Tag Archives: Reading

Jane Calling: Emma Makes Sense

The Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge 2013


Emma Thompson. She’s a definite acting fave of mine.  She can be oh so serious (Howard’s End, for one), funny (Much Ado About Nothing), surprising (Stranger Than Fiction), and even silly (Nanny McPhee). Did you know she can also write?


I found her book at the library when I was checking out all the different movie versions of Sense and Sensibility.  I knew she had written the screenplay for the 1995 adaptation, but I didn’t know I could read it.  


Product Details

image: amazon.com


Here are some takeaways from reading her book:


  • it took about 15 years to actually get SandS made into a movie
  • Emma Thompson worked on the script over four years
  • reading a screenplay script is not as easy as it seems
  • although it’s fun to read all the stage directions (Elinor takes his hands gratefully)
  • it’s fascinating to read the story broken down into bits and pieces
  • I “watched” the movie as I read the script
  • I better understood each character having to focus on each of his or her lines
  • I would like to write a screenplay of a novel someday
  • Maybe not


That was the first part of the book–the screenplay.  The second part dealt with Emma Thompson’s diaries while making the movie.  As a writer and an actress it gave her a lot to write about.  My biggest takeaway from reading her diary?


  • Acting is not as glamorous as it looks


I highly recommend reading Emma’s book if you like to learn more about what makes a favorite movie tick, and I learned quite a lot about the 1995 version (one of the movie sheep fainted due to getting too hot from not being sheared–they wanted wooly sheep, not naked sheep for the movie).  Oh, just a heads up–Emma is, well, kind of open in how she writes. She isn’t one to hold back on how she sees things.


 This was an unexpected find and gave me a different insight about Sense and Sensibility.


English: Emma Thompson at the César awards cer...

English: Emma Thompson at the César awards ceremony. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)




Jane Calling: Some Sensibility

Title page from the first edition of Jane Aust...

Title page from the first edition of Jane Austen’s novel Sense and Sensibility (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With finals finally over I actually have a FREE weekend with Monday off as well.  I’m dedicating my extra time to my Jane Austen Challenge and have decided to begin with her first novel.  No, it’s not Pride and Prejudice like everyone thinks.  It’s actually Sense and Sensibility, which is often overlooked, seeing how everyone is absolutely bonkers about Pride and Prejudice.  I’ve decided to do a comparison chart between the two.

As you can see there is little difference between the two.  I think the biggest difference though is Elizabeth.  She rocks.  She’s got that sharp wit and she has two proposals when most girls hope for even one.  There is also all that subterfuge with Wickham.

Then again, suffering the almost martyrdom of eldest sister Elinor as we are holding our breath over Marianne’s lack of decorum over Willoughby, is good stuff.  I really don’t know which one is the better of the two, but mention Jane Austen and it’s “Oh, she wrote Pride and Prejudice.”

Which book do you think is better?

Pride and Prejudice

Sense and   Sensibility

About sisters and their romantic interests ditto
Set in Regency England ditto
Money (lack of) is part of the problem ditto
That dratted Inheritance Law causes conflict ditto
One sister’s behavior creates problems ditto
Misunderstandings abound ditto
The mother is extremely irritating di—oh, a mother-in-law type is irritating
Handsome suitors abound definitely
A very satisfying ending Absolutely—though not perfect
English: Sense and Sensibility (Jane Austen No...

English: Sense and Sensibility (Jane Austen Novel), ch.44. Willoughby is coming at Cleverland to explain himself and beg Marianne’s forgiveness Français : Sense and Sensibility (Jane Austen), ch.44 : Willoughby, ayant appris la maladie de Marianne supplie Elinor d’entendre sa confession (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thus begins the long journey…

Felonious stupidity. I should be arrested for being so dumb. Why did I say yes to something that I can’t possibly commit to?


Because I am an extra credit junkie.

The lure of an “A” has often caused me to do things I regret later.  Out of all the extras I have done though, I haven’t ever gone so far as to sign up to write what amounts to a seven page essay everyday for thirty days.  Forget about being arrested for committing a crime of stupidity, I should just be committed. Committed for being crazy.  It really is crazy to think that I am going to be able to write 1,600 words a day for the next thirty days.

Actually, because I am such a procrastinator I am already 3,200 words in the hole.  I should quit before I am not even ahead.  That EC “A” beckons me like the dark chocolate Dove bar stashed in my desk drawer.  Besides I already told my English teacher, Mrs. X,  I would do it and she will be checking my progress throughout the month.

So what did I sign up for?  National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, just plain NaNo.  The idea has been around awhile and while I’ve never heard of it  Mrs. X has and she announced last week, “If any of you are willing to go the distance of the thirty days and bring me your certificate of completion it’s worth 200 points.”

We were all stunned.  She never hands out that much extra credit.  That’s the value of a unit assessment.  Considering how much I want to get my lackluster “B-” up to an “A” I didn’t allow reason to have any voice when I signed up. Oh, yes. She made us sign up and posted it on the bulletin board for the entire class to witness.  We are supposed to write in how many words we write everyday.  As added incentive she said we will  get an extra 50 points if I create a blog.  No names will be mentioned unless I forget to X them out.

