A Tete-a-tete With a Storm Cloud

52nd Trial: Being in Chapter 8, I am eager to go back to Chapter 1 and change so much of how it all started, even down to the descriptive language and the dialogue between characters. But back tracking at this point may be detrimental – I may have the same desire at Chapter 10, or Chapter 15! There will be no end to the madness.

Weekly Hours Spent Writing or in the Pursuit of Plot:  Since last post, I have wrote for 12hr! Take that!! **knife hand strike to the throat of my work week**

Weekly Choice of Tea: Earl Grey (I am on a kick!)

Biggest Success: There are two main successes that I am particularly proud of! I have begun writing the Boo books (a children’s book that Jamie will illustrate), as well as my training for the Alcatraz swim!

Last night I swam in a lap pool after work. It was the first time I jumped right into the water, instead of my usual big-toe-followed-by-heel-and-then-retract ritual. I usually look like the cartoon elephant that dips a part of its foot in the water then runs away with a trumpet sounding protest! However, the chill in the air was worse than in the pool, and so went away my reluctance to enter it.

I use my swim for many things, from sweating stresses to idle dreaming of me saving the world in some fashion or another. But mainly, I use it to consider the plot of my novel. Dialogue and relationships. What direction the story will take next. It turns out to be a poor brainstorming session most of the time, as I do not have pen and paper readily submerged in the water with me to jot down ideas. The ideas themselves struggle against drowning, and sometimes I forget them altogether. However, I at least reconnect with the big picture of the novel, and leave the water refreshed and aware of my purpose with writing.

My mind during this particular swim went on a fun journey, and thus the point of this blog. While reading Charlotte Bronte’s “The Professor”, I became fascinated with her unique character descriptions of a few undesirable students at the school. I enjoyed her ability to write in the negative space surrounding a persons shape and attitude but telling me what they are not, or where they differ from normal notions of beauty, intelligence, and humility. My arms pulled me up and down the pool as the images of these characters swam into my mind, as if the ripples around me were them. They were joined shortly by characters of my own, and I noticed quick how ill defined mine were in comparison.

As I continued swimming, the weather changed around the time my stroke changed, and my mind wandered once more. My arms grew bumps as they met the cold and windy air. As I began back stroke, I saw the descending light of dusk change with the approach of a menacing cloud, and soon its light presence was extinguished. The cloud was truly a dark cloud, and its black surface crept closer and closer to the sky above me. Time passed as it usually does in a pool, monotonously, and the cloud continued to approach in the same, slow manner. And as there is not much to do besides count laps and think over and over again, I was thankful I had a storm cloud. I began by describing it by what it was not. Then I chased it, and it chased me, as I lapped the pool as if I were in a pinball machine. Before I swam my last stretch, I wondered how this cloud could represent anyone or anything? Can a character be built based on the description of a storm cloud?

In truth this lead me down a strange path, which is worth mentioning, where I seemed to internalized the storm cloud. I thought of its scary and threatening nature, and imagined it to be my own expectations of the novel. Its color reminded me of my Earl Grey tea. Boo could be considered a storm cloud, as her black fur falls in a steady stream of hair. I am swimming in components of a cloud. I wanted pizza tonight…and while this was a stretch, I quickly realized that both are pleasantly salty!

Amongst the Rare

51st Trial: The first 30 minutes of the writing process. The sitting down, the picking of the pencil, and the blank and sometimes uninviting white paper.

Weekly Hours Spent Writing or in the Pursuit of Plot:  8hr

Weekly Choice of Tea: Earl Grey

Biggest Success: Successfully snowboarding down the mountainside in Northstar, near Lake Tahoe. I fell, I landed hard, and I conquered.

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Jane Austen claims that one who can write a letter with ease, cannot write ill. Yesterday as I struggled with the chapter’s momentum (I have started chapter eight, happily enough) those words wrapped me in an innocent bubble, because I can write letters easily. In this bubble I do not feel the weight of my own expectations or of those brilliant writers that any novel will be compared to. But instead I fell alone, and my writing and my story are what they are. My technique compares to mine alone, and my voice echoes from my own mind. It does not give me confidence that I do in fact write well, but at least I cannot write ill. I find, like with most letter writing, beginning it is the toughest, whether you are starting a new chapter or picking up where you left off. About 30 minutes into my writing do I then become involved and pick up speed, but those 30 minutes are dreadful.  Must look beyond dreadful – mental note!

