 20:22:52

    I'm wondering if she wasn't under contract to write Midnight Sun. Could she just go back to the publisher and tell them she isn't going to fulfill her contract? Aren't there any consequences to that?

    No, according to the WSJ article she was not under contract for Midnight Sun. That’s the reason why she could have gotten as much as $5 million for it. It would have gone up for auction and different publishing houses would have bid on it.

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  24. Robin
    Sep 05, 2008 @ 12:04:54

    But at the same time, the leak, if she didn't authorize it, was pretty awful, so I can cut her some slack for reacting emotionally.

    Which is why people sometimes wait to issue a public statement about something that creates such a powerful personal reaction. I think we’ve all had those moments where emotion so overcomes us that we know the best thing to do is to let it pass before speaking, lol. Because once you put that statement out there, it stands long past those emotions, as understandable and valid as they may be.

    And in this “official” public statement Meyer was circumspect enough not to blame the person who initially made the leak (which may boost speculation that it was someone associated with the film she didn’t want to alienate), venting her disappointment and hurt on those who are much farther down the line in the process. Although I didn’t download the “unauthorized” copy of those chapters, I totally understand why people would, especially since no one knew where it came from and whether it was even Meyer’s work. If I were one of her fans, I don’t know if that statement would engender sympathy or insult in me.

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