Shakespeare, Madeline Miller, New York Times discussed on Free Cookies
But springer on here's Madden Madeline Miller taught and tutored Latin Greek and Shakespeare to high school students for over fifteen years. She is also the author of the Song of Achilles which was her first novel and one that Twenty Twelve Orange Prize for fiction and was a New York Times bestseller and then her follow up. Sursee was an instant number one New York Times bestseller we are joined with. Madeline Miller and I just short of doing the whole fan girl thing. I don't think I can explain how excited I am. Because you have written to my favorite books of all time and we will definitely be discussing those but madeline what I really want to ask you first off before we get into your novels you are. You teach the classics Greek Shakespeare to high school students and direct Shakespeare. Plays my correct and asking you. Can you give us the lowdown on like what you're up to my addition for your place on look first of all thank you so much for having me and for those very very kind words I am very thrilled to be here. So yes I not teaching currently because I have two young kids and also trying to write full time and do some amount of although not anymore book but I was doing some some traveling and doing some talks and so unfortunately teaching in high school is completely incompatible with travelling or regular travel schedule so something had to go and sadly was teaching But I I do hope to to come back to it one day because I absolutely loved it in the years I spent in the classroom in the years I spent directing Shakespeare plays. Were so incredibly creatively fruitful. They were so inspiring and honestly I think I learned everything I know about storytelling from directing place. They definitely go yet. Yeah we'll probably jump all over the place there. Since you mentioned that right there I did. I had read it. I think acumen a that. You did where. You're talking about teaching highschoolers in theater and how interesting it was to watch. Those kids be able to explore parts of their emotion. That might not be allowed to be expressed just in the everyday high school culture so and you said it was incredibly fruitful. Can you elaborate on what you learned from that process? Sure Well it was such a privileged first of all to get to do that kind of work where you know. I felt like I was through these roles in Shakespeare. You know getting to witness students sort of try. Something new grow in new ways but I think part of what I really learned from storytelling or a craft perspective If the place really they'll if they are not tight and we used to sometimes backstage post things that said faster faster. Louder Louder Which you know just to remind actors right before they went on And when you when you pause on the stage you know a five second is basically like minus love being our in terms of how it feels for the audience so you have to really use those pauses. You have to keep your pacing up and so I feel like just working true that pacing and that sort of feeling of each scene has to have an arc but it also has to have this forward momentum with the whole play you know each kind of felt like a chapter and so just practicing that over and over and over again working with you know plays that are incredibly well written and you know amazingly brilliantly characterized already and just kind of me getting to go into those and and play with them and train execute them With amazing practice it felt like working out my storytelling. Every time I was doing it although that was not the intention at the time but I think back on it. I think that's what I was doing. I guess I'll teach this. It'll help me with my writing. It is amazing how timeless Shakespeare is and how so many iterations as a director of what how what direction you want to share the story if you want modern twist on Romeo and Juliet or you want to do it in the traditional structure Elizabeth an era and a see that in your writing as well as with especially when you have the classics in this timeless Greek mythology. But you bring it into this beautiful modern language where the reader can feel like. They're going on this magical ride. That might be representative of a woman trying to find herself in society today at the same time and that actually did not lead into my question. I'm just thinking right now but my question. Did you ever act? Did you ever perform Shakespeare Yourself? Did you just direct it? I am I have. This is gonNA sound strange but I have terrible stagefright whenever he begins someone else's words if I'm going up to do a presentation I'm okay with that but I'm I've taken you kind of acting courses where you had to do a scene or two for the group and I have never been more terrified in my life but you monologue on your instagram. Think of as the monologue was. It truly is in Cressida that you put up on your instagram it yet. I was so excited that you did that and I've been meaning to do that myself. I feel like I have a little bit of stage by about that too because it's been so long since I've performed Shakespeare inspired me so you might not have as much as you think just staying it. I wasn't fully. Enacting is a little bit but I wasn't doing the full so that was how I managed to avoid panicking about it because I will. I'll let you ask your question Catherine but I. I think that the one thing that I would never want to do. If we're excluding like really treacherous things is to stand up on a stage in. Pretend I'm a comedian? Like if I have to do like a fifteen minute comedy routine. That would be the pinnacle of fear for me. I don't know how a lot of people probably I don't think you're little you meet some people who are like whatever I mean. If people don't laugh they don't laugh. Don't laugh it's not okay. So yes that is so crushing of it. So you're more time writing now and we read that. It took ten years to write the song of Achilles and I also read somewhere that after five years. You completely scratched your manuscript. Does that do we have our facts right true? That is absolutely