I wished I had seen Austen during the book fair I went to during my Valentine’s day treat! It was in Oakland, and it was the largest rare book collectors fair in the world. Jamie took me there as a surprise, little knowing that any book there ranged from $400 – $100K. I looked through the rows of vendors, pining over the Dickens, the Brontes, the Wordsworth, and the Shakespeare. I held tightly to Arabian Nights only to have to put it down again. The series of Tennyson sat nobly overlooking my puppy set eyes. Austen though, evaded me. I felt her, along with my favorite stories by the Bronte sisters, in the booths of particularly dusty, well-used, and sometimes stained books. There were large world Atlases that reminded me of the young Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility, and there were thick books of anatomy, horticulture, and beetles that took me into Mr. Rochester’s library. Rarity comes with a price, but it was worth it to hold and flip through the pages of History and Time itself.

Happily I found a first edition of Harry Potter, which came home with me later that night!

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A Perfect Perspective

49th Trial: What sentiments have I not already covered?

Weekly Hours Spent Writing or in the Pursuit of Plot:  2hr

Weekly Choice of Tea: Turmeric and Ginger

Biggest Success: To date, my work-in-progress is 70 pages typed

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I am a Chiropractor living in San Francisco, not far from the famed painted ladies of Alamo Square. I have started slowly writing my novel, a life goal of mine that seems to share the over-cramped room of my Ambition with other careers, other desires, and other interests. Currently, my tongue is raw from a pack of sour patch kids and my Alice in Wonderland mug is steeping tea. These are the hard facts for the start of 2017 and for my first yearly blog post. Might I remind all readers that this blog is to hold myself accountable to the purpose of my writing, as well as a faithful narrative of my journey. If only there were a way to hold myself accountable for up-keeping the blog…

2017 has started as most of my years do:   an outburst of all that I want to accomplish, followed by a deep, long stare, which inevitably sinks me into a state of mild depression. So, what will I do with the challenges I have placed at my doorstep? I’m willing to tell ya. I’m wanting to tell ya. I’m waiting to tell ya!!!

My first action step was to feed the lethargy with Gilmore Girl episodes, and luckily I did so. There was a moment in the episode that illustrated how perfect, the perfect perspective can be. To accomplish any dream or desire, is to simply fall in love with it. Become in awe of it. Be humbled by it. I am not a writer because Jane Austen or the Bronte sisters inspired it. I am a writer because I am a part of their legacy. We, non of us, are our own stories that do not share the stories of everyone around us or before us. My time on this planet is minuscule, and the importance of my novel even less. However, I have contributed to the inhalation and exhalation of San Francisco’s eclectic city as it builds and progresses. Every patient of mine has allowed me to become a part of their health. I get the distinct pleasure of sitting in the front row seats of Jamie’s life and that of Boo Radley’s.  I write to support the love and legacy of literature. Those thoughts alone bring purpose to itself.

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A Half-Priced Addiction

45th Trial: I sometimes think that if I surround myself with stacks of books, heaping amounts of tottering novels, words and sentences will flow out of me as Inspiration takes form. In other words, I cannot stop buying books. I have a problem.

Weekly Hours Spent Writing or in the Pursuit of Plot:2hr

Weekly Choice of Tea: Pumpkin Spice Tea

Biggest Success: This week I have began running and swimming again! If anything was neglected more than my writing, it was my exercise.

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I have plenty of inspiration. Sometimes I feel small next to it, like the redwoods that towered over me this past weekend. And most times, I feel amused by it. There are so many images and interactions that flow through my thoughts regularly, and I watch them as when I sit and ponder by a passing stream. Some ideas are great, and I throw my lure out to catch them. But like I do when I would sit and fish with my father, many rush on by or take my fishing pole with them! Inspiration should be an entity to any writer, a physical catch or tangible form.

