In the shower today I tried to think about the best advice I'd ever been given by another writer. There was something that someone said at my first Milford, about using style as a covering, but sooner or later you would have to walk naked down the street, that was useful...And then I remembered. It was Harlan Ellison about a decade ago.He said, "Hey. Gaiman. What's with the stubble? Every time I see you, you're stubbly. What is it? Some kind of English fashion statement?""Not really.""Well? Don't they have razors in England for Chrissakes?""If you must know, I don't like shaving because I have a really tough beard and sensitive skin. So by the time I've finished shaving I've usually scraped my face a bit. So I do it as little as possible.""Oh." He paused. "I've got that too. What you do is, you rub your stubble with hair conditioner. Leave it a couple of minutes, then wash it off. Then shave normally. Makes it really easy to shave. No scraping."I tried it. It works like a charm. Best advice from a writer I've ever received.
Q: I want to be an author when I grow up. Am I insane?"Neil Gaiman: "Yes. Growing up is highly overrated. Just be an au
I’m an author. We don’t want to lead. We don’t need to follow. We stay home and make stuff up and write it down and send it out into the world, and get inside people’s heads. Perhaps we change the world and perhaps we don’t. We never know. We just make stuff up.
If someone tells you what a story is about, they are probably right.If they tell you that that is all a story is about, they are very definitely wrong.
Neil Gaiman on librarians as knowledge navigators over time.“And information was hard to find. And it was hard to find because it was like a flower growing in a desert – you had a long way to walk, but a librarian could take you to the flower. Now it’s more like flowers growing in the Amazon jungle and you’re trying to find a specific flower,” Gaiman said. “Anyone who has spent 5 minutes Googling for information and just sees the amount of noise out there starts to realize that actually someone who knows what they’re doing is incredibly useful. And librarians know what they’re doing.
Start telling the stories that only you can tell, because there’ll always be better writers than you and there’ll always be smarter writers than you. There will always be people who are much better at doing this or doing that - but you are the only you.Tarantino - you can criticize everything that Quentin does - but nobody writes Tarantino stuff like Tarantino. He is the best Tarantino writer there is, and that was actually the thing that people responded to - they’re going ‘this is an individual writing with his own point of view’.There are better writers than me out there, there are smarter writers, there are people who can plot better - there are all those kinds of things, but there’s nobody who can write a Neil Gaiman story like I can.
So that's my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody's ever made before. Don't freeze, don't stop, don't worry that it isn't good enough, or it isn't perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.
Fiction is dangerous because it lets you into other people's heads. It shows you that the world doesn't have to be like the one you live in." At the first nationally recognized science fiction convention in China in 2007, Gaiman took a party official aside and said, "While not actually illegal, science fiction is regarded as dangerous and subversive in China. Why did you say yes to a science-fiction convention?"The party official answered, "In China, we're really good at making things people bring to us, but we don't invent, we don't innovate." When Chinese party officials visited Google, Apple and Microsoft, they asked what the executives read as children. The official continued: "They all said, 'We read science fiction. The world doesn't have to be the way it is right now. We can change it.' " "That," said Gaiman, "is the big dangerous thing.
You wanna be the next Tolkien? Don't read big, tolkien-esque fantasies. TOLKIEN didn't read big, tolkien-esque fantasies. He read books on finnish philology. You go and read outside your comfort zone, go and learn stuff. And then the most important thing, once you get any level of quality--get to the point where you wanna write, and you can write--is tell YOUR story. Don't tell a story anyone else can tell. Because you always start out with other people's voices... There will always be people who are better or smarter than you. There are people who are better writers than me, who plot better than I do, but there is no one who can tell a Neil Gaiman story like I can.
I took the dog out for a walk tonight, and together we wandered across the meadow next door. It was a warm summer's night, dark, and moonless. There were a handful of fireflies flickering intermittently, some so close to me I could see they were burning green as they flew, and some further away, who seemed to be flashing white.And in the sky above them a continual roil of distant summer lightning (the storm distant enough that it was silent) burned and flashed and illuminated the clouds. It seemed as if the lightning bugs were talking to the lightning, in a perfect call and response of flash and counterflash. I watched the sky and the meadow flash and flash while the dog walked ahead of me, and realised that I was perfectly happy...