Tag Archives: Nathaniel Hawthorne

Happy Birthday, Jane Austen!

Nathaniel Hawthorne once said the following:

Easy reading is damn hard writing.” 

Reading Jane Austen is deliciously easy. Her books are full of characters that seem as real as you or I.

As any writer will tell you, writing is not as easy as it seems. The work and effort that is required feels nearly impossible to accomplish sometimes.

Jane came from an era in which women pursuing any career was frowned on. Her primary responsibility was that of a wife and mother. Initially publishing her books under the pseudonym of “A Lady”, public recognition of her as an author came later on.

One of the things I have learned as a writer is that sometimes you sometimes need to put your work away for a while. Recently, I have been going back to pieces that have been sitting on my hard drive. Delving back into those particular pieces (with the help of a handful of keen eyed fellow writers), I have been working on them with a level of excitement and energy I have not felt in a long time.

Her first three completed novels, Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility, and Pride and Prejudice were initially written when Austen was still a young woman. Like any budding author, she eagerly sent out her manuscripts to publishers, hoping for an eventual publication. The response was a decided no.

The next few years were an emotional roller coaster for Austen. After her father’s retirement and subsequent passing, Jane, her sister, and her mother moved frequently. It was only after finding a permanent home in Chawton House did she had the space and comfort that she needed to write again.

Rewriting the books of her youth and writing three new ones (Emma, Mansfield Park, and Persuasion), she finally became the writer she had always wanted to be.

She didn’t know it, but she is one of the writers who paved the way for so many of us. As both the mother of the modern novel and a female novelist, she continues to delight readers and inspire fellow writers who want to follow in her giant footsteps.

Happy Birthday Jane, wherever you are.

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Filed under Books, Emma, Feminism, History, Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Writing

Seven Steps on the Writer’s Path: The Journey from Frustration to Fulfillment Book Review

Nathaniel Hawthorne once said the following:

“Easy reading is damn hard writing.”

In 2003, veteran writers Nancy Pickard and Lynn Lott co-published the book, Seven Steps on the Writer’s Path: The Journey from Frustration to Fulfillment. Using their experience and the experiences of other writers, the authors guides the reader through the process of writing via a series of 7 steps. The 7 steps are as follows: Unhappiness, Wanting, Commitment, Wavering, Letting Go, Immersion, and Fulfillment.

I really enjoyed this book. I enjoyed because the process of writing is universal, regardless of whether one is working on their first novel or their tenth novel. From my perspective, the book is a reminder that while writing is never easy and success is never guaranteed, there is always something to be learned in the process.

I recommend it.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Writing

The Critics Were Wrong (Maybe)- The Scarlet Letter (1995)

Adapting a film based on a novel is like walking a tight rope. The screenwriter or screenwriters and the production staff must be true to the novel and it’s fan base, but the movie must also be appealing to audiences, regardless of whether they have read the book.

In some cases, the movie succeeds. In other cases, the movie is a failure and readers, especially traditionally minded readers are reminded why the book was and still is the better medium.

In 1995, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel, The Scarlet Letter was adapted for the big screen.

In 17th century Massachusetts, the Puritan lifestyle is law, spoken and unspoken.

A newcomer, Hester Prynne (Demi Moore) arrives in the colony. She believes her husband Roger (Robert Duvall) has died at the hands of the local Indian tribe. Relishing her independence, she starts a secret love affair with Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale  (Gary Oldman). The result of the affair is a child. Refusing to the publicly name her child’s father, Hester is forced to wear an a scarlet A (for adulteress) on her outer clothing. Then her husband reappears and starts to stir up trouble.

Were the critics wrong? In this case, no. The screenwriting and production team tried very hard to walk the fine line of being faithful to the book while attempting to fill in the seats at the cinema. But try as they might, the film is not very good.  The other issue with this film is casting. At the end of the day, Demi Moore was not only wrong for Hester, but her accent was questionable. Robert Duvall did not give me the chills that a villain of his sort would normally give. The film’s only saving grace, cast wise is Gary Oldman.

Do I recommend this movie? No.

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Filed under Books, Movie Review, Movies, The Critics Were Wrong

Flashback Friday-Easy A (2010)

A reputation is a funny thing. A woman’s reputation is an even funnier thing.

In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic novel, The Scarlet Letter,  Hester Prynne is accused of adultery. Her punishment is to wear a scarlet A on her clothing, marking her as an adulteress.

The 2010 movie, Easy A, is an interesting twist on the novel. Olive (Emma Stone) is a good girl. In terms of the social rank in her high school, she is a nobody.  Her best friend, Brandon (Dan Byrd) who is gay, begs her to help him. To stop the torment by his classmates,  Olive pretends to sleep with Brandon and loose her virginity to him. Word soon gets out that she will do the same for other social misfits. Then things get out of control. While all this is happening, Olive is reading The Scarlet Letter for one of her classes.

What is interesting about this movie is that it proves that human nature is one of the few constant things in this world. There is an interesting sub-commentary in this movie about the double standard between men and women. While Olive is slut shamed, Brandon and the other boys that she pretends to sleep with become heroes. But by the end, Olive is able to break the sexual stereotype and move on with her life.

I recommend it.

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Filed under Books, Feminism, Flashback Friday, Movie Review, Movies