From Shakespeare’s The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act III, Scene 1:
There is a lady in Verona here
Whom I affect; but she is nice and coy
And naught esteems my aged eloquence
Now therefore would I have thee to my tutor–
For long agone I have forgot to court;
Besides, the fashion of the time is changed–
How and which way I may bestow myself
To be regarded in her sun-bright eye.
Win her with gifts, if she respect not words:
Dumb jewels often in their silent kind
More than quick words do move a woman’s mind.
But she did scorn a present that I sent her.
A woman sometimes scorns what best contents her.
On the surface, it appears that Valentine doesn’t think very highly of the ladies he courts, assuming that gifts like silent jewels will work much better to win them over than conversation. I think Shakespeare trusted his theatre-goers to see a deeper meaning, as he did so often; here, that women would not be moved to believe the banal talk of the unimaginative Valentine–that it would take more than his “quick,” predictable, dull words to inspire a brainy female. The fact that Valentine goes on to comment about how a woman sometimes seems to act opposite of the way she truly feels is added irony, since I bet the Elizabethan actor portraying him would have been coached to say the lines in a baffled sort of way.
That’s all just fun Shakespeare commentary for a getting-towards-bedtime Sunday night. What I really wanted to do in this post was explain where my blog title comes from, and why I chose it. I like to call up allusions to Shakespeare in things I write, and titles are tricky enough things to do really well when you go it alone. This phrase, interpreting the scene the way I like to, sums up what I want this blog to be: more than just a bunch of random diary-type entries, more than just a line-up of my thoughts on the publication process or any personal frustrations about writing…more than just quick words. I’d like it to be a bit more, so that both the content of each post and the writing of the post itself helps me to remember why I get up at 5:30 a.m. to squeeze in some revision time, why I should send out another query, why I’m sitting here blogging even though it means missing the beginning of The Good Wife and putting off the pouring of a nice glass of Shiraz. Words–in all eras, even (maybe especially) in this one–are weighty things. They shouldn’t be dashed off and sent out without some thoughtfulness behind every one. They must be crafted, like fine linen or a sculpture, to inspire the reader. Take care, take care.
So, I hope to craft more than quick words here, and maybe some of reviews and discussions of writing will even help a reader or two, just as the composing of them is helping me.