Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Teaching Hamlet

Today I finished up teaching Hamlet in my Shakespeare class.  I love Hamlet (and Hamlet--alas for my crush on the pre-goth, pre-emo, emo/goth grad student!). The play never fails to move me to tears, no matter how many times I've read it or teach it.  There is something that breaks my heart when Hamlet dies--his struggle through the whole play is to survive and bring Claudius to justice. He fails in the former.  The struggle to do the right thing in the right way in a corrupt world among weak, corrupt, or evil people simply moves me.  "Now cracks a noble heart," indeed.  

And, the older I get, the more I feel for Ophelia. When her brother leaps into the grave, I can't help but roll my eyes, just a little bit, but when he tells the priest that she will be a "ministering angel" while he "liest howling," I believe that he is right. The limited rites she gets in death because she *might* be a suicide smack of hypocrisy and ruthlessness.  

I studied Hamlet extensively my senior year in college, writing my senior thesis on some of the films. Early in the fall semester, my mother died. By spring, my father was dating someone else. It was nothing as untoward or ugly as Claudius, and indeed she proved to be wonderful for my dad, and is now my step-mom without any of the wicked Disney connotations.  Still, there were times I had to step away from the play, for obvious reasons. But it stayed with me, all this time, and the struggles of the characters seem so real to me.  I hope I did it justice for my students!  

Con Carolinas

Con Carolinas--a yearly sci-fi and fantasy con in Charlotte NC--was awesome this year.  I went for the first time four years ago. My how time does fly. The first time I went, I met several of the folks who are a part of Magical Words. This year lots of them were there again. (Specifically AJ Hartley, David B. Coe, Edmund Schubert, Stuart Jaffe, Kalayna Price, and Faith Hunter. Misty Massey was sorely missed!)  I was on panels as part of my other work as an editor, and that was fun. 

But far and away the best part of CC, and cons in general, is hanging out with other writers.  The business side is good--networking, chatting about how-tos, listening to people talk about how they do things.  BUT, my favorite is just being social. I love being around people who "get" the whole writing thing because they do it too.  

And Sarah and I threw a party.  It reminded me of parties I had in grad school, though mostly my place was way too small (and that's saying something, since this party was in a hotel room.)  It felt like college, and the hotel was like a dorm: people sitting around on beds, on tables, on window sills. People drinking beer, whisky, chocolate red wine (as an aside, I thought that was awesome--it tastes like yoo-hoo with alcohol or Bailey's) and eating snacks. 

People talked about writing, about Buffy and Firefly, about Shakespeare, about stupid things we did in high school and college, and that was just around me.  

But being social was great, and, like so many other folks, I left the con energized and ready to work. I even participated in Allen Wold's workshop and have come up with a plan for a new novel. (Ooh! New Shiney!!)  That will be on the backburner as Sarah Adams and I work on the second novel in the Knightspelle series and I finish revisions on Hell Mary. Looks like I'll be starting it in late August or September.

So, my advice to writers is to find a good con nearby you, with a good writer's track, and go. Go and chat with folks, tell them you like their books, get them to sign them, ask them questions, find people to have lunch or dinner with, and then just enjoy being around people who get it.  

Writing is a solitary activity a lot of the time--even my co-author and I write separately and then bring our work together--and so having the chance to meet others, to make friends, and to have a good time *as writers* is so important and such a good thing.