A Dark Chest of Wonders

Welcome to the House of the Kennedy

Month: June, 2014

Your Daily Morning Motivator

Your daily morning motivator to go right along with your coffee, remember to cherish your dreams and aspire to one day rise to claim them and make them realities! Stay strong and fly high my ravens!

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Your Daily Morning Motivator!

 

Your daily morning motivator to go with your coffee! Stay strong and fly high my ravens!

Your Daily Morning Motivatior!

Just a little something to get you going today if you haven’t already, probably be doing this more often, every morning, dosen’t count as an official post, but it’s something if I don’t give you anything. Cheers, fly high ravens!

 

Key to Prolific 2: Unlocking the Door

“During the next three weeks, Paul Sheldon felt surrounded by a queer electric peacefulness. His mouth was always dry. Sounds seemed too loud. There were days when he felt like he could bend spoons simply by looking at them. Other days he felt like weeping hysterically.” Misery, Stephen King (pg. 150)

When you get kidnapped by your biggest fan, who is also a psychopath, you're going to have a bad time!

When you get kidnapped by your biggest fan, who is also a psychopath, you’re going to have a bad time!

To say the least, Paul Sheldon has much more than a bad time under the care of Annie Wilkes: She forces him to drink dirty cleaning water, leaves him days on end without his medication, made him burn the only copy of his new novel, and handcuffed him and stuck a dirty dishrag in his mouth to keep him quiet. Not to mention she’s making him write a novel in a series of books he hates himself as the writer, now that’s a bad time. In one episode of the Misery of Paul Sheldon, the one in which Annie leaves him for days without his meds, Paul get’s desperate and while he’s supposed to be writing he decides that he needs those goddamn meds if he wants the pain to go away any time soon. So, he decides it’s time to escape his prison cell and make for the bathroom for those pills. Paul is able to pick the lock of his room with a bobbypin by recalling research he had done for the novel Annie forced him to burn up because it was ‘dirty’. Paul of course manages to unlock the door and get the pills, even gets stoned off of them because he’s in bad withdrawal. But you see, I didn’t write this to tell you to get stoned on medication, rather, I’m telling you that: it’s time that you unlocked the door.

Most of us find it hard to step out of a comfort zone in any situation, and writing is probably one of the hardest places to step out of our comfort zone because we may become used to writing a certain way, for a certain character, or for a certain idea, but the worst thing that you can do as a writer is swim in the same pool full of piss forever. Sometimes, you need to get out and take a dive in your neighbors pool, the neighborhood pool, or go across town to the water park where all the pools collide. Sure, their’s might be as pissy as you’re, but it’s better than swimming in the same water. Basically, if you ever want to be a prolific writer, and if you ever want people to look back on your career and say, “Damn, they wrote a lot, I can’t wait to read it all!” you need to take a dip in some other pools, some other genres, some other characters, some new places that you have never explored before.

Have you ever been in an alien house with all these doors, hundreds of doors it seems, and just wondered, “How do people even live in here?”? Well, they’ve learned their way around, they’ve learned what lies on the other side of those doors, and they have all the keys. But, now it’s your turn: it’s time for you to figure out what lies on the other side of each of these doors, and it is your turn to see how you will take what is beyond these doors. This is the key to becoming prolific. No writer can contain themselves in one genre, and even if they do, they can never improve in that genre if they do not infuse and mix together genres, therefore, not totally staying in one pool. A writer is an explorer, they do not continue to traverse the same plane forever, for writers are much more than this: we are more than points on a plane, we are more than lines; we’re the whole goddamned plane. This means that you have got to unlock the doors of your mind and allow the rush of imagination come flooding in: yuo cannot contain yourself if you try and stabilize yourself.

Some days you may feel like you can rule the world with your telekinetic abilities to tell a story to a wide audience through words, other days you may feel like you just want to drop dead from hypothermia in a snowy cave somewhere, but you can have more of the former days if you just step out into the corridor and look around a little bit, maybe you rule the world more often if you allow yourself, the atom, to be destructive and bounce around, unstable and be vibrant: be the singularity, not the parallel. James Joyce is not remembered because he was like everyone else, James Joyce is remembered because he did something different, he was weird, he was strange: he was the singularity.

