Neil Gaiman
July 19, 2005 2:53 AM   Subscribe

Neil Gaiman 1997 essay on the myth of artistic inspiration
posted by Pretty_Generic (26 comments total)
Good timing on this for me - I've been reading Terry Pratchett's books and was unable to find one until this week when I was told it was co written with Gaiman. Thanks, PG.
posted by yoga at 4:18 AM on July 19, 2005

Damn good book, that.
posted by NinjaPirate at 4:40 AM on July 19, 2005

Personally I've just started on The Sandman (issue 15). I'm working through it with the annotations to get every obscure nuance.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 4:47 AM on July 19, 2005

Big Gaiman fan here, and I've even met the man twice. Lately, though, I've been thinking that he's overshadowed by his own mentor, Alan Moore.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:57 AM on July 19, 2005

Yeah, Good Omens was one of those books where you're reading and you turn around and it's 3 am, then you think, one more chapter...
posted by paladin at 5:22 AM on July 19, 2005

Good Omens was one of those books where you're reading, and you finish at 3am, and you think, "Once more from the top..."
posted by Wolfdog at 5:38 AM on July 19, 2005

Dude needs a haircut.
posted by dydecker at 5:46 AM on July 19, 2005

The time will come when Gaiman's popularity and influence will eclipse Moore's, but Neil is just too decent of a person to accelerate the process. Even so, you'd be hard-pressed to find another creator so incredibly active.

He's finishing Anansi Boys (the pseudo-sequel to American Gods). His big screen movie (MirrorMask) with longtime collaborator Dave McKean (and Jim Henson Studios) will be out in a few months. He's working on an animated version of Beowulf with Roger Avary. He's planning a second 1602-esque series with Marvel Comics. He writes smaller stories that appear in countless anthologies through the year. He gives readings all the time and appears at many conventions. He posts to his own blog three or four times a week. And he even makes time to step down to his local bookstore (Dreamhaven Books) to sign stacks of books sent in from fans around the world.

We should all be so dedicated to our imaginations.
posted by grabbingsand at 5:52 AM on July 19, 2005

Sometimes it's a place ('There's a castle at the end of time, which is the only place there is...').

Is it bad that I'm such a geek that I instantly said: "Ah, Amber."?
posted by thanotopsis at 5:53 AM on July 19, 2005

Good Omens was great, but the more Gaiman I read, the more I think that he wasn't much responsible for that gem.

He and Clive Barker were always interesting opposites for me. In interview, I always found Clive to be far more interesting, have more interesting things to say about writing, and generally be a lot more genuine. Gaiman would come off as this trying-to-be-serious but inevitably vacuous navel-gazer with nothing original to say. And I thought this when I still liked Gaiman, long before the likes of Neverwhere (*shudder*).
posted by dreamsign at 6:36 AM on July 19, 2005

Having met and spoken at length with Neil, I must say he's not a "trying-to-be-serious but inevitably vacuous navel-gazer with nothing original to say." The man is a veritable rock-star. He draws hordes of people everywhere he goes all around the world. His journal makes him accessible in a way that say, JK Rowling chooses not to be.

He's endlessly creative, and generous. He spoke with us because we had been on the road and unable to be told that he was ill and unable to interview, and he didn't want us to go away empty-handed. He talked with us for probably an hour and a half, and was certainly ill, but was personable, intelligent, and interesting.

His children's books are gifts I was proud to give my nephews as usher-gifts at my wedding. He uses fairy tales in ways that make them new and interesting. Indeed the "what ifs" of his imagination have enriched my personal reading life; I have not come away from a Gaiman book, comic, graphic novel, or other work without feeling as if I've learned something, or without asking a new question, or just feeling as if it's been time well-spent. Everyone I've introduced to his writing has enjoyed his work, some books more than others certainly, but it's been universally liked.

Navel-gazer indeed.
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:11 AM on July 19, 2005

Good article, and I appreciate his statements.

Now, if only my billions of ideas could get themselves onto the keyboard, instead of languishing in my head due to my lack of time to write.

I hate when writers say "Just start writing", because it's crass and unrealistic. Most of the time when I say "I don't have time" it's not because I have a life just happens to be full.
posted by Kickstart70 at 10:51 AM on July 19, 2005


Which is, I imagine what separates writers from non-writers. Writers structure their lives around making space to write. (Which can be hard to justify given the long hours and little pay-off.)
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:09 AM on July 19, 2005

So, is MirrorMask going to be any good?
posted by muckster at 11:12 AM on July 19, 2005

It looks beautiful, if nothing else. Here's a trailer, if you haven't seen it.
posted by Medieval Maven at 12:41 PM on July 19, 2005

ditto Amber. ;)
posted by adzm at 12:46 PM on July 19, 2005

i hear it's pretty good.
posted by jimmy at 12:49 PM on July 19, 2005

I like this piece, or not like it exactly, because mostly it castigates my lack of accomplishment with reality, but I agree with it. Which is probably better. Now if I could just write as much every day on a book as I write on MeFi, I'd be good to publish in no time.
posted by OmieWise at 12:52 PM on July 19, 2005

i'm kinda with dreamsigns, tho I like Gaiman. It's funny that he mentions the "idea people." I always thought he had great ideas for characters and what not, but it sounded like he was just forcing them into arbitrary plot structures because he didn't like that part of writing, and this kinda reinforces that theory.

he's great and he works damn hard and he pulls it off with great success, but you can tell he's not as enthusiastic on the "working out the plot" bit and has to push himself...
posted by es_de_bah at 5:37 PM on July 19, 2005

He's talked a lot in his journal this past year about the evolution of Anansi Boys and I'm not sure that "working out the plot" is entirely what he does, per se. If anything, when he talks about his (and it is his) creative process, it seems to me as if writing is something like watching a play in your imagination, and he has to see the next bit to determine where the story's going. Some people outline and plan their books, but I didn't get the impression from anything that he said over the genesis of this particular novel that he did that. And anyway, if you don't like to work out plot (in some fashion) why would you be a writer? I'm not sure I entirely understand what you mean.

Beyond that, some stories are about characters, and some are about plot, and some are about symbolism or whatever, and all of those types of stories suit different people. I'll be the first to say that if I hate your characters, or dont care about them, then I'm not going to have fun reading your book. :: shrug:: Everyone's different.
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:31 PM on July 19, 2005

And anyway, if you don't like to work out plot (in some fashion) why would you be a writer? I'm not sure I entirely understand what you mean.

Writing does not = making plots.
posted by kensanway at 7:39 PM on July 19, 2005

Hey I was reading Sandman when it was coming out and Dave McKean was my graphic design god in high school, but I kind of soured on Neil Gaiman when they came out with glow-in-the-dark Sandman-related socks and t-shirts featuring his head encirled with a wreath or when his press releases said that he was "continuing in the tradition of Charles Dickens" (how was he doing this? By reading from his work!).

Anyways, Dreamsign, can you post some of those Clive Barker interviews?
posted by kensanway at 7:41 PM on July 19, 2005

Also, you might have seen this, but Bookslut has a comics adaptation of Gaiman's Nebula Speech. It has a very Mckean-y first page.
posted by kensanway at 7:49 PM on July 19, 2005

Like a breakfast of melted cheese in a chamberpot.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 8:53 PM on July 19, 2005

Writing does not = making plots.

Of course it doesn't. That's why I said "in some fashion" -- nearly every story has some sort of a plot, but they're driven by different things -- characterization, symbolism, etc.
posted by Medieval Maven at 4:54 AM on July 20, 2005

Are there other genres of writing unrelated to making a story?
posted by kensanway at 8:31 AM on July 20, 2005

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