How is my Jane Austen exercise coming along?

Maybe, there is hope for me as a writer.

I am definitely suffering from a crisis as a writer. I used to write 25 blog posts a year and I was continuously working on a book, little by little but persistently. Then, in February 2017, something happened. I still do not know what it was. Was it just low blood-pressure making me totally tired and washed out or was it also the accompanying anxiety, which got a lot worse than usual. I started the Jane Austen exercise several times, but only did it once or twice and then relapsed in chronic fatigue – or whatever this new state is – for months. I really do not think it is writer’s block. Although, it could be. I do not know. All I know is: I only wrote 15 blog posts in 2017 and did no book writing; and it got worse this year: still no book writing and only one blog post.

The upper paragraph is an example of bad writing. All kinds of associations crawling one on top of another. But that is all I have got. A mess in my head regarding the reasons, why I cannot write anymore. But maybe I have found a solution. Let us see. I resumed the Jane Austen exercise two weeks ago and have been doing it continuously. Maybe this will drag me out of the mess.

Let me sum up, what the Jane Austen exercise looks like: I read only half a page of the novel a day, but over and over, let’s say about ten times. Then I translate this half a page from the original English language to my mother tongue – Slovenian. Then I close the original hardcover Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and feel awe at having held a masterpiece in my hands. I turn to the computer humbly, read the half a page of my translation and without peeking into the original I try to reproduce the half a page in English. Or in other words: I translate it back to English trying to come as close to the original as possible.

Then, naturally, I check my words with the original. I correct my half a page using track changes in Word. I go over the text again and strive to remember my mistakes for later.

In a few days, when I have reached the end of a chapter, I re-read the chapter about ten times, close the book and struggle to re-write the whole chapter without looking at the original or my translation. I usually remember about half to two thirds of the content. The exact wording differs from the original of course, but I manage to capture the basis plot.

Even though the chapters are short – about 4 pages – I think, maybe, it means something to rewrite the chapter without any help. So, maybe, there is hope for me as a writer. I hope so. I hope you have not seen my last book in Out of the Forest and into the City, my second paperback darling.

Take care,

Helena Smole, author of:

– a fantasy novel with romance Vivvy and Izzy the Dwarf: A series about relationships

Balancing the Beast, a book offering a bright view of schizoaffective disorder ˗ bipolar or manic-depressive type

2 Responses to “ “How is my Jane Austen exercise coming along?”

  1. Helena, I wish you would start writing poetry in my challenge each week. Here’s the link: https://colleenchesebro.com/tanka-poetry-prompt-challenge-guidelines/. I publish the challenge post each Tuesday. Join in. You can meet some new folks. <3

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