Archive for category Neil Gaiman

Gaiman’s Writer’s Prayer

Audible was having a sale recently, which led me to look for the Neil Gaiman titles, discovering several of the “collections” that have been put together over the years. One of which, Telling Tales, struck me when I saw the content listing. The lead piece: “A Writer’s Prayer.” The liner notes indicate it “was written shortly before I began American Gods. I knew the first two verses when I began it, and the conclusion was there when I reached it. This is why I love writing.”

I think this, along with his “Words of Fire,” should be somewhere at any writer’s desk.

A Writer’s Prayer

Oh Lord, let me not be one of those who writes too much;
who spreads himself too thinly with his words,
diluting all the things he has to say,
like butter spread too thinly over toast,
or watered milk in some worn-out hotel;
but let me write the things I have to say,
and then be silent, ’til I need to speak.

Oh Lord, let me not be one of those who writes too little;
a decade-man between each tale, or more,
where every word accrues significance
and dread replaces joy upon the page.
Perfectionists like chasing the horizon;
You kept perfection, gave the rest to us,
so let me earn the wisdom to move on.

But over and above those two mad spectres of parsimony and profligacy,
Lord, let me be brave, and let me, while I craft my tales, be wise:
let me say true things in a voice that is true,
and, with the truth in mind, let me write lies.

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Continuing the Thought: Writing Process

I mentioned last post about my reaction to Wendig’s post. One of the things that post got me thinking about was Neil Gaiman’s process as an example of something I’ve learned from.  I may have mentioned it here before (but it’s ben so long ago I’ve forgotten if I have), but Gaiman suggests here and here part of his process.

The second link is one I’ve only recently found (while searching for the first). The relevant take-away there is:

…Novels I write in longhand. For novels, I like the whole first and second draft feeling, and the act of making paper dirty… Working in fountain pen is good because it slows me down just enough to keep my handwriting legible.

He also mentions using two pens – with different inks – to track each day (when writing in a journal).

Which leads to the first link. I had gotten into a funk where attempts at writing while staring at a computer screen wasn’t working for me (something that’s reared it’s head recently that I can only describe as “editor at work”). Somewhere around the time I saw the post above, I was looking for something… something to get me out of my head and rekindle the joy of writing that was there but just wasn’t finding its way out of my head.

Along came Neil with his fountain pens.

So I tried it. And it started working. I could scribble my way down the page and still have enough flexibilty to scribble notes in the margin as I went  (“add this” or “look this up”). I can scratch out a line quicker than I can click and drag to highlight and delete. There was some psychological tipping point of actually seeing physical pages stacking up as I went, not just a counter at the bottom of a screen. By going longhand, I found myself less focused on how it looked and more on getting words down.

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9/11… Ten Years On…

 

I spent most of the day disconnected and tried to avoid watching anything news related on television. Not out of a willful decision to ignore or forget the events from ten years ago, but much like Charles Stross mentioned… I can remember the events just fine and don’t need the media to shove the reminder down my throat. Of all the homes in my neighborhood, ours was the only one that had a flag up for most of the day. I remembered (and did my part to honor the victims), and still send thoughts and prayers to those that were affected.

I am also “reprinting” something I wrote a few years ago [below, slightly edited], reflecting on the day.

#  #  #

I didn’t make much of a fuss over yesterday, and honestly I had to think about it (albeit, for only a split second) when I first saw flags at half-mast [in 2008]. I was pissed off when everything happened in 2001. While I was not happy with the events (to put it very mildly), I was more frustrated and bent out of shape over the emotional outcry and the outpouring of wagging flags.

I was pissed that it took something of that magnitude for people to actually understand where they lived, and how much we have available to us that we merely take it all for granted.

Cynically, I mentioned then that there would be all of the hoopla made, then gradually (the general) “we” would drift back to complacency. Generally, I think that has proven to be true. I don’t live in New York, so I don’t have the immediate exposure to “Ground Zero”. I try to avoid DC, so I don’t see the Pentagon. I was not immediately affected by the events (no friends or family lost that day).

In checking through “my routine” when I came in today, I found something posted at Neil Gaiman’s blog (via the Web Goblin) [again, in 2008]. I am reposting the video below, as much for me to remember as it is for other to possibly stumble upon in the future.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
September 11, 2001
www.thedailyshow.com
http://media.mtvnservices.com/mgid:cms:item:comedycentral.com:105095
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook

[clicking the above should open a new window.]

