I have always thought writing to be a lonely career. I envisioned great writers to be social pariahs, shunning social events for their craft. I imagined them scribbling away all hours of the day and night at desks in dusty rooms filled with books.
But while this may be the case for some, many famous authors would spend hours talking and working with other artists, poets and writers. An example would be the ‘Lake Poets’ Wordsworth, Coleridge and Southey who lived and worked together at the turn of the 19th century.
This is also true in the present day, where we gain so much from a sense of community as writers and artists. Whether it is meeting face to face for writing groups or sharing our stories online, we are able to connect with each other and learn from each other.
Most people write to share with others, to entertain or to connect through similar experiences. By reaching out through a story you create a bond between yourself and the reader.
Writing is far from being a lonely endeavour, it is what brings people together from all manner of different backgrounds and allows us to communicate with each other.
Without the support, the inspiration and even the criticism that other writers give me, I would probably watch a lot more TV.
“The Austen Project pairs six bestselling contemporary authors with Jane Austen’s six complete works: Sense & Sensibility, Northanger Abbey, Pride & Prejudice, Emma, Persuasion and Mansfield Park. Taking these well-loved stories as their base, each author will write their own unique take on Jane Austen’s novels.”
When I found out about the project I thought that it was a wonderful idea, to take a well loved classic and re-write the story from a different perspective. I think it will breathe new life into classic tales, that are at risk of becoming merely ‘ornamental’ features on the bookshelf . Personally, I’m guilty of collecting Jane Austen’s works and letting them gather dust, as I am often not in the mood for the Jane Eye after a long day at work.
The fact that other brilliant writers will take the time to lovingly craft another passage in each books story shows the lasting legacy of Jane Austen’s appeal. I believe it is a fitting tribute.
However, there are arguments for leaving a classic work alone and leaving the characters within a book unsullied by another authors touch. Some comments on the project suggest that it is ‘just an attempt to cash in Austen’s popularity rather than any serious literary venture.’ Or others suggest we are ‘dumbing down’ brilliant novels in an attempt to modernise the story. Or that it is merely laziness to take a story and wrap it up in different packaging.
But to this I quote another classic literary genius;
There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of coloured glass that have been in use through all the ages.
– Mark Twain, a Biography
I am suffering from post-project depression.
I have been consumed by my novel for months, writing at full steam every day. Now that it is finished and I have half-heatedly attempted to edit it I am lacking in enthusiasm. Without the daily process of creating the story I feel a bit lost and bored.
I hadn’t realised how much fulfillment I had gained through writing the novel and I feel like I am mourning the loss of a friend now that I have completed it.
I need to find another writing project.
I finished my novel a few weeks ago, before I put it aside and dealt with the stressful experience of moving house.
Now that I am settled into my new home, I have to try and focus on editing the novel – which I am finding more traumatic than the house move!
I feel as though I am stripping the story of all its erratic, rambling eccentricity and taking away its ‘voice’.
I have to be careful not to reduce the novel to a silent shell but focus on trying to put it back together stronger than before.
What makes the reader keep reading after the first page? The first Chapter?
What keeps the reader reading when they should go to bed or when their favourite program comes on TV?
I throw my poor characters into the middle of a crisis from page one. I hope the reader will stay long enough to find out if they are OK but they don’t know the characters well enough to care yet.
Writing is a manipulators game. Trying to buy the readers curiosity or empathy with promise of adventure or love.
I need to learn The Game and give my characters the best chance at life.
I always feel like I am in a race against my natural tendency to leave writing projects half done.
I can see the end in sight but then I rush towards the finish line instead of taking my time.
I know I am going to have to edit and edit again before a piece is completely finished, but I can’t help thinking that I am making more work for myself by trying to charge through it!
At least when the main story is down on paper I will have the foundations to build on.
I need to focus on getting the novel finished now, I have around 15,000 words left. I have got into a habit of editing as I go along and keep re-writing the same paragraphs over and over again!
I am booked in to go to the Winchester Writers’ Festival for the first time this year, and I am hugely looking forward to it!
It will also be the first time I have any kind of meeting with a literary agent so I am also pretty nervous…