Tatiana and Olga 2010

Tatiana and Olga  2010

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Finding peace with one's pace

It's five years since I began writing what has since  become my Brontë novel. If I knew that statement was in my future when this journey started, I would have been shocked. It would seem fantastic.  Back then being but a reader, I some how believed books were written much  like we read them. Well as it turns out  they don't just roll out before one. Even so I'm still amaze that how long this has taken, and how much more work appears to be ahead ...just this week , three new major scenes came though and were added. As I have said, my method ( or rather how it happens ) is I "see"  a scene in my mind , or hear a line of dialogue,  I then write it down.

I use to be in a twist over how long it was taking, but no more. The book is taking  what time  it needs to take and I'm enjoying every bit of the ride. I've been deeply  drawn into Brontë history, Church history, Irish history , English history ; each one of those topics take time can swallow up a researcher whole.

 It's like putting together a vast puzzle and each new piece ( scene) snapped in effects the whole. It's great fun to also link scenes together and  it's wise too because by the time a topic's resolution  happens , each scene  that alluded to that topic along the way adds to the final impact.

This is a novel, so I make some assertions that are not 100% provable. However everything in my novel is 100 % plausible . It could have happened the way I've portrayed it.They could have said what I have them say. I don't outrage the  known facts , indeed there are usually at least one or two facts that support my notion. The fun is making the known history and the timing work.

For example, when  did Arthur Bell Nicholls learned his Parson's daughter,  Charlotte Brontë was in fact a world famous author? Very late 1849 or early 1850 according to  CB's letters. Originally I had Arthur learn of it at the Brown's, when Martha herself heard of it from her father and  then she  came "puffing and blowing " to say so to Charlotte.

Oh that scene at the Browns was lovely; but it had to go. Because I learned Arthur knew of Charlotte's authorship before that and indeed had already  read CB's books by the time John Brown  heard of CB's fame in Halifax and  Martha came gasping into the parsonage  parlor with her news.

If one follows history's  time line, there are gems to be found. Nothing works like the real history, because it throws off sparks that lead to more gems.The actual history is in 3-D, while our own pondering often are not.I had Arthur find out a different way, and its better than the scene I had to omit....more logical.

Another interesting aspect of my book imo is, it's about human beings . Human beings who are sometimes noble, sometime not, however, at bottom , essentially good and usually in an emotional uproar. Characters found in books and movies today seem to be made up of super  heroes or super villains and to add some novelty; flawed super heroes or misunderstood super villains, but heroes and villains none the less...I guess it's to prepare us for the upcoming robotic age ( only slightly a joke) But I maintain humans beings, with their fuss, goodness, failings   and mess,  are more interesting than super heroes, super villains , and certainly , robots.

A few things I've learned along the way.

Don't leave your gems of insights in the comments section of blogs

They crease to be yours then. Before I realized I was writing a book, I could be found on the blogs posting away. I'll never forget the time I felt almost physically stopped from doing so by a feeling inside... so do yourself a favor and save  what you have to say for your book.

Stop talking about your book unless asked

After 5 years I really must thank the intrepid folks who keep asking how my book is going!  Bless them! People are always free to ask! My answer has always been, " Great! " and it's true. But my point is, otherwise one gives time and energy to speaking about the topic , rather than writing the book. I've stopped going to the blogs so much and next to no  social media. I just haven't the time . Things will be different once this book is done.

Realize a book requires just about all you have 

 I wrote  the following  to someone who said they wanted to write a book,but were not sure they were " good enough" of a writer.

 I said :

 Start your book right now

One doesn’t look at cake ingredients and wonder if they can make a cake. One  starts mixing and baking. Writing is ditch digging…get your shovel and start . What writing I have seen here is more than good enough…the real question is; do you want it enough?

That is the question  one must keep asking oneself...how much do you want it? It has to be a great deal.

It's curious  that when she was young, CB asked a good many people if she should write...most said no! lol. But as a successful author when Charlotte herself was asked by young people if they should write, she told them no as well. She said every discouraging thing Papa might have said if he knew what was going on in the Parsonage parlor after evening prayers.  I have Charlotte  explain that  if one has to ask such a question, the answer should be no. That is,  if one can be deterred by another person's opinion,  then the writing life is not for you. CB was slowed, but not stopped by those opinions.You have to want it ...a lot. But I must also add...it's the greatest fun.