There are many things that we “should never forget”, and I firmly believe that they are generational. For my parents, it was the day Kennedy was shot. When I was younger, it was the Challenger. Then there was this… For those still significanlty impacted by the events, a portion of my thoughts and prayers do still go out to you…

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E = …?

Since I have officially finished reading my first ebook, I have added a designation to my “Currently Reading”… Yeap… intuitive you probably already guessed it… an “E”, well “(E)” to be specific. I’ve read a couple of short stories, or pieces of magazines, but finally snuck in a book so I could finish something for a class.

And the jury is still mixed. Sort of.

I’m reading on an iPad (cross platform: I’ve got both Nook & Kindle apps loaded, as well as iBooks), and the experiences have generally been positive… much better than my attempts to run the Nook app on a Droid 2 (synching issues). Really, the only issue I’ve had to grumble about is the lack of cross-platform availability for some titles I’m interested in. Examples: Sue Grafton’s Alphabet series – there are a couple of titles not available for the Nook, but are available through Kindle. Neil Peart’s books that are available electronically on Kindle, aren’t anywhere else.

I like the appearance and functionality of iBooks, but Nook’s got so many more titles and options available, and in theory has cross platform support (has worked between an iPad & iPod Touch… not so much with the Droid app, and some issues with the PC client). And Nook’s easier to add titles to (over 3000 – yes, that’s thousand – samples so far). Kindle hassn’t impressed me, other than as an alternate venue to find titles – like Peart’s books, or Cherie Priest’s Clementine.

Yes, I said samples a moment ago. Many of them are books that I already own copies of and am just using as place markers for the “library” (Grafton, Gaiman, some Stross and Doctorow, among others). Many of them are back-cannon collections for writer’s I like, have an interest in reading (the rest of Stross, Doctorow, Scalzi, King). Many of them, though, fall into the “oooh, shiny” category, which is where I think Nook has the market advantage. I like to wander the shelves and look at books. I’m weird that way, always have been, but with the marvel of cell phone cameras, I can now take a picture of a book that looks interesting, look it up online, *click* a sample is added to the library for me to check out later. Much better for the discouragement of random impulse buying with triple digit receipts (I mentioned here before where two trips to B&N in a week netted me about 20 books, just because I was bored and wandered the shelves).

I guess the real reason I say the jury is still sort of out stems from moments like that… I still have a boatload of books – physical paper, bound, printed things – on my shelves begging to be read, many of which are more likely out of print, or haven’t been transitioned over to ebooks yet (inherited collections). Which means not a frequent digesting of ebooks… yet. Once I finish this Master’s Degree thing, I may have some increased opportunities to play with.

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On Aging…

I had a birthday last month, somewhere near the beginning. I had planned on writing something profound (and I was pleasantly surprised that I am *this* close to sharing a birthday with Neil Gaiman), but whatever it was has been lost to the aether. *sigh*

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Been Busy…

The last week has been busy… a lot of reading (articles, mostly, for the “teaching” class), as well as lots of social functions that have required attention… a couple of birthday parties, dinners with friends that we haven’t seen in a while… and call volume at work being rather high as well the last few days…

So, here’s some of the latest…
Went to see Coraline on Saturday night… the movie itself was good, but the experience was less than stellar… There were people, with their children – the kind where the kids are the wriggly, and the “parents”[1] were the kind that they would “tell” the children to be quiet, but nothing more. Kind of took away from the experience, when every couple of minutes you hear, “I said hush!” Not in a yelling, carrying through the theater kind of voice, but loud enough that it could be heard two rows away. Maybe if the “parents”* had been sitting with the younger children, there could have been more direct authority, instead of calling at them from two rows away. *sigh*

I have settled into the 1904 World Series project… the one that I will be doing for the research class, and have managed to get some basic web sources (ah, Wikipedia…) but want to pull a lot more, including newspaper articles, etc. to get me more into the time, mood and vibe of the era… the only catch is going to be identifying “World Series”… I don’t know if it was actually called that back then.

Switching back to Neil Gaiman… a couple of items that he had posted on his site (either directly, or by link) that I thought were cool enough to reference from here…

One that he mentioned today, is a web comic…
[Edit to Add: I had to change the image size to make the whole thing fit in my layout… you may need to click to embiggen, ifyou can’tread it…]
Dog eat Doug
and I just thought it funny when I read it…

The other one… *goes digging* is this… the “Button” trailer…

And I like it for a couple of reasons… the first, is that it’s Mr. G. himself… while I have seen loads of pictures (from book jackets or on his blog) I had never really heard him speak, except for a couple of youtube clips, at awards ceremonies and the like. He really does have a good sounding voice, that I’m sure handles readings like a pro (I have one of the audiobook sets that I have downloaded, but have not listened to yet)… There’s also the couple of shots in his library (as he says here, that is the “downstairs” library…) Which gives me hope that my abundance of books can one day be very similar… (for the record – that has been an image in my mind – a large personal library – for much, much longer than I have been into Mr. G.)

