A Lasting Obsession

A Lasting Obsession

 

keep-calm-read-jane-austenA few days ago I was interviewed by readers on a blog and one of them asked how I was able to write, publish, blog, read, etc. as a mom of young children. I, of course, said that I stay up way too late to write, use my husband’s days off and if I have a spare moment during the day I’m writing or thinking about writing—not cleaning. Even now, I’m typing this on my iPad mini while my kids eat second breakfast. They apparently have the appetites of hobbits and will eat all.day.long.

And my husband doesn’t get praise enough. I have tried writing since childhood. I always did well in school with creative writing but I never quite finished anything—at least not to the point where I was satisfied enough to share it with others. Perhaps the problem was it was all scientific. Sit down and work out a plot, outline everything, do character development exercises, over-think every little nuance of the story and of the characters, etc. At any rate, I never really finished anything and I believed my dream of becoming a writer would never be realized.

After ten years of being an Austen fan I discovered Jane Austen Fan Fiction during a rough pregnancy. After a month or two of constant reading, my creative mind was bursting with my own ideas, but again, the stories never developed. My husband encouraged me, though. “You can write your own,” he’d say. Now, I’m not so sure it was because he had that much faith in me. I had never allowed him to read my stuff and he certainly didn’t read JAFF. It was likely in an effort to make me stop buying books—because in his mind if I wrote I wouldn’t need to buy.

So, I tried again and again. I gained further encouragement from online communities and eventually tried my hand. I even allowed my writing to be critiqued. It’s a humbling experience to ask for help from strangers.

I read an article recently that suggested authors talk more about the reality of how they can afford to become writers before they actually publish and presumably become successful. In my situation the author of said article would argue that I succeeded at writing at this point in life and not earlier because I was no longer a struggling college student working two to three part time jobs. I stayed home with children and my husband paid the bills and was supportive enough to allow me a few hours to write on his days off while he (gasp!) took care of the kids he barely saw all week.

stack-of-booksI disagree. Certainly it’s easier to write this out now that I’m not answering telephones and scheduling patients, mixing paint, announcing the name of a radio program, cleaning a house or making grilled cheese for hungry college students (I’ve had a lot of jobs!). Certainly knowing my husband supports me, as he does now read my stories since I’m brave enough to share and ask his opinion, and knowing that he will bring me flowers when I finish a draft helps. Yes, having a community of friends writing the same genre and with similar opinions is invaluable. But really what gets me to finish, what keeps me awake at night with ideas, what makes me move on after a bad review is simply my obsession.

As my dear book-boyfriend Henry Tilney (Darcy is my book-husband) would wish to ensure I applied the proper usage for my desired meaning, I will take the minute to disclose the definition of obsession:

  • a state in which someone thinks about someone or something constantly or frequently especially in a way that is not normal
  • someone or something that a person thinks about constantly or frequently
  • an activity that someone is very interested in or spends a lot of time doing; a persistent disturbing preoccupation with an often unreasonable idea or feeling; broadly : compelling motivation

I’m good with obsessions. Ask the boy I basically stalked when I was thirteen–with complete encouragement of my mother. Fortunately, I did mature and grow up. Ask my husband about my obsession with evaluating what to name our children. Before kids I used to be the biggest neat freak.

And so JAFF is another obsession. I am far more obsessed with it than I was with any of my previous plots. My husband says it looks like my brain is going to explode if I’m in the mood to write but can’t. Thanks to this obsession I’ve been able to learn more about my writing strengths and weaknesses and I think maybe I can even finish some original historical fiction works. But I know in my heart of hearts none of the worlds and characters I can create will compare to my obsession with Jane Austen’s brilliant works.

We come from so many different backgrounds and have had different experiences. Perhaps we even interpret various works in different ways. Perhaps we may argue over the merits of Austen’s best hero or heroine. Yet, as Janeites, we share this obsession. We are not the ones that merely read the book once or twice and then moved on. No, our minds turned again and again to Austen’s characters. We wondered what happened next or what would happen if

So, from one obsessed writer to all our lovely obsessed readers I give you a “we can be misunderstood misfits together” hug. Welcome! You can fit in here!

A picture which captures nearly all the reasons I can write: Coffee!! Flowers from my husband! Crockpot meals! And neglecting the housework. The only thing you can’t photograph is that inner drive, my obsession.

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What are some of your embarrassing obsessions (besides JAFF)? What’s your motivation behind your passion in life? And now I must go because I’ve had to break up several fights, give hugs, kisses, assess boo-boos, and now apparently it’s time for elevensies

28 Responses to A Lasting Obsession

  1. I have been obsessed with writing since I was a child. But first there were my younger siblings to raise, then a husband who required lots of mothering, then my life as a single parent. It wasn’t until I finally said… enough! It’s my time. I now live alone with a lovely cat who does not require much except a cuddle now and then. I am in awe of those authors who have time to raise a family, work full-time, and still create such lovely stories. I think perhaps the spirit of Jane Austen is available to anyone who seeks her out. I imagine her saying “Up you go! You can do it!”

