Dear Jane,

Please accept my belated birthday wishes to you. I meant to get this letter out much sooner but you know how it goes with a busy family.

I hope you were able to celebrate in high style. A trip to London, high tea, a night at the theater, perhaps a stroll in the public gardens; these are great activities in my eyes. My birthday is in a few weeks, as you well know, and I have no idea how we will celebrate that event.

Jane AustenI have been thinking of you lately as I work on my first novel. I try to write 500 words a day and right now I am at Chapter 8 of 15. But recently, I looked back at Chapter 2 in order to present it to my writing group. I have not sent anything in for a while despite making real progress on the book. While going over the pages to take out any passive verbiage and tighten it all up, I realized that most of this chapter is terrible.

More truthfully, it sucks.

I am now considering re-writing it or ditching the chapter all together. It does not seem to fit or make sense with the rest of the novel that I have written. I think that I have not introduced the problem soon enough. Worse yet, I no longer love my heroine.

Did that ever happen to you? Elizabeth is so lively and charming that I would find it hard not to love her. Elinor, on the other hand, I can imagine getting a bit weary despite her wonderful qualities. Then again, she was a poor woman in Regency England who had known a better life. Her sadness at the loss of her father and potential husband must have been great.

Since working on this novel, I notice how I read a book has changed. I no longer simply enjoy the prose. I am paying attention to how characters are introduced. I listen to how different characters speak. I look at when the problem becomes a problem. The dead body does not always seem to show up by the end of Chapter One but one issue or another is presented that eventually leads us there.

I do no enjoy reading novels any less. I recently finished Kipling’s Captain Courageous and enjoyed the transformation of the rich boy saved by a fishing boat crew. Right now I am re-reading Jane Goes Batty by Michael Thomas Ford in which you are a vampire.  I am discovering little things I did not notice before and quite enjoying it, which is the whole reason why I re-read books. Sometimes in my rush to read a book, I miss details.

Book Cover Image from Amazon.com

Book Cover Image from Amazon.com

One book that has been quite difficult for me to get through is Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. I know her writing is wonderful and I enjoy the descriptions. I know the book was ground breaking for talking about mental illness – battle fatigue in particular – and making that character sympathetic as opposed to a maniacal fool.

It is the stream-of-consciousness style of writing that gives me a headache and I have to put the book down after a page or two. The jump between characters happens so quickly that I am not always so sure who is speaking. I hope that the book I am writing does not give others headaches should I ever finish writing it.

I appreciate any words of wisdom you can send me in this matter. And please let me know about your birthday celebration; I want all of the juicy details.

As always, your devoted friend, etc.

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