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 ❤

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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!

Tea

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!

Backpacking Cold Mountain

6th Trial: Once a you realize you are in a rut, how do you change the course you are on?

Weekly hours spent writing or in pursuit of plot: ZERO–though the inspiration gained filled more than a weeks worth of struggling motivation

Weekly choice of “tea”: Hot chocolate by the campfire

Greatest Success: Backpacking to the summit of Cold Mountain, a 16.4 mile hike and an elevation of 6,030 ft

This was a tribute to the book by Charles Frazier, and a challenge to say that I hiked up one of the tallest peaks of the eastern United States.

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Like any connection with nature, there is a residual feeling of loss when you leave it. That is not the case today–I close my eyes and I see Frazier’s description: “It stood apart from the sky only as the stroke of a poorly inked pen, a line thin and quick and gestural. But the shape slowly grew plain and unmistakable. It was Cold Mountain he looked. He had achieved a vista of what for him was homeland.” I feel its wild peace in my heart still, and its beauty is what steadies my mind.

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I think of Charlotte Bronte’s quote from Wuthering Heights, as these moments are essential to my existence today, a small light within the fleeting and ever changing jobs and stresses of my life.

“My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary.” -Wuthering Heights

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With these images in my inward eye, I can start a week dedicated to chapter two, and next week you shall hear my success in advancing out of this rut I am in with my writing! The view from the Summit of Cold Mountain:

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I guess the only way to get over the rut you are in, and start fresh, is to shake it off!

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The Inward Eye

4th Trail: finding TIME to write (which may turn into the 6th, 7th, 8th trial too!)

Weekly hours spent writing or in the pursuit of plot: 7.5 hours (coffee…)

Weekly choice of tea: Turmeric and Ginger with Pumpkin spice whipped honey (locally made!)

Greatest Success: Unraveling (at least in my mind) the writing of the over-shadowed and yet very talented authoress, Anne Bronte

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My mother and being a mother!

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Today was particularly wonderful. It is Mother’s day, and I had the incredible opportunity to share it with my mother, who still lives in Ohio. She was on her way to Myrtle Beach, taking a much deserved vacation. I love my mother dearly! I also displayed for you a picture of my dog, Boo Radley–who is a child to me, and I claim motherhood as anyone would who are crazy animal lovers. After my mother had left I dived more into a novel that I began last week by Anne Bronte, ‘Agnes Grey’, and in the first several chapters I go with her through the trials of a governess. I can feel so much sympathy for the main character, as she is tormented by disobedient children and idiotic parents, and can hardly find the time for leisure, for herself, and as she states, “for the bliss of solitude”.

I look at my own struggles of finding time to do everything I want while working six days a week; my mother’s own struggles with a stressful work load and finding time for a vacation; Anne’s display of such similar obstacles; and am that much more motivated to foster what Wordsworth describes as the “inward eye”: take all that calms you, that brings you peace and happiness, and allow their images to fill a dismal mood or circumstance, thereafter filling your heart with happiness and remembrance. In other words, for me, bring forth the feelings I experience when surrounded by nature, the feeling when riding a horse, the bliss of sitting by a window with a good book. Allow an inward eye to motivate you. With such love in your sight, who then could not find the energy to be who they want to be, and do what they are meant to do?

“For oft when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood,

They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of Solitude,

And then my heart with pleasure fills,

And dances with the Daffodils.” -Wordsworth, ‘I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud’

Share a comment on what fills your inward eye, and motivates you!

