200 years of Pride with a sprinkling of Prejudice….

So I have been really ill for the last couple of weeks – I mean really: high fever, fatigue and no rest. Whoever heard of getting a break from gulag???? Anyway, therefore I did the disappearing act on the blog – one can only do so much – manage the never-ending expectations of a Boss, take on extra work load especially since most of your team is out with …yup you guessed it: Flu and balance needs of a sister in a mid-life crisis, a best friend who has professional issues with her workplace and a non-existent love life, who only needs your attention, when you really do not have any to give; all the while one is running a 103*C temperature almost every alternate day for last two weeks. But do I complain???? Hell no – I just neglect blogging, one of the most relaxing and joyful things in my life!

Now after digressing for some 13 mins, (Yes! I am aware I am exaggerating, but after what I have described above, everyone should humor my indulgences, which in the greater scheme of things is really minor!) let me get to the point – what I was trying to say through all this muddle is – I could not let this day go by …..after all it is the bi-centennial celebration of the greatest feminist-turned mills and boons  – turned literature-turned comedy of manners-turned brilliant critique of society-turned a dam good story!

On 28th January 1813, T. Egerton, Whitehall, published a novel, that was “written by a lady” and English Literature would never be the same: The name of the book was Pride and Prejudice.

For over 200 years, this book has shaped the understanding of the power of women and the little control that a gentle woman brought up with education and morals has over her marriage in absence of fortune, as well as shaped and honed idealistic beliefs that marriage should not be made for economic reasons. My grandmother read it and swore she was Lizzy Bennett. Might have been true in her case – she left her relatively richer perspective groom on the eve of her wedding to marry my well to do but hardly rolling in wealth grandfather. My mother too swore by the book and she herself could have made much wealthier and glittering match, for she was the belle of the town, but she settled for my brilliant and kind, albeit low-key father. As for me, well, I am not sure of the brilliant match I could potentially make – all I can say is that he is very different from what I am – chalk and cheese, library and sports bar, subtle and flash and dash…..but would not change it for the world. So my family is a living proof of the incredible debt that we all owe to this publication, two centuries ago!

What can I say that has not been said before, how can I describe the immense joy I feel, even now reading that book for like 456,452 times. I know each phase, I know each character and I know exactly what will happen next – but never for a moment, does this lessen the joy of my reading. Never for a moment do I waver in declaring this book to be one of my all-time favorites, though I know it’s very fashionable anymore. And I am always surprised (rolling eyes smiley) when I get asked such innately dumb question – you reading this book again? How can you read the same book twice? Duh!! That’s why it’s called a classic!

I know there are celebrations world over, to mark this occasion – the New Yorker ran a special column, CBC is also running some special series and all Jane Austen societies are going into overtime to honor this day. But I tumbled across this cartoon version of Pride and Prejudice, by Jen Sorensen which made me think that Ms Austen herself, had she been alive would have approved.

Do check it out!

http://www.npr.org/2013/01/27/170253360/pride-and-prejudice-turns-200

In the end – Viva Jane Austen! Viva Pride and Prejudice!

Perfection, Blocks and Blogs

For the last couple of days, I have been suffering from what is referred to in a clichéd manner as “The Writer’s Block”!  I want to understand why something that sounds so bloody positive should actually mean a dead end! I mean the idea of a writer’s block should conjure images of 1920’s Paris and the roaring twenties and the Jazz age of Fitzgerald and Ezra Pound. Or it should represent some hill side (or if you prefer a beach side; give me mountains over the sea any day; but then that’s me!) where a writing community meets every year to discuss and develop the “next break through literature”. Better yet, it could refer to a journal, a la, the New Yorker, where all the post-modernist/post colonialists/post realists/post whatever genre is in vogue now publish their posts! (Pun intended). Instead, it actually refers to my sitting in front of the laptop, staring at the blank word doc and twiddling my thumbs, while I drink endless cups of tea! (The way things are going I will soon have to graduate to drinking something stronger!)

Wikipedia (I only go to the best for reference) lists that Writer’s block can be a result of various factors working in combination or independently and includes but not limited to –

  • Creative problems where the author does not have any inspiration and may think that he has conceived a project far beyond his capabilities – My response – I am very much inspired and the narcissist that I am, I am convinced nothing is beyond me except a 10 mile marathon (Physical activity is not my forte; maybe I have a condition called Physical Block or something!)
  • Awareness of an audience can also be a deterrent for the writer and stifle his creative capabilities – My Response – Narcissist argument holds good here  again; what I will write, the world will love (Yes! I know I need to come down from my cloud 9 zone to avoid nose bleeds!)
  • Writer’s personal life may impact his writing capacity – physical illness, depression, financial constraints. – My response – Physically I am fine (I do not consider my inability to run a 10 mile a thon, a serious ailment) Depression – Nope again!  Financial Constrain – Well, that has been my condition ever since I have finished university and is now practically my best friend residing with me and my flatmate!

So after much rumination, I have come to the conclusion, that I have a unique writer’s block condition that no one has experienced before – I cannot think of a absolutely spectacular, stunningly innovative and brilliantly conceived plot, that will be handed down to posterity as the by-word of all matrimony where my male protagonist proposes marriage to my female protagonist.  I know Margret Atwood has said that if she waited for perfection she would never get a word written, but in all honesty, I cannot conceive a believable plot where my hero can propose marriage in an era of chaperoned girls and conservative morality. That’s my dilemma….I am inspired, I am aware of my audience and I am not suffering from any physical or mental ill health! (Unless you consider my eccentricity as a sure sign of madness!)  I just cannot seem to get past this chapter!

Again, per Wikipedia, the cure to writer’s block lies in –

  • Group Discussion – My flatmate alone has suffered enough through my novel high and lows (again! Pun intended and yes it’s a bad pun, but concentrate – I am suffering from lack of creativity) and I refuse to subject the rest of the world with it – I mean if I start breaking down the plot for one and all, where is novelty of the book?
  • Journals – What will I write in the journal that I cannot write in the book? I know the plot; I know the outline, it’s the detail I am struggling with! Ugh! Ugh! In fact this thought made me feel like a goat! (Don’t despair, I will explain, I am suffering from creative disability not correlating inability – Sue Grafton made a very pertinent observation on writers and ideas – “I carry a notebook with me everywhere. But that’s only the first step. Ideas are easy. It’s the execution of ideas that really separates the sheep from the goats.”)
  • List Making – List of all the innovative proposals through ages? Who is the author of this work again- the whole wide world or moi?
  • Free Writing – Well, that’s why I began this blog because per Julia Cameron  (again Wikipedia) Morning pages, which are three pages of writing without any intention of writing for any purpose, helps stimulate cognitive functions of the brain. I thought this was eminently sensible, so the blog.

But woe is me…my condition is bad……I still have absolutely no idea how to make my protagonist propose marriage!!!!!!!