Being Enid. Or Jane. Or Becoming Just Me

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“I haven’t any right to criticise books, and I don’t do it except when I hate them. I often want to criticise Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can’t conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Everytime I read ‘Pride and Prejudice’ I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone.”
– Mark Twain in a letter to Joseph Twichell, 13 September 1898

I am happy I wasn’t born when Mr. Twain was alive. Those who know me, know that such a criticism from a writer of calibre would send me in throes of sorrow. And if the writer were Mark Twain, I’d never pick up a pen again. Well, Ms. Austen was peacefully resting when he said that; who knows what the history of English Literature would’ve been, had she been alive. But then he wouldn’t have been able to beat her over with her own shin bone. Regardless, it’d have been an interesting time.

About a year back, I watched a movie called Enid. As the name might suggest to you, it was a little peek into the world of the famous Enid Blyton. I could have said the lovable writer for children, Enid Blyton, but I didn’t because I have watched the movie. It shows without reserve the kind of woman Ms. Blyton might’ve been — ambitious, manipulative, cruel, inconsiderate, driven for glory. If even half of what is shown there is true, I might never be able to read her books without wondering who might she be thinking of while she wrote about this ‘horrible gnome’ or that ‘annoying milkman’. “I’m going to write about the insufferable postman today, and I’m going to make him you!” She shouted this, or something like this to her husband in the movie. The husband, who was trying to coax her into paying a little more attention towards her children rather than shooting off 6000 words a day, tried in vain to make her realise the importance of spending time with/for the family, too.

While I was watching the movie, I was thinking of the child I was carrying, and the book I was planning to finish before she arrived. I never started the book, the child has arrived, and I am more keen than ever to finish and publish a book. But not like Enid. Or Jane.

As we struggle to keep our finances in order, B and I, I wonder if this unexplainable urge I’ve had to write and publish (a bestseller), write and publish (a bestseller) was for a purpose. I was never ambitious, and no, I never ‘always wanted to be a writer’. Ever since I started blogging, however, I’ve been wanting to become a professionally successful author. It’s been a little over two years. Just about the time I began to sense a nudge to give up translation, a profession that was not only taking up most of my day, it was also weakening my body. Could it have been that this urge to write and publish (a bestseller, Lord!) was to provide for this time in our lives, when I want to do nothing but sit with my girl?

I think too much, don’t I? While I take out reams of zilch every Wednesday, I wonder where I am going. Not to worry, though, dear reader. I am happy. Where am I going smilingly?


19 thoughts on “Being Enid. Or Jane. Or Becoming Just Me”

  1. Well, the blogosphere certainly does have lots of wonderful professional role models for budding writers. It is very interesting to me, how many fine writers I’ve discovered here. Especially considering that I started my blog with a chip on my shoulder, considering blogging to be some sort of sub-standard pit of writing.

    Maybe you need a local writer’s group to help you frame exactly what you might or want to publish. Then go for it. You no longer need the approval of a publishing firm. You can do it yourself. (Becoming a best seller takes an enormous amount of work…not necessarily an enormous amount of talent…as 50 Shades has proven.)

    Keep thinking. It’s free!

    1. There’s a book in the offing, Linda. I am almost ready to send it for publication. Self-publishing seems to me the only option. And thereafter, it’s fate!

      Writers and aspiring writers are so many, aren’t they? It is refreshing to see so many who claims are well worth respecting, too.

      1. CreateSpace, most probably. I want to publish on paper, but might have to get an e-book done as well. Let’s see. It’s not a story, Linda. It’s a collection of thoughts. And some etherees to go with them. Would you care to take a look?

  2. I admire anyone who has a book in them and is willing to get it out there. I wrote one once but never had the courage to pursue its publication. The magic is confidence and perseverance. Go forward even if you have to self-publish. It’s amazing that everyone seems to have an audience. It’s a big world. Go for it!

    1. You have a book in you, too! You’ve actually written one! Do you admire yourself? Don’t tell me you don’t, Jean?

      I have neither confidence, nor perseverance. But I am determined to change that.

      1. Oh, by no means do I admire myself. I have not a shred of confidence in my bones. I entertained the thought that it would be a huge seller for about a nanosecond. Then I tore it apart and delivered myself the worst critique. You get your book out there, dear one. I will buy it.

  3. There is another way of reading that Mark Twain quote: If someone’s writing is important enough to take the trouble of digging up her up and hit her over the head with her own shinbone that is high praise indeed. In return Ms Austen may have stuffed his skull with his own wit.

    As to Enid Blyton: I think we need to divide the artist from his work. Just because an artist is morally questionable in his/her private life, maybe even a piece of s…t in his conduct with others, does NOT make that artist’s work any less. If we judged art, in whatever sphere, by the conduct of its creator I dare say not a lot would be hanging on the walls of museums, sit on the shelves of libraries.


    1. I agree on both counts, Ursula, even though I have begun to sort of agree with Mr. Twain about Ms. Austen’s appraisal. I read a lot from her as a young girl, but later defected to Ayn Rand. From whom I later defected to everywhere, actually.

  4. I grew up on a staple of Enid Blyton books. So, have to see this movie now. Don’t think I heard of it before. It is kind of heartening to read that its not impossible to write absolutely different stuff from what one is living.. hmm.

    And what is this I hear? You are on the verge of publishing! Do publish on paper. I would like to hold your book in my hands. 🙂

    1. The movie stars Helena Bonham Carter. I don’t remember which channel they showed it on, but I am sure there is going to be a repeat.
      I might publish. Or I might chicken out like Jean. And like myself. But if I do, I’d be honoured if you hold it in your hands. And read it, too

  5. The wall we all seem to bump up against comes, I think, from the mistaken idea that we have to choose one activity or the other. I’m not sure why. When we consider reading and gardening, we don’t think we’re limited to one choice. We don’t stop visiting with friends because we have to occasionally clean the house or wash the car. Yet we sometimes tell ourselves we should stop writing because we want to spend time with our families. The only answer I can see is that we have to find ways to do both. Writing and family are not in competition — they feed each other.

    Priya, you can do it. You know you can.

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