Tickets have been confirmed… and hopefully en route shortly for the Hurricanes game that we will be going to next month for my S-in-L’s birthday… and tickets go on sale the end of this week for Keith Urban & Sugarland… MC and I had a good time at last year’s KU show, and my S-in-L likes Sugarland… since she doesn’t get a chance to get out much lately (between work, running the church youth group, and the classes she has been taking to be eligible to teach – let’s just say if it’s not related to one of those three things, it’s a stretch for her to work it in on her own)…

I have at least two more books (novels)as well as a script to read for the research class, and a lot of articles still to come down for the “teaching” class… as it is, I have some “responses” still to post before class tonight, so it’s off to the…. well…. time to change windows….

[1] I say “parents” because it was dark, an during the previews when their camp paraded in. The “older” figures could easily have been still in their teens… of course, they could have also been the parents at the same time…

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Wednesday…

I woke up this morning to a dusting of snow on the car, and a steady flow of powder falling from the sky. By the time I made it to work, the amount of powder was spotty at best, so no chance of the “weather gremlins” striking like they did a couple of weeks ago.

I’ve almost finished my reading for class tonight… only another 50 pages! I may have to sneak the reading in between calls to chalk another book off my list, but at least I made it to the home stretch. I have also had to go through Amazon in order to get one of the course books that I will need to read for next week. I tried to avoid it, I really did – the campus bookstore has copies on order (that were supposed to be in around 1-21-09). Those copies (as of 2-3-09) had yet to arrive, and I do actually like going into a class somewhat prepared, these days. So, I had to break down and order it, with 2-day shipping, to make sure I can have it in time to read it before next Tuesday. In order to make it work the cost of shipping, I picked up a couple of other items as well (the “Absolute Sandman, Vol. 1” and “Prince of Stories“).

I’ve been mulling over writing a comic/graphic novel, even going so far as getting the “Writing GN for Dummies” type of book (I can’t remember if it’s Dummies, or Idiot’s Guide to… but I got it…)… The hard part, though, is I find it easier to learn from seeing an actual example, and being able to gague length for a work that way. While I had to swallow hard before purchasing, I have been considering the Sandman set for several months. Volume 1 includes the first 20 issues from the series, but the kicker (for me) was the script for issue #19 (which was an award winning issue), as well as the proposal for the series. Both very good things if I want to be able to prepare for a chance to get something into the industry.

The desk remained untouched last night, since it was a class night, and having other things to accomplish (finishing reading for tonight)… It will probably not get tackeld until tomorrow night, when there is no class requirement, and I can ask MC for her opinion as I clear and reset everything.

More calls coming in, and less time to finish (some) reading for tonight… back to the trenches

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Catching up….

Whew…. it’s been an interesting week-and-a-few-days…

First off, and most recently, Neil Gaiman news…. he’s won the Newberry for The Graveyard Book. I think it’s cool, even if traditional critcs of “the establishment” think it’s weird. And it’s one that I can attest to its being not just a “kid’s book”, even if that’s where it tends to be put in bookstores.

And I already have my copies of the Neil Gaiman Batman issues reserved through my local comics shop.

Now, last week we here in the South East had something we don’t get very often… snow! Lots of it. There was enough that two days of classes were cancelled. Fortunately, it happened to be the two days that my classes are, so there was a reprieve on some readings/projects for another week.

Last night was the first “real” session (thanks to the snow day) for my Research class. Since it’s Resaerch from the Writer’s Perspective, the big final project will be some form of creative work, “strongly influenced” by research. As the instructor went around the room, asking each person if they had anything in mind (just an idea, nothing that would be set in stone), and I was one of the few people that already had a form and subject in mind…

My tentative revelation: I will be writing a script or short story about the 1904 World Series. Or, more to the point, about how and why it didn’t happen. It’s something that’s been bubbling around for a couple of years, and seems to be one that will lend itself quite well to the requirements of that assignment.

The “teaching” class, which meets tonight may be something else. The reading has been tough… the first two chapters “read like stereo instructions” as the author goes into some of the background and theory (or, “This is how I got to my ideas.”). Really… fifty-four pages of build-up, and “this is what is going on behind what I think”, before actually getting to “here is what I think about teaching, and ways you can encourage writing in a classroom”?