This is my first blog and I don’t really know what I am doing.  I read other people’s blogs and always thought it would be cool to create my own. I am a bit inept when it comes to technology. It took me over an hour to figure out how to set up my blog page, and I played around with header photos and background colors and theme options until I realized I hadn’t actually done any writing. At all.  I did mention I am a procrastinator, didn’t I?

This whole NaNo thing is supposed to be about me writing a book instead of writing whatever comes to mind.  I love to read–in fact, I practically devour books, but I can’t think of anything I want to write about.  At least an idea that would constitute enough for a novel.  I have to admit the idea of committing to writing almost 1,600 words a day is both frightening and enticing because I do love words almost as much as I love reading.

“Words, words, words.” That’s from Hamlet, the best play ever.  At that point in the play Hamlet was feigning madness and Polonius was trying to see if Hamlet was really mad or not. Words can make a difference in all things.  They deceive, illuminate, shape, change, and Shakespeare is the all time champion of words.  I read he introduced around 2,000 words into the English language.  2,000! My parents introduced me to Shakespeare when I was nine with Midsummer Night’s Dream and I became a Bardanator shortly after.  A Bardanator is a Shakespeare enthusiast. It’s more than being a fan. It’s someone who understands.  It goes beyond knowing factoids, trivia, and spouting quotes.   That’s what I tell myself, anyway.

No one at my school is much interested in Shakespeare and last year in ninth grade a collective groan resonated when Mr. Y announced we were studying Romeo and Juliet.  I had already read it–last count I’m up to my fourth time through.  The way not to read it is with a bunch of fourteen year olds who can’t pronounce Old English and can’t get past sounding like monotone humanoids.  The teacher had the class switch to the No Fear Shakespeare  format and we finished the play reading it in contemporary language.  Not the same thing.  Not. Not. Not.  I would never appreciate Shakespeare had that been my first Bard encounter.

That’s an idea for my book.  Something with Shakespeare.  Maybe rewrite one of the plays in a modern setting.  Like West Side Story is really Romeo and Juliet. Mom has the DVD collector’s edition and we watch it together at least once year.

Right now Mom and I aren’t getting along.  I don’t know why.  Then again I do.  It’s really rotten to admit this, but she’s not my favorite parent.  There I’ve said it.  Freely confessed.  Now I can feel terrible and lay awake all night swathed in guilt.  Since lightning did not strike me, I will try to explain why I feel that way about Mom.  It’s not that I don’t like Mom; it’s just that I like Dad better.  That sounds way worse.  Parents aren’t supposed to show preference  for their children, so children shouldn’t either.

Here’s what it is.  My parents are both writers.  Dad is a free-lancer, which is getting more and more difficult to do these days, he says, but he’s pretty good at it.  He’s been published in all kinds of magazines like Smithsonian, The New Yorker, Esquire, Dwell, National Geographic, and even Parents. He travels around going on assignment and I don’t see him as much as I would like.  When he comes home from one of his trips he goes right into work mode and works on his assignment until it’s done.  When it is done and sent off to his editor he is all there and we do such amazing things together. One time we went on an alphabetical scavenger hunt where we each took half the alphabet and came up with places in our town that started with each letter and then we had to visit each place in the span of ten hours.  That’s the kind of dad he is.  He is a bit of a Christmas package dad, I guess. I wait ever so long for him to finally be all there and then when he is, the day is immeasurably fantastic.

Mom is also a writer.  She does catalog blurbs.  Kind of cool, but also kind of embarrassing. I can go to most any library or bookstore and find a magazine that  contains a byline article by Dad.  With Mom, her stuff is in lots of name brand catalogs, like J. Crew, Abercrombie and Fitch, Lands’ End, but there isn’t any byline or writing credit and most catalogs end up in recycling or usually the trash.  Besides Mom stays home.  All the time.  She doesn’t like to go out when she is writing out copy and I have to be quiet because she can’t concentrate with noise.  Either she’s on her iPod or I am.  We tend to tune one another out.  That’s the way it is when Dad is gone.  Mom retreats into workalone mode.  Do Not Disturb signs appear.  Metaphorically.  I keep to my bedroom.  Then again, when Dad’s home she’s so different.  She laughs more, she’s more flexible and spontaneous, and we go out and see movies, plays, visit museums.  Instead of seeing her as a my Christmas package mom I see her as giving her best to dad.  Dumb adolescent anger, I know.

I’ve done everything except start my novel.  Then again I learned in English that a writer’s background influences his or her writing.  Edgar Allan Poe, for example.  He wrote all these dark, creepy stories where someone is dying.  I think that is because he had so much death in his own life: mother, surrogate mother, wife, cousin–who wouldn’t be influenced by so much death? I guess having professional writers for parents has influenced me.  I’ve had a hybrid education of homeschool, public, private, and no school. We have what I heard my gran describe as an “eclectic way of coping.”  I have lived in yurts, condos, houseboats, and even a treehouse. If background influences a writer, then I’m even curious what my novel is going to be about.

This is not close to 3,200 words. But at 1400 I’m calling it good for a start.  I will be amazed if I come back tomorrow.  We’ll see…

English: warning about stupidity

English: warning about stupidity (Photo credit: Wikipedia)