Written July 6. 2011-
Years ago, I saw Stardust. Not because I wanted to see Stardust, but because my sister wanted me to see Stardust. She is wise like that.
I remember loving the movie, thinking it was brilliantly written and then I found out that it was a book. I saw an interview with the author of Stardust about writing Stardust and I thought he was funny and brilliant(he pointed out that the greatest part of writing fantasy is that if you get stuck, you can simply have a flying airship come rescue your characters if you so choose…that changed the way I thought about writing certain things) but I never read the book and I didn’t make note of the authors name.
Fast forward a bit and my ex kept telling me to read the Sandman graphic novels. Once again, I did not want to read Sandman, my ex wanted me to read Sandman. He had his moments of brilliance as well. But I never got around it because the only ones I could find were the Absolute Sandman collections which were a hundred bucks a piece. Quite a lot to shell out for something I didn’t care to read(at the time, I didn’t really want to read a graphic novel. I figured how could something that is based mostly on pictures possibly be good? I’m not five. I have my moments of non brilliance) So I never got around to reading them despite Lee’s insistence that they were brilliant.
Fast forward again. My ex and I were in one of our breakup periods and I was at a bookstore. I was looking in Young Adult because those are typically the books I like to read. Sad for someone who has had a college reading level since fourth grade? Possibly. But I don’t like a plethora of detail about landscape and the color of someone’s hair and all that and most “adult” books do that often enough. Genre does not determine quality of writing. Anyway, I was looking in that section and saw a book that caught my eye. The Graveyard Book. It was about a kid who grows up in a graveyard being raised by ghosts.
Since I was three years old I have had a story in my head about a girl living in a graveyard being raised by corpses, so my interest was peaked.
Then I saw the authors name. Neil Gaiman. This was the same author as the one who wrote the Sandman series and Lee swore he was a great writer. That fact, combined with the plot description compelled me to buy the book.
I fell in love with Gaiman’s writing. Every time I went to a bookstore I would buy one or two more books of his and read them (Good Omens and American Gods were my next purchases) as well as “borrowing”(that word hardly seems appropriate to me) theSandman graphic novels three at a time and I just devoured them. I had to have the books sent from the other libraries to the library closest to me so that I could pick them up and read them and waiting was agony so I would just re-read the ones I already had.(the library only lets you take three books at a tine) This was all while my heart was broken. Every night I would sit, hunched over on my bed wrapped in blankets with my neck aching but unable to find a better position as I read these graphic novels. Then I read American Gods and Good Omens and then Stardust and Coraline. Earlier this year I read Anansi Boys and then after seeing Thor I read Odd and the Frost Giants in about an afternoon There isn’t one thing I have read from him in all the genre’s for all the different age groups that I didn’t love. I have read close to all of his books(the only ones I haven’t are Mirrormask because I can’t find it anywhere, one of his childrens stories and his two short story anthologies-but I am in the middle of Fragile Things which has unfortunately gone missing 😦 )
My point is: Funny how things work out when you need them to. If I had discovered Sandman any other time then they wouldn’t have been there for me during our breakup. I probably wouldn’t even have enjoyed them as much(okay I probably would have…they are amazing) but I doubt I would have gone looking for more from Neil Gaiman.
And now Neil Gaiman is the only person in the world that I idolize in any way. Idolize is the wrong word but the word that fits is escaping me. Sam has Maynard from Tool and Dave Grohl and various other people. I think most people have someone they look up to. In their lives or in the profession they want to be in. I had never found anyone in my life I thought worthy to look up to in any way until Gaiman.
Gaiman writes spectacularly and the man can write anything and he does it all very well. From Fantasy to History to Horror to kids books to a combination of any of the above and so much more and they are all fantastic. Add to that that he is a genuinely nice guy who actually goes out of his way to talk to his fans, and gives all the money he gets from speaking engagements to charity(he says he is a writer and he makes his money as a writer. He doesn’t need anything else) He made it as a writer without knowing anyone who could get him in. It seems to me these days most people that get famous in any art form(actor, singer, writer etc…) know somebody who hooks them up despite the fact that most of them are talentless and selfish and their only goal is to be famous.
I lost all respect for Nicholas Sparks(I didn’t have a lot to begin with…I like a couple of his books but they are all very very very predictable) when he said that he hates to write but its how he makes a living. He doesn’t like to write, he has no passion for it. He’s “good” at it so he does it. That offends me as someone who has being a writer so deeply ingrained in my DNA that it is a part of who I am. I can’t imagine being anything else and I haven’t since I was four. I think I have mentioned before that Sam teases me because I never dreamed of being a princess or a superhero. The closest I came was wanting to marry Batman. But I was still a writer in this fantasy. I started reading before I was in kindergarten. I missed Recess all the time in elementary school because I was reading or writing. Words are just part of me. In my head I am always refining things that I said. When I hit “create post” I will be going over my head the rest of the day what I said and how may be I should have phrased it. So someone who just writes because people read his books and not because it is what he wants to do offends me. Maybe it shouldn’t but it does.
Unfortunately that is what becomes of a lot of people once they get noticed. He never liked to write. He wrote because he had a story to tell and he was lucky someone noticed him. If you look at how he says you should be a writer on his site page you can just tell that he hates doing it because he treats it like a chore.
Of course Nicholas Sparks was always arrogant. He has been quoted saying “no one does what I do” Which is bullshit by the way and he attacked Jane Austen. Which he has no right to do. He says that she always wrote women who were like “I love you but now I’m going to change you” Which is not true. The central part of Jane Austen’s characters was that the women ignored the men who were jerks despite the fact that these men could have helped them financially. Elizabeth in “Pride and Prejudice” would have nothing to do with Mr. Darcy because he wasn’t worth her time because he was a jerk. He changed first, then she gave him a shot. After they were together she didn’t ask him to change. So I think perhaps Mr. Sparks’ needs to re read the book after putting is ego on the shelf. I’m not even a Jane Austen fan and I can tell you why he is so wrong.
I’m getting off point, and I apologize.
What was my point again?
Oh yes. Neil Gaiman is brilliant, and things line up as they should in the time they should. Even for discovering authors whose books you love.
(I think there is a spider crawling under my foot. I am committed to killing it without actually looking at it)
On a similar note, I just found another fantastic author. He writes fantasy(like Eye of the World Fantasy, not Anansi Boys Fantasy) which I don’t typically like but he wrote an amazing series called the Night Angel Trilogy which were amazing and only the first book has anything to do with what the description says it’s about. I am about to start his next series which he only has one of so far called Black Prism which I look forward to so I suggest you check it out. The author’s name is Brent Weeks and he is fantastic.
I don’t really have an ending to this. I didn’t expect it to go on this long in the first place, but you must use adequate space for praise and then for ranting. One can never predict these sort of things. So lets just pretend I am ending with something profoundly wise and possibly life changing.