became a better writer

March 24, 2020

I never really expected to find myself giving advice to people graduating from an establishment of higher education. I never graduated from any such establishment. I never even started at one. I escaped from school as soon as I could, when the prospect of four more years of enforced learning before I’d become the writer I wanted to be was stifling.

I got out into the world, I wrote, and I became a better writer the more I wrote, and I wrote some more, and nobody ever seemed to mind that I was making it up as I went along, they just read what I wrote and they paid for it, or they didn’t, and often they commissioned me to write something else for them.

Neil Gaiman
Keynote Address 17th May 2012

How to read Gene Wolfe:

1) Trust the text implicitly. The answers are in there.

2) Do not trust the text farther than you can throw it, if that far. It’s tricksy and desperate stuff, and it may go off in your hand at any time.

3) Reread. It’s better the second time. It will be even better the third time. And anyway, the books will subtly reshape themselves while you are away from them. Peace really was a gentle Midwestern memoir the first time I read it. It only became a horror novel on the second or the third reading.

4) There are wolves in there, prowling behind the words. Sometimes they come out in the pages. Sometimes they wait until you close the book. The musky wolf-smell can sometimes be masked by the aromatic scent of rosemary. Understand, these are not today-wolves, slinking grayly in packs through deserted places. These are the dire-wolves of old, huge and solitary wolves that could stand their ground against grizzlies.

5) Reading Gene Wolfe is dangerous work. It’s a knife-throwing act, and like all good knife-throwing acts, you may lose fingers, toes, earlobes or eyes in the process. Gene doesn’t mind. Gene is throwing the knives.

6) Make yourself comfortable. Pour a pot of tea. Hang up a DO NOT DISTURB Sign. Start at Page One.

7) There are two kinds of clever writer. The ones that point out how clever they are, and the ones who see no need to point out how clever they are. Gene Wolfe is of the second kind, and the intelligence is less important than the tale. He is not smart to make you feel stupid. He is smart to make you smart as well.

8) He was there. He saw it happen. He knows whose reflection they saw in the mirror that night.

9) Be willing to learn.

Neil Gaiman
How to read Gene Wolfe

approaches to writing fiction

February 29, 2020

We’re literally all faking it. Neil Gaiman? Lied about his experience to get his first publication. F. Scott Fitzgerald? An absolute disaster who couldn’t spell. Donna Tartt? Committed to her authorial brand before anyone knew her name. The only thing that makes someone a writer is their decision to do the work and call themselves a writer. You do that long enough, and soon other people start calling you a writer too. When I first started posting my writing on Tumblr way back in ye olde 2012, I posted my poems in quotations with my pen-name at the bottom like a “real” author That created the social proof I needed for people to search for my name, ask my questions about my work, and encourage me to keep going.

S.T. Gibson
Ten Things They Don’t Teach You in Your Undergrad Writing Workshop

Dance in the rain

February 23, 2020

Let her tell stories and dance in the rain, somersault, tumble and run, her joys must be high as her sorrows are deep, let her grow like a weed in the sun.

Neil Gaiman
Blueberry Girl

give them a piece of you

August 5, 2018

lovers1

Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn’t it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up. You build up all these defenses, you build up a whole suit of armour, so that nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life…You give them a piece of you. They didn’t ask for it. They did something dumb one day, like kiss you or smile at you, and then your life isn’t your own anymore. Love takes hostages. It gets inside you. It eats you out and leaves you crying in the darkness, so simple a phrase like ‘maybe we should be just friends’ turns into a glass splinter working its way into your heart. It hurts. Not just in the imagination. Not just in the mind. It’s a soul-hurt, a real gets-inside-you-and-rips-you-apart pain. I hate love.

Neil Gaiman
The Sandman

Masks

August 4, 2018

We are all wearing masks. That is what makes us interesting.

Neil Gaiman
Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances

walk away from things

June 21, 2018

I do not miss childhood, but I miss the way I took pleasure in small things, even as greater things crumbled. I could not control the world I was in, could not walk away from things or people or moments that hurt, but I took joy in the things that made me happy.

Neil Gaiman
The Ocean at the End of the Lane

My father was consumed by my mother as soon as he had fertilized her and she, in her turn, was eaten by myself at my birth. That is my first memory, as it happens. Squirming my way out of my mother, the gamy taste of her still in my tentacles.

Don’t look so shocked, Whateley. I find you humans just as revolting.

Neil Gaiman
I Cthulhu

Incantation

August 24, 2016

trees3
Be hole, be dust, be dream, be wind
Be night, be dark, be wish, be mind,
Now slip, now slide, now move unseen,
Above, beneath, betwixt, between.

Neil Gaiman
The Graveyard Book

Huginn or Muninn…

August 23, 2016

Black bird of omen

‘Hey,’ said Shadow. ‘Huginn or Muninn, or whoever you are.’

The bird turned, head tipped, suspiciously, on one side, and it stared at him with bright eyes.

‘Say “Nevermore”,’ said Shadow.

‘Fuck you,’ said the raven.

Neil Gaiman
American Gods