Neil Gaiman Makes Good Art



I like quite a few artists working in television, film, and print. It's a sizable list. I'm very fond of less then that. I'm in awe of fewer still. The list of persons I honestly and completely respect is the shortest list indeed. Neil Gaiman is on that list.

He recently gave the Commencement Address to the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and it is marvellous. It's one of those documents, like Elmore Leonard's Ten Rules for Writing, that is indispensable to a budding, or even a seasoned writer, because it is advice that it never hurts hearing, but it means more because it's coming from someone who really knows what's they're on about. These are people who don't need to be bashful about their accomplishments. These are masters.

"I learned to write by writing," he says, and I've always believed this to be true. You can learn grammar, and structure, and technically what is right, but you can't learn style, and you can't learn depth and grace without putting pen to paper and letting the words out.

He champions taking chances, to make mistakes, and enjoy successes. He defends quality, personality, and reliability, though not all at the same time. "Your work doesn't have to be good if it's always on time, and it's always a pleasure to hear from you."

He warns about the changing world of artistic deliverance, with the internet and technology changing the game in a way that hasn't bee seen for over a century, to the point where not even those in the know know what's going to happen. "Because no one has done it before, no one has made up rules to stop anyone from doing that thing again."

Most importantly, he advocates perseverance. He talks of lying to get jobs, and then going back and getting the jobs he lied about. He talks about making a list, when he was young, of things he wanted to do, like write a novel (check), a comic book (check check), and an episode of Doctor Who (hello sexy).

And his last words were the best words. There is a difference between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is technical, is trivial. Knowledge helps you out of a spot. Wisdom is grander, all encompassing. It's ethereal and beguiling. He says, "be wise, because the world needs more wisdom. And if you cannot be wise, pretend to be someone who is wise, and behave as they would."

I did find it hilarious that they keep cutting to the one girl with a steam punk mortarboard and blue hair, because obviously, that is who best represents Mr. Gaiman's work. (Bit of sarcasm there).

Via The Mary Sue.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.

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