Tags: writing: jane elliott

if I were me


I haven't had a thud in a while, so I decided to report on it. "Currer Bell Comes to America," complete today at 5765 words. It is unabashedly YA, alternate universe, and totally one of those sorts of pet stories where you get to ride around on your hobby horse like an idiot, showing everyone all the weird theories you cherish--in this case, things about the Brontës, Amelia Earhart, and the Bermuda Triangle.

Rightfully, I should probably retitle it "Currer and Acton Bell Come to America" because well, Anne is still alive (just one of the many reasons this is AU) because I posit that if Patrick Brontë had died around the same time as Emily, and Anne had been just a leeetle less sick, something interesting might have happened. More interesting than Anne dying of tuberculosis in Scarborough, anyway.

I am growing to believe that Novels Spawn Short Stories. I tend to get these little nuggets, these also-ran ideas that deserve some attention but don't fit in the novel at all. I got to know Persephone too well during The Herbalist's Apprentice The Princess Curse, so I wrote her a story, "Five Rules for Commuting to the Underworld" (forthcoming from Strange Horizons, if you missed that). Also, "Five Rules" is rather adult; Curse is not. After Curse I reworked Jane Eyre with time travelers--not so much in a ...and Zombies kind of way, more a secret history kind of way.

Anyway, I've always intended to write at least one novel about the Brontës. I actually intended to write the "What happened to Anne at Thorpe Green?" book, with one part mystery and one part romance, but it literally hurts too much to write that while heading towards her inevitable young death from tuberculosis. Charlotte, well. She died young, but she had some requited love, some happiness, and some success. Anne just got the shaft. And she wasn't fiercely shouting "Fuck you" to the world as she died, like Emily, so her death always kicks me in the gut a little harder than anyone else's in that family. Plus, I don't think she got to write her masterpiece, like the other two did. I sincerely believe she was scaling up to something truly great.

So yeah. I guess I wrote this instead. Maybe I'll still do an Anne book. It might have to be an alternate history, or maybe I'm going to have to confront my fears about too-early death--dunno. But for now, I have a story that I loved writing and that I almost certainly am not going to be able to sell. (Not that I won't try.)
Books (carriage steps)

Things I Think About When I Should Be Writing

-Where did I put that page of notes on Victorian madness and insane asylums? REALLY. It's been days since I started looking for it.

-Is it necessary to point out random connections when I talk to people on the phone? "Hey, my name is Merrie, too!" or (today, on the phone with an ILL staff member at Northern Illinois University) "Do you know rarelylynne? Because I do!"

-Am I overdrying my skin by taking too hot showers, or is it okay because I used that stinky, oily body scrub from Aveda that was in my Christmas stocking?

-Don't put that stinky, oily body rub in your Christmas stocking next year.

-Possibly also, stuffing your own stocking isn't really that fun, but I don't want to miss out on the cool Sharpies I buy for everyone else. Conundrum!

-Here's a page of notes on what constitutes a "proper English education": dress, conversational subjects, musical instruments, singing, dancing, speaking French. Possibly also: needlework, the getting up of fine linen and ironing. In addition to that, Jane Eyre was able to teach history, geography, and the use of a globe, plus grammar and writing. On my notescrap, I have also written "maybe arithmetic" but I don't know where I got that from. Most of the rest of the information came from Understanding Jane Eyre: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources and Historical Documents. Which I need to check out from the library again. Because I did not take adequate enough notes on insane asylums.

-The Herbalist's Apprentice, as a spoken phrase, is occasionally too easy to trip over. You have to jump in, and elide the sibilants or die trying.

-I am rereading some of Anne McCaffrey's romances with a more critical eye to the gender politics. And I wanted to wash myself. And I was actually doing the re-reading in the bathtub, so you see how bad that is. (FOR EXAMPLE: "He clipped one warm, strong-fingered hand under my elbow, and I have never been omre conscious of a square inch of my own flesh than that moment. As if he sensed my reaction, he removed his hand and gave me a quick searching look. 'It's a cup of coffee, Miss Dunn, not an invitation to rape!'" UHM, DUDE, DID YOU JUST CASUALLY BRING UP RAPE (as in you-and-me-time) WHILE TRYING TO INVITE ME FOR COFFEE? This conversation is OVER.)

-On the other hand, I thought this book was just lovely when I was younger, and thus I have faith that The Kids These Days are going to come through the Twilight-era just fine.

-I *seriously* could not love Cougar Town and Community more. Cougar Town *is* Scrubs, reborn without daydreams and internal monologue. The cast interactions have gelled so fantastically that it reads like a sitcom that's been on the air for years. Community is a bit more self-aware and absurd, but it's very emotionally truthful. Between those two shows and Castle, I could get by with watching only shows that start with the letter C, if I had to. (But I would be sad to miss Tabatha's Salon Takeover, which is mine and Kayla's new thing, because we love competent women who make people cry.)

-HEY! I just found my old collection of fortune cookies. (My current ones are: "Adventure can be real happiness" and "Use your instincts now." My old collection includes "Education is the movement from darkness to light." (I wrote beneath that one: "So is phototropism."))

-And THAT is a picture of the Bronte parsonage in snow. *grab* Need that for my Jane Elliott collage.