An Introduction

First, it must be understood that I do not wish to condemn my writing nor hold it in higher estimation than it naturally is in these weekly blog entries–for I am sure my inadequacies and talents, romanced or not, will be well versed in my novel. I imagine every writer transforms themselves into pages and glorifies their lives to the eyes of readers. You can trust therefore, that my following passages are nothing more than the laughable and quizzical blocks that enter in someone’s mind who wishes to write their first novel–as much as I can imagine, for it will be my own trials whether or not any other writer can vouch for similar feelings. As for the topic, plot, and morality of the story–most I am unfamiliar with as you! I have waited vainly for the lightning of knowledge to zap me in my dreams– for me to awake, hair disheveled and in writhing knots much like Medusa herself–and shout “Eureka!” to a no doubt brilliant plot that would surpass the Brontes’. I would then of course and with great ease throw a silk robe that magically appeared over my shoulders, glide over my slumbering dog as gently as a doe does a log in her path, and scribble furiously over paper as I can romanticize Beethoven set about symphony making. I cannot wait for a brilliant idea to write my first novel–I could be waiting forever.

And I probably would be– regretfully but comfortably sitting on my couch reading enviously the words of Dickens or watching re-runs of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I began writing a couple weeks ago, realizing fast that being a good writer does not a novelist make, that the art of creation can turn into a headache quickly enough. But also that the 40-45 hours a week working a different career is taxing on the imagination, and more importantly, is suffocating the will to feed another passion.

But is this not what most struggle with? Am I not the commonest of birds, singing a forlorn song?! And so this blog will be created not for my own amusement (and i would be happy if it added to yours as well), but for my own documentation of this journey, and also to keep me honest. If I constantly write about my failure to write, then how silly I shall seem to myself! Let this blog be a mirror to myself, a motivational tool, and more-over, a reality coming to life.

That being said, for those of you who do not know me so well, how did I come to want to write? I find this to be a proper subject, as instead I could rattle on about my interests and other aspirations, my favorite color being yellow, and display who I am as I would prefer you to see me—no, you will find me out shortly enough. My story begins as most in my generation do–I was in line at Barnes and Noble. My mother and I were buying items that have since been forgotten. Standing in line, my eyes constantly looking at all the shiny items for purchase on display and my clumsy hands poking at anything in reach, when my mother said, “Kathy, have you read Jane Eyre?”. I of course, being in middle school, had no idea what she was talking about, and said so. “This is an absolute must-read!” And so she picked up a small tan book with blue edging and golden leafed pages, sealing my fate forever. After Charlotte Bronte I had to tackle Austen, and from Austen came the Harry Potter obsession (which has never stopped, actually), and then naturally Shakespeare. Once College hit I wanted to devour the Literary Canon, an effort that will forever be my pleasure and hobby. The day, or moment, that I decided to write a novel is lost to me. I feel as though I have always had it, as my love for great stories seems to pre-date my mother’s purchase of Jane Eyre. Maybe I just said it one day, and as many things that seem extraordinary and difficult to achieve, I decided immediately that I will one day say that I’ve done it.

My love for novels does seem to exceed my desire to write at times. I have made a plan for 2015 to read one book a month and have written a chapter every other month. March came and went and I had only completed two novels, and my first chapter only half done (I say “done” loosely). Two days before April arrived I finished Cold Mountain, a novel I wanted to read before I hiked Cold Mountain here in North Carolina. I found myself sitting by the window, amazed at the description of nature within that novel–having apparently read Whitman a long, long forgotten time ago, it seemed quite unparalleled! How well Frazier knew the trees, the foliage, and the toll of weather within the mountains. I glanced down at my own descriptive tenses and thought, yes, you need more trees in this scene. Then, looking out my window for help I glanced at the trees eager to scribble down their effects. Sadly, I have no idea the nomenclature of trees, and realized that this writer’s influence is beyond my own abilities to story-tell.

It is time for a new novel to read–and what influences me more than anything??? A British writer—in this instance, Austen. Yes! that’s it! I picked up Persuasion from my bookshelf and began chapter one. When that was done, the need for something more British overtook me and I bought all of Downton Abbey Season 5 on Amazon. And so with tea in my cup and an imaginary scone to the side of my teapot, I will be induced to write less on trees and the entrails of dead animals (that which I know little) and more from my own thoughts and impressions that live and form an imagination that is in desperate need to get to it. That being said, this need for something more British will get pencil to paper with magnetic force.