I am Kat, the writer of the new blog, Thornfield Hall. You may know me from Mirabile Dictu, an online book journal I wrote for six years.
Every writer reaches a stage in her career when her or she is fatigued or blocked. She sits at an untidy desk and writes on an ugly gray computer. For fun, she reviews small-press books nobody else will touch (her friend the literary magazine editor went to school with the small-press editor).
And she has a blog, of course. But she is tired of it.
What to do next?
I am experimenting with a new kind of writing (for me): “journaling” about bookish topics in a notebook. After years of typing blog posts directly on a typewriter or computer, drafting by hand feels innovative.
Diaries and journals have long been a favorite genre. We love the diaries of Samuel Pepys, and didn’t we have a diary with a lock and key before Moleskines? In Michael Pietrza’s article at Success, “How Journaling by Hand Changed My Life,” he describes the enhanced creative experience of writing in a notebook. It was a Zen experience: he felt refreshed and calmer after writing 30 minutes a day. And, according to a study at the University of Washington, children write faster with pen on paper than on computers and tend to write more complete sentences by hand. Pietrza says adults experience the same increased efficiency.
So far, I am enjoying the journaling. Connecting with the pen on page is radically different from typing: I feel things more intensely and see things more clearly. Who knew? I’m as surprised as you are.
I needed a change. Blogging used to be fun! It had a wacky originality. There were zany, witty notes about books in progress and bookaholicism rather than book hauls. Now the typical book blogger attempts informal reviews and follows a trajectory: how he or she discovered the book, a long plot summary, and personal reactions. (I have done this too!)
And bloggers began to get bored and burn out. Lyn at I Prefer Reading wrote in her last blog post in 2017: “I’ve been blogging for over 7 years…. I feel as though it’s time to take a break & reassess the blog & what I want to do with it.” And Tom Cunliffe stopped writing A Common Reader a few years ago. He told me by email that he began to dread writing twice a week.
The format of this new blog will be slightly different, but the bookishness will remain. Now I inhabit the Gothic house which Jane Eyre, Mr. Rochester, and his mad wife Bertha briefly inhabited. Two of my favorite books are Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre and Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea (a retelling of the mad wife’s story).
Hope to see you here soon!