She’s inspiring for several reasons, not least because she’s clever and funny and at 76 she’s still a working writer who jets around the world (see her schedule here, she’s still in the UK for a few days).
She’d come to the Royal Shakespeare Company because her latest novel, Hag-Seed (great title), is based on The Tempest (which, incidentally the RSC will be staging from next month – and, of course she’ll be zooming back here from North America to see it).
3 things I learned on Saturday about The Tempest, by the way:
1) it’s the most ‘male’ of Shakespeare’s plays. There’s only one female character in it – Miranda. “Even Julius Caesar,” (said Ms Atwood), “has two!”
2) It’s the only play Shakespeare wrote about what he did: putting on a play. (OK there are plays within plays but they’re not the main story. The Tempest, to quote Ms Atwood in the Guardian is “a play about a producer/director/playwright putting on a play – namely, the action that takes place on the island.”)
3) It has more songs and dances and music in it than any other Shakespeare play.
Margaret Atwood’s novel is part of the Hogarth Shakespeare series in which well-known novelists were approached (oh, to be ‘approached’!) and asked if they’d write a novel inspired by or based on, one of Shakespeare’s plays.
Anne Tyler’s Vinegar Girl, for example (ahem, on my Amazon wishlist…), is based on The Taming of The Shrew; Tracy Chevalier (another favourite of mine) is writing something inspired by Othello, Gillian Flynn has got Hamlet, Jo Nesbo, Macbeth.
There’s nothing to stop us doing it too, of course (even if we haven’t been ‘approached’). Shakespeare, after all, famously ‘borrowed’ the plots of other stories for his plays, so if you’re stuck for a plot, why not turn to The Bard for inspiration?
And on the subject of inspiration, I met up with my writing buddy Sally yesterday – in this café, to be precise.
Every quarter we get together to ‘talk writing’ for a couple of hours: to congratulate, commiserate, moan, laugh, swap ideas and generally try to ‘gee each other up’ a bit!
We agreed that we need to be more PROLIFIC!
In no particular order we agreed that it would help to:
• Get up earlier
• Be less of a perfectionist. Get it written, rather than get it right (at least, in the first draft)
* Resist the lure of social media
• Treat writing ‘like a job’ (eek, that sounds like hard work)
Funnily enough, we were talking about getting a cat yesterday too (because the Cat Protection League was at the venue, with some cats ‘to view’) and when I was Googling ‘be a prolific writer’ (as you do), it turns out that Muriel Spark – a prolific writer if ever there was one (she wrote The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie in a month) – advised, if you want to be able to concentrate on your writing, you should get a cat.
Anyone got any other good ideas?