Until recently, the last print (and by print I mean text, as opposed to audio) book I finished was Balzac’s Eugenie Grandet, a month ago, on September 3rd. Since then I’ve done little reading. I finished an audio book. I read some comics. But no real “sit down and read this book” reading. What did I do instead?
Well I watched the entirety of House of Lies. Saw a season of Mr Robot and a season of Bojack Horseman. And I played a hell of a lot of Icewind Dale and Icewind Dale 2 on the computer (at this point I’m in the final dungeon in Icewind Dale 2). Also, I’d like to note that both of these games are a little ill-designed. At a certain point, in both of them, I ditched the party and decided to just solo the games using a fighter / mage (in IWD) and a sorcerer / paladin (in IWD2) and the games both became significantly easier! In fact they got so easy that where once getting through them was a tactical challenge, it’d now become something of a chore, and I quit.
Anyway, before I quit reading, I had put a book on hold at the library: Balzac’s A Murky Affair, which is one of his few novels to take place during the Napoleonic era. It’s about a group of nobles who get involved in a plot to kill Napoleon.
And I recently found myself reading it, for some reason, and I was actually engaged by it. I have no idea why. I’m not sure it’s a particularly good book. But there’s something so interesting about France’s political history: its abrupt changes and reversals in fortune, and the way that supporters of different regimes had to coexist uneasily. His social history is very good, even as his characters always seem a little wrong…a little far-fetched. For instance in this book there’s a peasant, Michu, who’s so devoted to these nobles and goes to such lengths to help them. In the end he even dies for him. It doesn’t quite ring true.
But I was happy to finish a book.
I’m also happy to be making some progress again with my writing. For the last month I’ve been attempting to rewrite my middle-grade novel, Everyone Hates You, and I’ve been making less than zero progress. I simply couldn’t find a way to write the book that preserved my vision while also fixing its flaws.
And then somehow something broke open for me, and I had an initial scene. The book is recognizably the same, but it’s also completely different. The relationships are different. The motivations are different. The pacing is different. It feels really good to have something flow again.
But at the same time I don’t know if it’s any good. Most of the time, on most projects, I’m simply unable to write: my mind will just kick up its heels and say, “No, there is something wrong with this, and you cannot continue.” But when I’m able to write, it doesn’t mean that what I produce is necessarily any good.
We will see. We will see…