June 2015 I left an unfulfilling and stressful career behind and started staying home with my kids. I have not looked back. But within a month of being at home, I knew I needed a project that allowed me to keep using my brain and to keep a little adult headspace. So I decided to do something I'd always wanted to do: read Shakespeare's canon. More than that, I'd write about how his plays and poetry are still relevant and entertaining 400 years later, through pop culture and gazing at my own navel rather than through any serious scholarship. July 29, 2015 I launched this site and cracked open my Oxford Complete Works of Shakespeare.
I initially planned on doing all plays and poems in just one year. I'm a little amused at my naïveté [I could definitely read that much in a year, but I should have known I would write each post both slowly and in great length.] I have not gotten through the canon in a year because...you know, LIFE (kids, occasional contract projects for my former employer, reading other books, creative writing attempts, etc). But I'm ok with that. And I'm not deterred from completing my goal, albeit on a different timeline. If I can complete the rest of the works within another year, I'll feel a massive sense of accomplishment. So what have I actually done on the project this year? Let's take a look on what I've done after 366 (leap year!) days in the name of the canon:
- 24 total plays read (6 histories, 9 comedies, 7 tragedies, 2 romances)
- 23 total plays written about (the 24th is coming this week!)
- 14 new (to me) films viewed
- 7 posts about Shakespeare that are not reviews/commentary on the plays
- 5 books about Shakespeare read (1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare, Sex with Shakespeare, Romeo and/or Juliet, How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare, and Vinegar Girl)
- 3 live plays attended (Romeo & Juliet, King Lear, Hamlet)
- 3 bottles of alcohol purchased and consumed for their Shakespeare-related names/logos
- 1 pilgrimage to see First Folio
- 1 sonnet performed
- 1 audition for a local theatre company, using a Shakespearean monologue (Mistress Page's indignant speech about being wooed by Falstaff)
- 1 Shakespeare massive online open course completed
- Countless new online buddies who have been supportive readers and given their own smart and fun insights on the Bard (through their tweets, blogs, li.sts, and podcasts)
I didn't realize how much I had actually done until I looked back and typed all this up. I failed in my original goal, but goals change. And damned if I'm not a little proud. Cheers to another year of the Bard, and massive thanks to my husband for continuing to (laughingly) put up with it! Thanks to all friends and family who have asked me about the project, listened to my ramblings, and read along. Thanks to complete strangers for checking it out. And thanks and hugs go to Harper for attending plays and learning little speeches, ever my little Guinea pig actress, and to Callum for recognizing all Bard portraits at the ripe old age of 3. I love playing Capulets & Montagues with you both.