Today, Jane Austen is everywhere. 200 years after her passing, she is one of those authors who is as popular as an author whose book is on the New York Times Best Seller list.
But it was not always this way. It is thanks to the original members of the Jane Austen Society that Jane Austen is alive and well in our culture.
Coming out next Spring, The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner tells the story of the founding of the Jane Austen Society. Just after World War II, Chawton, the village where Austen wrote and/or revised her six novels is a sleepy little English town. There is a trickle of visitors to Chawton House, the ancestral home of Jane’s older brother, Edward Austen Knight, but not enough to call it a tourist attraction.
Through their love of their local celebrity, the original members of the Jane Austen Society are able to preserve the memory of Austen’s name and work for generations to come.
I really liked this book. Though the characters are fiction, they embody why Jane Austen is still one of the most popular authors today. The characters in this book are all different, but what brings them together is the love of Austen and the beloved fictional worlds that she created.
I absolutely recommend it.
Before I go any further, I need to state that I am not a professional writer. I am simply a writer who works as a freelancer on the side who has learned a few things.
- Just get it down. Even if it is the most horrible idea you’ve ever come up with, just get it out of your head. You can edit later on.
- Read everything you can. Books, magazines, newspapers, blogs, etc. Even if you don’t like what you are reading, reading is essential to developing writing skills.
- Your first draft is just that. While it will need work, you can edit it, that is why they are called drafts.
- Don’t take it to heart when you receive criticism about your work. You are not being attacked personally, your fellow writers are providing guidance to help you become a better writer.
- Your early drafts are not Pulitzer worthy and will not be featured on the New York Times Best Seller list anytime soon. But that’s okay, you may one day have that Pulitzer and be on the New York Times Best Seller list.
- If you have a story sitting, let it go. The story that you are destined to finish will come to you. Talk to any writer and they will tell you about the many unfinished stories they have in a folder on their hard drive. I will also state from experience that a story that has been sitting on my hard drive for several years helped me to re-invigorate my novel. A story that I like to tell is that Jane Austen wrote the initial drafts of Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and Northanger Abbey when she was in her 20’s and did not see them published until years later.
- Join a writing group. I’ve been a part of one for nearly a year now. Sometimes, we are so wrapped up in our work that we need another set of eyes to make corrections that we can’t see. Looking back, I am a better writer for joining this group.