Re-Editing, Re-editing, and Re-editing

For roughly almost all of last year, I did not work on my first novel at all. One, it was hard because COVID had all of us hunkering down and stressed out that trying to do anything that required a lot of concentration was just pointless. This doesn’t’ mean I wasn’t working on any writing projects. I did many blog posts that were dear to my heart (and a few of those that I started researching last year will finally be completed this year because, yes, I DO take my time with researching and writing these posts). Plus I did more research (general) into the 19th C for the other 5 novels (6 Austen variations because there are 6 completed Austen novels). Then I decided to do some research into Faerie Tales (because I had once scribbled an idea back when I was 15 that I do think may be fun projects). I also adopted another cat (Parker) as companion to Henry. Met a wonderful guy (and still going strong over a year later), watched a lot of films, read a lot of books. Gained a bit of weight (as did we all I imagine). But now, I am back on board with re-editing my novel. Egads!

Northanger Abbey: Our Hero Henry Tilney | Austenprose – A Jane Austen Blog
JJ Fields as Henry Tilney (Northanger Abbey). Courtesy of Pinterest. Also the namesake of my cat, Henry.

So, what’s it like to come back to a novel that once was all consuming, read it, and discover that there are parts you no longer like? A bit weird, to be completely honest. In a way, I feel closer to Jane Austen (who famously re-wrote her novels over and over again, over a period of years) and other writers, both departed and contemporary. We must, after all, be our own worst critic and our most fervent admirer. Re-reading my own novel is surreal. There is no other way to describe it (unless we want to say it’s a bit like schadenfreude, except we are taking our pleasure from our own misfortune). There are parts that I immediately know must be cut because they do nothing to advance the tale. There are parts that can easily be condensed and explained in a sentence or two instead of paragraph after paragraph. In some ways, I was much more into describing than showing, which is a fault most (academically trained) writers probably have. This is why we edit.

Jane Austen Manuscript Chapter 10
Jane Austen’ editing process. Courtesy of the British Library.

Both Cassandra and Henry Austen made statements in their later lives regarding Jane’s writing process. It should come to no surprise that she had outlines and knew how she wanted each of her noels to end (I do that as well). But like most writers, even she probably acknowledged that after writing and editing the first time, sometime things have to be changed because what you thought may have been a good choice (like a name or even an ending), just doesn’t work as well. It seems Jane was forever rewriting her novels into newer drafts, editing them, changing them, chipping way at the excess until she deemed them to be ready to be published. And that is all I am doing as well. Since the age of 19, I had outlined and had these thoughts of re-working Jane’s novels in such a way as to include a bit more history (because we are so removed from her time, we forget some of the most basic knowledge her audience had, we no longer have), but in a way that is fun and gives us the endings we want, but in a different way. Now, in my naivete, I did write a fan letter to Jane Odiwe when I was 19, wanting some advice from an author I admired about whether or not my idea would work. Now, not to besmirch Odiwe (for I do admire her for her storytelling and her love of Austen), imagine how shocked I was when her “Searching For” series started coming out and I realized my fan letter from all those years ago, when I had stupidly written her an outline of my idea, became her reality.

Searching for Captain Wentworth by Jane Odiwe
Courtesy of Amazon

Then, I read it. Well, not all of them, just the one regarding Captain Wentworth because it was the one I had foolishly outlined for her in that letter years ago. Dear Reader, hers is enjoyable, but nothing like mine. Other than taking the name (because I did give her the title of my novel as Searching for Captain Wentworth), and the premise of time travel (which, thankfully, I abandoned when I was 21 and opted for another route), I know my novel will not suffer nor (hopefully) be compared to hers. Now, I do not blame Jane Odiwe. After all, a fan letter from over 20 years ago (to which I never received any reply and please recall this was early in the age of emails and twitter did not exist), to which she may have read (or had been read for her and to her), probably installed a nugget of an idea that inspired her. For that, I am humbled because what she ended up writing is nothing to what my plans have become. While hers has involved time travel, and not much accuracy in terms of history, they are sweet pieces of fiction and, dare I state, love letters to Austen herself. While my concept is more about fleshing out some of the characters and giving a bit of background, with some fantasy and witticisms thrown in for good measure. The hard part, of course, is the whole getting of an agent. Because my original title was stolen, I had to change mine. And because it sounds similar to Odiwe’s, some agents refuse to read even the first chapter.