 

Key to Prolofic 1: The Secret Misery

‘I’m churning out novels like Beat poetry’–Brooklyn Baby, Lana Del Rey

Have you ever wondered how some writers can churn out so many novels in a year and still convince you that they are human? I’m not talking about James Patterson, guy dosen’t write his books, I’m talking about guy’s like Stephen King. In 1987, Stephen King published four books in ten months, these books were: It (technically not 1987, but pretty damn close), The Tommyknockers, The Eyes of the Dragon, and Misery. There are only 2 books in that group that I really consider great and that would be It and Misery, the later of the which I am currently reading. While Steve din’t write these books all that quickly, that’s still an incredible output for any author (now if we could just get George to push out the rest of the Ice and Fire books that fast). Anyhow, the topic of this post came to be because Misery is by far one of King’s best novels as I see it, truly enthralling, thrilling, and smart and what is more: like It and Joyland, this book is deeply personal to King in that, King almost reveals the trials and tribulations of a writer in a horrifying atmosphere as Paul Sheldon is forced to survive the wrath of Annie Wilkes who rescued and kidnapped him and he still hasn’t been found after almost three months. Annie forces Paul to write a new novel in his bestselling Misery series, in the latest (and final) book of which, the main character, Misery Chastain, dies: Annie is not happy about that. So, as Paul proceeds with writing Misery’s Return just for Annie, we see him struggle to survive Annie’s outbursts of rage and tough love as well and the pain that comes with long periods of agony from Novril withdrawal (Novril is a made-up drug by King (so don’t go looking for it you young folks looking to get stoned), a pain reliever medication that Paul becomes addicted to, so addicted that he escapes his room after Annie leaves him for over 72 hours without medication and risks getting caught by her to get a little fix). This book is definitely a King classic, but it’s just so true, and I suggest that every writer read it at least once, if not just for the sheer narrative power of King, do it for the writing juice. 
Anyhow, this post came to mind as we see Paul dive in and out of Misery’s Return, which to him is an escape from the Hell that he is living through, an he slowly goes from writing just five pages a day to twelve, and while that may not sound like a lot when you’re considering manuscript pages, that’s still a great output when you’ve been roadblocked for so long, but what I found so powerful about this is that King is giving us a look into how he became a prolific writer. Many of us doubtless write on our computers, and the bad thing about computers is that they have internet and they’re just distracting even if you turn off the internet because it’s just so easy to start making boxes on your desktop. Paul Sheldon lived in the generation before computers and had to write on a typewriter, so no such thing existed, and this means that it is just Paul and the text: the author and the story, the parent and the child, the bed and the man. This is the secret, this is the key. 
When you sit down to write, you are about to spill your guts on the page, you’re about to allow your heart to be bled onto the page for others to read at some point, but as pointed out by King in both Misery and On Writing (another book I highly recommend), you have to write with the door closed. This means, you need to get all that crap off your desk, turn off the internet, open word or whatever you use to write, and just do that: write. Simply this and only this. If you have a laptop, even better: go outside, make sure that you have terrible internet connection, so terrible that you wouldn’t want to go on the internet either way, and just write. Sure you can bring your iPod or whatever, but only for music, like maybe you should invest in the old-old iPod that was literally just a music device and nothing more: no distractions. Just you and the text. What is more, write in the simplest font: courier new or Times New Roman. Don’t write in Gothic, Garamond, Georgia, just write in something simple, something non-distracting that would make you stop writing to change it or something, just you and the text. 
Once you learn this secret, once you write with the door closed alone, set your goals, and just write, you’ll learn to churn out novels like King and Beat poetry. 

Mastering the Dark Art of Marketing: Magazines

Most of us know how our favorite authors got started up, and often times we wonder , “Damn, how can I be that good at such a young age? I gotta try this,” and we never get there, and you just kind of stare at yourself for a little while and wonder, “What did do wrong exactly?”, well, that’s what rejections for. I recently got rejected for the fourth time by a possible agent for my book The Farm, and turns out she was incredibly close to taking the book, but apparently there just wasn’t something there. This re-instilled my faith in the book for I had given up on it after I believed I would be seeing no prospects for it in the future, and I’m about to begin the process of editing it to appeal to more agents, I’m just afraid of the mainstream-alizing of it just to appeal to these agents, but that’s for another day. The last time you came to class to learn the Dark Arts, we were talking about contests, and this time, I’m here to tell you about a slightly different kind of contest: literary magazines. 

