Monday, November 9, 2009


Yesterday I took a breather from my new WIP and watched BECOMING JANE (a film inspired by the early life of author Jane Austen.) Sigh.

I laughed. I cried. I hit the rewind button several times so I could hear the brilliant dialogue. Most of my tears were because my heart ached for Jane and Tom. Some of my tears were because I worried my life would turn out like Jane's. Not the part where she writes several of the greatest novels in literature. No, that aspect of her life makes her one of my idols. I'm talking about the final scene where she finishes reading Pride and Prejudice, then folds her hands over her novel. The camera zooms in on the fact that she isn't wearing a wedding band.

Yup, that part almost sent me running for the Riesling.

In my Men Of Our Dreams post, I mentioned my fears about my fictitious crushes interfering with my real love life (or lack thereof). Now comes the next big smack in the face. Am I missing out on having an exciting "real life" because I spend hours upon hours alone writing about imaginary people, places, and plots? Perhaps.

However, one of my favorite parts of the movie put that worry into perspective.

In the scene I'm referring to, Lady Gresham (stuffy old broad) is attempting to get Jane and Mr. Wisley to spend quality time together. Suddenly Jane rushes over to a bench--ignoring her unwelcomed guests--and starts making notes in a notebook. I will quote the characters directly because it's much more brilliant that way.
Lady Gresham: What is she doing?
Mr. Wisley: Writing.
Lady Gresham: Can anything be done about it?
We all know the answer. No. Nothing can be done about it. Not if you're a real writer.

Inspiration does not always strike at the most appropriate or convenient times. Writers may have to decline social invitations, lose sleep, skip meals, and miss out on time with friends and family. Sometimes we can't ignore our ideas, or not write them down just because we have company. Or a job. Or chores to do. Many writers give up certainty and security in exchange for a great deal of uncertainty and solitude. Why?

This next quote hit very close to home.
Jane: You live so quietly, and yet your novels are filled with romance, danger, and terror.
Mrs. Radcliffe (the Authoress): Everything my life is not...Of what do you wish to write?
Jane: Of the heart.
Mrs. Radcliffe: Do you know it?
Jane Austen: Not all of it.
Mrs. Radcliffe: In time, you will. But even if that fails, that's what the imagination is for.
Real life beckons, enticing me with possibilities of who I might meet, things I could do, places I should visit. Instead, I quietly curl up on my couch and dive back into creating my latest novel. It may never be published. It may never be read by anyone but a few people close to me, and most likely won't ever make me wealthy or famous. Yet I grab my laptop and happily write anyway. Why? Because I'm a writer, and nothing can be done about it.


  1. I understand you. I fear that my story will never be published and my greatest fear, the one that drives me insane, is that someone will write my story before I ever get a chance to finish. We just have to have faith and pray that our stories will always be ours and that if they are meant to be read by others, they will.

  2. Dear Karen, you are making me worry. Am I not a real writer? My life and my writing co-exist. The act of writing does not engulf the rest of my life, but my thoughts are always on writing. I am always thinking about ideas and words, always dreaming of picking up a pen and scrawling. But real life is impractical. I can't stop everything just because I suddenly had a good idea. It doesn't seem like a sensible way to live...

    I think I would define a writer differently to your description, but it's okay. I'm sure we are both right on our separate paths. :)

  3. Wow, beautiful post! I'm sure your books are great! I think your a fine writer, and very much doubt not being published. I haven't seen this movie yet, but your words have definitely lured me into watching it. Thanks Karen!

  4. Dear Tira,
    I didn't mean to make you worry. The definition of a writer is a subjective one--as is the business of writing and reading. You are definitely allowed to have a different definition than me. Think how boring the world would be if we were all the same.

  5. What a great post. (That movie makes me cry too--for the same reasons). I feel your pain. I am married (sorry) but I make up for that by having almost no close friends. I used to, but then I started writing this book and turning down invitations left and right and ignoring phone calls because it's writing time and well...they're probably still my friends, but we're not close anymore. I think that's why they call it "sacrificing for our art."

    If it helps, at least there's a huge group of people in the blogosphere who you will probably never meet face to face but who understand your pain. Keep at it!

  6. I loved that movie. I need to get my own copy of it. Jane Austen was a brilliant woman and a brilliant writer who died far too young. I wonder if she had any idea that her life and works would resonate with so many people for centuries to come.

  7. You've drunk the writing cool-aid. The only way past this is to write it out of your system. Or get published and go on book tours.

