I had a lot of fun last week watching the Shakespeare rom-com “As You Like It” as performed by the Southern Maine Association of Shakespearean Homeschoolers. No, I am not making that up.
I love Shakespeare. “As You Like It” is one of my favorites — funny, dirty, whimsical, insightful and with some great quotes. I was pleasantly surprised that the performance was really good.
At intermission I overheard a woman say to her kid, “Are you getting any of this? Really? ‘Cause I’m not.”
I felt bad for her. She was missing a hell of a show.
Going to a Shakespeare play isn’t like renting a DVD of “Hangover II.” I’m not trying to sound like a snob, but even though I’ve seen “As You Like It” many times before, I boned up before I went. A little homework goes a long way. A whole beautiful world opens up when you can follow what’s going on in a Shakespeare play. I feel bad for anyone who feels they have to endure one, rather than enjoy it.
So what’s this got to do with mystery writing?
I talked to a writer recently who didn’t seem to enjoy writing all that much. He quoted that old saw, “I enjoy having written, not writing.” He was a cool guy, and a successful, published writer, so this may sound weird, but I felt bad for him.
Writing, like Shakespeare, is not something to be endured. It’s something to immerse yourself in. Another cool guy and successful writer I talked to recently, Gerry Boyle, captured it well. He told an audience at Augusta, Maine’s Lithgow Library that he doesn’t feel right when he’s not writing. I know what he means. I often tell people it’s like a drug.
I’m not sure if the cure for enduring writing is as easy as it is for enduring Shakespeare. With the bard, a little homework and some actors who can sell it make all the difference in the world. Loving writing, I think, is more visceral. I’m not sure where it comes from, but I’m glad I have it.
I felt sorry for the woman who wasn’t enjoying “As You Like It.” I was glad I wasn’t her. Not only glad, but relieved.
I’m “yet to be published,” but it doesn’t make me resent my writer acquaintance who doesn’t like to write. I’m relieved I’m on the other side. He’s missing a hell of a show.