Thursday, December 27, 2012

My Novel


Journal Avatar to Link Back to Blog Hop  This is my first writing resolution post.

In high school, I wrote an essay about Jane Austen for a contest about women who did extraordinary things. I was the fourth entry out of four, and I won honorable mention because the people running the contest were generous and wished to reward each of the young people who took the time to write essays.

I did a poor job telling Jane Austen's story in high school. I admired her books so much but knew very little about her life.  I adored the way she conveyed everyday life and love, her talent at building sentences and suspense, the art with which she made me care for people who never actually lived.

Now I know I'm not the only one who didn't know much about her life. Biographers complain that there isn't much evidence to tell us about her private life - but they keep searching for what happened to her in real life to explain why she was such a skilled writer. Biographies - both written and cinematic - focus on why she never married.

One review of the many biographies of Austen writes "Literary biographers who set out to establish how Austen's novels arise from her personal experience have long been handicapped by the scarcity of source material. Nothing much ever happened to her."

Jane Austen published her first novel at age 36 (Sense and Sensibility), and went on to publish three more novels, then two more after her death. That's six novels. Six novels that are still being read two hundred years after her death. I believe that's something pretty significant to happen to a woman in the early 1800s.

I love my husband and children more than life itself. I would never, ever give them up. But I admire, so much, that Jane Austen wrote six beautiful novels (by fountain pen with no wite-out or critique group!). While some are bothered that she never married I see no need to judge her, only honor her.

I (finally) finished a first draft of my first novel last year (at age 37). I will be working hard on transforming it into a polished second draft, along with tackling a second novel in 2013. I will think often on Jane Austen through this process.

16 comments:

  1. Congrats on tackling the second draft and novel, Elizabeth. I hear you about prioritizing life and family and still finding a place for the written work. Best of luck and thanks for sharing! My resolutions are posted here:
    http://coldmountaincollective.com/2012/12/27/resolutions-of-the-written-word-lessons-in-sustainability/

    Happy new year!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Kato! My kids now know when they see me with my notebook to give me a few minutes to "tell the story" (their words). Happy New Year to you, too.

      Delete
  2. Hi Eliabeth,
    You can do it! I'm into my third round of edits for my first manuscript and working on a new one. I love knowing that Jane Austen first published at 36... that gives me hope!
    Happy New Year and all the best!
    Ali Kucich
    http://alisonkucich.com/writing-what-day-is-it-today-writing-resolution-blog-hop/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How long from first draft to third round of edits Alison? I'm curious and it helps me remember that it's not a race but more like a series of workouts. (I use a lot of running metaphors in my life). Happy New Year to you too!

      Delete
  3. Congratulations on the first draft -- that's such a huge accomplishment! I hope your 2013 brings every success.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Elizabeth --

    Congrats on finishing the first draft of your novel - it is a marathon, isn't it? (On a side note, if "nothing much ever happens" to a person and they go on to write six novels... well, I'd say *something* interesting happened to them!)

    My own resolution post is titled “Five Writing Truths That Should Be Obvious but
    Aren’t”… and my resolution this year is to keep them in mind.
    http://nevemaslakovic.blogspot.com/

    Hope 2013 brings you lots of good things, both writerly and non-writerly!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree Neve! I'd love a little "nothing much" in my life. There's a lot about Jane Austen I admire...I often wonder what her blog would be about. Maybe after these projects I'll start doing blog posts that might have come from famous authors/women. That could be fun and would give me a chance to use my training in historical research!

      Delete
  5. Hi Elizabeth. Good job on finishing the first draft of your novel. Now the real work begins with the crafting of it. I admire you for committing to start that second draft while working on a new project at the same time. It's a little tricky with a family, but it sounds like you are totally committed. I wish you all the best.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. To give a little more detail, I have 13K words done on the second project and I'm hoping to expand it to approx 40K for a YA novel. The NaNo novel will be revised and chopped down to 40K. Each one will give me a break from working on the other, whenever I can. And the pieces I edit out of the NaNo project I hope to refine into decent short stories and character studies. Always working on improving my craft!

      Delete
  6. Thank you for the post! It give me hope that great things come with age (and focus).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I feel I'm definitely a better writer now that I'm older. Less afraid!

      Delete
  7. >In high school, I wrote an essay about Jane Austen for a contest about women who did extraordinary things. I was the fourth entry out of four, and I won honorable mention because the people running the contest were generous and wished to reward each of the young people who took the time to write essays.

    I love this. :-) Good luck on polishing! And Jane Austen is certainly on to aspire to emulate.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think I can at least aim to emulate her commitment to writing & her love of a good story...even if I can't aspire to the quality of her work! Thanks Meg & Happy New Year!

      Delete
  8. What a nice post! Who cares if she never married? I can tell you from experience that sometimes that is the better route! :) Keep at it in 2013. You've come a long way and you'll feel so good when it goes to print! Stop by my blog as part of Meg's resolutions blog hop when you can! http://soniafogal.blogspot.com Happy 2013!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Sonia. Again I am amazed at your goal of blogging every day in February!! That would be a significant accomplishment. Good luck - and happy new year!

      Delete