  8. SUCH a beautiful post. That movie is on my netflix list, but I think I'm going to move it to the top.

    Writers do sacrifice a lot. I can't tell you how many times this month I've stumbled into the bed in our guest room (where my desk lives) instead of making it under the covers next to my husband in the room over. We rarely eat dinner together because I am GLUED to my desk. Until this weekend, I hadn't been out with friends in ages.

    At the same time, I think balance is SO important. Yes, the past two months I've pretty much deleted my social life, have missed dinners and events and lost touch with friends. But I also have a pact with myself that when I begin the revision process I'll force myself to make more time for the whole "real world" living thing that apparently still exists outside of my guest room.

  9. Well, that movie was on my long list to see but suddenly it's bumped up to number 1...your post definitely made me think a lot about what it means to me to be a writer and how the fact that I am might affect my life...sigh, great post!!

  10. Hey! I saw that you're a Nano Wrimo participant! Well, so am I. Just wanted to wish you luck!

  11. I love that movie, too. That scene you mentioned where she folds her hands across her book gave me the chills the first time I saw it.

    Try not to worry about finding the perfect person to spend your life with. He'll show up when you least expect it. And keep writing. If you give that up, you will be miserable.

  12. I loved that movie, and the biography it is based on (and actually movie was very different from the book). Anyway, I'm confident that one day you will find someone that loves and understands your inky fingers.

  13. Powerful post. And no, nothing can be done about it. Life will put the perfect person who will understand you just the way you are in your life at just the right time.

  14. No, nothing can be done about it. And that's just fine. Really. There is passion and joy and birth in writing a satisfying novel. I can tell from your posts that this is what makes you happy and whole. And someday, a person who understands this beauty may come along and then you may have the best of both worlds. (Remember, too, that Jane lived in an era when women weren't supposed to have a life beyond their man's.)

  15. I love this post Karen! Very good. :-)

  16. Such a thought-provoking post, Karen. I watched Becoming Jane again quite recently so the lines you've mentioned remain fresh in my thoughts. I guess a balance of imagination and experience fuels the writing process but the imagination holds no boundaries - and is just as real as reality! x

  17. Karen,

    I'll read your novel when you finish!

    This is a great post! I loved that movie. I especially liked the idea that although her life didn't have a happy ending, she gave her characters all happy endings.

  18. You'll know love dear...when it's time. Loved this post. LOVED Becoming Jane :)

  19. Great post! I haven't seen the movie yet, but it sounds very interesting. Thank you for visiting me and joining my circle of friends... it led me right back here to you. I look forward to reading more of your posts and getting to know you better. Blessings, have a great day! DD

  20. You CAN have it all, Karen! ;-) Sadly, I think Jane Austen (and intelligent, motivated women of her era) had to choose between pursuing their passions, or becoming a "good little wife and mother." But today, we can certainly have it all (this said by a woman who's afraid having kids may make it impossible to write ... although "meeting" so many awesome writer-moms online is slowly dispelling my fear ...) Anyway, I guess it's all about balance, and as you and Lady Greshem have realized, there's no way to stop a writer from writing! ;-)

  21. Such a heartfelt post. Life is so uncertain as it is, you have found something that brings you profound joy and I say, embrace it. Someday you'll find a person that brings you a joy to rival even your writing, and that person will love you, books and all.

  22. Writers generally write what they know
    as well as what they imagine for themselves.
    Then eventually-it all comes together both
    in art and life.Enjoy the creative process;)

    Interesting blog here.

  23. Your such a funny make me smile! Something is simply so cute about the way you say things.
    this is only my feeling of it!
    Anyway, keep your creative fire take us by surprise!

  24. Ah, I love Becoming Jane! Writing is good. Let your imagination run wild! I just saw your tweet about Nixie--should we expect something scandalous?!? Imagination is probably better than the real thing sometimes :)

  25. Natalie, yes Nixie adds a bit of scandal to the book. She makes me blush when I write her scenes so fair warning for when you beta read it. ;)

  26. Yep. I know what you mean. Nothing can be done about it. I love that movie.

  27. This comment has been removed by the author.

  28. Fantastic post -- and I feel like, in many ways, I could have written it myself! You're right -- nothing can be done about our propensity to write, nor would we want anything to change it.

    I absolutely love "Becoming Jane" -- one of my favorite movies of all time! It's what really reignited my interest in all things Austen, too, and I'll always be thankful for that. And Tom Lefroy? Le sigh.

    *Edited to fix a grammatical mistake I made that was just going to irk me! Sorry for the first delete :)


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