Jane Eyre & the Brontë Sisters

It is Friday, May 12th, 2017, and I finished Jane Eyre earlier this afternoon. I started reading it two weeks ago + I watched the movie (2011 version) when I reached the 25th or so chapter. I was in a word, overwhelmed by Charlotte's writing. No offense to Emily, but I enjoyed Jane Eyre a lot more than I did Wuthering Heights. On one hand, I liked that WH had story line that went back and forth between past and present, + it was all narrated through the eyes of Nelly + a random passerby named Lockwood. On the other hand, Healthcliff + Catherine, the protagonists in the story, were extremely selfish people. As I was reading it, I was not rooting for either one of them. The entire book, although well written + thought out, was not as romantic, humorous, or compelling as Jane Eyre.  

Ah, Jane Eyre. There have been few books that I have read where I thought to myself: I want to be like her/him, in reference to the protagonist. Jane Eyre is definitely one of those characters. For one, Jane suffered through a terrible childhood where she was mistreated by her cousins + aunt, but somehow, she was able to go to her aunt's bedside in the end + forgive her, which is amazing. Secondly, her relationship with Rochester is adorable, but I mostly love it because they're funny together; their banter, although written in the 1800s, made me laugh out loud many, many times. Jane is a character that you are constantly rooting for, unlike those of WH. In the earlier chapters you're thinking: "When on earth is she going to find happiness? This is too depressing." and in the later chapters: "You go, Jane. You witty, brave soul." 

As nerdy as it sounds, I am currently on the waiting list at my library to get ahold of the PBS series: To Walk Invisible, a series about the Brontë sisters. I'm excited to see if what I think about each of the sisters (solely based on their writing styles) is true or not. Reader, I will keep you updated. But for now, I wanted to share with you some of the words that I underlined in Jane Eyre (lightly with a pencil, mind you. Don't freak out). 

We all know the quotes from this book, such as: "I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will." and spoiler alert: "Reader, I married him." I wanted to share some unknown quotes that stood out to me.

  • 'I knew,' he continued, 'you would do me good in some way, at some time; - I saw it in your eyes when I first beheld you: their expression and smile did not - (again he stopped) - did not (he proceeded hastily) strike delight to my very inmost heart so for nothing.' (Rochester) ... Strange energy was in his voice; strange fire in his look. 'I am glad I happened to be awake,' I said: and then I was going. (Jane)
  • He made me love him without looking at me. (Jane)
  • I saw them smile, laugh - it was nothing: the light of the candles had as much soul in it as their smile; the tinkle of the bell as much significance as their laugh. (Jane about the Ingrams)
  • Did you take any cold that night you half drowned me? (Rochester, after Jane saved him from the fire in his room by throwing buckets of water at the flames)
  • I have told you, reader, that I had learnt to love Mr. Rochester: I could not unlove him now, merely because I found that he had ceased to notice me. (Jane)
  • His features were regular, but too relaxed: his eye was large and well cut, but the life looking out of it was a tame, vacant life - at least so I thought. (Jane, talking about Rochester)
  • Well, you too have power over me, and may injure me: yet I dare not show you where I am vulnerable, lest, faithful and friendly as you are, you should transfix me at once. (Rochester, talking to Jane)
  • ...but there was ever in Mr. Rochester (so at least I thought) such a wealth of the power of communicating happiness, that to taste but of the crumbs he scattered to stray and stranger birds like me, was to feast genially. (Jane - My personal favorite)
  • 'Thank you, Mr. Rochester, for your great kindness. I am strangely glad to get back again to you; and wherever you are is my home - my only home.' I walked on so fast that even he could hardly have overtaken me had he tried. (Jane)
  • This was very pleasant: there is no happiness like that of being loved by your fellow-creatures, and feeling that your presence is an addition to their comfort. (Jane) 
  • Never had he called me more frequently to his presence; never been kinder to me when there - and, alas! never had I loved him so well. (Jane)
  • 'Because,' he said, 'I sometimes have a queer feeling with regard to you - especially when you are near me, as now: it is as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame. And if that boisterous channel, and two hundred miles or so of land come broad between us, I am afraid that cord of communion will be snapt; and then I've a nervous notion I should take to bleeding inwardly. As for you, - you'd forget me.' (Rochester)
  • 'I would not - could not - marry Miss Ingram. You - you strange - you almost unearthly thing! - I love as my own flesh. You - poor and obscure, and small and plain as you are - I entreat to accept me as a husband.' (Rochester, talking to Jane)
  • Again and again he said, 'Are you happy, Jane?' And again and again I answered, 'Yes.' (Jane, after Rochester asked her to marry him the first time)
  • Mr. Rochester came thrice to my door in the course of it, to ask if I was safe and tranquil: and that was my comfort, that was strength for anything. (Jane)
  • 'Don't address me as if I were a beauty; I am your plain, Quakerish governess.' (Jane) 'You are a beauty, in my eyes; and a beauty just after the desire of my heart, - delicate and aërial.' (Rochester) 'Puny and insignificant, you mean. You are dreaming, sir, - or you are sneering. For God's sake, don't be ironical!' (Jane)
  • 'Had you ever experience of such a character, sir? Did you ever love such a one?' (Jane) 'I love it now.' (Rochester)
  • 'When you are inquisitive, Jane, you always make me smile. You open your eyes like an eager bird, and make every now and then a restless movement; as if answers in speech did not flow fast enough for you, and you wanted to read the tablet of one's heart.' (Rochester) 
  • '...I have for the first time found what I can truly love - I have found you. You are my sympathy - my better self - my good angel - I am bound to you with a strong attachment. I think you good, gifted, lovely: a fervent, a solemn passion is conceived in my heart; it leans to you, draws you to my centre and spring of life, wraps my existence about you - and, kindling in pure, powerful flame, fuses you and me in one.' (Rochester to Jane)
  • We know that God is everywhere; but certainly we feel His presence most when His works are on the grandest scale spread before us: and it is the unclouded night-sky, where His worlds wheel their silent course, that we read clearest His infinitude, His omnipotence, His omnipresence. (Jane) 
  • 'Choose then, sir - her who loves you best.' (Jane) 'I will at least choose - her I love best. Jane, will you marry me?' (Rochester, asking Jane to marry him for the second time)
  • Whenever Rochester calls Jane an "elf."

