Would Jane Austen be a coach if she were alive today?
I am a massive fan of Jane Austen. I think she is one of the wittiest, most intelligent novelists ever to have lived. So why do I say I think she would be a coach if she were alive today?
Jane Austen’s early life
She was born in Steventon Hampshire, 1775. Her father was a clergyman and she had seven brothers and one sister, Cassandra. She and Cassandra were very close. Her brothers James and Henry went to Oxford.
Jane, like all good novelists, was a voracious reader, she subscribed to as many libraries as she could and was a member of a number of book groups. Jane started writing when she was very young. Not just novels, in her early days it was plays and many letters, 160 or which have survived. Who knows whether there are more to be found?
In 1797, she sent First Impressions to a publisher, which was returned unopened. She had already written Lady Susan and Elinor and Marianne (later Sense and Sensibility).
In 1803, the manuscript of what was to become Northanger Abbey was sold to publishers Crosby and Co for £10. The novel was advertised but never appeared, she had no idea why. Not untypical with publishers and it was years before she could afford to buy the novel back. Incidentally, many people think that Northanger Abbey was semi-autobiographical, and that Henry Tilney was Jane Austen (remember, this was the nineteenth century and women had little standing in those days).
In 1811 Sense and Sensibility was finally published and Jane’s career finally took off. She was thirty-six years old and had been serious about writing for around twenty years. Like most writers (think George Orwell and J K Rowling, to name but two) she faced a lot of rejection and it took her a long time to start to make money from her writing.
Jane had the 18th century equivalent of a laptop – a portable writing box, bought for her by her father in 1794. Ok, it didn’t have a keyboard and power supply, but it did have space for all her pens and paper and was the nearest thing to a laptop in those days.
Why do I say she would be a coach?
Jane’s views on life very much followed the following, which link in closely with NLP and coaching:
Know that no effort or experiment is wasted. Think Edison. Jane went through a hard time when her father died and the family fell on hard times financially, but she didn’t give up. Give things a go. If they don’t work, work out what went wrong, modify and try again.
Keep believing in the value of what you are doing. No matter what happened, Jane didn’t give up. It’s easy to let people trample over our dreams. Much harder to keep going. Churchill said, “success is stumbling from one failure to another”.
Be determined and dedicated. One of my favourite Jane quotes is: “An artist cannot do anything slovenly”. And nor can you, if you care about your business.
Know that there will be times when you are not as productive as others. It will happen. Get over it. And maybe get a coach.
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