Novels and books already written have always been my inspirational object, and as you read from my introduction, the British ones do it best. However, I am using this post to justify the fact that I cannot stop going to the nearby Half-Priced Books store, and purchase one to five novels. I hunch over the section of leather bound classics like a deformed addict, as if the act of bending over the shelves has bent my spine so that it has become perfectly normal for me to go there and do just that:  hunt for more books. I take them home with me and display them. And I am dazzled by that Inspiration. I see it nestle between the Dickens and the Brontes, or watch it stretch like a lush over the Melville and Hemingway. It jumps from Wilde to Twain, and tip-toes past Conrad. Yes, in just a week, I have managed to purchase books from all afore mentioned authors. I label it Inspiration, instead of addiction, thank you very much!

Heartache Motivates in the Land of Smiles

35th Trial: Wanting to go back and alter a past description or illustration, and realizing the manuscript is back home and I am across the world with only an empty notebook. Taking mental notes does not suffice anymore, and so I am making pages of things to remember to correct. I am finding it easy to change that which is already written, than brainstorming on that which needs to happen.

Weekly Hours Spent Writing or in the Pursuit of Plot: Since last post, I would guess-timate around 2 hours

Weekly Choice of Tea: Chrysanthemum iced tea and Thai Milk Tea

Biggest Success: Visiting Angkor Wat temples and getting a spiritual Sak Yant Tattoo in Bangkok, Thailand! I am currently in Chiang Mai, and this backpacking trip has been the most thrilling, let-loose, connecting with humanity I’ve ever done.

My writing has been more in the forefront of my mind than I thought it would be. Grant it, I have not the time or energy to actually write–even more so than when I worked back home. My days have been filled with temples, site-seeing, and documenting through my notebook and travel blog. Facebook is getting its fill of pictures and videos on a daily basis. I am writing more than I ever have because the documentation portion of this trip has been the most consuming, and I find that it is still an exercise for my writing. I had not planned on writing any chapters while abroad, and yet I find I cannot detain myself! I love that I miss writing my novel, and I love that I miss Chiropractic. My life does not seem without or wanting, and seeing this new world in Southeast Asia strengthens my inner character rather than filling a void.

I have a stirring passion to pick up chapter six where I left off in January, primarily due to finishing the novel “Villette” two days ago. Charlotte Bronte is a mastermind. Her ability to grip the heart and tear apart one’s world is only paralleled by her sister’s ability. Whatever gene they have that makes them professors of unrequited love and debilitating despair sadly ended with their much too early deaths, and the world is at a loss without it. While I admire their ability to crush my soul into bits with loss of love, I have a cautious relationship with the Bronte girls. I can trust them only so far. I can rely on them heightening my spirits by connecting to my deepest desires, but am appalled that they could then treat me so brutally afterwards.

Regardless, I am so inspired by Charlotte. In regards to somethingmorebritish, it is ultimately authors like her that motivate me to write. I put down “Villette”, warming my sobbing heart with the thought of my own novel, and how I can end it however I wish. Love with always triumph–you’ve heard me say it before. However, I must learn from the Bronte’s how to pull at the heart stings a bit. Just a little.

Some Travel Photos for you 🙂 see more at http://www.blankpproject.com, my travel blog!

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Struggles Shared by the Reader, the Writer, and the Open-Water Swimmer

24th Trial: Getting caught in the art of story telling, without infusion of personal opinion, biases, political passions, and ultimately moralities. I have decided to begin a separate journal of my own passionate rants, of my hopes for what this novel will come across as. And then there will come a time during editing that I can infuse the story with my mind, and make a chain of thought so that it is not mistaken what my overall message is within it’s pages. It is too easy for me to write event after event, description after observation– but I am realizing one must deviate from the material to formulate the immaterial, such as leaving a scene to ponder on dreams, aspirations, ethical struggles, guilt, ect!

Weekly hours spent writing or in the pursuit of plot: 3 Hours

Weekly Choice of Tea: Pumpkin Spice tea

Biggest Success: Swam from Buck Island to St. Croix’s shore in a 5-mile swim race! Yes my friends, I did the big one, the one I’ve been training for! Little did I know the emesis that was to follow the rocking of the waves, as if the waters still teamed with pirate enthusiasm to pillage my stomach of all contents.

