I lost my words.
I don't mean I lost my actual voice (which wouldn't affect typing anyway) nor that I had some weird amnesiac moment. I just couldn't find the right words to say anything I wanted to. I'd type a sentence or two and then backspace through it. I'd compose partial paragraphs in my head and reject them. All my lovely words, my playthings and sparkly jewels, just wouldn't come. Expressing myself became more about frustrated shrugs and gestures as my sentences tailed off. I couldn't do light fluffy banter, I couldn't talk about big and true things either. I was a stilted, stifled imitation of myself.
I didn't like it at all.
My reading was affected too. No more long, new novels for me; it was all graphic novels and re-reading. I couldn't face anything else. Great pages of words to keep in my head - I couldn't do it. I needed few, or those I knew nearly by heart.
I read 8 volumes of the Fables graphic novels - fairy tale characters living in the real world, good fun. I asked my local comic book shop for examples of female-led titles that wouldn't drive me nuts with misogyny and they suggested Captain Marvel #1 and Pretty Deadly, both of which I quite liked. Before taking the lads to meet the man himself I read the truly wonderful Seconds by Bryan Scott Lee (of Scott Pilgrim fame). It's super.
Other than that, I read Regency romances by Georgette Heyer. Do you know them? They are my reading equivalent of a hot water bottle and bar of chocolate. I am having to replace some of them as the bindings have fallen apart too badly to repair. Normally I read one or two over the past 6 weeks of summer I read:
- Bath Tangle
- Black Sheep
- Charity Girl
- Cotillion (one of my favourites. Had to bin my copy when I finished it because it was in 8 pieces, and have ordered another)
- Frederica (Absolute top favourite)
- Lady of Quality
- Sprig Muslin
- The Grand Sophie (one unpleasantly antisemitic scene but otherwise ace)
- The Nonesuch
- The Reluctant Widow
- The Toll-Gate
I was in danger of speaking in the slang of upper class Regency gentlemen and ladies by the end. If I threaten to draw someone's claret when they annoy me, you'll know what's to blame.
Georgette Heyer clearly opens a book of maps and gets all her names from the same few pages - Arabella, for example, had a Beaumaris, Wrexham, Flint, Wigan, Blackburn, Bolton and Morecombe amongst many - which gets a bit surreal after 6 or 7 books. And every hero and heroine seems to have grey eyes. Do you know anyone with grey eyes? I don't.
Despite the repetitions and daft quirks, I thoroughly enjoyed my Regency binge-read. Everyone was beautiful - or at least fetching - and most were charming and graceful. Gentlemen ordered their coats from Weston and their carriages from Tattersall, ladies wore a pelisse and carried a reticule. Hearts were won and lost, rough diamonds prevailed over dandies and fops, old friends became lovers and all was well. As the real world seemed harsher and I could hardly bear to hear the news on the radio, my romances gave me safe harbour.
However, I have read 3 ACTUAL novels in the last week that don't rely on illustrators nor a Corinthian raising his quizzing glass to better appreciate the Season's latest beauty. One was about the heirs of Ghengis Khan, so quite a change of pace.
I suspect I'm mostly back now. Words aren't quite the source of joy and playfulness they normally are, but I'm nearly there.