Easy reading is damn hard writing.-Nathaniel Hawthorne
I am writing a novel. I started it last fall and I’ve written about 8000 words so far.
It’s not easy, not by a long shot. Between my busy schedule and the challenge of trying to create both compelling characters and a compelling narrative, it’s taken me longer than anticipated to get to this point.
While I recognize the challenge, I also relish it. The story I am writing is a personal one, far more personal than any other story that I’ve ever written. I have a completed draft of another novel, but I just couldn’t find the creative energy to move forward with it.
Writing to me, is more than words on a page or character spouting lines. It’s a cathartic undertaking that has allowed me to grow in ways I would have never considered previously.
Whether or not I will finish the novel or it is published one day (crossing fingers), only time will tell. All I know is that I have to keep going. I have to tell my character’s story. In telling her story, I am sharing myself with the world and freeing myself from the constrictions that life and circumstance has put upon me.
I’m writing a novel.
Writing, especially writing a novel, is like creaking a sculpture made of clay.
Unlike writing a script, whether it is for the stage, the movie screen or for television, writing a novel is not bound to the same format. Writing a novel give the writer nearly unparalleled freedom to write. It also comes with a fair share of bumps in the road.
The process of writing a novel and creating a sculpture made of clay is remarkably similar.
The writer starts the novel from a germ of an idea. The artist creating the sculpture starts with a shapeless mound of clay.
Both will create first drafts of their work. It is obvious that while the spark to create the work is there, more work is needed.
The writer will go back to their draft and edit. The artist will remove pieces that don’t work and mush them together with new pieces. Creating is the easy part, editing is the hard part.
Over time, both the novel and the sculpture will endure multiple changes before the final version is complete.
But when the novel and the sculpture are complete , the satisfaction of hard work pays off.
Life is never smooth, nor is it predictable. Sometimes the moment when we think we have hit the lowest moment in our lives, that is actually the moment that we have begun to pick up the pieces of our lives.
Naomi Ragen’s 2002 novel, Chains Around The Grass, is about just this. In the early 1950s, six year old Sara has just lost her father. Her mother, Ruth, is left to raise three young children by herself. Ruth must find the courage and strength within herself to raise her children without her husband.
I enjoyed the novel. Ms. Ragen takes the reader in quickly to the world of this family. The loss of their father and husband is potent to the reader. My only criticism is in the description of the novel, Sara is named as the main character. When in reality, if there is a main character, it is Sara’s father whose absence creates a hole in the hearts of his family members that can never be truly filled.
I recommend this novel.
To those of her time, Jane Austen seemed to have lived an unremarkable life. She was the youngest daughter of a country rector. She never married or had children. During her lifetime, her books were published anonymously as “A Lady”. Northanger Abbey, her first completed novel and Persuasion, her last completed novel, were published posthumously.
Why is it that a woman seemed to have lived an unremarkable life during her own time period, is still discussed and debated nearly 200 years after her death? Natalie Tyler’s 1999 book, The Friendly Jane Austen answers this question.
Through interviews with academics, writers and performers who have acted in the various adaptions, Ms. Tyler makes Jane Austen as vibrant and alive as she was 200 years ago.
I bought this book at a used book store. I didn’t expect to find it, but it was too tempting to not purchase.
I loved this book. Some Jane Austen related books are written only for the Janeite fan community, an newbie or an outsider might find those books to be boring and unreadable. But not this book. The interviewees include writer Fay Weldon and actress Harriet Walter (Fanny Dashwood in the 1995 Sense and Sensibility). This book is for everyone, whether they be a newbie or a long time Janeite or anyone who is curious about her novels.
My favorite part of the novel was the quizzes. Ms. Tyler creates multiple quizzes, asking the reader what type of Jane they might be and asking them to guess the quotes from the various novels.
I highly recommend this book.