3 Things Jane Austen Taught Me About Fear

Jane Austen was the master of characterization. She knew people inside and out, foibles, propensities to do good or ill, and emotions. One of those emotions she was familiar with and wrote about is fear.

Fear? What did anyone have to fear? They didn’t have terrorists. The characters lived comfortable, privileged lives, with servants to do the dirty work. No one starved, no one experienced violence–no main characters, that is. What is there to be afraid of in Regency England for the likes of the Bennets and the Elliots?

001Me, afraid

Here are five characters and their fears, along with how they dealt with them:

  1. Elizabeth “Lizzy” Bennet (Pride and Prejudice.) Lizzy is the daughter of a not-so-well -off country gentleman. With no brothers to provide for her when Mr. Bennet dies, and no brothers to inherit and give her a leg up, Lizzy faces the very real possibility of winding up dependent on any benevolent relative she can find if she cannot marry well. If all failed, there are really few to no options for her career-wise. Yes, women worked back then. Gentlewomen, however did not, it would seem, besides becoming governesses, a lonely, demeaning job.

What I learned from Lizzy…

Though she says, “Beggars cannot be choosers” (in the movie anyway) regarding accepting a marriage proposal, Lizzy is determined not to be induced into matrimony if she does not love the man, which she proves by declining TWO marriage proposals. She could have been safe, comfortable, but miserable. Some people–back then, at least–might have called her foolish for putting her survival on the line (Mrs. Bennet let her displeasure be known, that’s for sure.) But what I learned was this: It’s okay to say no to the known in favor of the frightening unknown if your character and morals are at stake. In other words: Don’t compromise just because you’re afraid.

2. Mr. Willoughby (Sense and Sensibility.) Ah, Willoughby. The rake. The rogue. What has he got to do with fear? If Lizzy Bennet is a moral heroine, Willoughby is the inverse: Willoughby is victim to his own desperation. Oh, he’s fine at first, seducing women right and left. Feels pretty good about being in line to inherit his aunt’s great fortune and estate…until it’s discovered he got a girl pregnant out of wedlock and then abandoned her. Well, his auntie finds out about this bad business and disinherits him. Desperate and afraid of losing his cushy lifestyle, Willoughby sets out to make a most advantageous marriage…for himself. He marries and lives off a rich woman.

What I learned from Willoughby…

He could have done the right thing: Married the girl he seduced and impregnated, apologized to Marianne and her family, and changed his ways. Instead, he goes to Eleanor and basically tries to absolve himself. It’s obvious he feels terrible, but his “apology” is completely self-serving. When you’ve done wrong, you need to face your fear of rejection and humiliation and make things right, no matter what. In other words: Fear isn’t a pass to overlook your duty.

3. Mary (Elliot) Musgrove (Persuasion.) Bear with me, I have only read the book once. But I have seen the movie multiple time 😉 Mary strikes me as a fearful person. At the root of her fear, though, is pride. Mary will not have you think her beneath her station, even it’s at the expense of other people’s feelings.

What I learned from Mary…

Perhaps some fear and most pride are very closely linked (much like Lizzy and Willoughby being two sides of the same coin, one good and one ill.) Fear of failure = pride. Fear of being laughed at = pride. Fear of what other’s think of me = pride. This brings to mind some wonderful sayings: What other people think of you is none of your business and The only opinion about yourself that is worth considering is God’s.

What about you? What has Jane taught you about fear? Anything?

Keep your pen on the page,
Beth

Advertisements

Stay Warm!

There’s some serious snow-age in the east coast. I have a very useful link for you: How to stay warm when the power goes out <– Click me.

A reminder to those whose weather is growing colder: Do NOT put down salt while it’s raining, even if the rain will soon turn to ice and snow. The salt will melt and become useless, wasting your precious commodity.

Also, look out for your elderly neighbors, your pets, and your neighbor’s pets, and the homeless. If you see someone out in the cold, there are hotlines to call.

Thinking of and praying for the many people without power, trying to stay warm and calm. That’s important: do not panic.

Keep your pen on the page and stay warm,
Beth

Aspiring Authors

Aspiring authors (and those who may already have some work out there),

I’m trying an experiment for a month. For five writers, I will put together a daily email of encouragement/motivation/ideas/prompts/etc. I will also individually cheer-lead these writers and review/revisit/revise goals with those five at the end of each week. This will be starting in February.

If you’re interested, I have three free slots (there are two writer friends I have in mind to encourage this way, and they get first dibs.)

So, if you want a FREE cheerleader and sounding board, email me at bethovermyer@gmail.com with the words “OPERATION: ENCOURAGE” in your subject line. Note that no attachments will be opened or sent.

This is an experiment and also an opportunity for me to give back to the writing community, which has already given so much to me. First come, first served!

Keep your pen on the page,
Beth

The Day I Bought Steampunky Gloves

002

So, I found an excuse to own pleather gloves that stink like the real thing. Why? Because I had this wonderful idea of being a writer.

Let me back up: I had the wonderful idea of what defined a real writer. Maybe. Read on.

Jo March from Little Women had a hat she wore when she was writing. Depending on what angle it was at, her family would know what type of writerly mood she was in (my word, no hers, obvs) and how well (or poorly) the writing was going. Said I to myself, “Now, that would maybe motivate me, get me in the right, serious frame of mind to be a real writer.”