Inside Out in the Office: A Closer Look at Anger
Anger from Pixar’s Inside Out. Courtesy of Pixar/Disney

Does this anger me? Of course! I’ve also gotten comments such as I seem to write English fairly well for someone with my name (because people with Arabic names can clearly not understand the complexities of the English tongue), or I had no right to be writing Austen (because it’s only the domain of….whites?). I’ve even had agents state my novel is too ambitious (and too much like Austen), I should consider throwing in sex scenes instead of wanting to keep it sex free. The audacity of it all (because while Austen did not show sex and her novels are really sex-free, she did include romance and sensuality, which I have striven to retain). Having not touched it for a year, I am more determined than ever to edit it (again, for it seems to be the 6th or 7th time now), really make it as good as I can, then query agents again later this year. Yes, I expect I will have more rejection letters than acceptance. Yes, I still struggle with HOW to query successfully because no matter how many blog posts and tips (and hints) agents have given, none of them have worked for me.

3 Ways to Get a Literary Agent - Keller Media, Inc.
Courtesy of Keller Media

There is, of course, the more modern route which is to self publish. My boyfriend has self published 2 novels and 1 collection of short stories (and no, I have not read them). I will most likely self publish my poetry (literary agents for poetry is almost non existent and I’m sure the competition is even harder). I do plan on sending poems out to online journals and other publications to get some in print, because I do think having some of it out there would be a good thing. I have, over the past 2-3 years, have sent them to online magazines and journals with no response, but hopefully that will change. Of course, I have also, technically, self published a few poems here on this blog (and a few on Poetry.com-remember that old site? Those poems are long gone, in terms of online presence as I do have them written down). And I did get one or two published in my college days (and one in my high school days as well). So, I have no issues with going this route for poetry. But for the novels? Perhaps I am a bit old fashioned but I really do want to try and find an agent. I know so many books on Amazon are self published (it seems so many go this route and the offerings can be incredible to god awful all in one book that has to be split into 3 or more). And while that is an option, I want the agent for the simple reason that I want to see my books in stores. I want to see them in libraries. I want this little bit of myself to outlive me in print form (my immortality, as it were). Would it be nice to know that 200 years from now, my works could inspire others? Of course! I’d be pleased if my works inspired someone even 10 years down the road!

So, back to editing. That dreaded business for which others have worked with professionals. And yes, a professional editor would probably be very helpful. Yet I want to work the story to the best of my ability FIRST, then sending it off to an agent (hopefully). And then, if an editor is brought in, I would not mind. I see professional editors as that final step in polishing a work. My novel is still a bit rough, so to speak, and I want to be able to smooth it out and have that knowledge that I did so before even thinking of handing it off. Because what I know I can chip away, an editor may also chip away, or they may chip away more than what I think should be done. While I always am astounded with the stories coming out with people who wrote and then found an agent, and saw their book published all during the lockdowns, that is not normal when it comes to the literary world. For one thing, having these tales out and about make it seem as if writing a novel and getting signed to an agency is extremely easy ad those of us who struggle MUST be lacking in some way. This is simply not true. For a novel to have been written, queried, signed, then published in the span of 10 months tells me (as it should others) that the novel is probably very rough or very short and most likely (and I hate to write this), but not well written. Most novels take 2 years MINIMUM from when they are accepted to when they are published. Sometimes more IF one does not have an agent is is looking for one. In other words, this is not a fast sprint to the finish line. This is carving Michelangelo’s DAVID.

Why Tom Holland's Spider-Man/Peter Parker Is The Worst One Yet |  Moviedash.com
Tom Holland as Spider-Man/Peter Parker in Spider-Man: Homecoming (and yes, the inspiration for my cat, Parker/Peter Parker). Courtesy of MCU/SONY

Like any long term anything, patience, fortitude, and stamina is key. Now, with the whole COVID thing, I know my Depression & Anxiety have gotten worse, which means my attention span is not the best.