It’s an academic text, I know, but the first two chapters just seemed to drag on. There were several moments that I found myself rereading the same lines, my eyes crossed trying to finish a paragraph or a page – anything to get to a point where I could do a “clean break” from the text. Right now, I couldn’t tell you much about the first two chapters, other than, “a lot of theory, and somebody that had the epiphany to come up with assignments that get the students involved in the material. Something to get them interested.” Duh.

*sigh* At least some of my pleasure reading is taking me back to the edge, and to an interesting future, by reading some William Gibson (his short stories). Over the long weekend, last week, I picked up two Harry Turtledove books… Opening Atlantis, and the Gladiator. I also found a copy of The Family Trade by Charles Stross – first book in a series that Chris had suggested to me back around the wedding. Two of the three have already been added to my book stack for the year. (Seriously, I already have most of my “pleasure” reading picked out. Since I have so many books on the shelves to choose from, I had to do something to streamline the process.)

Back to the grindstone… I have a class I need to try and finish prepping for, and only a little bitof time left at work for the day…

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9/11… Seven Years Later

I didn’t make much of a fuss over yesterday, and honestly I had to think about it (albeit, for only a split second) when I first saw flags at half-mast yesterday. I was pissed off when everything happened in 2001. While I was not happy with the events (to put it very mildly), I was more frustrated and bent out of shape over the emotional outcry and the outpouring of wagging flags.

I was pissed that it took something of that magnitude for people to actually understand where they lived, and how much we have available to us that we merely take it all for granted.

Cynically, I mentioned then that there would be all of the hoopla made, then gradually (the general) “we” would drift back to complacency. Generally, I think that has proven to be true. I don’t live in New York, so I don’t have the immediate exposure to “Ground Zero”. I try to avoid DC, so I don’t see the Pentagon. I was not immediately affected by the events (no friends or family lost in the events).

In checking through “my routine” when I cam in today, I found something posted at Neil Gaiman’s blog (via the Web Goblin). I am reposting the video below (linking, actually), as much for me to remember as it is for other to possibly stumble upon in the future.

http://www.thedailyshow.com/sitewide/video_player/view/default/swf.jhtml

There are many things that we “should never forget”, and I firmly believe that they are generational. For my parents, it was the day Kennedy was shot. When I was younger, it was the Challenger. Then there was this… For those still significanlty impacted by the events, a portion of my thoughts and prayers do still go out to you…

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In Which I Submit an Email…

MC & I have talked about moving, and one of the places we have talked about it England. Why? Because it would be different, and a chance for some grand adventuring. As an Undergrad, I had thought about / looked into trying to do a Study Abroad (studying in another country for a semester). Unfortunately, either due to other commitments (ROTC), or my own stupidity (too much debt to be able to survive without having some form of income besides financial aid), I eventually had to give up on the idea.

However, in talking with MC, some of those old interests came flooding back, and I decided to start looking into things again. Since anything I had previously looked at was as a student and no longer would apply, really (student visas, and waivers to get work as a student, etc.), I decided to start poking around the internet.

Also, while I did feel a bit sheepish some twenty to thirty minutes after sending an email to someone famous, who has done something similar (moving to the US from England), it was too late to retract it.

While I honestly did not really expect an answer (at least, not a personal one by any means), I still figured it would be worth a shot. Low and behold, I was tickled when I checked the blog for said famous person, and saw the contents of my email in one of his posts. And, for anyone that may be interested, you can read it here (you just need to scroll down on the post to find it).

It’s a point in the right direction, which is all I was asking, and I do think that was one of the sites I may have looked at in the afternoon searches, just after sending the message. But, hurrah! It was just cool to see the response in his blog… (Can you tell I’m still a little tickled?)

Well… back to the grindstone…

Oh, and in case you haven’t quite read the post labels (below), or followed to read the response, the famous person that I asked about moving was Mr. Neil Gaiman himself…

I actually had read nothing of his until discovering the blog a little over a year ago, but had name recognition of Sandman from years ago. But I am working my way to (and through) some of the fiction (I have Neverwhere and Smoke and Mirrors), but the more of the blog I read, as a means of picking up a familiarity with some of his style – word flow, at least – I have the other books on my list to get. I also recently picked up The Eternals graphic novel, as I have started rekindling some of my youth (comics), and have thought about comics or graphic novels as another venue I want to try writing for.

[Edit: I originally wrote this post on 4 March, with the intention of catching up on some OTHER posts before making ut live. Um, yeah. That didn’t work, so here is the post, now.]

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