Even Jane Austen Suffered From Self-Doubt

Picture courtesy of quotefancy.com

Like many other writers, occasionally I suffer from self-doubt. I tried to think positive thoughts, tried to find encouragement, and did some research on the subject. And then I came across a quote about self-doubt:

“I think I may boast myself to be, with all possible vanity, the most unlearned and uninformed female who ever dared to be an authoress.”

I was surprised that this was said by Jane Austen, one of the most famous and most wonderful writers in English history – even globally.

I learned a lot from that quote: not only suffered Jane Austen from self-doubt – female authors are called ‘authoresses.’ *chuckle* I might be a little old-fashioned, but I somehow like it. Maybe I’m some relic from the 19th century.

But humor aside, like many other artists, I’m occasionally tortured by self-doubt. Am I good enough as a writer? Are my stories readable, are my characters likable? Am. I. Good. Enough.?

Of course, I would like to be a good author. I would love to have readers who fall in love with my characters and love my stories. But will that ever happen? I know, my book was read, I got reviews, and I know they liked ‘Soul Taker.’ But, what does ‘everybody’ else say?

Am I desperate to become famous? To be honest: no. I’d rather have my books and characters to be liked. I’d love people to say that ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series is a wonderful read.

I’m a person who, unfortunately, suffers too often from depression. I keep trying to consciously be aware of these weak times and pull myself out of them, as my Dad taught me, all these years ago. Self-doubt isn’t helpful in my case, but I refuse to drown in melancholy.

To read that even a fantastic writer like Jane Austen suffered from self-doubt in a way makes me feel sad for her, but it’s also a relief to find out I’m not the only one.

Do you suffer from self-doubts at times? If yes, how do you cope with them? Can you teach me a tip or trick to find my way out of them?


Picture courtesy of: http://www.biography.com

Jane Austen
(1775–1817)

Jane Austen was a Georgian era author, best known for her social commentary in novels including ‘Sense and Sensibility,’ ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ and ‘Emma.’

Who Was Jane Austen?
Jane Austen was born on December 16, 1775, in Steventon, Hampshire, England. While not widely known in her own time, Austen’s comic novels of love among the landed gentry gained popularity after 1869, and her reputation skyrocketed in the 20th century. Her novels, including Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, are considered literary classics, bridging the gap between romance and realism.

Early Life
The seventh child and second daughter of Cassandra and George Austen, Jane Austen was born on December 16, 1775, in Steventon, Hampshire, England. Jane’s parents were well-respected community members. Her father served as the Oxford-educated rector for a nearby Anglican parish. The family was close and the children grew up in an environment that stressed learning and creative thinking. When Jane was young, she and her siblings were encouraged to read from their father’s extensive library. The children also authored and put on plays and charades.
Over the span of her life, Jane would become especially close to her father and older sister, Cassandra. Indeed, she and Cassandra would one day collaborate on a published work.

In order to acquire a more formal education, Jane and Cassandra were sent to boarding schools during Jane’s pre-adolescence. During this time, Jane and her sister caught typhus, with Jane nearly succumbing to the illness. After a short period of formal education cut short by financial constraints, they returned home and lived with the family from that time forward.

Literary Works
Ever fascinated by the world of stories, Jane began to write in bound notebooks. In the 1790s, during her adolescence, she started to craft her own novels and wrote Love and Friendship [sic], a parody of romantic fiction organized as a series of love letters. Using that framework, she unveiled her wit and dislike of sensibility, or romantic hysteria, a distinct perspective that would eventually characterize much of her later writing. The next year she wrote The History of England…, a 34-page parody of historical writing that included illustrations drawn by Cassandra. These notebooks, encompassing the novels as well as short stories, poems and plays, are now referred to as Jane’s Juvenilia.

Jane spent much of her early adulthood helping run the family home, playing piano, attending church, and socializing with neighbors. Her nights and weekends often involved cotillions, and as a result, she became an accomplished dancer. On other evenings, she would choose a novel from the shelf and read it aloud to her family, occasionally one she had written herself. She continued to write, developing her style in more ambitious works such as Lady Susan, another epistolary story about a manipulative woman who uses her sexuality, intelligence and charm to have her way with others. Jane also started to write some of her future major works, the first called Elinor and Marianne, another story told as a series of letters, which would eventually be published as Sense and Sensibility. She began drafts of First Impressions, which would later be published as Pride and Prejudice, and Susan, later published as Northanger Abbey by Jane’s brother, Henry, following Jane’s death.

In 1801, Jane moved to Bath with her father, mother and Cassandra. Then, in 1805, her father died after a short illness. As a result, the family was thrust into financial straits; the three women moved from place to place, skipping between the homes of various family members to rented flats. It was not until 1809 that they were able to settle into a stable living situation at Jane’s brother Edward’s cottage in Chawton.

Now in her 30s, Jane started to anonymously publish her works. In the period spanning 1811-16, she pseudonymously published Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice (a work she referred to as her “darling child,” which also received critical acclaim), Mansfield Park and Emma.

Death and Legacy
In 1816, at the age of 41, Jane started to become ill with what some say might have been Addison’s disease. She made impressive efforts to continue working at a normal pace, editing older works as well as starting a new novel called The Brothers, which would be published after her death as Sanditon. Another novel, Persuasion, would also be published posthumously. At some point, Jane’s condition deteriorated to such a degree that she ceased writing. She died on July 18, 1817, in Winchester, Hampshire, England.

While Austen received some accolades for her works while still alive, with her first three novels garnering critical attention and increasing financial reward, it was not until after her death that her brother Henry revealed to the public that she was an author.

Today, Austen is considered one of the greatest writers in English history, both by academics and the general public. In 2002, as part of a BBC poll, the British public voted her No. 70 on a list of “100 Most Famous Britons of All Time.” Austen’s transformation from little-known to internationally renowned author began in the 1920s, when scholars began to recognize her works as masterpieces, thus increasing her general popularity.

(Source: https://www.biography.com/writer/jane-austen)

10 thoughts on “Even Jane Austen Suffered From Self-Doubt

  1. Self-doubt is very common in “thinkers.” And while, of course, everyone “thinks,” the way writers think is a lot different to a non-writer. The stress put upon the mind while constantly thinking and trying to improve the content of a story or book can be a heavy burden to cope with and can lead to depression, particularly if you’re a sensitive soul (as many writers are!) I had a nervous breakdown after heavy grief many years ago and tried to ‘reason’ myself out of it. I told my wise, elderly doctor: “But I’m a logical person…” and he replied “Logic doesn’t come into it. It is not uncommon after grief or some shock or other, and the menopause can affect you too..Try and “ride” the bad times and accept them, while not completely giving in…. and in time…you have to be patient and try and help yourself, you’ll recover.” And I did. Small self-doubts still hover but I think that’s very human and it’s best if you can train yourself not to “over-think…” Not always easy, but attainable. Good luck Aurora. xx.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Janny! I read the study and it’s very interesting. I occasionally suffer from depression. Thank God I had the best Dad in the world who taught me the best way for me to fight the demons. Thanks for sharing your comment!

      Like

  2. I’m sorry to hear you experience depression. Perhaps it’s a confirmation bias observation, but many more introspective people do.

    For self-treatment, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy tools really help. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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