This is what I was talking about earlier: some of our favorite writers started writing for literary magazines from a young age, this is how they started churning out so many stories that you’re like, “How do they even do that? They’re like-like superhuman, dude,” and sure, maybe they’re just a little bit superhuman, they’re still human. What I’m trying to say is that, you don’t have to feel like writing prolifically as some of our favorite authors do just has to be a dream, it can be a reality. The reason why they submitted to magazines is because, magazines are a strange medium, especially literary magazines. Magazines seem to be on the threshold of indie and a major publishing company; you’ve got small ones, big ones, medium sized ones; yet all of them want your work, and this is why they are such a big mine that you need to dig into. In literary magazines, you have a much higher chance of seeing your work in major publication and syndication than with a contest or rolling the dice with a publishing company, and what is more, you instantly have a broader fan base than you ever would with the other two options, because you’re going to be put in a magazine that get’s some great circulation. 5,000 may not sound like a lot, but boy is it when you’re just starting out: 5,000 people reading a magazine with your work between it’s covers. Do you know how amazing that is? Do you realize what this means? If people like your work, not only are you benefiting the magazine by gracing it with your incredible writing abilities that will cause readers to purchase it again in hope that your work will be there again, but now you have a fan who is going to be on the look out for your work from now on, you now have a actual fan. Plus, magazines are read by everyone in some form or fashion, and you never know who’s on the other side of the screen reading your work, it could well be a literary agent whose been looking for some new project to take up. 

In short, magazines are great exposure. Unlike contests, to add, magazines are far more widespread and they’re not as hard to find, you don’t have to do so much digging. Just do a Google search, and you won’t believe how many magazines are looking for submissions. What is more, magazines are usually year round and have weekly editions, or biweekly editions, and they sometimes have a yearly anthology for which your work could be a part of, therefore, as I said before, you have a much higher chance at being accepted sometime during the year, where as contests have far stricter deadlines, and unless you’ve just been that on top of things, you’ll be late for contests and not have enough time to craft your story to the true place that you want it.

To finally relate to marketing, Magazines are obviously ridiculous chances for marketing: you’re not paying for an advertisement, you’re not auditioning for a commercial: when they accept your work, you have a bonafied guarantee that someone is going to come across your work, your entire work, not cut, not trimmed to fit this little advertisement book: the whole goddamned story. If that’s not more then enough reason to go out and try to get your work in some magazines, I don’t know what is and i’m at a loss. 

So go out my ravens and go search for you some magazines and you make people read your work, you become a writer: YOU GO GURL. 

Stray strong and fly high my ravens, cheers!
JZK

The First Step Out of 7,000

In the wake of my purchasing of Skyrim, all other activities have been postponed. The beautiful country in Tamriel is an expansive,beautiful world on the lines of Middle-Earth, filled with just as much detail as it is enemies (such as bears, frost trolls, and of course, dragons), yet even when I am overwhelmed with anger, I find it so easy to simply forget it as I take a walk through the pines in search of my next quest, or I’m trying to regenerate my health and stamina so that I can go back and join the fight for which I will surely lose.

One of the lessons that you learn while playing Skyrim is that, you have one of two options if you wish to survive: get some really good weapons and learn to utilize your powers to the fullest, or runaway. More often than not, I choose the later simply because I have not learned how to do the former. Sure, I’m a level 10 thus far, but that dosen’t mean anything because I’m still trying to learn how to fight higher level enemies without dying within seconds, but it’s all a learn process. 

Of course, the true lesson that I have learned, is that, like a Hobbit, the hardest and most terrifying part of any journey is stepping out of the door. You can go about your life believing that you’ve taken the step to adventure, but in truth, you are still eating sweets and cakes in your little hobbit hole, reading books about people who take exciting adventures and laughing at them, “Fools! Going out and risking your lives in the big bad world, tut, who would ever want to go out and face the world when you have all you need in your sweet little hovel in the meadow? Hmph!” And you continue to read, but like every hobbit, there is something within you: there is a longing in you, there is a great urge within you to step out of your door and no longer reader the legends of great adventures but to become part of a legend of a great adventure: you have big dreams to see the world, you have big dreams to wonder what lies beyond the hills and the mountains, you want to know why the sky is blue and you want to smell the grass, and you don’t want pretty descriptions and explanations: you want to learn for yourself, you want to break the sky, make it fall, learn from your mistakes, and do it all over again as you journey to fight the next frost troll or dragon: you want it so bad, but you just can’t because while you have this side of your mind dreaming, your logical, reasonable side of your mind tells you naught. 

