Shakespeare Saturday: Triggered

Hey everyone! It’s me, A, back from another accidental hiatus due to the fact that keeping track of days is not my forte… Anyhoo, it’s Shakespeare Saturday!

Today, Newsweek posted an article that couldn’t be a better fit for our little blog if it tried. The article in question is titled: “Shakespeare for Snowflakes? Famous Plays Come with Trigger Warnings at Cambridge University.”

Ok, what?? Yeah, it’s exactly what you think it is. Shakespeare’s 400 year old plays – with which most of the English population is preeetty familiar – are being presented to classes with the equivalent of a ratings system. How is it possible people are getting offended by Shakespeare, but wanna-be politicians can admit to sexually assualting women and nobody gives a shit? 

Nevermind that the word “snowflake” has itself become a trigger for me, this is the biggest bunch of cockamamie nonsense I’ve ever heard of. And this is happening at Cambridge??? 

I’m at a loss for words.

*Blows raspberry* 

*Curls up in blankets and pops in DVD of Hamlet*



Boozy Books: Uh… About That

I can’t recommend anything for the book I’m reading. Not because it’s bad or doesn’t have a great pairing (it does), or anything; I’m actually just beta reading something right now, which means the book just isn’t available for pairing.

I promise to get back on reading and pairing as soon as possible, though. I’m also still re-reading Mansfield Park with a focus on its anti-slavery message (though it’s kinda evolved into admitting I was totally wrong about Fanny and owe her an apology), but I already did that, so… yeah.

I’m also bored out of my mind because the BF is in China for another week, which means it’s just me and the animals until then. While I enjoy the ability to do everything on my own schedule and eat all my favorite foods, my basic system at this point involves the other half, so I have no idea what to do with myself. You’d think I’d take the opportunity to write, but with NaNo coming up, I’m trying to get this beta-ing situation finished so the author has ample time to do his thing before publishing.

Also, I enjoy reading. I feel like, as much as I do it, I’m not doing it enough.

Anyway, I promise I’ll have something to pair next time. Until then, you should totally go through some past Boozy Books! There might be something in there you haven’t read before (probably from A; I like to pair the classics, myself).


ps- If someone asks you to beta and you have time, just say yes! (Same as if you’re a god.) Close reading is always fun and you’re helping a fellow writer.

Monday Muse: Writing Isn’t Just Drafting

Anyone who knows me can tell you that I’m a slow writer. I started drafting Liar (Lucky) way back in February, minus the first few hundred words, which I had done last summer before I’d decided I wanted to continue with the project. If I’m lucky, I’ll have the first draft done by the end of this year. But as I am C and not Lucky, there is a very good chance it’ll be until next February until it’s done. It just seems to take me about a year to get a draft done.

This is because, unlike many writers I’ve come across, writing leaves me drained. Well, more to the point, drafting leaves me drained. It’s like having a gas tank, you know? I fill it up and then burn it in order to put pen to paper (or, more accurately, fingers to keyboard), leaving that tank empty. I’m not someone who gets energized by the act of creation. I don’t fall into the writing zone, where the hours pass and the words pile up because I’m so deeply into creating, I don’t notice anything else. I am always–always–acutely aware of the fact that I’m writing, that I’m draining that tank and getting closer to needing to stop or I’ll be stuck by the side of the road.

The problem with being this way is that a lot of the advice out there seems more like the obnoxiously upbeat chirpings of a morning person than good, old-fashioned night owl cynicism. Write every day, put on music to get in the zone, write nonsense until it gets good, etc. All great, positive, upbeat, saccharine bullshit when it comes to people like me. Especially since it seems to come from the POV that the only writing that matters is the drafting and that you can only call yourself a writer if you draft every single day. Which is exclusionary AF.

But, you know what? Writing isn’t just drafting. And you don’t need to do it every day to be a writer. No, writing every day won’t make it easier to write every day. It doesn’t just become habit. I am not a perpetual motion machine. If I try to write every day, I’ll end up burning out. And I know there are people out there like that. I can’t be the only one.

Take a break. Don’t let those “write everyday” people let you feel guilty for needing some distance between yourself and the world of writing. And if you must do something every day, even thinking about your work or creating Pinterest boards count. You don’t need to read a novel looking for things you like and how to recreate them; just read the damn novel for fun. If you want to read with a view to improving your writing, go right ahead; just know that you don’t have to.

You’re not less of a writer because writing isn’t every single iota of your being. You chose to be a writer, you are a writer, but you are more than a writer. You are a person who is a writer. And if you need to stop sometimes, that’s cool.

I know I like getting away from writing. Sometimes a girl just wants to talk about history and politics.


Shakespeare Saturday: Halloween Approacheth!

Hey, guys!

OK, I know we kinda let you down on the major posts for this week. My fault. I have more time on my hands than A, so I definitely should have pulled something together, but it is what it is. I promise not to let this happen again next week, so that will hopefully be enough to make up for our gross negligence.

