Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Odds and Ends

I'm done with the semester and on to the summer work--the last stretch before I finish my MA and start the PhD. Despite the hectic past few weeks of reading/writing I managed to get some romance reading in.

Oh, who am I kidding. I lost it about half-way through my Madame Bovary/Theodor Adorno paper and decided to go on a Susan Elizabeth Phillips binge. I read all my favorites. It Had to Be You, This Heart of Mine, Nobody's Baby But Mine, Dream a Little Dream, Kiss an Angel, and Ain't She Sweet-- all consumed in the space of two weeks. And I still managed to get two papers written. And (to gloat a little) got an A on one of 'em (the Persuasion paper; I'm less optimistic about the Flaubert).

Re-reading the SEPs reawakened my dormant urge to write a contemporary, and I woke this morning to a vivid half-sleeping dream in which the first scene and basic plot of a novel spooled through my head. In fact, lots of imaginary people have been talking to each other in my head since I started bookmooching authors' backlists like a fiend in January. There's also a new historical that I'm thisclose to starting.

Which brings me to my current writing problem: Oh Mistress Mine, why are thou sucking? I've been "working" on you for two years now, and you're not getting much better--or much longer. How much of this is grad school malaise and how much is a book that's not working? When do you decide to plow through and when to jump ship? (Forgive the mixing of agricultural and nautical metaphors, but writers block will drive one to it) I ditched one novel at about 40,000 words when I first started writing and don't regret it, but I sometimes wish I could have finished that book. I still like Aimée and Gregory, but they don't haunt my head like my new characters do. Just a case of grass-is-greener?

To close, before heading to the gym and trying to write a few pages (and reading some 18th-century treatises on smallpox inoculation for my thesis):

I finished my last Laura Kinsale this morning. I had saved Midsummer Moon for about four years, because I just wasn't ready to have none of her books left to look forward to. But to celebrate the end of the semester, I read it and loved it, and now I'm feeling satisfied and a little sad and more than a little tempted to go on a Kinsale binge...which I really can't afford after my last three days of leisure.

And finally, an excellent procastinatory tool. I haven't laughed so hard in quite some time. Anyone with a passion for correct punctuation and a healthy appreciation of the absurd will enjoy.