The Project forges ahead. This past Friday was a tough one – I had a long day at work and seriously did not feel the least bit like writing by the time I got home, but fortunately the spectre of horrible public failure was not something I was prepared to confront quite this early in the effort. So the public accountability part of this thing is working! I think this might already be the largest piece of fiction writing I have ever done. In order to check, I’d have to be able to open some of those arcane lost files, so I can’t be sure – but I think so. I guess the good news is that I still feel like I know where I’m going and I don’t even hate this thing too much yet.
Anyway, by way of content, some thoughts on another of my favorite authors.
I don’t really remember how I got into Neil Gaiman, although I think Commander Rick of the much-lamented Prisoners of Gravity SF/fantasy/comics show is to blame. That show definitely introduced me to Clive Barker and his cigar, the revelation that Tate and Velasco in The Difference Engine are self-inserts of Bruce Sterling and William Gibson, to Gotham by Gaslight and other evidence that comics writing was not necessarily seeing how many terrible cliches you could cram into the dialogue, and may have infected me with Neil Gaiman. Man, I miss that show.
Anyway Neil Gaiman, however I got the contagion, was like the sudden arrival of a new planet. Holy crap, where was this before and wow it’s astounding. I read Neverwhere about a billion times. While I was in England I bought the entire run of Sandman in trades and read the heck out of that. I liked it to the point that I paid ridiculous rates to ship it all back across the Atlantic. I still think Stardust is about the most charming book I have read, and that’s without getting into American Gods or his short stories which never fail to amaze on some level or other. I’ll confess to not having tracked down his stuff on Hellblazer or Swamp Thing but since Gaiman is also on the short list of authors whose work I just assume is good … well, I just assume it’s real good also. Even stuff I haven’t liked quite as much, like Anansi Boys, it was like watching your favorite pitcher throw a mere two-hit shutout instead of a no-no. It’s still pretty darn good by any standard.
However much all of the above is true, Neil Gaiman also led directly to Writing Crisis #2, which was essentially this – Gaiman writes exactly the kind of stories I would like to write. His stories of the bizarre, the magical and the horrible interspersed and intersecting with the ordinary are more or less exactly the kind of thing I am interested in creating myself. So given that he already writes this stuff, and does it at such a high level of sheer badassery, is there any reason at all why I should write stuff which is basically the same, but not nearly as good? My answer was, again, ‘no’, although how I explained it at the time to at least one person was that I didn’t need to write because Gaiman was writing exactly what I wanted to write but better than I could. What I really meant, though, was that I didn’t see any point in writing things that were basically in Gaiman’s demense except far crappier. Essentially, if not as good as Gaiman, Surrender Dorothy.
Writing Crisis #2 has only recently been overcome, I have to say, and in part because of the Stephen King intro I started the blog with. Basically I now think that not writing because my writing is not as good as Neil Gaiman (or whoever) is like not playing the guitar because you’re not as good as Jimi Hendrix or whichever Guitar Hero you want to substitute in. Presumably one should write because they enjoy the process of creation and they feel like the end product may be enjoyable for whatever reader(s) there end up being, wherever they are on the scale of relative quality. I’ve been a bit reluctant to put this theory into practice (for reasons which will probably make another update post) but part of the thinking driving The Project, here, is that even if (if? Fuck it, it’s my blog, we’re going with if) the work is not as good as Gaiman or whoever would produce, someone may still enjoy it.
So writing this thing is vaguely (although here again I set sail boldly into territory I know nothing about, hurrah!) like taking your guitar down to open mic night and seeing if people have a good time or throw vegetables. And if Neil Gaiman doesn’t like it, well, I bet I’d kick his ass at Ultimate.
Word Count: 15, 309. So there.