Conjuring Literary Genius

I’m reading a book based on the premise that there was a previous version of Macbeth using an actual witch’s spell, but because the spell conjured up real evil during rehearsals, Shakespeare hurriedly rewrote the witches’ scenes. The story also postulates that Shakespeare had observed such a rite, and in fact, the rite was done to imbue him with literary genius.

Despite the pseudo-scholarliness of the book, I doubt there’s any way for anyone to know the truth of the legend — after all, those whose life work is a study of Shakespeare and his writings can’t even decide who Shakespeare was and if he did in fact write all that is attributed to him. Nor is there any way to know if he was divinely inspired, if his gift was an inborn one, or if it was magically conjured up. (Apparently, a lot of cauldron spells and conjuring had to do with gaining knowledge and inspiration.) And not everyone believes he is a literary genius. After all, he wrote for the lowest common denominator in his day, and though that might have conferred a special literary prowess on him, it doesn’t necessarily make him a genius.

All you have to do is look at the writers today who have earned great success by writing rather mediocre or even passably literate novels, to realize that success doesn’t necessarily equate to great writing. (Does anyone think the Shades of Gray books are literary or or even passably literate?)

All of this has led me to wonder about a modern-day Shakespeare wannabe. What if a successful literary hack wants it all — not just the wealth that comes from selling books to the masses, but also wants to be acclaimed as a literary genius. So she tracks down Shakespeare’s spell, and even though it might entail a blood sacrifice, as well as other criminal offenses, she goes through the rite and ends up a literary genius.

The only problem is, who today would even recognize literary genius? Her lowest-common-denominator readers certainly wouldn’t, and in fact, they’d abandon her in droves because they wouldn’t be able to figure out what the heck she’s talking about. To be honest, neither would I. There have been several books over the years that I thought were pure bunk even though they had been hailed as genius and ended up winning all the major awards.

So, in typical fairytale fashion, what would really happen is that the author who wanted it all would end up in prison with nothing because not only would people not find her new style inspiring, they wouldn’t approve of how she got it. Well, some people would think the end justifies the means, but even they wouldn’t appreciate her literary genius.

I guess the moral of the story (at least for me as a writer) is to leave well enough alone. Although it would be nice to be hailed as a literary genius and a brilliant writer, it would be even nicer to be able to sleep at night. Though selling a few more books than I do would be good.

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What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

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