I love Shakespeare. I know it sounds cliche for a writer to say that, but I really do. Shakespeare turned me on to reading. When I was in school, I was not much of a reader. In fact, I largely tried to find ways out of reading the assignments. Then about halfway through my junior year of high school, Ms. Benedusi handed out Hamlet 3.1 and asked us to figure out what was going on in that scene.
I still remember my utter confusion at what I read the first time. I made a second pass and thought, “wait a minute, is this guy talking about killing himself?” Then a third and I realized he had some serious angst. I suddenly was into the inner conflict in the soliloquy and I was hooked on how cool Shakespeare was.
For me it proves the magic of writing; the almost spiritual ability to create intimate moments that are contiguous and continuous across incredible gulfs. I mean here was the great Elizabethan Bard connecting with some 16 year-old American punk about adolescent angst. Wow!
An incredible amount flowed out of that moment. Including the best course I took in college (and the only one that I attended every session of). I still have the text book on the shelf in my living room and in some ways I feel like it is an anchor and spiritual guide for my desire to write. Fundamentally my desire to write comes out of a passion to be read and to make connections, to leave some positive marker of my time here, in the same way that the great Bard touched one ordinary 16 year-old and one English teacher inspired him.
I haven’t spoken to Ms. B in 23 years, but if I can find her e-mail address I plan to send her this, a link to my blog, and tell her Thank You.