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)

A new book based on classic characters – does that work?

Quite some time ago I finished reading “Rhett Butler’s People,” a sequel of “Gone with the Wind, written by Donald McCaig and I was disappointed.

 

Like many other romantic readers, I had waited for a continuation of this story when Scarlett, who had just discovered her love to Rhett would find him again and they both get together into a “heart-exploding-soul-warming-smile-magic-star-raining” Happy End.

 

I think the more modern language the book has been written in had taken me the ‘gusto’ of the history within the story. Besides: I had been a huge fan of Rhett and the life he adjusted to during his time “after Scarlett” confused me. He was described as a free spirit, and may it as it was, but I had to re-think my liking for him.

I am only expressing my opinion at this point. Some other readers might not share my taste at all and will be enthusiastic about this book. But to me, it wasn’t the right thing. 

Picture courtesy of Amazon.com - Click the picture it will take you to the book.
click the picture to be taken to the book

 

I started thinking. A new book, based on classic characters. Could this ever work? We read the original, and we love it. Why would we love another story, written by another author? Could this work? Would we recognize the characters? Wouldn’t’ the new novel only be a weak copy of what we loved?

 

A while later I got another book recommended. “The Phantom,” written by Susan Kay. In this book the author had chosen to write about an existing character: The Phantom of the Opera, written by French author Gaston Leroux early last century. As compared to taking the story any further, which was hardly possible since Leroux’ story ends with the protagonist’s death, Susan Kay has developed the past for the Phantom of the Opera. She showed the protagonists parentage, early child- and manhood. In a way, it is more a “completion” to Gaston Leroux’ story which describes more or less the last few months in the Phantom’s life.

Susan Kay writes vividly, interestingly and webs a fascinating past around the man. I am a huge fan of this book and would recommend it to everyone.

 

click the picture to be taken to the book
click the picture to be taken to the book

  

I as well read “Mr. Darcy Presents His Bride”, a book written by Helen Halstead. It tells the story of Jane Austin’s Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy. I like the book and think it is a cute sequel. There are a few sentences that are not formally written with the expressions one would expect, and the plot isn’t a plot but it is more like the soft dabble, caused by a series of occurrences, but it is nevertheless to me a charming story with characters we were once introduced to by Jane Austen.

 

 

click the picture to be taken to the book
click the picture to be taken to the book

  

These two examples show me that it is possible to write a novel, using characters which had arisen from another authors’ fantasy. Whether the original author of the book would recognize his characters again or had ever planned on having them developed in a particular direction is a different matter.

 

What books have you been reading that contained other authors characters? Did you like the book? As an author, what is your opinion about basing a novel on another author’s characters? If you could chose characters to write a novel about, who would you pick?

I’d be curious to hear your thoughts. Thank you so much.

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Book Quote Challenge – Day one

Many thanks to Patricia Ann Schaack Garcia for inviting me to participate in the Book Quote Challenge.

 

It is a great honor for me to follow in her foot steps. And that won’t be an easy task. But I’ll do my best.

 

I have to present three quotes per day by an author  of my choice for three consecutive days.  My quotes for today have been picked from Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”.

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“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”  

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“Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.”  

**

“I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine.”  

**

I’m sure, I don’t need to explain why they impressed me so much or who said what… These quotes are legendary – and they’re kind of burned into my memory.

 

Thank you Jane Austen for this wonderful story!


Picture courtesy of: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/9821363/Pride-and-Prejudice-universally-acknowledged-guide-to-the-human-heart.html
Picture courtesy of: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/9821363/Pride-and-Prejudice-universally-acknowledged-guide-to-the-human-heart.html