Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Love is Unpredicable

“Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life;
Whole misadventured piteous overthrows
Do with their death bury their parents’ strife.

William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet, thanks to the brilliant imagination of our beloved William Shakespeare, hold the title of most famous lovers. A family feud marked by hate and violence is never an ideal environment for budding romance, but when you add in the dynamics of a flawed marriage plan, tragedy is inevitable.

The first time I read the play, I was appalled by the scheme to bring the young couple together.  Juliet swallowing a potion that would feign death, without Romeo’s knowledge, set the stage for the unthinkable to happen.  Obviously, no one had given much thought to the possible consequences.  But then, love is unpredictable, even with the wisest plan.

Perhaps this is the greatest takeaway, the parting gift from Romeo and Juliet to all lovers. The best way to avoid problems and face the unpredictable,  goes back to keeping the lines of communication operating efficiently.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Writing Rules

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Bookstore

And this, our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything.”

William Shakespeare

I try to imagine William Shakespeare reading a book on the rules of writing.  Rules create a comfort zone, even for those magnificent free spirits who feel constrained by their limitations. Grammar and punctuation give structure;  subject and verb agreement  eliminates confusion; omitting redundant words brings the thought into crisp focus.

W. Somerset Maugham once advised, “There are three rules for writing a novel.  Unfortunately, no one knows what there are.” Mason Cooley, professor emeritus of English, speech and world literature at the College of Staten Island said “there are different rules for reading, for thinking and for talking.  Writing blends all three of them.”   He didn’t elaborate on the particulars so I assume that it is an individual exploration into the three activities.  He did say, however that “when you can’t figure out what to do, it’s time for a nap.”

Writing is an inward expedition.  With every idea, word, sentence, paragraph we are constructing our personal rules.  It is our journey, our voice and our message.  When we offer our thoughts to the world, we invite others to join in the conversation. Ernest Hemingway likened it to a well supplied by fresh water.

“I learned never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.

Ernest Hemingway

The Witches’ Brew

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“Double, double toil and trouble; 
Fire burn and cauldron bubble”
William Shakespeare – Witches in Macbeth.

This week celebrates two events: Halloween on October 31st and All Saints’ Day on November 1st.

Halloween is actually a contraction for All Hallows Evening, which signifies the eve of the Christian feast of All Hallows. There is some debate about Halloween’s shrouded beginnings – harvest festivals, festivals of the dead, pagan Celtic traditions etc. – but no one pays any attention to origins when you’re out trick-or-treating. It’s a community event that promises lots of fun, chocolates and candy, goblins and scary movies.

My favourite witches’ brew comes from William Shakespeare in Macbeth. Imagine a castle and the mists coming over the Scottish Highlands.  If you look very closely, you will see the three witches stirring up trouble…

Eye of newt, and toe of frog, 
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg, and owlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.”
William Shakespeare  – Witches in Macbeth.

 

William should have the last word…

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“O Lord that lends me life,

Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness.”

William Shakespeare