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musings of a lawless gentile
Words, and more words 
14th-Jul-2010 04:42 pm
under the tree
After loving various film adaptations of it for years, I'm finally reading Jane Eyre.

It's a gorgeous book, and one I am glad I didn't get around to till now - I don't think I would've enjoyed it nearly as much. As an adult, it imparts so much truth; as a woman, I see so much of myself in Jane; as a reader, I love the mood the long passages create; as a writer, I am fascinated by Charlotte Brontë's winding, hyper-detailed prose.

It only recently occurred to me that a reason old writing is such an acquired taste is that we are so used to militantly edited and paced novels. Back in the time of the Brontës, et al, without the aid of our meticulous modern word processors, it must've been a lot tougher to sift through a draft fifty-odd times to cull words and cut scenes - and of course, publishers were a lot less inclined to meddle heavily with the manuscripts that came in. The result is a more raw and authentic jumble of words than we're used to - one less easy to breeze through, but often more rewarding to engage with, because no detail is spared. Not to mention, the tangents that commence can feel like they're mapping the human mind, as they run off in every direction and take an age to come back around to the point.

As I continue to struggle with drafting my own novel, I'm trying to take a page from Charlotte's book (ha ha) and just let the rawness of the words breathe for the time being - give them room to exist on their own, instead of trying so hard to shape and mold them into my own image as they come out, bit by painful bit.

I'm not totally succeeding yet - I still have a tendency to look back over my shoulder as I write, fretting that the story isn't holding up, and that what I'm thinking and feeling and seeing isn't even discernable in the mess I'm making - but I'm learning to face that doubt head-on and shove it in its proper place: behind me.

What a game of wills this all is. I've been close to giving up so many times before, but as I force myself to sit and grapple with this story that wants to be birthed, my new-found discipline helps me see: I am never happier than when I am creating something. I am never more profoundly discontent than when I give up, even for a few days, the act of creation. To simply consume, consume, consume is not what I am made for - not what we, as human beings, are made for. I wonder if that isn't, at heart, the real reason behind all the depression and rampant boredom the world is mired in today.
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