Blame it on the Bard

So yeah…3 months since I made an appearance now.

It’s Shakespeare’s fault.

Shakespeare, much like poetry, is something I’ve always had trouble enjoying. I knew I should enjoy it. What’s more, I wanted to enjoy it. His works have been around for over 400 years, clearly that says something. Growing up, my mother, The Assassin, read to her brood from a condensed version of his plays. All of the story, none of the language. A decent way to introduce kids to Shakespeare. One of the downsides was it made me unprepared to meet the real Shakespeare.

Enter college. For one of my literature requirements, I took a class on Shakespeare. I could revisit the plays from my childhood, not to mention it felt like something one should do in college. Sit in an ancient classroom (well, older classroom) while discussing Hamlet. Yes.

At the end of the semester, I walked out of the class no longer interested in Shakespeare. He was just so boring. All that language! The amount of analysis that each line demanded made it more akin to algebra than entertainment. People actually enjoyed this? Clearly, the author of my childhood condensed Shakespeare knew what’s what. I kept a few of his plays for nostalgia and moved on. Yet he kept pestering me.

During my first, real job at a public library, I kept having to shelve film adaptations of Much Ado About Nothing and As You Like It. Finally, I rented them and that old interest sparked a bit. It wasn’t a total thaw, but I was inspired to buy the former, and later, The Hollow Crown during a Black Friday sale. I didn’t watch them more than once, but hey, at least they looked impressive on my shelf among the Star Wars and Marvel movies.

Cue the beginning of summer, where I discovered an interesting, little podcast called Chop Bard. It is brilliant. Suddenly the plays make sense, they are interesting, and what’s more, they are fun.

And now I’m afraid I have now developed a bit of an addiction.

Write a blog post or watch two different versions of Richard II. Do book research or watch Henry IV, Parts I and II. Actually sit down and work on the book, or go see Much Ado About Nothing at the local festival.

Today I used my break at work to walk partly across campus in the hot sun to buy a Shakespeare mug. Why? Because, Shakespeare, that’s why. Really, someone stage an intervention.

I never realized just how brilliant the characters in his plays are. Especially the villains. Villainy is something I do not write well. Any antagonists come off as “I am evil because that is what I am. Now stand back as I twirl my little mustache and laugh my evil laugh. Muahaha.” Their motivations baffle me. But look at Shakespeare’s and, while they are villains, they are also well-rounded, believable people. It’s fascinating to study how his good characters do some awful things, and the bad have moments of goodness.

Actually, come to think of it, I can clearly label this obsession interest as book research. I’m not neglecting my craft, I’m researching. Right?

Anyways, my three month disappearance can be summed up in five little words.

Blame it on the Bard.


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