I'm lifting my head up from the writing mire long enough to say that Draft 3 is done *insert appropriate fist-pump image here*. What a difference between drafts one and three! It's now been sent off to a select few early readers, before I start making preparations for agent send-off. It's a nail-biting time but a relief - this is what I've been working so hard for, and fingers crossed I can get it to go somewhere. I'll be sure to keep you all posted.
Aside from edits and rewrites, this is (a selection of) what I've been reading up on these past few weeks:
Hazlitt essays, letters and biographies are coming out my ears. Recently I was very privileged to exchange emails with a staff member in the Rare Books department at the University at Buffalo New York, in which I've managed to get hold of copies of some original letters by Hazlitt. It really brings home how poignant historical fiction can be when it's based on fact.
William Hazlitt's letters to his friend Peter George Patmore were written at the height of the events in which I am writing about. They span from March to July of 1822, during which time, he struggled with jealousy, anger, inexplicable hurt and intense heartache. His emotions run wild on the pages, his writing erratic and at times almost unintelligible. Only in his more lucid moments were his letters written in his usual neat and elegant hand. Some of his words are unbearably painful to read:
Oh! my God! can I bear to think of her so, or that I am scorned and made a sport of by the creature to whom I had given my very heart? I feel like one of the damned. ~ 30th March
The slimy, varnished, marble fiend to bring me to this when three kind words would have saved me! Yet if I only knew she was a whore, flagrante delicto, it would wean me from her, and burst my chain. ~ 31st May
Damn her! I had hopes, I had prospects to come, the flattery of something like fame, a pleasure in writing, health even would have come back with her smile - she has blighted all, turned all to poison and tears. ~ 20th June
The letters are a testament to how much Sarah Walker tormented his senses, a reminder of how our emotions can play havoc with our sensibility. Because Hazlitt was a sensible man in so many ways - one of the greatest literary critics could be nothing less. Yet passion rendered him incapable of keeping his emotions and literary mind in check. Patmore later said:
At the time of the furor caused by the heroine of Liber Amoris he was mad.
But then ... don't all those who have truly loved, go a little mad sometimes?