How I write my novels
22 Pages
English
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How I write my novels

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22 Pages
English

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The Project Gutenberg EBook of How I write my novels, by Mrs. HungerfordThis eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it,give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online atwww.gutenberg.netTitle: How I write my novelsAuthor: Mrs. HungerfordRelease Date: December 25, 2008 [EBook #27621]Language: English*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK HOW I WRITE MY NOVELS ***Produced by Daniel Fromont[Transcriber's note: Mrs. Hungerford (Margaret Wolfe Hamilton) (1855?-1897) "How I write my novels" (from MrsHungerford's An anxious moment pp. 275-282)]To sit down in cold blood and deliberately set to cudgel one's brains with a view to dragging from them a plot wherewithto make a book is (I have been told) the habit of some writers, and those of no small reputation. Happy people! Whatpowers of concentration must be theirs! What a belief in themselves—that most desirable of all beliefs, that sweetpropeller toward the temple of fame. Have faith in yourself, and all me, will have faith in you.But as for me, I have to lie awake o'nights longing and hoping for inspirations that oft-times are slow to come. But whenthey do come, what a delight! All at once, in a flash, as it were, the whole story lies open before me—a delicate diorama,vague here and there, but with a beginning and an end—clear as crystal. I can never tell when these ...

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The Project Gutenberg EBook of How I write mynovels, by Mrs. HungerfordThis eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere atno cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever.You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under theterms of the Project Gutenberg License includedwith this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.netTitle: How I write my novelsAuthor: Mrs. HungerfordRelease Date: December 25, 2008 [EBook #27621]Language: English*E*B* OSTOAK RHT OOWF  IT HWIRSI TPER OMJYE NCTO VGEULTSE *N**BERGProduced by Daniel Fromont[Transcriber's note: Mrs. Hungerford (Margaret
Wolfe Hamilton) (1855?-1897) "How I write mynovels" (from Mrs Hungerford's An anxiousmoment pp. 275-282)]To sit down in cold blood and deliberately set tocudgel one's brains with a view to dragging fromthem a plot wherewith to make a book is (I havebeen told) the habit of some writers, and those ofno small reputation. Happy people! What powers ofconcentration must be theirs! What a belief inthemselves—that most desirable of all beliefs, thatsweet propeller toward the temple of fame. Havefaith in yourself, and all me, will have faith in you.But as for me, I have to lie awake o'nights longingand hoping for inspirations that oft-times are slowto come. But when they do come, what a delight!All at once, in a flash, as it were, the whole storylies open before me—a delicate diorama, vaguehere and there, but with a beginning and an end—clear as crystal. I can never tell when theseinspirations may be coming; sometimes in the darkwatches of the night; sometimes when drivingthrough the crisp, sweet air; sometimes a word in acrowded drawing-room, a thought rising from thebook in hand, sends them with a rush to thesurface, where they are seized and brought toland, and carried home in triumph. After that the'dressing' of them is simple enough.
But just in the beginning it was not so simple. Alas!for that first story of mine—the raven I sent you ofmy ark and never saw again. Unlike the proverbialcurse, it did not come home to roost; it stayedwhere I had sent it. The only thing I ever heard of itagain was a polite letter from the editor in whoseoffice it lay, telling me I could have it back if Ienclosed stamps to the amount of twopencehalfpenny, otherwise he should feel it hisunpleasant duty to 'consign it to the waste-paperbasket'. I was only sixteen then, and it is a verylong time ago; but I have always hated the words'waste paper' ever since. I don't remember that Iwas either angry or indignant, but I do rememberthat I was both sad and sorry. At all events, I neversent that miserable twopence halfpenny, so Iconclude my first manuscript went to light the fireof that heartless editor.So much comfort I may have bestowed on him, buthe left me comfortless; and yet who can say whatgood he may not have done me? Paths made toosmooth leave the feet unprepared for rougherroads. To step always in the primrose way is deathto the higher desires. Yet oh, for the hours I spentover that poor rejected story, beautifying it (as Ifondly, if erroneously, believed), adding a wordhere, a sentiment there! So conscientiously mindedwas I, that even the headings of the chapters werescraps of poetry (so called) done all by myself.Well, never mind. I was very young then, and, asthey say upon the stage, I 'meant well'.For a long twelvemonth after that I never dreamed