“Villette” continues to influence me, I am happy to say. Within her plot comes Bronte’s sound judgement and sharpness of character that one can only aspire to in their own writing. Such is my trial as stated above! While laying on the sandy beaches in the Virgin Islands this weekend, I sought refuge from the sun into the shade of a Bronte novel, its dark tone enough to keep one balanced. I ventured to the land of pirates to fulfill a goal of mine–to swim 5 miles in the ocean. The race began as I had hoped and expected it to! Transparent waters that displayed the coral reef that webbed the ocean ground like large sunken nets. Every breathe I turned to take– to the right showed islands sitting in front of the raising sun, and to the left showed nothing but endless waves. My arms pulled in front of me, clearly viewed as if I was flapping them in air. It was pristine and beautiful. I marveled at my experience, and compared it to the pages of the novel that accompanied me there. While my experience was a beautiful one, it came with is own darkness. Nausea! Sea-Sickness! Puking into the waves till they calmed! Alas, like Bronte’s “Villette” it was a wonderful and yet abrasive experience in terms of humanity and reality!!

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Directly after my race!! I accomplished it, 2hr and 59min

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Post race-day lounge at Magen’s Bay in St. Thomas

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This beautiful gentleman helped it all happen! Here we we at the East most point of the US off of St. Croix.

And lastly, here is a paragraph from Bronte’s “Villette” so that you may taste the genius behind the ink.

“A strange, frolicsome, noisy little world was this school:  great pains were taken to hide chains with flowers:  a subtle essence of Romanism pervaded every arrangement: large sensual indulgence (so to speak) was permitted by way of counterpoise to jealous spiritual restraint. Each mind was being reared in slavery; but, to prevent reflection from dwelling on this fact, every pretext for physical recreation was seized and made the most of. There, as elsewhere, the CHURCH strove to bring up her children robust in body, feeble in soul, far, ruddy, hale, joyous, ignorant, unthinking, unquestioning. “Eat, drink, and live!” she says, “Look after your bodies; leave your souls to me. I hold their cure–guide their course:  I guarantee their final fate.” A bargain, in which every true Catholic deems himself a gainer. Lucifer just offers the  same terms:  “All this power will I give thee, and the glory of it; for that is delivered unto me, and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou, therefore, wilt worship me, all shall be thine!”-Villette by Charlotte Bronte

To Write a Love Story is Certain

23rd Trial: Controlling the absolute jealousy of the literary genius, Charlotte Bronte

Weekly hours spent writing or in the pursuit of plot: 1 Hour

Weekly Choice of Tea: Chamomile

Biggest Success: Began Chapter 5! Enjoying the fall that surrounds me

As I have mentioned in posts prior, what do you say about your novel when asked about it? In one word or sentence can you sum something like that up? It is about Hope. Family. Philosophy. To write an epic love story is certain. I have begun to read “Villette” by Charlotte Bronte, a novel that is sadly shadowed by her more successful “Jane Eyre”. I am enjoying the perception of the main heroine of this story, as it displays the dark behind the events and people. No surprise there. The Bronte sisters are literary ninjas at mixing piety with sin, madness with love, and the shadows cast by a sunny day. In “Villette”, every moment has a balance. I am not overly happy for one circumstance, nor overly without hope at the same time. Young Lucy Snowe has an intelligent observation of people in their interactions, as well as in her own misfortunes. I read and felt a familiarity with this particular sentence:

“This I can now see and say–if few women have suffered as I did in his loss, few have enjoyed what I did in his love. It was a far better kind of love than common; I had no doubts about it or him: it was a love as honored, protected, and elevated, no less than it gladdened her to whom it was  given.”

I find this amusing in a way, as much as it is heartfelt and lovely. How certain am I that my life will encompass a great love? And my novel, the love story should be nothing short of timeless, and set apart from a perceived commonality of unions between two people! However, what does Charlotte mean by this comparison of common love and the elevated type? How can one set them apart, being the observer of other’s and the direct subject of but one? I find it intriguing to not define a romance so that no one could ever experience it, viewing it only as a fairy-tale;  but to illustrate the belief that many have actually found that true companion. It is not hard for me to imagine an elevated love, a love like no other, being a common thing. It happens under so many guises, as so many masterpieces happen with different pens and strokes. I have always dreamed of Mr. Darcy, walking to me with his long billowing tailcoat whipping behind him in his passionate haste to see me. And yet in my age, where tailcoats are not the height of fashion, exposure to many people through internet, transportation, and employment have created a stage very different from my fantasies. Moreover, who knew that my Mr. Darcy could very well be a misses? That begin said, my reality, though different, is as elevated in my estimation as the hearts bound within the novels I read. What I intend to write can be nothing more than the love and life that you, reader, experience on a daily basis. If I can but make you sense and feel the incredible story that surrounds you, I would have a purpose indeed!

