Today I’m thinking about Jane Austen. No, I have yet to read her books. I have, however, read her story and fell madly in love with her spirit.
There is a little irony to how I encountered Jane, though. Quite a few years ago a reader, presumably a reader of Jane Austen’s work, remarked (to me) how my work, or maybe it was just me, reminded her of Jane Austen’s work.
Right away I had to look into Ms. Jane Austen. I may have even bought one of her books, trying to glean a little insight into not only who Jane was as a writer, but also looking to find out what Jane was writing about. The irony here was, around this same time another reader told me I write like Zane.
Now Zane, she I had heard of, and even skimmed a few pages of one of her books… which let me break in here to point out one small irony in case it has been missed. Do you hear it? Zane and Jane?
I wholly respect Zane for being a trailblazer of women’s literature (of her time). She opened a chapter in history by being among the first to write sex in books the way she did. Still, I didn’t think our writing was similar. Looking back however, a point I missed, my reader was suggesting that I too was opening a chapter in history by writing books… and I quote; “women need to really read… this is definitely different.”
Back to Jane. The first thing I discovered about Jane was that I highly doubted my work was anything like hers. It was a feeling I had based on the book covers I stared at. And yes, I already know. I don’t judge books by the cover, which in fact I kinda’ do. I’m not a fan of photography on book covers. I like ‘em raw and rustic, similar to how some of that elegant historic whimsical swaying motion going on, on them ‘17th, 18th, 19th and early 20th century book covers led me to believe the words inside would be swaying around my head with the same effect.
But I did do a little, or maybe a lot of digging into who Jane was. What I discovered touched me to the core. The woman was a prolific novelist, though her work was anything but celebrated during her life. ‘People’ were embarrassed by her writing, despite her writings being a sort of ‘early’ liberation for women. In this respect, Jane was a trailblazer (of her time) too. Today people now ‘get it’ or ‘get her’ and she, and her work is widely respected and appreciated.
As a writer, a novelist, a woman, and maybe even myself a trailblazer of sorts too, I’ve serenaded Jane’s story ever since, making it a most appropriate story to open with for this month's occasion.
Happy Women’s History Month.