In the British literature class I'm taking online, we've been feasting on Blake ("Tyger, tyger, burning bright"), Wordsworth (Christabel) and Coleridge (Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Kublai Khan), and drowning in the decadent waves of rhythm and sound and meaning and beauty. Thick, rich, multilayered beauty. Beauty that echoes in your brain and breeds its wiggly spawn of inspiration. (It's not a coincidence that Elephantis hatched after a night of reading Blake.)
I've spent most of the last few years on a steady diet of Agatha Christie (fish-and-chips - British and enjoyed by everyone), Terry Pratchett (dry wine - intoxicating, sharp, and sneaks up on you when you're not looking), Meg Cabot (Cotton candy - Sweet, pointless, and guilty pleasure), and an occasional foray into Dorothy Sayers when my brain demanded vegetables. Suddenly getting a glut of actual intelligent and carefully crafted wordsmithery is making my sluggish and out of shape brain rebel. I have to read things two or three times because I taught my brain to skim entire paragraphs at a stretch. In order to catch every nuance and meaning, I have to read, and reread, and reread again.
I hadn't realized that my literary muscles were that out of shape.
Last night, talking to my wise Canucky husband, I mentioned that I needed to get cracking on working on the revisions of my novel, since one of my beta readers had returned it with comments, edits, and suggestions. He pointed out that I might want to wait until the end of the semester, because I'll be a different person, based on the education and practice I've received. My brain will be trim and toned, and reading for sound and meter, and meaning, and purpose.
He also suggested I work on something else like another short story or perhaps the beginnings to novel #2. Something entirely different that doesn't have the dregs of previous thoughts weighing it down.
It's entirely possible I'll scrap novel #1 entirely as a practice effort.
From now on, I'm putting my brain on a diet of *good*, *quality* writing (Healthy grains and fruits and veggies). Good poetry to set up the mental metronome, so it can tick away the rhythm of sentences, and whisper the imagery of dreams into listening ears. Short stories that rip and tear with genteel phrases. All that good super-foodie stuff.
Instead of the physical fitness revolution, let's start the mental fitness revolution! Go read something that won awards, and doesn't make sense the first time through. Time to get that flabby frontal lobe in fighting fit!