Erin Weinberg, Why do I blog about Shakespeare? It’s a Choice
This contribution from Erin Weinberg is published under a Creative Commons 3.0 SA BY licence and is another example of the same lively writing on Shakespeare and literature that can be found on her sites Why I love Shakespeare and A Bibliophile’s H(e)aven; Erin has also kindly proofread several of the other articles in this series.
If I could choose any keyboard key to represent myself, it would be the exclamation mark. If I could choose anything to blog about, it’s Shakespeare.
Last year, I found myself at an impasse: MA finished, PhD applications in process, an office job unrelated to my field but a pressing need to stay abreast of all matters Shakespeare for the sake of my personal and professional peace of mind. So I found myself making a choice: do I wile away the year playing time-wasting computer games, or do I push forward? Realizing for certain that Shakespeare was a topic that I was going to spend the rest of my life pursuing, I decided to jump into the fast-moving stream that is the Shakespearean discourse taking place over the internet.
I find it mind-boggling that after two short years, I have become an ‘established blogger.’ The process began when I started Why I love Shakespeare, and then decided that I did not want to restrict my musings on bibliophilia (the love of books) to Shakespeare, and started A Bibliophile’s H(e)aven. Seeking Shakespeare-loving collaborators, I have now joined the ranks of The Shakespeare Standard and Open Shakespeare, for whom I write and assist editorially.
So why the blogging addiction? Because I am a big fan of choice.
My online lifestyle began with the choice: what, in particular, will I write about? When I started with Why I Love Shakespeare, I wanted to reach out to any errant Google-er who, in the years or decades after studying Shakespeare in high school, could not understand what the ‘big deal’ was. To me, the wisdom I found between the pages of Shakespeare’s plays was a huge deal, and I wanted to share this enthusiasm with my readers by giving them pint-sized doses of what I think makes his writing so thought-provoking and relevant today.
The choice to blog about Shakespeare was a great way to work on my writing skills and keep up with the newest trends in Shakespeare criticism, but it also allowed me certain luxuries. For once, the only deadlines and business hours I operated under were my own. When I blog, I am my own boss, accountable to my readers and myself. That’s not to say I do not feel guilty when a month goes by (as it inevitably does) without a post, but it is equally important to realize that it is far too easy to type letters onto a keyboard and press ‘Post’. Within an instant, my writing is readily available for billions of people over the Internet to see – so I better only publish material that I am proud of.
While enjoying the choice to blog when I want, the blogosphere also allows me the choice to blog any way I want. For me, this means that I do not have to construct a linear narrative: if I want to talk about sonnets today and a Shakespeare film tomorrow, I can do so. With the option of labeling my posts, I have the freedom of writing about whatever inspires me at that moment. This way, my readers get a taste of the variety of ways that Shakespeare touches our lives, and if they really want, they can focus on one aspect of my blog: Reviews, Rants, Current Events, or my favorite, Arresting Images, in which I close-read small portions of Shakespeare’s texts.
What expands my readers’ choices exponentially is technology’s gift to humankind: hypertext. Hypertext allows me to accommodate a variety of different readers. Some of my readers are fellow Shakespeare scholars, and do not need further explanation when I name-drop or casually use theatre jargon. Nonetheless, many others welcome a degree of clarification, and hypertext allows these readers the choice of clicking on these concepts. With each hyperlinked word, my readers have the option of broadening their understanding of the field without being burdened by lengthy digressions or the shame of feeling patronized by a lowest-common-denominator explanation. Hypertext offers my readers a world of information at their fingertips, yet allows me to speak with the brevity that, Polonius reminds us, is the soul of wit. Even before the age of Apps and Twitter, the beauty of the Internet has always been the democracy it engenders in allowing anyone connected to hop on their own private soapbox and speak their mind. Ultimately, your decision to read my blog, or how to read my blog, is your choice, but the beauty of writing a blog is that it is always my choice to continue doing so. No grades, no deadlines, no acceptance or rejection letters, although possibly the occasional heckler. I choose to continue producing the best writing I possibly can, and the Internet itself has no choice but to listen to me. For that, I am most grateful.