|Friends of the Library, wall noting names of supporters, Public Library of Hamilton County, Cincinnati|
"Life is sometimes hard...And when things get tough, this is what you should do. Make good art. I'm serious. Make it on the good days, too." --Neil Gaiman
We ended up at a library again this week, this time Cincinnati's Main Library downtown. (It's been a summer of libraries, it seems.) This time we were in the city for business, walking from one location to another--and the library was located between the two. It was too enticing and we couldn't pass up the opportunity. So we stopped in.
Neil Gaiman's Fantastic Mistakes, Make Good Art. The delightful tome was actually a keynote address he gave to the University of the Arts Class of 2012, University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Next to actually being there, this is the next best thing. Maybe even better since the layout helps make the book. The graphic design takes you through the speech in an artistic way with bold font, small font, poetic form, slants, surprises and flair. You have to see it to appreciate it.
"Looking back, I've had a remarkable ride. I'm not sure I can call it a career, because a career implies that I had some kind of career plan, and I never did. The nearest thing I had was a list I made when I was 15 of everything I wanted to do: to write an adult novel...a children's book...a comic...a movie...record an audiobook...write an episode of Doctor Who...and so on. I didn't have a career. I just did the next thing on the list."
No pressure! This from a man who has accomplished all the goals of his 15-year-old self multiplied many times over.
Another tidbit: "If you're making a mistake, it means you're out there. And the mistakes in themselves can be useful. I once spelled Caroline, in a letter, transposing the A and the O, and I thought, 'Coraline looks like a real name..."
(Coraline is a favorite Neil Gaiman book.)
I can't do justice in describing this fun little book, I can only say it was neat serendipity to run across it on a random visit to the library and would encourage writers--just graduating or seasoned veterans--to take a peek at it.
You'll be inspired just like those students in that audience must have been.
Question: did you start out trying to make writing "a career," or simply attempt to do "the next thing" on your list until you realized, yes, you are a writer!? Which way is more fun? Do you see your writing as making art?