Monday, September 03, 2007

birth. life. death. eternity. writing?

Lady Gresham: What is she doing?
Mr. Wisely: Writing.
Lady Gresham: Can anything be done about it?

I promised Aubrey a post, and lyrics. I am not sure how I am to tie these two together, but I believe it will reveal itself as I go on (or not, in which case this will simply have to be allowed to exist as a disconnected post).

I accomplished several tasks I had been evading over the Labor Day weekend, not the least of which included sleeping for long hours and enjoying relaxing time in the company of friends. As a reward, I treated myself to a matinee this afternoon of Becoming Jane. To be quite candid, I treated myself to two matinees of Becoming Jane today, being unable to leave just after the first showing and feeling compelled to sit through another (against propriety, as I did not return to the ticket counter in between). Granted, the reviews of this movie would not warrant a double-viewing, and I would not generally disagree with them.

The problem, it seems, is that as I have returned to writing (or perhaps, accepted the possibility of taking it seriously for the first time) I have been made painfully aware of the fate of many writers. Not that my prospects were so auspicious prior to this testing of the proverbial waters, but in illusion a girl always has hope. When you begin to transpose your dreams (and fears) into fiction, somehow reason kicks in and your own life seems to sink deeper into acknowledgement of reality. At this same time, cinema has taken a liking to the lives of female authors.

I suppose the interest has been around, to be fair. Though the quite unfortunate situation of her suicide clouds the story, Sylvia was a delightful look into the (albeit mentally unstable) mind of a writer. But then, Ms. Plath was married. I am also a big fan of Under the Tuscan Sun and the way that single Frances ends up with all of the things she wished for, though not in the way she expected... and, technically, she was a divorcee. I, myself, have never experienced marriage nor do I have any foreshadowing of the sort.

Hollywood's current obsession, however is with the spinster author - the never-married woman who sacrifices love for writing (or writes for the lack of it) or, to be more accurate, the near-spinster salvaged by a relationship just as all hope seems lost. We could harken back to the character of Jo in Little Women, based loosely on the life of its author, Louisa May Alcott, whom herself never found her Mr. Baher. More recently, we were presented with an embellished version of the life of Beatrix Potter - happily resigned to a life of singleness, until fate stepped in with other plans (though tragically, at first).

While Becoming Jane is equally as fabricated as Miss Potter, it was nonetheless inspirational (and vexing). Only, in this instance, there was no late-hour intervention and we know that this "authoress" never did marry. Intended to reveal possible inspiration behind the feisty and feminine, witty and wise female heroines of Jane Austen's novels, the movie displays Jane's intensifying romance with the written word, even as her own heart and soul is stretched thin through circumstance.

Like her characters, Miss Austen is presented as a woman capable of deep affection, hindered as it is by her possession of deep logic. She is a woman who is unwilling to settle on marriage for the sake of marriage, no matter how honorable or estimable her prospects. She is a woman who will settle for no less than someone who stirs her heart and mind. During a conversation with English Gothic novelist Ann Radcliffe, arranged by the man she hopes to marry, Jane is questioned as to the depth of knowledge she has in her chosen subject, matters of the heart. Admitting very little personal experience, Jane is assured that such knowledge will come in time or, if it does not, there is always the imagination.

And so we beat on, writing on subjects for which we have no authority. Like a peasant soup, we take the bits of understanding we do have and combine them in such a way (with proper seasoning) that they come out tasting like we have some experience in the kitchen. And, perhaps, someone will like what they taste and request more. And, perhaps, in time we will come to know a thing or two more about the characters and situations we are creating. Or, perhaps, we simply become content with the naïveté.

Find Me (Margaret Becker)

I'm gonna move on down to Elliston
Let my hair grow wild and free
Rent a second story studio
Find the other side of me
I'm gonna sit out on the edge of the fire escape
Feel a little destitute
Search for feelings that will help me remember
The love that I had for You

Find me, find me
I'll wait for You

I'm gonna give away my stereo
Give away my T.V.
I'm going back to essentials, a chair and a lamp
And the Book that You wrote to me
You see, I'm looking for the You that used to speak so clear
I'm looking for the me that had a heart to hear
And I'm looking for the passion that held me here
On the edge

Find me, find me
I'll wait for you

You see, I'm looking for the me that I used to know
I'm looking for the love that was out of control
'Cause I feel a little cold here in the afterglow

Find me, find me
I'll wait for You

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