Red squirrel - Wikipedia
Red Squirrel. Courtesy of Wikipedia. And yes, my attention span has sometimes been THAT short.

HOWEVER, with things improving, and hopefully some medication tweaks, my attention span will be much improved and I can edit for longer periods of time rather than doing half a chapter a week. Naturally, editing on a computer screen is also not ideal, but I am determined to do this more choppy edit on the computer first. Then I may consider getting it all printed out and doing a more traditional edit like Austen did (and that I did my second time around too). So, I am basically trying to tell you, Dear Reader, that if you are also in a similar boat as I am, and struggling with writing or editing, take a break. Walk away for a bit. It seems a bit daft, but it helps. It truly does. I do believe not looking at it for abut a year has made it easier for me to make those bigger edits that the novel needs to be a better, more cohesive, story. We do, after all, tend to get very attached to our writings and it’s hard to look at it objectively when the struggle, the effort it took to bring it all about is still so fresh. IF you are doing a dissertation (as I have friends who are currently doing this), walking away for a long period of time is NOT doable. Sadly. BUT (and this is vitally important), walking away for a day or two does help.

Pin on Writing Superboards
Found on Pinterest

Witting is a process and when you first get everything down, like any parent, you think it’s a masterpiece and utter perfection. Dear Reader, it is not. And that can be very hard to understand as well as being very hard to accept. Now, I did do 2 edits back to back after I first finished the novel over 2 years ago, walked way, then came back after a mere 3 weeks and did, I believe, 2 or 3 more edits. It was not enough time for I was still too much attached to certain passages and characters to be objective. But now, having given it nary a glance for 10 months, I can be more harsh, more critical of my own failings and work. It’s much easier to remove one or two entire paragraphs, condensing it to 2 or 3 sentences when I am not so adamantly attached to them. What I am trying to stress, of course, is editing is hard. It’s a lot or work, and it’s not going to be easy. DO edit after you first finish. I found so many typing errors it was not humorous. But then walk away for a least 3-4 months. Then, come back, do another edit. Walk away for a few more months, then come back to edit it again. If I had known this, I do think this novel of mine would be at that stage here I can query an agent. But this is entirely my failing and one I know I will never repeat. Learn from this, Dear Reader, for it’s advice I know I would have liked to have been given and one I have yet to come across elsewhere.

As for Jane Odiwe, I wish her no ill will nor any regrets. My fan letter was so long ago that she probably had no memory what I wrote when she started writing the “Searching For” series. And I am completely at peace with that You have to realize that there are so many people writing Regency type novels out there that anyone who is able to stand out, even a bit, is a credit to those of us who are dabbling in this genre. While mine are more fantasy variations with historical underpinnings, there are variations out there doing “what ifs”, mysteries, sequels, etc. If you ever Google it, there are more variations, sequels, and themes on Pride & Prejudice than any other Austen Novel. And while I could have gone the route of doing P&P first, I wanted to focus on Persuasion because it is the novel (besides Northanger Abbey) that I love the most. Both of those novels are also the least adapted (film & TV wise) and have the least variations, which is a great pity, is it not? For we have Wentworth writing the best love letter in all of Austen and Tilney, who knows his muslin (and smirks quite often). So take heart. Keep typing or writing away (I wrote mine out first on paper, roughly a third, then switched to typing). Keep researching (if that’s your thing). And keep dreaming.

Why 2018 has been a terrible year

I don’t care about your political views or what sport teams you prefer. Trump and May have made an utter shite feast of what historians may refer to as the old Western Civilization. Kayne West should hand in his Chi-Town card (yes, it’s a thing). Mayonnaise flavored ice cream and as a pizza topping is the first sign of the Apocalypse. Still, we can all agree 2018 has been an utter mess of a year.

