Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Don't Diss Jane Austen

by Matt Lynn

Jane Austen has been getting some flak in the press, although I guess she can survive it. An academic has been studying her letters, noted how confused they are, and how different they are from her books, and concluded that her editor must have done a lot of re-writes on her books.

That story got lots of play in newspapers, and on the web. For some reason, people like the notion that authors don’t really write their own stuff, and there is some team of the people in the publishing house who actually put the book together

But anyway, whoever came up with this piece of research obviously knows very little about how writers actually work. There is a big difference between the writing we do for a living, which on the whole we take very seriously, edit and polish and worry about, and the writing we do like everyone else, which is dashed off without much thought.

Now obviously I don’t have much in common with Austen. I’m better at tank battles, for starters. Plus I’m still alive. But my e-mails, letters, Xmas cards, and indeed blog entries might well lead you to conclude that I couldn’t possibly have written my books either.

But, of course I did. And so, of course, did Jane Austen.


  1. Have to agree - when I tweet and email I don't write and rewrite, self-edit and alter, show to my agent, pass to my small circle of readers, and give to my publisher for reading by a professinal editor and a team of proof readers... I just dash off some twaddle and there it is. Not quite the same process, is it?

  2. I hope my editor is professional... I seem to have attributed some sin - Freudian slip perhaps? (I hope my editor doesn't read this!)