true. That is true terrifying madeline. That's terrifying ten years Trojan war with was ten years. And you wanted you with really. I was like cost claiming that I know I. It was not planned. the ten year thing. It was yeah I can now sort of talk about it more lightly but at the time it was really terrible. Terrible feeling because it was the ceiling of. I know that this is wrong. I don't know how to fix it. Maybe I can't fix it and I just have to sit with this thing. I've poured myself into for five years and realized that maybe I can't do it and so at the moment I decided to take a writing course over the summer. So there's this wonderful writing course called the New York State Summer Writer's institute which is held at skidmore and they have a lot of wonderful teacher. Is They have a lot of wonderful writers who come in and give talks so I was really excited. I had never done anything like that before. I had no really formal writing training. I had kind of mentioned only talk about giving herself a masters in creative writing sort of on the side and I. I don't know if I can claim to have a masters but I I definitely you know all my writing stuff came from reading books on writing written by writers. I never show any classes and so this is the first time I had really tried to take a class in writing and I was so upset about this whole failed novel. What I saw the failed novel that I didn't even take a fiction courses. I took nonfiction and I was able through sort of going back to nonfiction and taking a break and finding that you know I could put two sentences together maybe In another context I sort of got the courage to go back to song of Achilles and the truth is i. You know I had this sort of very strange relationship to be Kelly's because on one hand I had this career that I absolutely loved I loved teaching and I love Directing Shakespeare plays and yet I had this part of me. That just couldn't let this go just could not let patroclos historic go and Even when I was at my you know my most depressed our about it. I still couldn't just fully give up when you went back to it after the skidmore class by the way lived in Saratoga Springs for a number of years. So I know skidmore will you? It's it's such a beautiful area when you went. You went back to the manuscript were you. Were you renovating it or did you just say that that happened? And I wrote that and I'm GONNA keep that in my mind and I'm going to start from word one so it was. This was this long period of self delusion So what happened. Was that actually while I was at the New York. State some writers institute the First Line of Song of Achilles as it now stands popped into my brain one day and so I ran home back to my dorm room and I typed out and I basically tied to the first shop door kind of as it almost as it ended up being And then I was sort of afraid and I put it away and took a little break from it and then when I got to it I kept thinking. Well this this first chapter is strong and I'll just have to make a few adjustments to the second chapter and then probably everything will be fine and so then I changed the second chapter and then I thought well now just there are few things that don't quite competent third chapter but after that I won't have to change anymore and doing all the way through the manuscript eventually rewrote every word. And that's what needed to happen. But I think if I had said like you have to rewrite every word I that just would have been too much for my brain to comprehend so. I should've lied to myself. Along the way that there was gonNA come some point. I wouldn't have to rewrite everything so did you. When you finally released the song of Achilles did you have any foresight or expectations or inklings about the massive level of success and accolades. This book Garner. Absolutely not not at all I was when I had sent out my query letters to agents out something eighty letters and I had gotten seventy eight four like immediate rejection. This is not interesting wind when people are angry. I was really like. Wow the mark no one is interested in and I was very fortunate that one of the agents who did get back to me was one of my top top choices and she has just been amazing. This is Julie Barer at the book. Group She is so brilliant. She is such a true lover of stories so she was able to to match me up with a wonderful wonderful editor but given my experience with that. Whole Process. I would definitely not thinking and and I had some really good friends who when I told them what the subject of the novel was. Their eyes glazed over so I was not I I was thinking well at least they will know that I did this story. All the justice I was capable of doing it. And if only my mom buys you know my mom bites hilty copies and that's it. I guess at least it's out there. You mentioned in your previous answer that you ran home from whatever class. You're you know you're in the writer's institute and sat down and wrote the first chapter and it in things I've read it. Sounds like running and walk. Taking walks have played a part in your rhythms. And and routine for. For how you how you right What and for listeners. Who probably haven't read this piece. You know you Madeleine. You can share. Just that you wrote your first manuscript you would like gopher run and they come home and sit down and write. Yep and then you kind of peel back and now you kind of incorporate you know wh- however that looks for you. Can you explain to us kind of what those rhythms of writing for you now? Sure I definitely need a workout at some point in the middle of my writing day because I start with a certain amount of energy and then I really I I will start to hit a wall with whatever working on either in the micro level dealing with sentences or the macro level sort of not knowing what a character is doing feeling like I can't quite get the rhythm of conversation And so I'll go for a walk or I'll go for a run or I'll go on actually destroyed my Destroyed my knee in high school doing that running on that manuscript so I don't run very much anymore. Mostly I found elliptical..