For me, I’ve not only struggled with my weight, depression, anxiety, and diabetes, but the added pressure of trying to find the elusive magical creature called a “job.” I believe it to be a cross breed betwixt the Loch Ness and a Unicorn with the possible lineage hailing from a jackalope on it’s mother’s father’s side thrice removed. Yes, while writing a novel and poetry, trying to keep the darkness of depression at bay, I’ve struggled trying to find a job. Now, my mother believes that I have not been looking hard enough, only because I am loathe to do so in her presence. I have this overwhelming sense of shame permeating the air around me, so I try to keep it at a minimum. Of course, with anxiety, I often suffer from insomnia. This means while my mother has been abed, sleeping, I have been restless, crying and not sleeping. I often get up around 3AM, look for jobs, apply, and back in bed, finally asleep around 5-6AM. My mother then is upset when I don’t get up until 10 or 11AM as she feels that I have been lazy and asleep too long. So, yes, if you’ve been counting, that’s a lucky 4 or 5 hours of sleep a night for the past year and a half, give or take a few days when I’ve been so exhausted that I’ve gone to bed around 6pm and slept until 9AM. Or I’ve been given sleeping medication by my primary doctor because my blood-work shows I am suffering from malnutrition and exhaustion. Oddly enough, one cannot take sleeping pills too often as they are addictive. I find after 3 days, they no longer work.

As for the malnutrition, the medication I take for diabetes in the morning, on top of all my stress, makes me nauseous. So I have trouble eating. It is not uncommon for me to vomit up my breakfast because of stress or medication. So I chose to go without until about 2 or 3PM (FYI, that’s not good). An obese diabetic who cannot eat is wildly peak 2018 ironic. Diabetes is a terrible disease. I do not recommend it. Some medication (pills) can help one lose weight (water mainly) but worsen your depression. One injectable (in the morning) helps lower the blood sugar but causes nausea and weight loss. It also causes migraines (painful ones too). The insulin causes weight gain. The forty pounds I painstakingly worked in shedding this past year has been reversed, shockingly, because my insulin has had to go up, which means I have gained weight. Again. So the conversation I have had with every single doctor since I was 12 about losing weight is, of course, thrown in my face. I think it would shock most people to know I eat, on average, between 1400-1600 calories a day. I’m actually under-eating for my weight and have been for about a decade. So, I am seriously considering weight loss surgery because I’ve been some kind of diet since I was 12 and I cannot live the rest of my life perpetually gaining weight as the insulin has to keep going up because I am getting more and more insulin intolerant. This is why I do not recommend Diabetes to anyone.

As for the novel, I think I need to do more work on my query letter before sending it out. I was too premature on that and the harsh, almost cruel responses from the 10 agents I’ve gotten responses from has been beyond comprehension. I know my novel is good and others will like it. But to tell me that no one will read it because of who I am is uncalled for. Of course another blow was submitting a few poems for publication only to be told that I was plagiarizing someone famous. I stupidly submitted some poems to Poetry.com from 2002-2005 (roughly 6-8). One ended up published in one of their books. The others were published on their website. The website has been defunct since 2016 and you cannot even find via Archive. So, imagine my blow to find out around my birthday that some famous twat has used my poems, claiming to have written them, and has made money off of them. It’s devastating because I have the original poems (I wrote them in an English Norton Anthology text book) with notations that a certain teacher liked them. So I do know when they were written. I won’t name the person (yet) but it’s an added stress of now having someone steal something so personal, an artistic expression of oneself, and to have it highly commercialized. Intellectual Property theft is an actual thing (I know, who knew?). I will only add to my defense that anyone who has been around me physically, knows I listen to Talk Radio, Classical Music, my CDs, or iPhone. I rarely listen to the Radio otherwise and these poems were written close to 20 years ago which is why I didn’t catch the theft earlier. Plus I have written over 200 poems. You cannot expect me to recall the particulars of every single one.

