I was thinking about my teaching days recently, specifically when I used to teach Shakespeare. What fun we had! Sure, we talked about poetry. The classics. The theater. But the part I enjoyed the most? Talking about life.
We were able to talk about sacrifice, love, hate, adolescent egocentrism, racism, friendship, truth, personal fable, and the list goes on.
Sure, Shakespeare was a great poet. But why do we still read his work? I know why I do. It’s because he had something important to say. He studied human nature, and he cut straight to the heart of critical life questions. Hamlet still matters because there are still Hamlets in this world. And Othellos. And Romeos. There are Beatrices. And Mirandas. And Rosalinds.
This is a great reminder for writers. Your prose can be poignant. Your poetry can be lovely. The way you turn a phrase or train your consonants can be admirable, even genius. But unless that genius is partnered with something of worth, with content that matters, your words are merely empty vessels that can be ignored after a passing glance. Fill your sentences with meaning, with ideas worth pondering, with thoughts that continue past your years.
Say it well–but also say something worth saying.