There are 7,000 steps to get to High Hrothgar in Skyrim (not really, but its exaggerated per the rumors of the townsfolk), and I once got about halfway up those steps when I was killed by a Ice Wolf; I hadn’t saved my game so I was forced to return to the bottom of the mountain, but I went back up again, and this time I was prepared for the Ice Wolf who I slaughtered in two strokes of my Iron Greatsword, and I continued on, and it was easy going: until the Frost Troll who struck me down in two hits. Luckily, this time I had saved my game. 

You see, the road to becoming a successful writer–the warrior that you are, warrior of the pen–is long, hard, but you must carry on. You must not let your single bad experience outside your door send you running back inside to suck on tea and cupcakes: no! You must see where you messed up, save your game, and continue on with more wisdom than the first time. You may try and fail, but you may try and again and succeed with wisdom, and though you may fail again, you have to keep going back: never back down. You have to find your way to High Hrothgar and you must walk up all 7,000 steps if you ever wish to finally dine with the graybeards at the very top of the Throat of the World, where you shall learn their secrets, learn what they did to get here, and you must learn to control your voice and Shout at the dragons who dare to come across you and test your might: you must test their might, for are they prepared for the fury of your unstoppable force? 

The scariest part of writing is starting writing, but you must start, even if it’s with Once Upon a Time as that’s as far as you got: you’re the most courageous person this side of the world because you finally took the step out of your hobbithole to battle the dragons. 

Stay strong and write on my ravens!

Still struggling as a writer? Why?

Damn. Like a blazing arrow right into the center of my heart, I’m on fire now because this struck me so vehemently, the truth is a fiery beast and this is it: let it engulf you.

I <3 Physical Books: A Buzzfeed Comment

Comment on a Buzzfeed Article that you can read here in conjunction with this post; enjoy!

Notes for some main points because this is a long comment:

The author of this article obviously believes that everyone buys hardcovers all the time and is making the assumption that only females are reading this post because number 9 is kind of ridiculous to me. I don’t like carrying books in bags (ironic because of the bookbag, lol) because I hate when they get bent or torn because I hit something or they just started moving around in there. The author does understand that there was a time when people just carried them right? And if you’re really that worried about style in your purse, go against the crowd and just get a bigger, stylish purse that can hold your books. Also any reader knows how to carry their books and keep an eye on them if they have to set them down somewhere. Also, few people are just going to be carrying around massive books that would potentially hurt their shoulders, not even high profile bibliophiles want to go carrying around War and Peace (I use this frequently because it’s like the standard for ‘epic’ work), especially when you’re going to be hit with the endless questions about why you’re reading it and such and also the eyes that say, ‘How pretentious could you get?’. Point #2, with the previous sentence’s idea, is probably valid in such a situation, but still. But, if you’re that concerned with privacy, and you don’t feel like carrying around a big heavy book, get the audiobook, there are plenty of resources to get them easily, and accessibly, the most popular being audible,com.