As for the mysterious “job,” it’s been increasingly frustrating. I’ve applied to teach, only to be told I do not have a PhD in order to teach at a Jr College. I have a IL substitute teaching license, which thankfully will expire next year (it was not worth the money). I qualify on the state level to teach in schools but schools will not hire me as I do not have a background in early childhood education. Unfortunately, the one Theatre job I did do soured me to the point that I still cannot Design professionally (though I miss it). They killed that dream fairly early on (not reimbursing me and bad treatment backstage was just uncalled for). I applied at Trader Joe’s and they first “lost” my application. The next time, they said I was over qualified. And that’s been the general response. I am over qualified or not qualified enough. I am, apparently, over qualified to work at a local animal shelter taking care of cats for 15 hours a week. My mother’s glib remarks usually pertain to that there’s a new fast food place opening up.  Yes, dear mother, let’s apply and be told one is over qualified to work at the local chippy. Because I really need yet another layer of thin rejection on top of the condemnation you give me on a daily basis.

It’s even worse as my depression is at such a level that I physically cannot work a FT job. I cannot stress how physically debilitating depression and anxiety are on top of insomnia. A FT position, quite frankly, would kill me. I would not have the strength nor the mentality to cope with one. Nor do I want the stress of one. I do think 2018 has made me prioritize myself for the first time in my life. I have always been the person who places everyone else’s needs, wishes and desires above my own. It is a fault and a failing stemming from my need to gain acceptance from both of my parents. I am the oldest, but my brother was and always will be the favorite of both of them. I cannot change this and it’s not worth fighting anymore. I have never been good enough and that led to me having suicidal thoughts a few years back and I was hospitalized. It’s amazing how much over 30 years of feeling worthless can break you down. And I am better. But I have to realize, and have come to, how the people I chose to be my family are much more supportive (and it’s vital to have such support). Now, I still love my parents and don’t hate that they prefer one sibling over another because they are human-they are flawed.

Then the possibility of losing my beloved cat, Jack is something I don’t want to think about. When I am having an anxiety attack, Jack helps calm me down. Cats are notorious good at such things. Pets are precious to us because they give us our humanity.

So yes, 2018 has been utter shite as my brother from another mother across the pond would say (Daniel, you really have been my rock). But it’s been like that for a lot of us. I know there have been people who’ve had it much worse than me. I am still here. I will still fight to survive.

Alexa, play “Under Pressure”…

On Writing (& International English)

I was inspired by an interesting conversation on Twitter last week that was occurring on Brigid Kemmerer’s profile (@BrigidKemmerer). She is an author who specializes in Young Adult fiction and the conversation was about why people chose to become writers. Well, that is a most interesting question so simple answer is because we wish to create. For me (and I have since found out that this is true for many authors out there), I wish to write a book that I know I would enjoy. Which sounds a bit selfish or egotistical, but I believe it is more the need to create a story that I wish existed already. I don’t recall everything that was said, but I do know I had tweeted something along those lines (the need to create and share). But I feel some background as to why I am choosing to write and become an author now deserves to be told.

I have always been an avid reader. My first true enjoyment of reading was at the age of 7 and it was The Hobbit. I firmly blame Tolkien for my love of language and words, plus I am sure that most people fall in love with words in a similar fashion. At the age of 8, I moved onto Shakespeare and Homer’s Odyssey. Yes, this was at age 8 and I am fully aware of how unusual that must be and how hard it is to believe. I didn’t read Shakespeare’s plays at that age, I did stick to the Sonnets (which is a bit easier, I think, to start off with). But I was a very weird child with more adult tastes in literature. I recall that at school, the school was adamant that I be tested for ADHD (and to have an IQ test done) because when it came to any English or Spelling lesson, I was most likely doodling in my notebook and not paying attention. And yet I was scoring 100% every time, so the school was very perplexed. My IQ at that time was rated to be 132, which is high for a child of 8. So it seems that I didn’t have ADHD, but was just extremely bored. So I was moved into classes with much older students and was fairly content. However, they had to retest my IQ two years later because while I was advanced in terms of literature and English comprehension, I couldn’t do the advanced Math classes they had placed me in. The school, at that time, had a weird policy that if a child was gifted in one area, then they must be gifted in others. It’s difficult for a child of 10 to do middle school math when they haven’t been taught multiplication. My IQ, however, had jumped to 136 and I am ashamed to say that I haven’t been tested since, though I should at some point do it just because I am curious as to what it may be at this point given all my education and knowledge. Unlike some politicians, I don’t relish stating what my IQ was because I know it can make people feel like I am boasting, which is not my intention with sharing it. Only to be aware, perhaps, that sometimes children acting out in school classrooms isn’t always a behavior issue. Maybe, just maybe, that child is simply bored because they aren’t being challenged.