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I Will Show you Fear in an Author

16th Trial:  Confidence

Weekly hours spent writing or in the pursuit of plot: 1 hour (oomph)

Weekly Choice of Tea: Turmeric and Ginger (see a trend?)

Biggest Success:  Purchasing Harper Lee’s latest release!

I have had a stressing and therefore indulgent week and weekend. I am no closer to catching that stray cat than I am to finishing typing up Chapter three. And as you may not yet be aware of, my system is just that:  finish a hand-written chapter and type it up. The OCD that runs rampant in my family does not allow that process to be disturbed! So tomorrow and Monday will be dedicated to checking that off my list and by mid week, chapter four will begin. I promise you that, and as this blog will therefore show my feebleness if I do not, I shan’t let you down!

I spent a wonderful day in and out of stores with Jamie and her mother yesterday, where at one point her mother curiously looked at me over a table at Barnes and Noble. To set the scene:  I had Harper Lee’s novel in my hand, “Go Set a Watchman” (which, having only one novel in my arms while moseying around that store, is a rare thing to behold). I looked back at her, my mind still engulfed by what I was currently reading.

She asked me, “What does it take to be an author?”

I am ashamed it took me so long to give her what ended up being a shoddy answer. “I mean, you have to have a natural talent for writing.” After the words came out of my mouth, I laughed and hastily added, “I mean no, you really don’t even need to have that.”

How interesting! I degraded almost every author in that store and even myself! Of course I believe you must have a natural talent for writing to be an author of novels, and most do. Even the ones with writing styles that make me want to jab a pen in my eyeball have a knack at least for storytelling. I cannot compare everyone or myself to that of Austen’s or the Brontes’ talent, because the variety and the standards are very different. However, authors that I respect and aspire to, write with the same passion and prose as those of whom set the bar (in my opinion). So was I entirely wrong in my response? Can you create a story, write about it very poorly, get it published, and be an “author”? I guess, though I am sure I will not think much of you as a talented author, but I will concede to put you in the category. I do wonder how my book will look once finished. I have no idea in what opinion I will hold it to!

I must believe that if you want to write a novel to the quality of Charlotte Bronte in the language of your generation, you can. Tap into natural abilities you may not even know you have. And then yes, anyone can be an author worth literature’s sacred regard.

“And I will show you something different from either

Your shadow at morning striding behind you

 Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;

 I will show you fear in a handful of dust.” -T.S. Eliot

Manatees <3

Manatees ❤

Of an Equal Nature

10th Trial:  Not knowing personally the drama of a small town that is going through a change– In the next couple weeks, I plan to begin attending the town meetings here in Noda!

Weekly hours spent writing or in the pursuit of plot: 7 hours

Weekly Choice of Tea: Southern Mint, which we bought at the Biltmore house

Biggest Success:  Finished reading the novel Agnes Grey and typed up Chapter 2

Needless to say, a lot has been happening. I finally feel as though I am catching up and reconnecting with my novel since the European trip. It is bizarre to feel displaced from the storyline that one begins developing, as you would assume that the author and the story are in one mind. I imagine at some point that will happen, however as I typed up chapter two, I found that I had to make notes of things that I wrote about so as to not forget them down the road! Today I was calmed from the anxiety I felt of jumping back into my project from a few weeks break of it. It is almost like going through a maze at nighttime with a headlamp:  the upcoming bushes and turns in the pathway come into view as you near them. I truly, as I’ve said before, dislike this approach. I am finding it resourceful though. Even today I realized that the town I am in is going through a significant change soon, as the light rail is being developed to connect Noda to Charlotte’s city center. How exciting it is for me to be able to possibly witness the changing mentalities of an area with changing transportation! So my new homework for the upcoming weeks will be to attend town meetings (which sound so romantic anyways!) and see the true politics of an area like this.

