I will admit to initial trepidation myself, even. This Shakespeare stuff was weird and awkward and didn't make any sense was the general consensus and I had no reason to believe to the contrary. Until I actually started to read the stuff, that is.
I can't explain it. But those words SPOKE to me. The rhthym, the music, the way the lines of text even looked on the page of my school-assigned purple-covered paperback edition (which, larcenously, I don't think I ever actually gave back at the end of the year, so enamoured was I). Something about the language just hit me. I chose Juliet's speech in the so-called 'balcony scene' (the one that starts out 'Thou knowst the mask of night is on my face') and... I memorized it.
I was the only one in the class who did that. Learned it 'by heart' as it were.
It set off a chain reaction that has culminated in my life's passion. It also got me a week's worth of 'weirdo' stares from my classmates (but also earned me bonus marks from the teacher - heh!). That one speech - and performing (in however small a way) that one speech - put my little sneakered feet squarely on the path of reader/writer/actor/storyteller. It imparted, with one swift blow, a profound, passionate, undeniable love of language - specifically of words meant to shape a story, tell a tale, move an audience, ellicit emotion - that sticks with me to this day.
So my passion, at its most basic I suppose, is story. But - and here's an important distinction - it's not just the need to write. Or the need to perform. It's the act, itself, of creating something that can be inhabited by someone else's imagination. (Great art or photography or dance or - yes absolutely! cooking! - does it, too.) But it's not just the force of passion at work in most cases where something is truly extraordinary. Because when a piece of art really moves you, it's not just the passion working behind it. It can't be. It's also the craftsmanship and care and skill used to shape and hone that initial raw passion that is so vital to both the process and the outcome.
With the celebration this week of my WONDROUS STRANGE paperback release - and with me being smack in the middle of writing the 3rd book in the trilogy - I've been thinking about this idea of passion a lot. Particularly in terms of my character, Kelley. We have a shared background in the theatre and the passion that goes with it. And I worry a little bit about her because of it. Probably in much the same way my parents worried about me when I announced that it was the Theatre Or Bust for me. You have to be a little crazy to be in the acting business - I think I might have said that before - and you have to be committed. But you all so have to be disciplined. Passions are all very marvelous - but not if you let them run away with you. Let's face it - most of the time that just leads to over-writing, self-indulgence and plain old hamming-it-up-ery!
Like Hamlet says, upon giving instructions to the actors of his play: