I think I fell in love a little bit today, reading Neil Gaiman’s blog – listening to him talk, an interview with his wife… not in the stalker sense, but in a deep wonder that there is such a person as him and finding in his personal writings something that echoes deeply inside my own heart, writings and attitudes. I love the way he explains himself, that he’s so involved, interacts with the public and talks so freely and prolifically.
He’s the kind of author I want to be someday: one who makes kids and people think, who interacts with fans, shares something of his own person with them. Love it, love it, love it. People pay attention to him – bringing back books he loves that are out of print. I immersed myself in his writings the last week.
Why now all of a sudden? I recently saw The Ocean at the End of the Lane in a bookstore and was intrigued enough to download the ebook. I was at once amazed and enchanted, left with the feeling that I wanted to read it again immediately to fully grasp it. So I did something I never do: I went and read reviews. And then, following one link to the next to see where the rabbit hole leads, I found his blog and ended up with a Youtube video of Neil Gaiman’s speech to students at the University of the Arts last year.
You can watch the video yourself here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plWexCID-kA
or read it here: http://www.uarts.edu/neil-gaiman-keynote-address-2012
I listened to the speech and it was like an echo of my own soul. He so perfectly expressed so many things in my approach to life. Having read more about him now, I will freely say that I don’t agree with all his personal beliefs, but SO much is SO wonderful! I love the way he interacts with people, is not content to let kids just read silly stories (rather teach them something, unsettle them a bit, make them think!) and it’s with a measure of sadness that I noticed one of our top bookstore franchises only has his books under adults (except the picture books).
To choose work because it’s an adventure and out of a desire to know and understand things has driven me to do most of the things I’ve done in my varied ‘career’ (completely planless, as Neil describes) and the pursuit of where I want to end up informs my choices today (even if, at the moment, that means taking a day job to pay the bills).
I feel like I’ve missed something by never seriously considering Neil Gaiman before. I read Good Omens many years ago because I love Terry Pratchett (read my tribute to Terry Pratchett here). I read Stardust because I loved the movie. I’ve never really read a book purely for Neil Gaiman until now. I’m reading The Graveyard Book now and have downloaded many of the others, like American Gods and Neverwhere, next on the list.
But I must admit that I love his personal writings even more than his fiction – the way he shares a part of his being in a very personal and direct way with his audience. Fiction is always open to interpretation, changing what each reader takes from it, but when a writer, a great thinker with a way with words, says “I see this thing in the world, or this thing happened, and this is what I think about it…”, it’s something I find truly magical. And even if no stranger ever reads my words that way and falls in love with my being on ‘paper’, the way I now cherish Neil Gaiman, it doesn’t matter. If one person is moved or somehow inspired by what I write or think about, then much has been achieved.
I feel blessed to have discovered this new treasure. Thank you Neil for your work, but, more than that, thank you for who you are.
PS – I don’t describe myself as an “aspiring writer”, because that affirmation and energy will keep me in suspense forever, the universe providing for me to be ever-aspiring! But, I have a book in me. Maybe even a couple, but my main creative work has been planned out, the first few chapters have been written, all the background work (characters, the world, magic, etc) has been done. I have sent proposals to big publishers and received my first rejections (like Stephen King, before he made it big). I will write about that another time, but I just wanted to state for the record here that it’s there, waiting in the wings…
Afterthought, 13:02 on Tuesday 1 October – Man, I love writers… mostly they don’t care what people think. They are courageous. Because people don’t see what you look like until they already care about what you say, looks and pretences don’t matter. Writers bring out a better part of ordinary people.