As to writing, I guess it should come as no surprise that I have always been writing in some fashion. Poetry is something I wrote in the past and still write. I recall writing very simple poems when I was about 10, but I don’t think any juvenile poetry of mine is in existence anymore as paper degrades and most likely has been recycled. I have a poem from High School still, which is something, as I know I wrote it when I was about 16. So I do have one piece of juvenile writing. But most of my poems are from 1999 onwards. And the muse comes in waves, I’m afraid. I can write 12 poems in a single day and then go for months without anything.To be fair, when I am severely depressed, poetry doesn’t come to me, so periods of nothing are usually periods of depression. Though I also didn’t when I was in graduate school simply because I was depressed, but also I was too busy trying to survive graduate school. Sometimes writing has to take a back seat to life. As to the number of poems, they are well over 200. I currently have close to 30 saved as notes on my phone (which I really should type out) and over 200 in one small journal. I have another journal with additional poems as well. One day, I hope to publish some of them in a book. For now, I will endeavor to submit them to journals and other such media to get them published.

However, writing a novel, let alone 6, is a feat I have never undertaken before. A short story is not hard for me to accomplish (and I have one that I wrote for my undergraduate that’s basically a retold fairy tale), but a novel is another kettle of fish. The 6 I am currently working on are set in the Regency Era, but the emphasis will be on historical accuracy, with wit and humor. Sort of a peek behind the rose tinted glasses we wear when we think of Regency novels. Of course, my inspiration is Jane Austen, whom I was introduced to by a local librarian when I was 12 and thus started my journey into researching the 19th Century. To be fair, I didn’t start actual research until I was closer to 16, which means I have been researching the 19th Century off and on for over 20 years. At least 10 of those while I was at university (both undergrad and grad) in any spare time I had. This, of course, means that I am a very boring sort of person who’d rather curl up with a good book and a nice cuppa than going out to the local club. Even though I have been known to go out, it has never been a must for me (although I do enjoy dancing and being with people-I’m not a complete dullard).

This, of course, brings us to what I like to call “International English” or, to put it simply, I tend to write in a blended style of American and U.K. English. Of course, this drove some of my professors mad and some never noticed (which is even more shocking).  One can, of course, blame my love of classical British literature like Austen or Shakespeare on this peculiarity of mine, but that would be unfair. I simply think colour should be spelled properly and accept that I also use a zed in certain words like “realize”. Which, I think may drive my future and yet unknown agent up the proverbial wall. Especially the editor as well. Unless, of course, I can convince them that “International English” needs to be recognized as a valid form of English. The way I write, though, lends itself to this blending, I feel, because it is how I think. I do think in more formal language when I am writing and also when I am tweeting. I really cannot help it. I’ve been told it’s presumptuous of me to be using such vernacular, but this is how the inside of my mind works. I do try to not be so formal, though it does poke out when I am feeling provoked or wish to make a witticism. Colloquial language that we use everyday has lost some of it’s spark, it’s romance and perhaps that is what I am rebelling against. Plus, using such formal language does tend to make comebacks sound oh so lovely. A minor point, but a valid one nonetheless.