On the front of instant gratification, the gif only adds to it’s ridiculousness: it’s American materialism at it’s finest. We can’t wait a couple of more days, hours, to get something because we’re always getting what we want right when we want it, and it turns us into greedy bastards who can’t go a minute without our favorite toy. I recently had to wait a couple of more days for a book I’d been waiting 2 years for because the bookstore didn’t have it, and sure, it was a little tormenting, but I made it through it and sure enough, my wait a little while later payed off. Yesterday, I just had to have a book after hearing a lot of good things about it from the BookTube community on YouTube (most don’t know what this is, but that’s fine), and I didn’t even think about getting my kindle: I ran downstairs, got on my bike, and raced to Target and snatched it off the shelf and was back home in a couple of minutes: instant gratification; plus I got a workout in while doing it.
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As with what everyone else has said, number 1 is the only one that makes sense to ridicule physical books for, of course, that depends on what book we’re talking about: Under the Dome, or The Hobbit? Hardcover or Paperback? Original Print or Mass Market? It’s all about being smart with your physical book, plus if you’re like me and you have a horribly long TBR, pick one that’s small, versatile, and you’ve been wanting to read for a while to travel with. Anyhow, as an author, I cannot say I love ebooks. We live in an age where we can publish our work on the internet, but whenever I publish anything on ebook (I don’t do it often), there’s not the same satisfaction as seeing it in paperback or hardcover, seeing the fruit of labors before your eyes, all the pages of it no matter how long. The reason we love physical books so much has much to do with our long association with physical things and because yes, there is undeniably something beautiful about a physical book. There’s something wonderful about looking at a great long tome and imagining all the things that could be contained within it’s cover, and there’s something magical about that crack that you get with an ancient hardcover or the feeling of a paperback becoming worn after you read it for the hundredth time in a row. Physical books have character when you buy them used, and I hundreds of used books (Thank you Half Price Books for setting up shop right down the street from my house), and I love to see the yellow of their pages, smell them (yeah, I’m weird like that), and sometimes I just stare at them.

I wasn’t exaggerating when I said I have hundreds of books, I’m the road to 300 books in my entire personal, home library, and sure, they take up a bit of space, but not as much as you might think. Just like the situation with going on vacation with books, it just depends on how you’re utilizing your space. I had to build just two pretty small shelves that each hole about 50-60 books on them, I have two crates in my closet that don’t hole as many, and then I just use my closet shelves to hold the rest, so I don’t collect books to make me look smarter, that’s just pretentious, I collect them because I love them, and I can’t help but display them because I have pride in them, because I’m the only one out of all my friends who reads books, so to know that I’m special in that way is nothing that I should be ashamed of.

And as for all that ‘I don’t ever have to leave my house’ nonsense, that’s just becoming less of a human. The No-Pants Revolution is just laziness to me, and if you have some sweats or something that aren’t to bad to wear in public, just slip those on, maybe do up your hair a little bit (I have a fro so I have to jazz it up so it dosen’t look messy) and go browse a little and also get the thing you want. Yes, it’s great not to leave your house when it’s really not necessary, but get out and meet people, that’s what’s wrong with us nowadays, we fear meeting new people, making even acquaintances. I’m pretty sure several of the employees at my local Half Price Books know my face when I walk in, and there are a couple of cashiers I could strike up conversation with if I wanted to because I go in so often. I don’t like the library myself because I don’t like returning books, but I tolerate it because I can meet up with my fellow bibliophiles where I couldn’t otherwise because that’s where we congregate, and I hate that we’re already moving to a paperless library; what’s even the point then? When I think of someone who has a huge collection of books on their ereader, I think of them in some sterile room and them smiling at their reader on the other side of it because that’s where all there books are. It’s extreme, but you see what I mean.

Number #12 is just as true for a indie book store or a store like Half Price Books: you can find plenty of weird ass books in any store, and again, there’s something wonderful about being able to browse the shelves and find something: you don’t get that out of scrolling through an online store. Our minds crave mental stimulation, and that’s what happens when we browse, that’s what happens when we open a real book: it’s that stimulation of feeling the pages and actually seeing it for what it truly is.

Ebooks would come in handy for such epic tomes as War and Peace, Les Miserables, A Remembrance of Things Past, A Suitable Boy, etc. but I still have real copies of those books. This is due in part because my parents have yet to buy me a debt card to use online, but even so: I have rarely been able to sit through reading an entire ebook, it’s just boring to me, plus, i like knowing where my next checkpoint will be, flipping through the past, and seeing how far I have come. Plus, I find physical copies to be far more useful if you’re a semi-scholar like myself and you can’t help but take notes on more ‘sophisticated’ works such as War and Peace and Les Meserables; you wouldn’t believe how difficult it is to take a note on Kindle, it’s annoying in my opinion because it’s so damn hard to type without auto-correct.

Overall, the writer of this article comes off much more like a smug teenage girl (note, reading skills, not all teenage girls are smug, just this one in particular; I don’t want an uproar about that) who thinks she’s cool because she’s ‘different’ as many books would have her believe, and this article reads more like a really dressed up conversation between her and her friend instead of trying to persuade and inform people about her opinion, but that’s the good part about all this: it’s an opinion. I still think that physical copies beat out ebooks by a whole lot, and my collection will continue to grow throughout the years, even if it does become a bit of a beast, I think I’ll be able to handle it.