    Thank you Rose!

    • You’re exactly right, this is my time. And honestly, when the kids get older and they’re in school things it could get a lot harder…or well, I guess I’ll just write during the day. Weird to think about there not being a kid at home and yet I’ve only got 2 so far. Anyway, I’m a frumpy mommy. I don’t really take time for me in other ways and that’s something I did see my own mother (a single mom to 4) give up. She’s even facing a lot of health concerns right now at far too young of an age because she just ignored most things. It took about 3 years into parenthood but I was finally able to tell myself that it was ok to let someone else spend time with my son and let me use the time in what makes me happiest. Nor do all the toys need to be wiped down with antibacterial wipes every night etc. The house is messy but I think we’re all happier. And the second kid sleeps a lot better than the first did, must be why I couldn’t sleep at all when I was pregnant with her! I’m glad you finally got your time too!

  2. I am really grateful to all the writers of Pride and Prejudice variations and follow ons. I currently have around 70 books and e-books about them. Some of which I am on my fourth reading. It is nice to read about the background of the authors and their research. Thanks again to all of you ????

    • Awesome that you reread some so often! I have some that feel like old friends too! This is really a fabulous blog. I’ve learned something either about the world or myself from every post.

  3. Thanks for the glimpse inside your world Rose. You certainly do have a Mr. Darcy if he keeps the children while you write. I can see Darcy doing that for Lizzy!

    • Oh, yes. My husband is very Darcy-like. Actually it’s quite unsettling when I start to count the ways even their back story is similar. And it really effects how I see Darcy. And as wonderful as I think Darcy and my husband are, it’s not always a bed of roses. Hence my book-boyfriend, Tilney. So uncomplicated. But my husband is supportive, although like Lizzy I sometimes have to remind myself to see outside of what I have predetermined is the best way. Daddy does things differently, but it doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

  4. Hmmm, I don’t know that I have an obsession. Maybe with travel? I am always interested in the next great place, the next amazing find, something I haven’t seen yet. I have a lot of interests and hobbies and love a lot of things, but my obsessions are always short lived – like teenage crushes!

    Great post, Rose!

    • Lol…but you could always stalk your teenage crush, you know. I mean…asking your mom to “take the short cut” down the street he lives on just in case he’s outside on the way to school (wait, why wasn’t he on his way too?) can very nicely develop into her agreeing to go down his street at 3 am in the middle of a snow storm after you’ve been stuck on the interstate for hours due to poor road conditions because all you want to do is see his house. And no I wasn’t even gone a whole day. The story gets better. HE WAS OUTSIDE!! What 13 year old boy is outside at 3 am on New Year’s Eve in a snow storm for any good reason??? And why did my mother not have a problem with any of this??? Sorry…showing my crazy. You know, maybe not having an obsession is the better way to go. 😉

  5. Thanks for sharing this with us! You do have a crazy life! I have never been obsessed with cleaning or neatness, but before I started writing, I was getting better. Now I’m back to the beginning. LOL My obsessions, other than writing JAFF are reading as much JAFF as I can squeeze in, and (of course) NASCAR racing. 😉 You knew I’d say that! LOL I am so blessed to have your stories to read. I appreciate your DH for giving you that time to write and for encouraging you as he does. I am also blessed to have your friendship. You rock, as my students might say. 😉

    • Aw, thanks!! You’re great too! I never would have thought I could enjoy a combination of NASCAR and JAFF and yet you’ve done it! Still hoping for that full length story sometime!

  6. Second breakfast is a common occurance in my house too. My biggest obsession is definitely Austen. I do not have any local friends to share this obsession. I have my Jane Austen action figure sitting on my desk at work along with several other Austen related items. I am known to frequently change other’s computer desktop with Austen quotes or pics. I don’t think my coworkers quite know what to do with me.lol.
    I won a ebook copy of your book, Letters from the Heart early in January. I have not received it yet, but I am excited for when it comes as it was already on my TBR list. Wonderful post.

    • I know your pain of having no local friends! Releasing my author pic is about as public as I’m making this obsession known. Very few people I know in real life have a clue how deep the obsession runs. I’m so sorry about the delayed prize! It was my fault entirely! I thought I sent that as soon as I got the notification. I should have my to do list in that picture as well because it’s what helps me get through the day as well and there are drastic issues when I don’t keep to it!