Now. Today is Saturday. I could have done this later, but I figure we’ve left y’all hanging long enough.

So. You guys know how much we love Shakespeare here at le Cactus. And we also love Halloween. So the chance to combine the two is always fun. I know I like the idea of dressing in all black and carrying around a skull. It’s easy, I can do it quickly, and I don’t need friends. Which is good because those are thin on the ground around here.


Anyway. Check out some suggestions for Shakespeare Halloween costumes here and here. Or search the internet! I’m sure there’s tons of ideas out there!


Silly Sunday: Late Victorian Screw-Ups

OK, hi! Hello! Ciao! Merhaba! More hellos.

So, today is Sunday. That means it’s time for something silly. Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of silly in my feed, so…

How about a cool history lesson?

I don’t know if you know this, but the Victorian’s had some weird ideas about behavior. Some people wouldn’t even say the word trousers, preferring to call them the “southern necessity”. And Victorian men found table legs so provocative, they covered them all the time. It was a weird time.

Don’t mess up. Read this: Victorian Etiquette Screw-Ups.


Shakespeare Saturday: Sir Ian on Lear

Hello friends! Welcome back to Shakespeare Saturday. This week I ran across a lovely little piece posted by the BBC, and that will be today’s focus.

The article contains exerpts of an interview with Sir Ian McKellen. It gives us the bare minimum in quotable quotes, but the topics it covers are exceptionally interesting. From Sir Ian’s admission that there are few years left for him to tackle live theatre and perhaps fewer Shakespearean roles left for him to explore to his personal goal to be Lear and not act Lear, this piece is as revealing as it is short.

It’s a quick read that I hope all my Shakespeare-ophiles will take a glance at.


Until next time!


Boozy Books: Re-Visiting Mansfield Park

Hey, guys! Welcome to this week’s Boozy Books! So, as you know, I occasionally go back and re-read something I’ve already paired with a view to finding something new to say about it. I’ve done it with Middlemarch a bunch of times already (mostly because I keep re-reading Middlemarch) and, really, I felt like I was neglecting Austen. I realized the other day it had been years since I re-read Emma and Sense and Sensibility (I paired them from memory. I know… that must be cheating.), and set out to re-read them. The only issue is that they’re in boxes in the closet right now since I don’t have room to put all my books on shelves, so I decided to start with Mansfield Park instead.

I don’t know if you remember, but I was pretty damn mean to Fanny Price when I paired this. If you don’t, read it here. I’ve never liked her much. She is so placid, so afraid, so unwilling to stand up for herself. The man she loves (the oh-so-uninspiring Edmund Bertram) is throwing himself after a terrible woman, and she just sits there pining like that’s going to work. And, because Austen cleverly disguised all her novels as romances, it does work. Edmund finally realizes that Fanny is the kind of woman he needs to end up with, and they… end up together.

And nothing really changes.

But when I paired it last time, I didn’t really take the opportunity to talk about the real topic of Mansfield Park: slavery. And Jane Austen is just not here for it. Far from the scholastic claims of Edward Said, Austen is very much against slavery, and the novel is an attack on both the institution and those that support it. The titular house is a new, modern building (unlike the grand old country mansions of Pemberley and Donwell Abbey) built on the proceeds of Sir Thomas’ slave trading. Even the name is consequential: Lord Mansfield, England’s Lord Chief Justice, ruled in the Somerset case that, on English soil, every man was free. So a house named after the man who’d made slavery illegal in England (but not the rest of the empire)… built on the proceeds of slavery? That’s the foundation of the novel, and we’ve only discussed the name.

Austen doesn’t let up, either. There are numerous references to slavery throughout the novel, to the point that it’s no surprise the book was never reviewed in its own time. It speaks volumes that it is the only book not to be reviewed when all of Austen’s other books were.

And, ok, I was really hard on Fanny Price. It’s hard to like someone whose religiosity and poor upbringing are used as the reasons she’s better than everyone else. Especially to modern readers. But that doesn’t change the fact that she is better than everyone else. She is the only character who isn’t charmed by the corrupting Crawfords or drawn in by their sparkling wit and good looks. And it’s when she stops being shy and retiring that she becomes a true hero, standing up to her adopted family and refusing to marry Henry Crawford. So I wanted to give her her due.

What to drink? My goodness, I have no idea. I admit, I wasn’t re-reading with a few to pair again, so I was thinking more about Austen’s stance on slavery. I’m on a one-woman mission to get people to stop thinking of Austen as a romance writer or, as Charlotte Brontë’ said, a writer of “carefully fenced, highly-cultivated garden(s)”. She isn’t. She was writing some political shit, guys, and had a lot of downright radical things to say about her time. It is a shame that we’ve forgotten that. So, um… don’t drink anything romantic. Drink something that’ll wake you up, open your eyes.

I’d say drink coffee or tea, but slavery…

Just drink water. That’ll do it.