If you’re going to aspire to something, why not aim high – my choice is William Shakespeare!
Do I wish I’d written Shakespeare’s entire body of work? Not really, that’s not how I mean it. What I would wish is to have just a bit of his ability to capture an audience with words – and to still be able to do that many years later. Whatever we think of Shakespeare’s work – and there are many criticisms, derivative storylines, skewed history, Tudor propaganda etc. etc. – what is undeniable is that he knew how to affect his audience. He captures moods and feelings that are universal, so even if a play is about kings or mythical figures in situations we cannot comprehend, everyone who sees it will understand the characters as people and invest in them. To me, that is his genius – the way he used language to draw people in and make them feel something.
In my time, I have written a bit for the stage (nothing earth shattering, a couple of original pantomimes) and there are few better feelings than hearing a whole audience laughing at a line you have written. But to bring to life the whole human experience the way Shakespeare did…how amazing is that? When I watch a well-performed Shakespeare play, the serious lines make me think and the funny lines make me howl with laughter, and it is 395 years since he died. To have just a tiny bit of what he had, so that things I write could strike a chord with people who read or hear it – that would be my dream.