A Journey with Shakespeare

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Why, hellooooo there. I don’t think I have ever gone on this long of a hiatus since I started my blog. I’ve been battling my perfectionism demons and my online summer classes ( seriously online and summer should never be in a sentence together, talk about horror!). Tomorrow I end my battle with these classes by writing essays for the finals. Then I’ll just have a little over a month till the Fall semester starts back up again. I’m hoping the break gives me time to center myself. I need to be reminded why I am paying to go to college, not for the good grades, but to learn. I’ve forgotten that over the course of this year. It’s been a fight.

I don’t know if any of you have taken an intensive (and extensive) Shakespeare course before, but it is a truly humbling experience and it made me cry many times (for very different reasons). At first, I got frustrated because it was the first English class that I ever wrote papers that consistently got graded as B’s. In other courses, I wouldn’t have minded, but this was SHAKESPEARE. I was probably one of the only students in class that had made the pilgrimage to Shakespeare’s home, gosh darn it. That probably seems ignorant and snobbish, because it was. I’d never been critiqued at that level before. It was a tough pill to swallow. I’d always been good in English, it was my thing, and I was proud of the joy and ease that I had always had from those classes.
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**In front of Shakespeare’s home, even then I thought it was incredible**
Shakespeare, and my professor, had other plans for me though. I read the plays word for word, refusing to cheat and use Spark Notes. I read Romeo and Juliet (again), Macbeth (again), Titus Andronicus, Twelfth Night, King Henry V, A Midsummers Night Dream, and King Lear, trying to understand the many meanings and the paragraphs of footnotes at the end of every page. And did I mention that the book literally weighed 10 lbs, no joke. I did develop back problems over the semester and sometimes I wonder if good ‘ole Shakespeare was the culprit. He literally weighed me down.

Then came the paper prompts which I struggled to evaluate on a deep level because half the time I struggled to comprehend what Shakespeare was saying in the first place. Go figure, and this is the guy that half of our english expressions come from.
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I went to office hours, I participated in the class discussions to the best of my ability, feeling pretty lost most of the time. However, slowly, I somehow managed to make an A on the last three papers. And the crazy thing was, I’d never felt so happy about myself before. It was my first real “growth” experience in academic writing AND reading. And then, I read King Lear last, and I genuinely cried at the end of the play (okay not bawling, but genuine little tears forming in my eyes). I finally understood the power of Shakespeare and I was no longer trying to fight him.

As a writer by nature (whether or not a decent one, I couldn’t tell you), this was perhaps a pivotal moment for me. It is one thing to say, “Yes, I’ve read this great classic,” but a whole different thing to be moved by literature. If I had never been pushed so hard by my (amazing) professor, I may never have developed the relationship with Shakespeare, and literature in general, that I have now.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always known the power of literature and had tinglings of it before, but Shakespeare opened my eyes up to a lot. Taking creative writing and Shakespeare at the same time was like a perfect medley. It gave me the behind-the-scenes perspective, and it was pretty mind-blowing.

Voltaire once said, “Writing is the painting of the voice.” I know that now more than ever. I’ll never forget the awe I used to feel every week as I would walk into my art history class. Some of the greatest paintings of the last few centuries flashing before my eyes. Art, both written and visual, has an incredible power that I always could sense when I would turn the final page of a book, and experience the heartache that came at glimpsing that blank page that signaled the finality of the story you just invested all of your being in- exhaling and taking it all in slowly, images and thoughts whirling through your mind. But now, I can appreciate it so much more, and understand it at a deeper level.

At the end of the day, it is a daunting adventure a writer embarks on as they write down those first sentences. Most of the time, the road to the end is unclear, even to the one who creates. I feel like I have big shoes to fill. Not that I plan to be like Shakespeare or even ever to be a public writer. But the knowledge alone of the immense power of a bunch of words grouped together, just so, just like the perfect brush strokes in just the right way, those things can last a lifetime and have the power to make a difference.

So, this is what writing is for. Now, I leave you with a quote that eloquently (of course) sums up everything I had hints of in the past, but now understand with awe at the ones that can achieve it. Happy writing everyone!

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**All images except for the picture of me came from Pinterest.com**

~~I would also like to thank my family and M for supporting me through this semester. It was rough, and at times I didn’t think I could do it, but you never lost faith in me, and because of your support I have the satisfying ability of being able to look back at this semester with hindsight and growth. You all rock! Truly. And surprise, surprise, I don’t hate my professor either 😉

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3 thoughts on “A Journey with Shakespeare

  1. Reading this and reminiscing about your early writings (circa 1996) makes me smile. From the “Daily House,” which I ALWAYS read, to now…I don’t have the words.

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