As to how I write, well first I had to research. And by research, I mean I have 3 notebooks filled with information I felt I may need just spanning the years 1790-1830. Most of the information is centered on the U.K., though I did include some historical information on America. Mainly for myself (as I do love American History during the 19th Century) but just in case it should ever pop up in one of the novels. I’d rather have too much research than not enough. This does not include an almost filled additional notebook filled with writing tips, websites, and how to edit/write dialogue. Personally, I found it more useful to look at how playwrights construct dialogue than writers. That could be because of my background in Theatre but also as plays do tend to be more realistic in terms of dialogue than most novels and I do so want the dialogue to seem more realistic. Each novel has at least 2 notebooks as well-one contains the actual story that I’ve written (or outlined in 4 of these novels) and another that gives a list of the characters, short snippets of information under their name, places (i.e. settings), and sometimes a little information on money as it relates to the characters. Then I have a list of questions for each character (sort of an in-depth biography) into who they are. Some questions are basic, such as their age, hair colour, nicknames. Other’s ask questions as to their favourite food, health, and even any regrets they may have. All of which is never seen in the novel, but it helps me get into their heads. It helps me see them, speak to them and for them. Which sounds a bit maddening at times-and I assure you, it is. They all have their little quirks and even though I may not like some of them, I do enjoy writing them.

The hard part, to be honest, has been now typing out the one novel from the notebook writings. Hard because I sometimes shorten and abbreviate words when I am writing and have to remind myself to type out the entire word. But also hard as some things just change as I am typing them out. Sometimes what worked on paper no longer works on the screen so I just change it, or add to it. In a way, writing it out then being forced to type it out has been a way to do a first semi-edit in a way. I know there are some areas that I am not pleased with, but instead of focusing on them and getting worked up, I type out what I have and continue on. Anything that I am not happy with, I know I can deal with once everything has been typed up and then printed out so I can really edit it properly (red pens at the ready!). I try not to focus on word counts at this point (just an FYI, most novels are over 40K words and average around 70K) as I know it will be long enough. My one concern is, of course, that I tend to write in this blended style. Should I keep it that way and offer an explanation as to why I write like that to a potential agent? Or should I chose American or U.K. English and reformat? Personally, I’d rather keep the blended style as then it would be appropriate to be published in the U.K. and the U.S. without having to change all the words. It’s a practical form of English. One that I have invented, it seems, as I can find no evidence of this blended style in existence elsewhere. But those are musings for another day.

The Folly of Letter Writing & A Few Poems

As someone who loves Austen, one knows that all correspondence during this period was done by letter writing (unless done by visiting in person). Now in the electronic age that we reside in, letter writing seems a very quaint and old fashioned way of communication. One that I still feel deserves some revival and some credit in a way. After all, does not one’s pulse quicken when Elizabeth Bennett reads Darcy’s letter that day at Rosing Park? Or feel one’s heart break when Marianne Dashwood writes letter upon letter to John Willoughby and receives nary a reply? I confess that when I am feeling low, I turn to Captain Frederick Wentworth’s letter of his love to Anne Elliot in Persuasion. That, I have always felt, to be the epitome of romantic confession at it’s finest in Austen’s writings. And I confess that I, in turn, have used letter writing myself, much to great disappointment and heartbreak.

In today’s age of the dating scene, many meet on-line or in clubs or bars. Dining out seems to be the norm for any social interaction these days and quite frankly, I must confess that I’m not that kind of woman. I’m afraid that while most of my sex are fine with the social conventions of the day, I’d rather be much happier with a man who’d be willing to take me to a museum. I know it seems rather odd and a bit strange, but when you think really hard about it, it doesn’t seem very strange at all. To me, the modern social dating scene is very much like the Theatre-a lot of dressing up, a lot of acting and hidden meaning. I don’t want to go out to put on a mask and be surrounded by players in the pseudo fancy dress party we call the social scene (yes, yes, I am well aware of Shakespeare’s “All the World’s a Stage” quote). To me, how can this lead to any meaningful relationship (and I have given this much thought since I’ve done nothing but think about this over the years). While I enjoy dressing up and acting a part on the stage, I don’t wish to play a part all the time and I do feel that our modern society demands that we constantly portray a version of ourselves that is false and not our true selves. Perhaps we do this for protection. Perhaps because Society, in general, has become so superficial and jaded that we can no longer recognize truth and only appreciate falseness.

To counter this false reality, I want to be not only honest with myself, but also honest with any man that I am interested in. Yes, I am sure that I would enjoy going out to a fancy restaurant and dressing up. I’m not too unusual in that regard that I would not enjoy some sort of romantic dining experience. But I don’t think that should be the only basis of a relationship. Nor should bar hopping or clubbing (neither of which I find particularly interesting). Yes, I would rather go to a museum or for a stroll in a park or even fishing (yes, some girls do fish).  I am also too set in my ways (and too old at this point) to demand attention all the time. I enjoy having time to myself and would think that any man I chose to be with would also appreciate alone time as well.