If you don’t know me from Bob, you might not know how devastatingly insecure I can be. My reasoning was that if I dressed a certain way, maybe the words would come quicker…and better. But props are props. It’s all in the mind. The psyche. The attitude and approach I take with my work.

Cheap tricks can become not-so-cheap. First it’s gloves (which I can’t type in to save Dickens, I’m sorry.) Next it’s a tricorn hat that looks ridiculous atop my messy ‘do. What after that? Hmm? A trench coat for mysteries? A bouquet of realer-than-real-life (faux) blood-red roses? Did you know that on Valentine’s Day, some poor suckers pay an excess of $50 for half a doz of these (well, real) pollen-infested plants that are just going to die after turning their vase water a sickly (and stinky) green? But I digress.

The point is…it’s good to have your head in the game. But some things become crutches or excuses not to write. “Oh, the gloves don’t allow me to make actual physical contact with the keyboard. Oh well. Guess I’ll go watch Elementary.” Or “The hat didn’t inspire me. I’m stuck and out ten bucks. And now I’m frustrated (and poor), so I guess I’ll go watch Elementary.”

Writers write. We flounder. We flourish. We have seasons. But we always jump back into the game, gloves or no.

Just some random rambling thoughts for you.

Keep your pen on the page,
Beth

The Hemingway Way

It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.

Do you take Hemingway’s approach to writing? Zipped lip? Or do you share your struggles?

I’m somewhere in the middle. I share some of my struggles, but I won’t post the how-to books I’m reading on GoodReads. It’s crazy. I think it boils down to pride and fear, fear that people will be like “She had to read a book on how to write? Really? Pfft. I’m not picking up any of her books.” 😦 That would make me sad. Very sad. But I want to boost my “Read” list on GR, so what’s a girl to do? (Well, that comes down to pride, pride at how many books I’ve read.) Le sigh.

As for those who are readers and do not flourish the pen as a hobby or for a living: would you think less of an author if they admitted to their struggles? Would it make them seem more approachable? Or would it make you lose faith in them?

I’m curious for answers and reasons! Please share 🙂 and…

Keep your pen on the page,
Beth

Say Something Funny, Beth

O_O

^ How I felt inside every time a certain relative asked me to “Say something funny, Beth.” Apparently, as a child, I was a comedian. NOT. Did you know that it’s hard to be funny, I mean LAUGH OUT LOUD funny under pressure when you’re ten and only know booger and knock-knock jokes? And puns. Oh, the puns! But that was the request. At night. When I was trying to sleep. Oy vey.

And now as I sit typing this post with no general direction in mind, I wander off the path of humor and look at the flip side of the coin: …silliness. You thought I was going to say something dark and gloomy, didn’t you? I almost did. I deleted it. It’s easy to be silly. ANYONE can be silly. It takes talent, finesse, perhaps even pain to make someone humorous. It has been said that most comedians suffer a great deal in some form or other (okay, there’s the darkness.) It also said that comedies are harder to pull off than dramas, but I digress.

I guess I’m just writing this to say that kindness is so important. “Be kinder than is even necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” Funny people may be funny to alleviate the suffering in others, because they’ve been there and don’t want others to have to experience it. Thank them. Be kind and generous to them. Be kind and generous to everyone, but the next time someone cracks a joke at their own expense, look deeper.

I liked the quote from the new live action Cinderella movie: “Have courage and be kind.” I can think of nothing better to end this random, wandering post with.

Keep your pen on the page,
Beth

P.S. Happy Labor Day! I hope you’re enjoying a long weekend. If you’re working, thank you 🙂

The Buddy System

Music: Mixed tape (cool stuff, from the Poldark soundtrack to the Galavant soundtrack)
In the mug: Blueberry energy tea
Tea bag saying: Love is an elevated self (whatever that means)
#AmReading: All the Light We Cannot See (though I haven’t read much of it lately)

Yesterday was Writer Wednesday…for me, at least. It’s the day where I get to see at least one of my writer friends. We catch up on each other’s news (“Did the publisher get back to you?” “How goes the first draft?” “Any idea where this semi-colon should go?”), encourage each other, and sometimes (okay, usually) we write something.

When it’s not Wednesday, I still have writer friends I contact on my online writing group (The Critique Circle.) We do pretty much the same thing, encouraging each other, setting goals, catching up on what’s going on. ‘Cause let’s face it: this art thing is a lonely gig, and no man is an island.

If it takes a village to raise a child, then it sure as heck takes a community to nurture and grow a writer. We need that support, those people that nudge us in the right direction. We need to surround ourselves with fellow dreamers…and the people who will occasionally whip our butts into shape.

For my non-writer friends: when you’re on a diet or exercise kick, isn’t it easier doing it with friends for motivation? Or if you’re reading a book, isn’t funner to know someone who’s reading/has read the same thing so you can discuss it with them?

I think if I didn’t have a support system of fellow writers, I’d probably go bonkers and do something really stupid–like maybe quit. So thank you, thank you to those who are willing to come alongside me and be part of my buddy system. Let’s keep each other from drowning in Drafting Land, yes?

Keep your pen on the page,
Beth

___

Do you have anyone to go to with your writing woes? Your ups and downs? Take a moment to thank them.