I am also beginning a new book, Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. I have finished Anne Bronte’s novel Agnes Grey, which I am happy to say I now know her a little. One thing I loved after I read the ending, was that there was a letter by Charlotte Bronte about her sisters, that she had wrote after both passed away. She discussed their beginning as authoresses and how they used fake names to get published. This is what she wrote:

“Averse to personal publicity, we veiled our own names under those of Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell; the ambiguous choice being dictated by a sort of conscientious scruple at assuming Christian names positively masculine, while we did not like to declare ourselves women, because–without at that time suspecting that our mode of writing and thinking was not what is called ‘feminine’–we had a vague impression that authoresses are liable to be looked on with prejudice; we had noticed how critics sometimes use for the chastisement the weapon of personality, and for their reward, a flattery, which is not true praise.”

I love that Charlotte describes both ends of a critic–praise and disapproval–and how both should be ignorant of the author/authoress for true critique. Along the same lines of progressing passed gender prejudice, which is still suffered today though not nearly as severe as Bronte’s time, I am proud to say I witnessed this past week America overcoming a milestone in Gay/Lesbian prejudices. The supreme court made law that no state in North America can deny gay and lesbian couples the right to marriage. While there will still be a struggle and discrimination, I am proud to say that I’ve seen this day! And more so, that my Aunt has seen this day. As you can see by the picture supplied, I have a lovely girlfriend that if I so choose to marry one day,  that is a right that is no longer denied to both of us. I am seeing that we can all one day live within an equal nature, both in literature and in love.

An obsession come to life: the Lake District, UK

7th Trial:  Maintaining descriptive tenses in the flow of events, so as to not seem choppy between thoughts/actions

Weekly hours spent writing or in pursuit of plot: 9 hours

Weekly choice of tea: Pineapple (that bloomed in my tea pot, see picture below!)

Greatest Success: Finished CHAPTER TWO!

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It is roughly that I say I finished chapter two. Yes, I placed the period mark at the end of the final sentence, however I realize there are places where more description is needed. When writing a scene, I don’t seem to write as fast as the scenes flash in my mind, and nearly never does my mind stop in time to document all that I want it to, but just moves on to the next event. So much is then lost, and no one could envision what I am seeing, and therefore what I am meaning to illustrate. Could any story live, where description is set aside? Can you not feel pain for the character, if you do not see the creases of his forehead, the sweat on his brow and above his lip, and the distant expression in his eyes? Or feel the relaxation of a person who wakes in the early morning, feeling the dew between her toes, the chill of morning air pulling the strands of hair across her face, as she watches the dim light brighten the greens of the trees? And yet it is easily passed, or in some circumstances not my own, depended on severely.

This chapter came by rather quickly, and I know that when I type it up I shall have to add quite a large amount of description to its fast pace. It is one thing I wish that there is more of in the novel I am reading, Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte:  this emphasis on description. She passes over scenes with summaries at an alarming rate! And so I sense the inevitable feeling growing deep in my heart, a certain need that brings forth the flowing muses of my writing. I need something more British (could anyone guess otherwise?), to fills the holes in chapter two—and now could not be a better time for such a need! Come Wednesday, I am flying to London, England, where I will be in Austria from there for 3 days. After that I go back to London and drive up to the Lake District–a place that I have wanted to go since I read Elizabeth Bennet traveling to the Lake District with her Aunt and Uncle.

My wonderful friend is getting married there, and amongst the adventures planned, there will be horseback riding through the open fields, where I will likely hold tight to the reigns and close my eyes, imagining Darcy riding through gorgeous landscapes. Yes! My obsession is obvious, and I cannot pass down a once in a lifetime chance to be influenced by Austen’s senses. Not only hers, but also those of William Wordsworth and his sister’s, Dorothy Wordsworth. I will traverse the gardens of Rydal Mount where he wrote about so dearly, and sense the happiness inspired when looking upon the hillsides, the waters, and the vales. I will see their home at Dove cottage, drink at pubs in Ambleside, and visit the farm of Beatrix Potter. I cannot wait to report back, and give you a month’s worth of material inspired by such an adventure!