-I purchased STORY by Robert McKee on audible.com, and started listening to it today. And promptly turned it off, after screaming obscenities at it. Mr. McKee says that because we are all horrible, cynical people with eroded values who live and breathe by the code of relativism, that there has been an erosion of story. We can't get good stories from Hollywood because we don't have the morals to appreciate story. We can't tell good stories because we can't impart the values that people need to know.


Did I mention I was SCREAMING obscenities at my radio after this? Because, between Unitarian Universalism, anthropology, and a particular preference for the protection of civil liberties, I am, yes, deeply relativist in my moral world view. Cultural relativism, mainly--as long as it doesn't impede on individual human rights. Informed consent, mutual consent, and consent in general--as long as there's that, people should be allowed do what they need to do, and I should not be allowed to stop them. To me, that is the core of my value system, and my ethics system. (I think library-ness comes in there, too--the ALA Code of Ethics comes in there, too; I haven't worked in libraries for 15 years without that stuff seeping in.)

I promise you, my being what I believe to be a reasonable human being does NOT impede my ability to deal in story. Either to hear it or to tell it.


-Anger aside, I am going to a) start cleaning the basement tomorrow; b) buy a new heat register at the hardware store so we can stop baking our plants on the plant stand; c) schedule a massage.

-And d) finish finishing my damn book

-I got more and more anxious while thinking about going back to my new doctor, the one who was so terribly dismissive of my heel pain, and on top of that, when I asked to have a pelvic exam, basically said, "Why would you want one of those?" Like, dude. You're a doctor. AREN'T YOU SUPPOSED TO BE TELLING ME TO GET ONE? And also, she didn't care about any of my other bloodwork, even though my good cholesterol is too low, and other things. All she cared about was my vitamin D. So anyway, I got a recommendation from the fabulous redmomoko, and I'm going to go see her doctor. But not until May. Because that's how far out they're scheduling her. WHATEVER. NEW DOCTOR, YAY. Old doctor? NOT A GOCTOR! (tip of the hat to porphyrin and mrissa and Robin, there.)
if I were me

Now, for those who HAVE read Jane Eyre...

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And yet, Hollywood (okay, the BBC, really) persists in portraying Mr. Rochester with the hottest hotties that hotted. Like Toby Stephens.

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Also, don't you think Toby should totally play Damian Lewis's brother sometime?

Actually, I lied. Hollywood does an okay job at not finding the hottest hotties that hotted for the rest of the Rochesters. But they have yet to find anyone actually ugly for the role. I think Orson Welles comes closest:

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The forehead is so right! And he's not... chiselly. The way Toby is. And his eyes are skeery.

I disapproved of moon-faced Ciaran Hinds in this role, though I'm looking at the pics and thinking: you-gly.

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And John Hurt is far too blond. And let us not speak of Timothy Dalton. He was up there way past Toby Stephens in the classically handsome land, though not personally to my taste.

So I started to really think: what DID Rochester look like? Collapse )

Nah. I probably only think that because of Orson Welles.

Mr. Rochester was Charlotte Bront;ë's weird mish-mash of (certainly) her youthful fantasies based on Lord Byron and (probably) the married man she fell in love with while at school in Brussels, Constantin Heger (also, her teacher). The physical descriptions of Heger and Rochester are pretty much a match, and Heger didn't mind reducing Charlotte to tears in the course of teaching her, which, okay, somehow fits with Rochester in my mind.

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So. Rochester is basically built like a wrestler, or... something. And looks like Heger. Ish. So....

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Yes, that's professional wrestler Hunter Hearst Helmsley.

I am SO going to literary hell.
if I were me

Help, please... if you have NOT read Jane Eyre.

...Or, if you remember what you thought it was about before you read it.

Those of you who have not read Jane Eyre, nor seen the movie, could you summarize in the comments for me what you think the book is about... with specifics regarding plot... and what your occupation is? And how/what other Victorian literature you have read instead?

I realize this is a weird request, but it's research for a book. I promise.

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if I were me

This is my crankah-face. Next to my happeh face.

Not that I'm cranky, I'm just making it because I just sorta realized I am going to have to lock down my talky mouth about writing this book, just like the last one, because that's apparently how I function: I am a totally batshit insane superstitious crazy pants who can't talk about books while she's writing them or she kills them dead.

Other than that, I'm shockingly happy and optimistic, and it might have had something to do with the election. I've given myself until Inauguration Day to bask. So. Seventy-five more days of unfettered awesome!

Yes, this is silly and naive. I know it is. But a few years ago, I realized I had lost my capacity to daydream silly, wonderful, awesome futures for myself. That I was always, always, always preparing myself for disappointment. And at some point, I realized that was a very sucky way to live, and gave myself permission to daydream again.

What's life without some wild optimism now and again?

It's a life I don't want, is what it is.

So, I'm embracing my giddiness and enjoying myself for a while. For the next seventy-five days, I'm also going to be Totally Positive that I'm going to sell a novel next year, too, and, and, oh, all the other things that I daydream about that I don't necessarily want to tell the world, up to and including the alternate future where I get a classic car and start solving supernatural crimes with splash_the_cat, iuliamentis and dsudis on a weekly basis. It's fun.

January 21st is soon enough for a reality check.

Or the 22nd, anyway. I bet January 21st will be pretty kick-ass, actually.