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I maybe “rushed” the last ten thousand words of part two of the novel I’m rewriting now—put them together in a way that I’d been avoiding for a long time. Now I feel strained and empty and unsure. But it’s probably better to have done something than nothing, to advance the work rather than halt it in some hypothetical future manuscript.

I’ve been distracting myself too much, lately, and I think that changing habits might be the solution. In Dante, as in Milton, the mind is the prison, habits its administrators and guards. Sin is merely getting caught in an unwelcome action. Augustine’s friend who was fond of the games—so fond that he was in danger of wrecking his life. He managed to curb this habit until his old friends met him in the street and dragged him to the arena. He thought he could wait out proceedings, keep his eyes closed until it was done, but the roar of the crowd after a particularly gruesome execution piqued his curiosity and caused him to glance at the scene in front of him. So enflamed by the blood he saw spilled in the sand, he rose to his feet and began lustily cheering the rest of combatants on, louder than anyone else in the crowd.

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