"Write About Me"

child by the river

That was my daughter's suggestion when I was trying to pick a topic for a blog post.  She suggested I write about her and her activities in the yard and that I follow her around outside and photograph her for my blog.

Needless to say, I am not doing that but it did get me thinking.  When do we all lose that absolute self-confidence?  When do we lose the belief that we are interesting?  When do we lose the ability to say "here I am.  I am a fascinating person in my own way."? Because we are fascinating and we are interesting and really, I just want to be ten again and be totally convinced that a blog post about me is a worthy topic.

Jane Austen

Right now I am reading Jane Austen A Life by Claire Tomalin and it is fascinating.  I have loved Jane Austen for as long as I can remember and I enjoy reading about the little details of her life and personality.  Now, of course, Jane Austen went on to become a famous author and that isn't going to happen to most of us.  And of course, the fact that she became famous and her books are beloved makes her more interesting. However, we like reading about her, not just because she became famous, but also because we like having a window into someone else's life and thoughts.

I wonder how many of us are just as interesting inside, we simply aren't as good at expressing it in our letters as Jane Austen was.  I so wish more of them had survived.  Because really, Jane Austen was a woman just like us.  She had friends and family and flirtations and a social life.  She got annoyed with people and found people amusing. There were tragedies and disappointments in her life and there were moments of happiness and fun.  That is what the letters do for us.  They turn Jane Austen into a real person instead of only a famous author.  She becomes not only the woman who had to fit her writing in around her life but also the woman who had a life to fit in around her writing.  She was real.  She was interesting.  She was hugely talented but also normal.

Wouldn't you like to know a woman who says such things as

We met not a creature at Mrs Lillingsone's, & yet were not so very stupid as I expected, which I attribute to my wearing my new bonnet & being in good looks."

Or this quote, which is quite well known.

 How horrible it is to have so many people killed! And what a blessing that one cares for none of them!

Sometimes I think we can lose the real person in the icon.  Jane Austen is justly famous.  Her novels stand the test of time as few others do.  They are supremely readable and still as fresh and sparkling as when they were written years and years ago.  But Jane Austen wasn't an icon, she was a friend, a daughter, a sister.

I bet you anything that at ten years old she would have cried "write about me!" because she would have known she was interesting.  She would have been right.  It is too bad so many of us lose that conviction.


  1. That's what I love about reading people's letters, the way they bring the person to life, unfiltered, being themselves. I live in hope that more of Austen's letters will be discovered hidden away somewhere, someday.

    1. Exactly, the letters are a window into who they are as a person not just as a writer. I am nosy so I like to know the little things about people!

      I so wish there were more letters of hers. I understand why Cassandra destroyed some of them but I also wish she hadn't.

      I am always fascinated by volumes of letters. I have been looking online for more to read. Maybe the Mitford sisters....

    2. I really enjoyed the collection edited by Charlotte Mosely. I find the Mitfords fascinating (and occasionally horrifying, as with the infatuation with Hitler).

    3. That is the edition I was looking at. It's nice to know you recommend it. I am trying to restrain myself from purchasing any books for a little while. When I do give in to temptation that will definitely be one of my purchases.

  2. The paradox of Jane Austen was that she was one of the greatest geniuses EVER in the history of Western culture, and yet she was indeed very normal in many ways -- she avoided the toxic narcissism that might have taken root in such a once in a century mind.

    Nice blog post!

    @JaneAustenCode on Twitter

    1. Yes, that is why I enjoy reading her letters. The person behind the genius comes to life.