In my journey into writerdom, there are two (of many) pivotal moments that are of particular relevance today. The first was when my 8th grade English teacher suggest I read Pride and Prejudice. The second was when I was stressed about my college graduation and my dad gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever received.
Jane Austen first. Needless to say I devoured Pride and Prejudice, and went on to read all of Austen’s novels within the next year or so. I guess you could say Austen spoke to me like no one else ever had. Despite the old-fashioned language, her books were insanely digestible. They were lighthearted, funny and romantic. They were page-turners. And yet they weren’t cheesy or fake or overly dramatized. They felt real. I’ve said it before, but I think her writing style is a big part of what led me to YA. The language, while brilliant, is simple and direct, letting the story and the characters shine through. Austen doesn’t rely on complicated metaphors or symbolism to get her point across. She tells it like it is, and as a result, her novels are timeless accounts of human nature, whether in her era or ours. Even though I write about completely different subjects, in the end, I write about people and their interactions with each other, and if my writing is half as authentic as Austen’s is, I’ll know I’ve succeeded.
And now to that moment just before college graduation. When I was freaking out about what to do next with my life, as nearly everyone is at that time. As I weighed the different paths and options available to me, my dad gave me some awesome advice. I’m going to misquote it, but it’s something along the lines of this: “Don’t worry about all those different choices, because I know that you’re going to be a published author.” He said it as simply as that, and I know he believed it. And it turns out, he was right.
So Happy Birthday to Jane Austen and my dad. Looks like December 16th is a great day to be born!