I've been reading At Home with Jane Austen recently. Well, mostly looking at the pictures, but they are lovely pictures. One of them stood out. It's the picture of the table where Jane Austen wrote most of her novels, or so we are told. It's such a small, simple table and chair in such a small, simple room - a hallway really.
Supposedly she sat at this little table, squeezing in moments of writing here and there as she could, often hiding her work from passersby in the house, who didn't even know she was writing novels, but thought she was writing letters instead. She was a secretive novelist.
She had no laptop, no Scrivener, no writer's group, no writers conference, no blog, no Twitter, no Facebook. It was just her, and paper and ink, and a table.
And the thought of this cheers me, the sight of this little table. Because before Jane, those stories did not exist. The idea that a humble, unimportant little human being made these incredible stories that people have now enjoyed for hundreds of years - that she sat at this little table writing them, completely unaware of their future reception and her future glory, which she would never experience personally - it's awe inspiring.
Because sometimes as a writer I just feel so dang small. I wonder why I am doing this. I wonder if anyone will ever read what I wrote. And I wonder if anyone will ever enjoy it, much less love it. I wonder if it will ever matter. Sometimes the daunting nature of it all, the possible soul smashing rejection of it all, makes me want to give up.
And then I think of Jane at that little table. What if she had just given up? She had every logical reason to give up. But she wrote on because of passion, because of love, some inner drive. And millions of people have gotten to enjoy the fruit of that labor.
I'm not saying I'll be the next Jane. But Jane's table reminds me that I have no idea what I will be and it's not really my job to know - it's just my job to follow the muse and enjoy the journey.