Thursday, 16 February 2017

Jane Austen, Lorraine Marwood and Me.

 Jane Austen, Lorraine Marwood and me. What a gang! We’re as thick as thieves. And I’ve gotta tell you, I’m feeling pretty good about it. We’re the ducks guts of writing trios. With our combined talents the sky’s the limit!

Jane Austen. Hardly needs an introduction. She’s my hero, the writer whose work I can come back to, year after year, and still laugh, gasp and gush like it’s the very first time my eyes slipped over her words. And, of course, I’m hardly alone in my admiration. She’s been wowing readers for centuries.

 Lorraine Marwood. Also barely needs an introduction. Award winning children’s author, poet and all round lovely lady who makes a mean shortbread bickie and has a smile that brightens your day.  I've just read her book, Rat Whiskers and Me, a verse novel set on the goldfields. What a work of art! A new fave.

And then there’s me. If you’re reading this blog, you probably know who I am. Yes. I’m the commoner of the writing trio, the turkey pretending to be a peacock.

So how do we do it? I know you’re wondering. Lorraine and me, doing the writing thing together, that’s not such a stretch. After all, we’re both writers and we live just half an hour’s drive apart. Easy peasy. But Jane Austen? She may be a writer but she doesn’t live nearby. She doesn’t even live. Hasn’t for a looooong time - two hundred years to be exact.

This is how we do it:

Lorraine and I have been working our way through the exercises in this book. It’s wonderful. Written by Jane Austen’s five-times-great-niece, The Jane Austen Writer’s Club  analyses the great Jane’s  writing, shares snippets from her novels and lists a number of exercises to help mere mortals work towards an Austenian level of brilliance. Nothing like aiming for the stars!

Evidence that we have been hard at work.
 Books, pens, notes, coffee, tea, bickies,
chocolate - all the important writing tools
together in the one place!

Together, Jane, Lorraine and I are learning new stuff and having a hoot of a time. (Well, Lorraine and I are. The two-hundred-years-dead thing might be limiting Jane a little nowadays in the learning stakes … and in the jollity department.)

But, most of all, the JAWC exercises have confirmed a truth that I have always known, but one which it is important to remember often: There is magic in writing.

Every time I have written a passage for one of the exercises from this book, I have found myself discovering hitherto unknown things about my characters and setting. Writing brings the story to life. Of course I have a whole range of ideas already, but the physical act of writing  (typing or handwriting) sets those ideas free and makes them blossom. Characters dance forward and reveal more of themselves than I could ever imagine without a pen in my hand. Towns draw me in, leading me down their cobbled streets, inviting me to peep  through windows and creep through doors that have been left ajar. Conversations that were a dull muffling in the background, grow loud and clear and reveal schemes and dreams and horrible secrets. It’s astonishing! 

Imagining, daydreaming and planning is so very important when creating a story. 

But writing is truly magic.

Especially when done on a mild summer's morning with Jane Austen, Lorraine Marwood and a nice cup of tea. 
Lorraine Marwood and me.
Jane is not a fan of the selfie.

For those of you who prefer your Jane Austen on the screen:
This  BBC production of Pride and Prejudice is fabulous - and this trailer has a teensy taste of that dishy scene where  Mr Darcy dives in the pond! 

For more information on Lorraine Marwood and her work, click here.

1 comment:

  1. I will have to track that book down. It sounds fabulous!