Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Postcard from a writer's room 2

That table is incredible. On it, some of the most well loved works of fiction in the English language came to life. Look how tiny and unassuming it is. No room for laptop, notes, reference books or any of the other paraphernalia I pile up when writing. Even if I'm just scribbling in a notebook, I tend to take up plenty of space. But that table was all Jane Austen had. In a corner of the dining room in the house she shared with her sister, mother and a cousin.

The house is completely charming. Jane Austen did not live in luxury, but her brother made sure she was comfortable there and the cramped and shared conditions didn't seem to harm her writing. My other favourite item on show was a woven silk shawl which belonged to Jane. I can just picture her bent over the table, scribbling out the novels, shawl tucked around her shoulders. And ears always alert to the squeaking hinges of the door, warning her that someone was coming and the page she was writing should be hidden. No password protected documents in those days!

I guess not that much has changed about the writing process. It's still ideas moving from brain to page. I envy the simplicity of Jane's method though. Oh, and her genius of course…


PLJAIKJ said...

I saw an interview that Kate Mosse gave to BBC Breakfast last Saturday. She said luck played a big part in getting published. She also said that the most frequent problem mentioned to her by budding writers was: I have lots of ideas but just don't know how to get it down on paper. Her advice was to get practice in writing something everyday, e.g. before sitting down to a cup of tea, describe the steam coming out of a boiling kettle.

I wonder what Jane Austen did to transfer her ideas from brain to page? And I wonder how Jane Austen would have described steam coming out of a boiling kettle?

postcardsfromk said...

She was the holder of the key to the tea caddy for the household, which suggests that tea drinking was of great importance to her. I think she'd have said, 'Don't waste ink describing the steam, get on with the brew and where's the biscuits?'


Timberati said...

The world knows she wasn't worth a hoot until she had her morning tea and would strangle you with her shawl if you interrupted her first cuppa. :-P