 1913  Romanov Diary

 My friend, Helen Azar has just published her latest book of Romanov translations in her series called " In their own words". This new volume is the 1913 Tercentennial Diary of  Tsar Nicholls II third daughter, Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna

Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna Romanov 1913
                                  Available from Amazon Here 

                           I made a short video to celebrate the event   Video

  The music is by  the excellent Russian composer, Kai Engel and  the piece is  called  "When the Lights Came On "

1913 was an important year. The Romanovs were celebrating 300 years of rule and it was the last full year of peace before  WW1. I have looked at Romanov photos for 50 years. Thanks to Helen Azar's work, I can now read their thoughts. Thank you Helen!

Okay, back to work!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Back to Haworth

The Parsonage

My husband and I decided to make a return visit to Haworth this May because frankly, we missed it, but also I learned there was Brontë material in near by Leeds University....material  pertaining to Arthur Bell Nicholls, the hero of my Brontë novel . They also have some letters of Charlotte's.

It was great to see these items in person. I had tried to get photo copies made of the items, but that would be difficult as they are bound in books. Since we traveled there,  I was able to photograph the material myself.

Haworth Moor

We wanted to return to Haworth anyway, so a quick trip was planned. We had marvelous weather,  lots of moor walking, wonderful people, the village, our fabulous Haworth B and B, Wilsons  and of course the one and only, Haworth Parsonage.  It was a grand trip.

This time we learned it is now permissible to take photos inside the Parsonage. That was very exciting. Plus on display, were  costumes from the BBC production of " To Walk Invisible" They look even better in real life; beautifully made and very evocative  etc.

Sitting room 2017

I also took part in the Wuthering Heights manuscript project . Everyone is given the chance  to write a line of Emily's book and so the missing MS is made again. It was something to copy a line from Emily's book while sitting at the Parsonage!

 2017 is Branwell's year and the Parsonage made his  room/ studio  look as if he just left it for a ramble to Halifax to meet friends...or down to  the Bull. 

Branwell's Room

The job the Parsonage does in presenting the Brontë story  is remarkable. We went though the museum each day we were in Haworth and  each time we saw something we had missed before.

Brontë Novel

 My husband is now reading Barker's "The Brontës" in order to ready himself to edit the novel. Thank goodness I have an in-house editor! lol He is also helping with the typing from the many notebooks with my handwriting. Thank you, Hon!

I'm sure I have said for many posts,"  I am  now pulling the book together from the scatted scenes" ...but now I really am...and I'm sure I will say in future posts ...oh now I really , really am! Because as  one goes into this, one sees things differently. The work redoubles and one sees earlier efforts as not quite the thing...but every step is necessary, one just keeps at it as it evolves. 

Also I am currently taking the dozens and dozens of word processor documents filled with novel  scenes and putting all the ones occurring in 1845 into a document called 1845...and I do that for each year. So scatted 1850 scenes  go into the 1850 document , the 1853 scenes goes into the 1853 doc... etc and so on for each year. Once that's done, I will pull it together year by year, like pearls on a sting  .That is how it's to be done . Use the time line that  history has given you.

 I say to people it takes so long because I'm not simply writing it, I'm living it.  I'm not a professional writer. It has to come from  my emotions and frankly, the gut; that takes awhile.

On top of that is the research....the grist for the mill!It's amazing how a piece of information can alters things. Plus new  scenes continue to come in, voices within the Brontë world, but  rarely heard, speak up

 My aim is to illustrate the known history with dialog etc. Now, I do purpose certain  interpretations of the facts at times, but that's different than changing history. Anything I go on a limb about is supported  by at least  a fact or two, if not more. The fun is to  fit the Brontë facts as I write, rather than make the facts fit my ideas. The book is for Brontë fans by a Brontë fan. What fun is it if its made up Brontë history? Believe me, in generally  history is better than our fiction  lol. 


An abundant shower of Arthurs .... 

