When I wrote ‘A Court in Splendour’ my book about the First Eidstedddfod, I chose the language in which I wrote to be somewhere more formal than a completely modern idiom, but not strictly medieval. Although initially it seemed artificial, the more I wrote the more comfortable I became with the style that developed. It added something to the characters and felt credible to me. According also to those who have read the book, it works well, and the voices of those who tell the stories are accepted sufficiently to allow the transition into the12th century, with the necessary suspension of disbelief the reader requires for true enjoyment. Now I have been asked to turn the book into a play, and I am fumbling along with a fresh problem. The first pages of the dialogue so far written are like a parody of Shakespeare – at least that is what they look like to me. Whenever I read through them it seems I am caught with visual images of Shakespearean characters striding the stage, doing something like…declaiming! not just talking which is what I aim for, but a kind of higher more formalised style which has sprung on me from nowhere. I sent it to a friend/editor who agreed that it was a bit Shakespeare but that once people begin to speak the lines it will iron itself out and the necessary casualising will occur. But how can I ask people to read it as it is. They will fall about laughing, thinking either that I think I am a reincarnation of Shakespeare, or I’m pretending to be clever – which I’m not. It’s a dilemma. I don’t want to write like anybody else. It is important to me to write like myself, but with the adjustment of course for the voices of characters. Maybe they want to be like Shakespeared characters, maybe a medieval drama has to be a bit like that. Well, we shall see I suppose. It’s early days and anything could happen.
However, I am questioning why working with the dialogue in the book was so different from in the play. Technically I have heard all the characters in the play share their thoughts with me (and the reader) in the book already, and it is these voices I am waiting for, not Malvolio or Oberon. I can’t figure it at all. I do hope it will work out but currently it is putting me off working on it. I do really need to keep at it because it is the only thing I am committed to right now. I am waiting to find out if I can achieve publication in England before I commit to my one other project, a story about Ashburton and St Gudula of the well there. At least in Wales I stand a fighting chance of being published because I’m a member of the Academy and because I write about Welsh history. So, perhaps a change is ahead, The Bardic Monk is currently being pitched to an English publisher so while I wait to hear from them I will give the play a rest and see if that has any effect when I try again. Watch this space.