It always amazes me how writers differ in their approach to crafting a story or piece of poetry. Some start with a singular thought. A line. A word. An idea.
My literary journey began with the story of three sisters scribbling away in a bleak little town in the middle of West Yorkshire. I felt some affinity with that. I am one of three sisters – and I have a brother too!
Charlotte, Anne and Emily Brontë had each other and were all talented in their own right. It is said they used to sit around the table and carve stories together. A little notebook featuring their scribbles sold for a large amount of money only recently. Why was it worth that much…?
Charlotte must have gone to her publisher with some idea of how good her books were. She must have known. But how do any of us really know how good our own writing is? By the reaction we get from our close ones? Or simply from a gut feeling deep within that tells the writer that what they put on a page is as good as they could get it and that it is a correct and accurate portrayal of all the characters involved?
Similarly, JK Rowling had a First Edition (with scribbles) go up for auction recently and sell for a large amount. But back in the day, she was turned down by some 12 publishers before she got a deal. Then came the franchise etc… Would the other books have been as good if she had not had the power of a book deal behind her and the freedom to write what she wanted? All these questions we ask…
How do we get discovered?
EL James has the fastest-selling paperback of all time. Yet, many claim it is poorly written. Others say Sylvia Day is much better as an erotic writer, and this may well be true. However, a lot of her fans are currently very unhappy… Just how do we draw the line? At a trilogy? But, the sales can’t really lie, can they? Maybe James hit a note at a particular time and in a particular place?
So, I go back to my original thoughts… how do we craft books? From real-life experiences? From dreams we want to chase? From one thought that niggles at us so much until we succumb and spill it? From writing what we enjoy writing? How did Charlotte craft a book that has been often listed as the greatest novel of all time? It has everything: a love story, class struggle, childhood loneliness, rags to riches, a madwoman in the attic, a journey, and so much more besides. Did Charlotte (otherwise known as Currer) simply hit the right note in a time when male writers dominated? Did Charlotte and her posse simply get it right because they had their stories, their books, discipline, faith and fresh, Yorkshire air to nourish them? Makes you wonder.
We need people to aspire to, to be better. How do we extend our vocabulary if not by reading? But are two or three minds better than one? Or can ideas be supplanted sometimes (explored by someone who did not originate it) in a more efficient way than it could have been by the originator?
Everything and everyone around me gives me the tendrils of ideas and I explore them. I find a way to make ends meet or do the dot to dot. The more I write, the freer I feel in my approach, because the more my confidence grows. I imagine that is how Charlotte felt. A tiny little woman from Haworth realised she could wield the power of words and she did so for one reason: imagination. Never supplant yourself, only supplant others. And always, let yourself be free.