April 8, 2011 “Reflections on my Birthday”….I do not believe I could have written this sentiment one year ago today and meant it , with any degree of sincerity.
This year as many that have come before was filled with many joyful moments shared with my family and a few sorrowful moments I spent alone. However, in addition to making those memories, I learned something about myself that I have always suspected way back somewhere in my subconscious I had=the ability to achieve great things in my life.
While trying to find out what really makes me happy (besides being a good mother of triplets, a wife, a daughter and sister), I learned more about me and what I want to do with my life. I stumbled upon a writing contest and it was as if a little birdy said in my ear…now is your moment…just do it….try and write…what do you have to lose? It just seemed to be a perfect opportunity to put my true self (smarts) to the test.
The contest was for a short story inspired by a Jane Austen character or Austen’s life…. This was something I knew a great deal about…from the moment Mr. Darcy (a.k.a. Colin Firth) came out of the lake at his Pemberley estate in his wet shirt in the BBC Production of Pride & Prejudice, until the day I finished the last novel written by Jane Austen, I became a Janeite….
Deciding to take on the challenge with my proud Janeite badge gleaming, I went full steam ahead…
I pulled out P&P, Emma, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion and perused the pages, contemplating the characters, the plots and the themes…And the idea of finding more about a character and why they are the way the were written to be was something I felt would be great fun to try….And who better than Miss Caroline Bingley, an odious character that all of us can agree has no good reason for being so mean….so that Austen has us cementing our feelings for her all the way until the wedding of Lizzy and Darcy….yes, she would be fun to write about…
I sat down at my computer and instead of staring at a blank page, I decided to just start typing what I was thinking, hoping, dreaming about writing and eventually, before I knew it “Caroline’s Story” was created.
No, I am not the next J.K. Rowling, I did not even win the contest, but I placed at a respectable 22 out of 87, amongst writers way above my technical writing skills and greater years of experience. Although, I did win a prize for myself, it revealed to me that I have stories to tell and Austen characters I want to know more about and instead of just picking up another sequel (which I will do) I will write my own sequel….But better than just learning to express myself creatively in a whole new way, I also received a gift of so much more….
It made me feel clever again, it gave me joy and best of all, my children started to get the writing bug too! My 9-year-old triplets all jumped on their computers and started writing! They have not written an updated version of “War and Peace” or the new series that will take over Rowling’s, “Harry Potter”, but it is the love of writing, reading and sharing the excitement of ideas together that we have unleashed in our family that is priceless.
So the next time you say to someone….I hope to write the “Great American Novel” someday….make someday now….instead of just dreaming about it, go home, sit down at your laptop and start typing…The days you do not feel like writing think of this quote from a very clever, famous writer,
“I am not at all in a humor for writing; I must write on till I am.” -Jane Austen