Since posting last I learned there will be two Arthur Bell Nicholls centered novels upcoming  this fall ...eeekkk! One from ABN's  view point, (as mine is ) the other from another person's view. That put me in a sweat. Here I have been writing my ABN  novel since late 2012, and  with more time needed!

 Well, it was too good an aspect of Brontë history to remain unnoticed forever. Most Brontë authors concentrate on M. Héger, like bees to honey. Yes, there is " Romancing Miss Brontë"  from 2010. A well written book, particularly the difficult part of CBN's illness and death. But the it seemed really about Charlotte to me.

 I read on line the first chapter of one of the upcoming publications and was quite revealed to see  the treatment and voice is different than my Arthur novel. 

So now  I say,  the more the merrier! ... as I work on

I've always loved Arthur and taken his part all these years. I think Rev. Nicholls  much maligned and undervalued by history....but it seems, no more! 

Other wise I will  be working on two videos , long in production , plus working daily
on the novel of course.

The writing wasn't / isn't hard...the organizing is.

Okay! Back to work!

Alexei Nikolaevich Romanov

Thursday, February 23, 2017

A Morgan Brontë banner

 When my husband and I visited NYC to see the Morgan Library's wonderful Charlotte Brontë exhibit ,( which we did a number of times)  I would always look up  longingly at the show's beautiful street banners hung up and down Madison Ave.

Now I have one!

My husband remembered that after a show closes, the Morgan offers its street banners for sale and  he got me one! It looked smaller while hanging high above the pavement! It's 7 feet of fabulousness , now hanging in my home. It makes saying goodbye to this once in a life time exhibit  a bit easier.  I feel I grasped a few feathers from the fire bird so to speak. The show is not entirely gone

Yup, I'm a lifetime member....since 1978 

Other interesting news, I found my Brontë Society life time member card! I thought it had long ago disappeared ...but a bit of cleaning  and there it was, tucked away into that " some place safe " we put important items... A place  so safe, we often forget where it is ourselves!  It says I was a life time member since Jan 1978, however I was a fan long before that.

Though they kindly looked a couple of years ago as my request, The Brontë Society couldn't find a record of my membership ...really glad I found the proof on this end. It's great to have it back. At that time, the card  was made up as a little book, such as the young Brontës would make. Adorable

Brontë Society Transactions

BST over the years

While writing  and  researching my novel, I love to collect  old Brontë Society Transactions...the booklet the Society publishes ever year with news, new historical findings and focus pieces . It's remarkable what you find. The old ones aren't that costly and are available on eBay or Amazon. Often the articles from BST will be referenced in a book. It's great to see the original article. 

 Contemporary reviews

Lately I have been reading the original reviews of the Brontë sisters books as published in contemporary periodicals . Reviews were very different then. They were long, think pieces and not every book got one. Indeed, instead of bringing  a book to success, a review would come about after the book found favor on its own. Getting one review would be an achievement. This is why when Charlotte told her father, Patrick, her book was printed and had a number of reviews, he was impressed. 

Because reviews were often penned after a book made its own way, the whole plot is often shown. They didn't know the meaning of "spoiler  alert!"  A review was a comment on what you have likely read already.

They are eye openers...particularly those found in  "The Christian Remembrancer" by Ann MozleyHer anonymous reviews seemed to be the ones that stung Charlotte the most.  She actually wrote a letter in response to one.  She had tried to do that before, but her  publisher advised against it. This time Charlotte didn't ask them, she just let fly. Her letter  was written  in July 1853; a low time for Charlotte. Mr. Nicholls had finally left Haworth, and while the situation between Arthur Bell Nicholls and her father was stressful and irksome , having a love sick, would be suitor was  at least some support....now " he's  gone-gone..." as she wrote to Ellen.   

Charlotte's answer to Miss Mozley's  harsh review of " Villette " in a way  trail blazes  the  path  Mrs. Gaskell would later take. In that CB paints herself as a piteous figure( the sole survivor of a family of six). This was how a romantic writer, more suited to the early 19th century,  tries  to make herself understood by mid century Victorians and Mrs. Gaskell would expand upon it

Okay! Back to work!

Tatiana Romanov