Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Shakespeare and Never Passing on a Compliment

I got a compliment on my writing style yesterday, "You have a way with words." I'm still glowing. As I do with compliments, I analyse it, turn it around, savour it.

There are a few things that I do that make my words better. There are principles in the book "On Writing Well" by Zinsser, that still run through my head in everything I write. First of all is to write what I really mean. I always take one more look through my writing to see if anything can be cut. The result can be lean and hard-hitting. When I first started doing this, I even shocked myself. Did I really mean that? If I did, I sent it. Sometimes we couch in extra words in the hopes of softening the blow. But even cutting words are cleaner if they are sharp. No-one wants to be cut with a dull butter knife.

I can't help thinking also of Gladwell's description of talent acquisition. All it takes is 10,000 hours. I don't know how many hours I have racked up, but I do use my business writing skills every day.
Another great habit, even in business writing, is to never pass on a compliment. If someone has impressed me, I say so. And I tell them why. Look how a few nice words gave me a glow for a day. So is it for others who I pass on a compliment. And it's free.
As for Shakespeare, I was watching an episode of "Inside the Actors Studio" that got me thinking what it would be like if I had taken up acting. This is a good sign. If I am giving time to let my mind wander, that all-consuming project at work is beginning to lose its' hold.
Anyways, as we will do at mid-life, I wondered if it is too late to pursue a new activity. My body shape also is not exactly a casting ideal. Unless I were to be an extra on a fat farm or something.
But then I got to thinking about a role I've always relished; the nurse in Romeo and Juliet. I've always imagined her to be warm, round and jolly. She has the crudity of the common people, reminding me of Art's wonderful mother. She used to grab her breasts and roar how wonderful it is to be here in Canada. Look how she had grown! Anyways, I wonder if I might be able to take on a persona so completely, to be that person so completely that the audience would be carried with me through the story.
Let's see if I will add this to my lifetime achievement (or bucket) list, along with driving a race car and playing the piano.
Photo borrowed from Paul Dry Books.