Tag Archives: Jane Austen

What Would Jane Austen Do?

The other day I was typing in what I have been writing in long hand and was worrying about how my characters didn’t seem very fleshed out and how very much I was letting my book down and that if I didn’t immediately go and retrain as a plumber my life will have been in vain.

You know. One of those days.

But then I came upon an essay about Jane Austen.

It is by Judith Lee from Rutgers University about Virginia Woolf and her thoughts about Jane Austen.

This is Virginia Woolf describing Jane Austen’s process of revision:

“To begin with, the stiffness and the barreness of the first chapters prove that she was one of those writers who lay their facts out rather badly in the first version and then go back and back and back and cover them with flesh and atmosphere. How it would have been done we cannot say – by what suppressions and insertions and artful devices … [W]hat pages of preliminary drudgery Jane Austen forced her pen to go through. Here we perceive that she was no conjurer after all. Like other writers, she had to create the atmosphere in which her own peculiar genius could bear fruit. Here she fumbles; here she keeps us waiting. Suddenly she has done it; now things can happen as she likes things to happen.”

Wow.

So firsts drafts are hard for even the likes of Jane Austen? So good to know. Now excuse me while I get back to mine.

Oh, word count 5500 ish.

But hey, even Jane had off weeks.

photo by Johnsoax (flickr)

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Having it All

having-it-allThere was an interesting article in The Times by Zoe Lewis about having it all. She regrets not settling down earlier to have a family. I feel for her. I was lucky. I found love, marriage and viable sperm at the ripe old age of 37.

While I’m not the most patient of mothers, “If you don’t do what I say this minute I’m throwing all your toys out of the window,” I can’t imagine living without my children. They have made me grow up. They have made me, occasionally, put others before myself. They have also placed me at the center of their universe which is not a bad place to be.

My mother once said to me when I seemed to be in no hurry to take marriage or beginning a family seriously, “It’s about time you take your place in society.” It has a quaint Austenian ring to it but it does make you think. And it is true that I have a place in society that is not extended to single childless women or men.

And while I get cranky and desperate for time off from the endless drudgery that is part of motherhood (I dream of a week in a cabin stocked with chocolate and silence) I know by the end of that time I’d be eager to get back if only to toss around a couple of new threats: “If you don’t practice piano this minute, I’m nuking the Nintendo!”

I have a lot. The trick, of course, is remembering that.

photo by loop_oh (flickr)

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