Monday, May 14, 2007

Your questions answered

Dere sistas
is spelling mor important than cretivity? why duZ my mum get upset abowt fings my teacha dusnt?

Emily says: Here is something I wrote at home in the Haworth parsonage when I was sixteen:

'The Kitchin is in a very untidy state Anne and I have not done our music exercise which consists of b major Taby said on my putting a pen in her face Ya pittering pottering there instead of pilling a potato I answered O Dear O Dear O Dear I will derectly With that I get up, take a knife and begin pilling.' [The Brontë siblings' jointly kept diary, November 24, 1834 -- Ed.]

And here is something I wrote in the same place twelve years later:

'... I observed no signs of roasting, boiling or baking, about the huge fireplace; nor any glitter of copper saucepans and tin cullenders on the walls. One end, indeed, reflected splendidly both light and heat from ranks of immense pewter dishes, interspersed with silver jugs and tankards, towering row after row, on a vast oak dresser, to the very roof.' [Wuthering Heights, Chapter 1 -- Ed.]

Do you see the difference?

PC adds: Bumblebee, spelling/creativity is not an either/or situation. Emily was born with her imagination and her talent, but it was only once she had properly learned the nuts and bolts of how language gets put together that she was able to express her creativity fully.

In between writing the two things above, she spent some time at a school in Brussels learning French and German, and there is no better way to improve your spelling and grammar, and your general understanding of how it all works, than to learn another language or two.

As for your mum and your teacher, well, that is one of the mysteries of life. My advice to one in your particular situation is to listen to your mum.

FRANCIS ASKS: Dear Mlles. Brontë,
When composing a roman of the bawdy, picaresque variety, how many gypsies is "too many"?
Regards et cetera

Anne says: One. You should not be writing such books, sir. Novels should be about real things: drunken husbands, feral children, depressed governesses and so on.

Charlotte says: Two. You should only ever have one gypsy at a time, and it should always turn out to be the hero in disguise.

Emily says: There is no such thing as too many gypsies. Now go away.

PC adds: The roman of the bawdy, picaresque variety is usually episodic rather than following a single integrated narrative line, so I'd advise one gypsy per episode. However, you might want to consult the writers of McLeod's Daughters or The Bill on this issue as there is clearly no consensus here.


  1. Qu: Where does the imagination reside and what is the best method for access and being able to communicate said imaginations in such a way that the story told is not crap?

    Incidentally, how long should a sentence be?

  2. Dear Bronte sisters,

    I have a two-part question for you, m dear three authoresses:

    1. My favourite of all your novels is 'Vilette'. Does this make me odd?

    2. I am a writer by trade but I would like to try my hand at this 'creative writing' business. I am not sure where to start -- I have story ideas but they are vague and nebulous, and I fear I don't have the discipline to get them onto the page, or the in-depth understanding of tone and pace and rhythm and exposition and so on. Can I be helped by paying people massive amounts of money vis a vis a creative writing course? Or should I pursue some other option?

    Yours most cordially,

  3. The question of money is separate.

    Imagine that a young trumpet player asks you for advice. You know this person is seriously fascinated by the instrument because she is your neighbour or relative. You can tell this person to stop, and put the tin thing in the bin because hardly anyone makes a living out of it and too many try. Or you can encourage her to develop her ability, knowing she will be happy and grow as a person.

    You would do the latter, surely. Of course you may want to send her to a tiny caravan deep in the desert, but that is another issue.

    These days we have the blogosphere for writers, which makes the answer easier.

    - david tiley

  4. Dear Brontes, surely Matt Passmore deserves better than to be the consort of gypsies. There was one rather flamboyant gypsy in his last show and lo, it bombed unceremoniously. Why is the life of teh screenwriter so unpredictable?