As to how this ties in to letter writing, I have written two such letters in my life that expressed very personal and deep emotions to two very different men.  One I did seeking answers (and also closure) which I never received and probably never will. Did this person hurt me? Yes, absolutely and he did so either intentionally or unintentionally (perhaps a mixture of both). But I have long since forgiven him and have never demanded an answer or explanation from him. Life is too short and too precious to waste time on someone who clearly didn’t care enough to even say he was sorry. The second I wrote very recently to someone I very much care for basically telling him that I do like him but I, being the nerdy person that I am, would much rather go to something like a museum than a fancy restaurant. I should also mention that said letter was four typed pages long and I tried very hard to be extremely witty but feel that I failed at it. For by my reckoning, this man has had said letter for over 24 hrs and is either shocked and still digesting said letter or will now hate the very sight of me. I am well aware of my shortcomings in the looks department, but considering that I am very kind and very smart, I am hoping that he would at least be kind enough to see that an outing to a museum is pretty tame in comparison to what he normally does.

So was this a smart move on my behalf? I am not sure. It was pure folly to be sure, but born out of frustration as well. This man in question would be upset at any other single gentleman paying any sort of attention to me. And it boils down to if he doesn’t wish other men paying call to me, then there’s clearly only one logical solution-become the suitor. If you do not wish me to have other suitors, then you must woo me. Considering that I do not want fancy dinners nor late nights out drinking, and would be more content with a trip to a bookstore or renting a film, I’d say I was fairly easy going sort of woman. Not that a fancy dinner or two wouldn’t be warranted-I’d like some modern taste of romance thank you very much. But if I had to chose between spending time in a boat on a lake fishing or going to a club, I’d chose the boat each and every time. Even though this would mean I’d be wearing very casual clothing, no jewelry, no makeup (except sunscreen), and most likely be wearing a hat with my hair in a ponytail. Basically, dressed for practicality, not to be cute or sexy.

Now, I did give this man my blog address and I do hope that he reads this post, if only to understand me a little bit more. But to also see that this is who I am-I am a writer. Now, I’ve been busy working of late which has prevented much writing, but I plan on doing some writing to make up for that. Both on this blog and on my novel. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t wish to spend some time with him because I really do. I really fancy him even though he drives me insane, is unlike anyone I’ve ever met, makes me laugh, and tells me that I am beautiful. That in itself is very seductive to any female.

The Poems:

What do you want of me?

I am more than a friend but less than a lover.

I have no clue why you compliment my eyes to others

Yet tease me so mercilessly. I do not know what you want of me.

You talk to me, confide in me.

Yet I have no loving sighs, no sweet kisses to sustain me.

You have the general nickname for all the girls

And yet a few special ones for me.

But you have nicknames for others as well. I wish you’d tell me

What  you want of me.

I grow frustratedly bothered at inconvenient times.

You stare-and I stare back. A game of who looks away first.

Sometimes it’s me and at others you.

Again, what do you want of me?

 

 

I slept ill, legs constantly moving

Refusing to remain still while cruel images

Filtered through my mind’s playback.

Comparisons made-cruel things those.

I can never compare to others.

They are far more lovely, more thin than I.

Yes, my clothes are loose fitting, yet always neat and tidy.

Still, you made allusions to a preference-a more skin tight appearance.

How cruel you are lately!

So very cruel and mean! No longer kind and caring.

Gone is the man I feel for.

Where is the sweet love that worried about my wellbeing?

Now there is a vain, pompous man in his place

That cares more about his looks and how he is seen than how

He treats others. His jests have gone from airy lightness to sharp pains.

I need to fall out of love

It must be so. Your actions have made is easier

For you treat me so badly with your cruel teasing that

My heart is breaking.

My soul is wounded and cut very deeply.

I am bleeding rivulets of tears.