My bitcoin.

Comment below if you have something to add to the conversation! 

 

Coming out…

…of the box. 

Often times, writers fall pray to the vicious claws of formality and cliches. Why? Because, if they weren’t formal or used, we wouldn’t use them in the first place. It’s easy for us to get lazy when we write and say something like, ‘It was raining cats and dogs’, ‘love is a roller coaster’, or ‘woe is me’. We might add on our own little thing, but it dosen’t make it any better. Unless you’re some incredible writing genius who can twist ‘It was raining cats and dogs’ into some philosophical, brilliant hyperbole and metaphor, then you shouldn’t use it because,everyone knows it, and everyone is bored with it. When you sit down to write, you are not only sitting down to write a story, but you are signing a contract with Lucifer that says, ‘You will not only write a story, you will write a story that is new, you will write a story that people will enjoy, you will write a story that is not generic, you will write a NEW STORY’, or at least that is the contract that I sign when I sit down to write my latest short story or novella. 

The reason why Shakespeare, Plato, Joyce, Dostoevsky, and other greats have lived through history, and why people clamor and stumble to copy their work is because they set the precedent, they invented new things: they made movements (bowel movements that is). Shakespeare is often credited with having created the human, and the same could probably said of Plato as far as human thought goes. Joyce reinvented storytelling and the structure of wring, as defined in some of his greatest works such as Uylsses and Finnegan’s Wake. Dostoevsky was a modern, Russian Plato who now has four books on the list of the most important books of all time list (of course, this is compiled by Wikipedia, yet was tallied and voted upon by the world’s greatest writers, so there). Those are the reasons why their fiction will live on for years and years, Plato and Shakespeare already have a couple of centuries under their belt, and they will gain a few more long after we all have died, and why? Because they learned to come out of the box, and again, they set a precedent; a tough act to follow. 

This is what you have to do as a writer. You can’t sit in your blank room and take a bunch of sentences from the greatest books of all time and expect to come up with something great. A brilliant quote from the ghastly Stephanie Meyer is, “There are no new stories,” or something like that, but even that is a regurgitated mantra that has been looping around in history for hundreds of years, but she’s exactly right. There is no such thing as a totally new story. Vampires are a great example of this. Vampires have dominated the literary world for at least a century, and if not a century, it soon will be a century. Starting with the fanaticism of Dracula by Stoker, people have searched long and hard to create something in that genre just as great; an onset of Vampire novels began to overrun the literary world, even Stephen King got in on the fun with his horror masterpiece, ‘Salem’s Lot, which is self described by him as “What would happen if Dracula were to come to a modern city,”. Vampires have taken a strange turn of course, from horrifying, ghouls of the night, to love partners. But you see, each Vampires story has aspired to do something different, they have sought to put a new spin on an old genre, beating a horses skeleton, burning the ashes if you will. 

But, still does not give you permission as a writer to simply follow everyone’s rules and fall in line with the rest. Dystopian fiction, my specialized genre, has fallen into this trap. All the time, suddenly, you’re seeing each work of dystopian fiction following one key plot point: there has to be an evil government that the main characters must overthrow. There are very few dystopian fiction works out there that do not follow this pattern, even I have fallen pray to this as I work on a duology right now. But, you see, the reason why the dystopian genre has been so successful, even though it’s the same basic story line within every trilogy (dystopians these days have stopped coming in singles, and are now a family of three strangely enough), is because the authors have found a way to make something out of nothing. As a writer, while you can follow a trope, it all comes down to not how well you can literally rewrite Shakespeare into a dystopian world, but what can you bring to the studio that will metaphorically make us big books. The literary world is just like Hollywood, only we have a distinct advantage in that we have yet to go bankrupt of ideas. We have movies coming out everyday, we’re getting paid the big ones. Anyhow, what can you bring to the table of this massive industry that is unique, what’s so great about your work that it should be noticed, what’s so great about your work that people will say, “Wow, I never thought/ saw it that way; I have to show this to someone.” 

The goal of the writer is not to just write stories, but good and new stories. You’ve got to get outside of the box guys, you can’t stay inside there forever, it’s bad for you. You need sunlight sometime (coffee will only get you so far).