  7. I, for one, am very thankful for your obsession, Rose. 🙂 Hmmmm….my obsessions….reading (especially and nearly exclusively JAFF and regency), writing, and time alone to think are my biggest obsessions. But, I am also a bit of a grammar nerd and obsess over that at times–seriously this comment will be read and edited several times before I hit post. (And the fact that I used the word times twice in that sentence bothers me, but I will leave it.) And I have issues with things being arranged in particular ways that feel right. (No, it is not a set pattern, but a feeling.) And then there are specific ways to fold clothes (my DH refuses to fold my clothes since he knows I will redo it the “right” way) and load dishwashers (Yes, I have rearranged the dishes on occasion), and now, I should stop before I become too embarrassed. 🙂

    • Oooh, I like time alone to think as well. Somehow I was spared the grammar nerd obsession. I had to give up on the folding clothes the right way after a towel folding incident in the first few weeks of marriage. Well, actually it took me a few years to realize that making it into such a big deal made my husband afraid to fold anything and now it’s about the only piece of housework he won’t touch. I just pretend to not see when he loads the dishwasher incorrectly. Nothing so embarrassing!

    • Hahaha! I never said I do any of the things well! But I’m happiest when I’m busiest. Maybe that’s what I loved about Elizabeth Bennet. I am not a great reader and take pleasure in many things. I really am not that well read. I just really stuck with Louisa May Alcott and then Austen and one or two historical fiction series. I’m sorry but I’ll never see the appeal of Hemingway…or necessarily Dickens. Don’t get me started on those Bronte sisters. See? Not a great reader, just an obsessive one. 🙂

  8. A wonderful post which resonates with me. You are fortunate and enjoy. I read and love every minute and walk everyday as well as travel infrequently. Best wishes.

    • Thanks for your happy wishes! It’s a crazy life but it’s mine and the only one I’m going to get so I try to remember to laugh and enjoy it. I would love to travel more. What has been your favorite destination?

  9. Unlike many of you, I never read JAFF. In fact, my life was so hectic that I did not even know it existed until after I published “Darcy’s Passions.” I have learned to accept my OCD tendencies and the fact that my floors do not always have to be perfectly clean. I do have a way of organizing, which few others understand. I suppose my main obsession is books. When I was in college, one could find me in the stacks, sitting on the floor with twenty or more interesting books spread out in front of me. I cannot walk by a bookstore without going in. I have difficulty throwing a book out. I can give it away to someone who will read it, but throwing the book out HURTS.

    • I’d love to see a pic of your library, Regina! Or perhaps know how many books you have on an ereader, then! My husband and I have moved a lot in ten years of marriage and we cannot get rid of books either. We just keep toting them all around, even college text books I’ve not been able to sell. Thankfully, the math and science ones sold quickly. At least this way I can pretend one day I may actually open up all those old things again. In an ice break exercise in college freshman year a professor asked our class what we enjoyed most, what we thought our passion was. Everyone else sounded like they had their whole lives figured out. At the time my only answer was learning. I think that’s why I first loved books. I had trouble learning to read, but once I knew they hid the secrets to knowledge, it began an obsession that has never ceased.

  10. Rose looking forward to knowing you more! Thanks for letting us know you and we all have the same obsession! My obsession is to read as many JAFF books as posible. Lol

    • I like to remind myself as often as possible that I am not alone in my obsession. I watched the half-time show for the Super Bowl for the first time in years last weekend. Seeing and hearing that many fans being entertained by that was so strange. Most of my interactions these days are with JAFF writers and readers. I kept waiting for Darcy or Elizabeth to show up and keep my attention. Glad you’re “one of us”!!

  11. I loved your post Rose. I have a couple of other obsessions that are embarrassing because no one understands them.. Horses, but not just horses, learning to ride sidesaddle which came easier than either western or English style. How the Egyptians prepared their dead (mummification). Lastly the middle ages and their legends, both Arthurian and Robin Hood and searching their origins. Now JAFF and family tree research.

    • I know very little about horses (and hence they seldom appear in my books). I had no idea there was a difference between Western and English styles of riding. Ancient Egypt was one of my first historical loves! I don’t remember much now, other things caught my interest and as a historian it’s a hard field to break into. The idea is that you can find enough primary resources to come to a new analysis or conclusion about something. But most documents before Modern European history have been gone over so much. For example, it’s rare to find something truly new about the Crusades. And I’m not into archeology, so I realized I had to turn my interests to more recent eras. I do love Arthur and Robin Hood though! One day I want to do a Robin Hood and P&P cross-over. I have an outline of that scribbled out somewhere. I like family tree research too! I don’t know much about my own but my husband’s aunts have done a lot. And bizarrely I like to just track the peerage lines. There was one ducal line I was looking at where about every other generation had several sons and all of them seemed to have some kind of aversion to marriage and legitimate issue so the title was forever going off to a cousin. So strange!

Your thoughts are precious!