What You Will

Today is Twelfth Night or Epiphany, the close of the traditional Christmastide festival in many countries … in Italy, La Bufana (a laundress whom the three wise men encounter en route) delivers the goodies to the bambini on January 6th. At least, that’s what I was told when I lived in Florence. Every Italian city, town or village is a stew pot for stories, each one filled with bragging rights about the locale. In my version, of course, Bufana was a Florentine.

Twelfth Night is also a play by William Shakespeare (and before we go any further, I should announce that I hold to the boringly traditional view that yes, Virginia, there was a Shakespeare. A glover’s son, middle-class, with “small Latin and less Greek” as dissed by Ben Johnson–who himself was a right royal pendant–all Greek and Latin and less talent. No Queen Elizabeth, God love her, no Edward de Vere, no Francis Bacon, no Kit Marlowe faking his own death and writing the plays … hmm, there’s a book in there.)

Twelfth Night (the subtitle is “What You Will”) has given us four centuries of sublime entertainment and that quote about greatness–you know, how some are born with it, others achieve it, and still others have it thrust upon them. And it got me thinking about greatness, how we define it, what we mean by it.

I’ll discuss it more in depth at the end of the month, because I’ll be talking about someone whose courage and spirit, to me, express it perfectly: Patry Francis. You may’ve heard about the blogging day many writers, publishers, editors and agents are all planning to help Patry promote the paperback of her book, The Liar’s Diary.

Patry was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer, and this is one way we can help her promote the release–something all writers need to do. Gone are the days when you can sit in a garret and be artistic. In today’s brave new world of publishing, marketing and PR need to keep rolling, regardless of whether you can keep up.

You can read about the group effort at Publishers Marketplace and about Patry’s experience at her blog, Simply Wait. Laura Benedict, herself a great one in so many ways, came up with the idea, aided and abetted by Karen Dionne of Backspace. The blogging/buying extravaganza begins January 29th … I hope you’ll participate. Another quote from Twelfth Night seems appropriate: “Is this a world to hide virtues in?” The answer is a resounding no.

Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with a dining recommendation, and post more about it next week. If you’re in the Bay Area, looking for good, old-fashioned and incredibly delicious comfort food (two words: Swedish Pancakes), there’s a sprawling, wood-paneled huge dude ranch-style eaterie called The Millbrae Pancake House (located on the old El Camino Real). It’s a time machine of good food and great service. More next time, when descriptions of lingonberry butter will make your mouth water!