of putting pen to paper. I had given myself up, as itwere. I was the most modest of children, and fullydecided within myself that a man so clever as areal live editor must needs be could not have beenmistaken. He had seen and judged, and practicallytold me that writing was not my forte.Yet the inevitable hour came round once more.Once again an idea caught me, held me,persuaded me that I could put it into words. Istruggled with it this time, but it was too strong forme; and that early exhilarating certainty that therewas 'something in me', as people say, was oncemore mine, and seizing my pen, I sat down andwrote, wrote, wrote, until the idea was an objectformed.With closed doors I wrote at stolen moments. I hadnot forgotten the quips and cranks uttered at myexpense by my brother and sister on the refusal ofthat last-first manuscript. To them it had been afund of joy. In fear and trembling I wrote thissecond effusion, finished it, wept over it (it was themost lachrymose of tales), and finally, under coverof night, induced the housemaid to carry it to thepost. To that first unsympathetic editor I sent it(which argues a distant lack of malice in mydisposition), and oh, joy! it was actually accepted. Ihave written many a thing since, but I doubt if Ihave ever known again the unadulterated delightthat was mine when my first insignificant chequewas held within my hands.As for my characters: you ask how I conceive
them. Once the plot is rescued from the mistydepths of the mind, the characters come andrange themselves readily enough. A scene, we willsay, suggests itself—a garden, a flower-show, aball-room, what you will—and two people in it. Ayoung man and woman for choice. They arealways young with me, for that matter, for whatunder the heaven we are promised is so altogetherperfect as youth! Oh, that we could all be young forever and for ever; that Time,'That treads more soft than e'er did midnight thief',could be abruptly slain by some great conqueror,and we poor human beings let loose, defiant of itsthralls! But no such conqueror comes, and Timeflies swiftly as of yore, and drags us headlong,whether we will or not, to the unattractive grave.If any one of you, dear readers, is as bad a sleeperas I am, you will understand how thoughts swarmat midnight. Busy, bustling, stinging bees, theyforbid the needed rest, and, thronging the idlebrain, compel attention. Here in the silent hours theghosts called characters walk slowly, smiling,bowing, nodding, pirouetting, going like marionettesthrough all their paces. At night, I have had mygayest thoughts; at night, my saddest. All thingsseem open then to that giant, Imagination.tHheer ec,o lmyiinngg  idn atwhen , dnaor kf,a iwnittehs ta lsi gyhett  tno os ghloimw mwehre rofetlihgeh tc tlhoes elad mcup,r ttaoino ss jloeien,p yt otoo  ipnudto loennet' st of orioste  oaunt dof
the well-warmed bed, praying fruitlessly for thatsleep that will not come—it is at such moments asthese that my mind lays hold of the novel now inhand, and works away at it with a vigour, againstwhich the natural desire for sleep hopelesslymakes battle.Just born this novel may be, or half completed;however it is, off goes one's brain at a tangent.Scene follows scene, one touching the other; thecharacters unconsciously fall into shape; the villaintakes a ruddy hue; the hero dons a white robe; asfor the heroine, who shall say what dyes fromOlympia are not hers? A conversation suggestsitself, an act thrusts itself into notice. Lightest ofskeletons all these must necessarily be, yet theymake up eventually the big whole, and from thebrain wanderings of one wakeful night three of fourchapters are created for the next morning's work.dAos nfeo,r  ftohre  owftoernk  Ii thsaelvf,e  mwirnitte eins ,t hpee rlhaastp sc,h satprtaenr gfeirlsyt,and founded my whole story on the one episodethat it contained.As a rule, too, I never give more time to my writingthan two hours out of every day. But I write quickly,and have my notes before me, and I can do agreat deal in a short time. Not that I give these twohours systematically; when the idle vein is in fullflow I fling aside the pen and rush gladly into theopen air, seeking high and low for the children, who(delightful thought) will be sure to help me towardthat state of frivolity to which the sunshine outside
has tempted me to aspire.To force the mind is, in my opinion, bad business.What comes spontaneously is of untold value. It isalways fresh, always the best of which the writermay be capable. These unsolicited outbursts of themind are as the wild sprays sent heavenward attimes by a calm and slumbering ocean—a promiseof the power that reigns in the now quiet breast.Thus dreams are of value; and to dreams (thosemost spontaneous and unsought of all things) Iowe much."End of Project Gutenberg's How I write my novels,by Mrs. Hungerford*E*B* OEONKD  HOOF WT HII SW PRIRTOEJ MECY TN GOUVTEELNS B**E*RG*2*7*6**2 1T.hziisp  f*il*e* *s* hTohuilsd  abned  naall maesds o2c7ia6t2e1d. tfxilt eosr ofhvtatrpi:o/u/sw fwowr.mgauttse nwbilel rbge. ofrogu/2n/d7 i/n6:/2/27621/Produced by Daniel FromontUpdated editions will replace the previous one—theold editions will be renamed.Creating the works from public domain print
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