Needless to say, I very much recommend this book. Read it if you haven't already in high school. Better yet, re-read it and underline the quotes that jump out at you.

Reagan Fleming

Rainy Days + Rereading Books

It's raining, I'm in a coffee shop, and I'm tapping my feet along to a Spotify station. It's a Sunday, post-church, and I'm looking out of the huge window-wall at a Starbucks while I write this, drink and phone to my right. Outside, I can see people hiding under their umbrellas, making a beeline for the coffee shop; they're on a mission to simply find shelter and a warm beverage. Dustin Tebbutt is singing "Plans," in my headphones, and the rain outside along with Dustin's beautiful voice is making me feel so at peace right now. I have been under a little bit of stress lately - self-inflicted as well as the inevitable kind - so to be able to write a new post with this newfound calmness is refreshing.

The reason that things have been a little on the not-so-peaceful side, is because I am making the transition from "taking a semester off" to "going back to the U and finishing up my degree." I'm so stoked that I get to finish my last year and a half with my friends. However, it's kind of stressful getting from point A (home) to point B (at school and enrolled in all the proper classes). There are a lot of processes involved, guys. Who knew. 

Let me update you all on what I've been reading/listening to/coffee beverage I've been drinking this March. I'm really good at focusing on one topic at a time, as you can tell.

  • Current coffee drink: Double shot on ice with 2 pumps of caramel instead of the classic syrup, and a little bit o' soy. Hint: there are three shots of espresso in a grande, so you're welcome. And it's the perfect amount of sweetness.
  • Current album: American Teen by Khalid. Some people say, "I've had this song/album on repeat!" and they've played it maybe three times. But seriously... I've had this album on repeat (minus when I was listening to Dustin Tebbott a few paragraphs earlier). I've listened to this album many many times - PS: it's great to listen to while writing. PPS: "Winter" is my favorite track. 
  • Current read: Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen. It's my 2nd time reading one of my favorite novels, and it's almost better the second time reading it; I'm noticing little things that I didn't before (or at least I'd like to think that I have been), and it reminds me why I love Dessen's books so much. I've been listening to the audiobook while I clean, and last night, I listened to it and read along while drinking a cup of tea - it was a crazy night. Let's take notice that this book is making me drink TEA now. This book changes you in ways you never thought possible. #CoffeeDrinkerTurnedTeaDrinkerSometimes

Below is a picture from when I met Sarah Dessen on her book tour for Saint Anything in 2015. There's something about seeing and being able to talk to an author whose books have played such a big part in your childhood/young-adult-hood and overall development as a writer. It gave me that boost of hope and and comfort, knowing that what I've chosen to do with my life isn't a waste.

Books matter. Words matter. 

I'll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from the book:

That’s the thing, though. You always think you want to be noticed. Until you are.
— Sarah Dessen, Saint Anything

Reagan Fleming

There's No Right Way to Write.

Whenever I'm stuck on an idea (or lack thereof) in a story, I tend to turn to quotes from other writers about writing, and why they write. Shoutout to Google. I usually type in: "author writing inspiration," "writing inspiration," or I get very specific and type in: "(specific author) quotes on writing." 

I always knew that being a writer is hard work... writer's block is a real thing. But, the one fact that I think trumps all, is that I love to write. I think that being given the chance to tell someone's story - whether it be real life or your own fictional character - is such a cool task and honor. 

For those of you fighting writer's block this very moment, I thought that I would provide some words of wisdom that have inspired me and given me hope to keep writing:

The desire to write grows with writing.
— Desiderius Erasmus
We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.
— Ray Bradbury
All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you: the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was. If you can get so that you can give that to people, then you are a writer.
— Ernest Hemingway
The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.
— Kurt Vonnegut
Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.
— Stephen King
The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say.
— Anaïs Nin

And my personal favorite:

Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul. When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored. We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again. It’s like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can’t stop the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the people who are together on that ship.
— Anne Lamott

I'd like to end this with my own sage advice: create something. 

No matter the extent of your knowledge about proper grammar or the correct format of writing a book/poem/short story - whatever you have to write will connect with at least one other person in this world. What you have to say and what you have to write matters to someone. Even if it's just yourself.

Reagan Fleming