She was looked at however, and with some admiration; for, in her own hearing, two gentlemen pronounced her to be a pretty girl. Such words had their due effect; she immediately thought the evening pleasanter than she had found it before – her humble vanity was contented – she felt more obliged to the two young men for this simple praise than a true quality heroine would have been for fifteen sonnets in celebration of her charms, and went to her chair in good humour with every body, and perfectly satisfied with her share of public attention. (Northanger Abbey, chapter 2)
Such were Catherine Morland’s gratified feelings after her first, and mostly unsuccessful, ball at Bath. As you recall, she’d not been able to dance because of having no acquaintance in town (a fact Mrs. Allen bemoaned again and again). Yet, Catherine had been admired, and that, for the moment, was enough to satisfy her. Jane Austen understood human nature well; she knew that a simple word of praise goes a long way. It can quench the thirst for approval and give encouragement to carry on.
I can relate to Catherine. I’m sometimes discouraged by how slowly my writing career is progressing. I work hard and seem to be getting close to a breakthrough, only to be disappointed again. But a small morsel of praise now and then goes a long way. Suddenly, the day looks brighter and my humble vanity is contented.
Consequently, today I am in good humour with everybody and perfectly satisfied with my share of public attention. Why? Because my short story (Mr. Collins’s Last Supper) made it into the finals of the Jane Austen Made Me Do It short story contest! Woo-hoo! It may not ultimately win, but for now this small victory is enough to keep me going.
I suppose I shouldn’t need anyone to validate my work. And, according to Jane’s words above, being satisfied with less than fifteen sonnets celebrating my charms means I’m not a “true quality heroine.” I’m okay with that. I’m just grateful people took the time to read my story, appreciate it, and vote me into the finals. Thank you one and all! I’m very much obliged.