April 14, 2024

I’m reading bits of lots of books, and today I started reading the Arden Shakespeare version of King Henry VI, part 1. This is one of his first plays, and I’m wanting to read through the canon in about chronological order so I can see how his skill developed over time. Anyway, it’s clear from the notes on the text that Shakespeare (as well as other slightly less-famous poets of his time) was extremely well-read. Latin, Greek and Roman myths, the Bible, classic works, works of contemporary poets, etc. This, along with his great capacity, allowed him to draw on a vast store of knowledge to create the imagery he used.

It reminds me how critical the early years are, when very solid foundations can be developed for whatever one’s passion may be or may become. While Shakespeare had, I suppose, far greater capacity as a playwright than perhaps anyone before or since, I don’t get the impression he was a genius in the same class as, say, Mozart, who was composing from his early single-digit years. Critical review of some of Shakespeare’s early work, in his mid- to late-20s, suggests it was fairly rough, and I’m thinking a genius on the Mozart level would present itself with a minimal development period and much earlier. I could be wrong, but my thinking is that if people found their passion early enough (in their early childhood), and their love for it caused them to spend a considerable amount of time for it for a considerable number of years, then they truly could become great – just perhaps not “Shakespeare” great, but great nonetheless. I read somewhere a quote to the effect of: That which you do obsessively from 13 to 18, you have a chance of being world class at.

Anyway, maybe this is me ruing the fact that I “wasted” 4 decades before I found my passion at age 47, but I do think how much progress I could have made in those 4 decades had they been focused on pursuing a true passion. I certainly know this is the motivation for my focus on writing for young children, and it was absolutely the focus of my last YT video.

Language truly is wonderful, and the range and beauty is practically unlimited. The imagery that one can develop, the playfulness with words, the references – it’s so great. I’ve been reading books on grammar and vocabulary, with the goal over the next several years to develop a much broader and stronger foundation that I can use for my writing. I’m hoping careful reading of the Shakespeare canon, and the commentary about it, will help expand my thoughts on the types of imagery I can create. This extends to everything else I’m reading. It’s like the more I read and learn, the more I want to read and learn. I saw a YT interview with Gary Fisher after he won the chess world championships where the interviewer asked him what he wanted to do now; he responded “I just want to play a lot more chess.”

My timeline is relatively long – I’m expecting/hoping I’ll hit my stride in 2030, putting me at 54/55. Anyway, we’ll see.

I don’t want this blog to be me talking about myself, but I need to keep writing until I can find something that might be useful to others. So I’ll just keep writing, I suppose. In my limited experience along this path, these things generally present themselves; they aren’t, and can’t be, planned out.

I need to end each of these with something that might be useful, though… Well, I don’t know if this is useful, but it’s funny reading and listening (lectures on cd, also bought at the recent used book sale) to people gush about Shakespeare. It seems they can find layer after layer of ever-deeper meaning in a single word or line. It reminds me in high school hearing someone talk about the n-number of layers of meaning of Moby Dick. I was thinking it would be fun to write a spoof “analysis” of The Cat in the Hat, reading into it 15 layers of meaning to demonstrate Dr. Seuss’s unparalleled genius, surpassing that even of Shakespeare 🙂 Anyway, I think these people can get carried away, but who knows – maybe he truly was a super mega genius, but if that’s the case then why did he write some *relatively* low-level stuff early on. I’d think that kind of genius doesn’t need a long runway to take flight. This one guy, Harold Bloom, actually compared Hamlet’s greatness to Jesus (meaning the son of God), which, perhaps by implication, he was comparing Shakespeare to God. I don’t know, but these people can be funny 🙂

Ok, enough babbling.