I read Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen this week. Mistake. I decided a while back not to take any notice of the advice not to read novels while you are writing one (supposedly it can have an effect on your writing). Sometimes I’ve noticed that. In particular, that my writing loosens up when I read modern fiction that’s written in my vernacular, compared to nineteenth and early twentieth century stuff.
More obvious though is the envy factor – it’s hard to remind yourself every time you read something that it is the sixth or seventh or even twelfth draft, and you can’t really compare it to your first or second (or version 0.2 as I’m calling this one).
So Austen is a mistake. Her style is so polished and her dialogue so pitch-perfect that it’s hard to believe she did anything but write it out first go. Plus I found myself writing the following sentence: “or disavowal, followed by a passionate and ardent restitution of my qualities above all women.”
So maybe they were right after all.
Word count this week: 8,818
Second draft so far: 87,102
First draft: 128,661