A Community of Artists

Once is a touching movie about musicians and art and connection. It’s now a stage musical, and recently the touring company invited amateur musicians in to sing “Falling Slowly” with them.

Walt shared the video with me this morning, and it got me kind of teary, seeing all these musicians of all ages and backgrounds and levels of professional status in the same space, sharing their art and making something wonderful together as a little community.

Writing and publishing as a career can be hard. But one thing I’m always grateful for–the people. I’m so grateful to be part of a community of writers and readers and librarians and educators and bloggers and fans. From across the world, from all kinds of backgrounds, from major bestselling authors to first draft-ers, from experienced bloggers to people who have just found YA, it’s uplifting and exciting to share our stories and our experiences, either in person or online.

So no matter where you are in your writing journey or your reading life, thank you for being part of this community. Your voice matters.

Links Galore

Lots of great links to start your week:

The Wise Man Knows Himself to Be a Fool

Happy April Fool’s Day! I don’t like pranks so much, but I love Shakespeare’s fools. More than just a jester, these fools are witty and see beyond the status quo of the play’s world. For example, in this scene from Twelfth Night, Feste (my favorite fool!) asks Olivia why she mourns for her brother:

I love how Feste can address Olivia’s feelings of grief here while reminding her that it’s unhealthy to wallow in mourning.

Another cool part about the fool? They provide musical entertainment! This song is from the end of Twelfth Night. Spoiler alert, guys–happy endings (almost) all around:

So if you’re feeling especially foolish, check out Twelfth Night or another of Shakespeare’s plays featuring a fool.

And if pranks are your thing, there’s a great list of YA prankster books over at the Hub.

To Thine Own Self Be True

ophelia200x200A personality quiz based on Shakespeare characters? Just what Friday ordered!

I got Ophelia and although they don’t give any reasoning for this result, I’m going to assume this means that I’m really trying to hold it together surrounded by a lot of evil and crazy. And I like flowers.

In case you want even more Shakespeare, tonight PBS airs Shakespeare Uncovered, which explores some of Shakespeare’s most famous plays, including Hamlet, Twelfth Night, and The Tempest. And heads up, Whovians–there’s an episode in which David Tennant talks about Hamlet.

Our Town and Realizing Life

9780060535254Last night, Walt and I saw the Huntington Theatre’s production of David Cromer’s Our Town by Thornton Wilder. This might be my favorite play ever and this production was stunning. In general, the show emphasizes the fleetingness of life and the importance and beauty of the everyday. Cromer’s production takes this to a new level and I’m still pretty much an emotional wreck about the whole thing. (But in a good way.)

But it also made me think about an article I read recently about the art of being still and how that can help you as an artist. It’s easy to rush through the day and never really notice or appreciate the things and people around you. In Our Town, Emily and the Stage Manager have an exchange:

EMILY: Does anyone ever realize life while they live it…every, every minute?
STAGE MANAGER: No. Saints and poets maybe…they do some.

But even poets can get caught up in the rush of day jobs, laundry, making breakfast, paying electric bills, etc. In his article, Silas House suggests that we slow down and focus on the situation around us and ultimately utilize it in our writing:

“We must use every moment we can to think about the piece of writing at hand, to see the world through the point of view of our characters, to learn everything we can that serves the writing. We must notice details around us, while also blocking diversions and keeping our thought processes focused on our current poem, essay or book.”

I like the idea of a focused, hypersensitivity. Even if you don’t focus on a particular project, as a writer it really helps to live in the moment. You’re more likely to notice surprising details or odd characteristics when you’re not thinking about how you need milk or that you should email your friend about dinner. Not only is this important for general quality of life (it all goes so fast and is so beautiful), but it can bring a whole new depth to your writing life.

If you’re in the Boston area, you need to check out Our Town. And if you’re not, you still should check out a copy of the play. So good, guys.