Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Neil Gaiman - "Make Good Art"

"When things get tough, this is what you should do: Make good art. I'm serious. Husband runs off with a politician -- make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by a mutated boa constrictor -- make good art. IRS on your trail -- make good art. Cat exploded -- make good art. Someone on the Internet thinks what you're doing is stupid or evil or it's all been done before -- make good art."

Neil Gaiman - Commencement speech, University of the Arts, PA

Well, I guess it's the season for inspiring commencement speeches from admirable creatives, and as Neil Gaiman has been constellating in all my recent web forays, I thought I'd give his speech a listen.. and I'm glad I did. I only wish I could've heard it about 35 or so years ago, when I was just starting out on my own life of artistic "crime". 

But, then again, there was no internet in those days, and no road-maps at all for quirky people with big inspirations but a decided lack of funds, connections, and worse still - the very worst, really - a decided lack of courage. It really only takes balls, you know... and maybe the smallest amount of confirmation - from some person place or thing on the "outside" - to blow a little wind into your sails.

I seem to be obsessing a lot about "success" and/or the lack of it lately. This coming from a woman who recently sold her car just to pay the bills. Perhaps, for me, "success" is merely being able to survive as my authentic self at this point in time... when "authenticity" has become a word as obsolete as the technology from 2010.

I found this video on Lee Wind's SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators) blog. I'd been concentrating on several children's stories of mine before financial high anxiety reared its (very) ugly head, and was considering joining the society. But, it occurs to me that, sans automotive vehicle, perhaps I can afford the membership fee, after all.*

* quintessential "silver lining"...


  1. "No guts, no glory" as THEY murmer placidly behind smoked glass walls.

    I've always loved Mr. Gaimman's writing -- he certainly produces "good art", so I think his advice is sound. My only quibble is the "good" qualifier on the art bit -- depends on who's looking, doesn't it?

    So...YES! Make art.

    1. Hah! Yeah... but "guts" generally translates into self-esteem... and so many women from our generation had a decided deficit... and women are still in the process of recovering from the insidious gender-programming that was put into place centuries ago.

      Good point about the "good" art. I think, by that, he meant "genuine"... but, then again, perhaps, that's just my translation.

  2. I think you're correct....but as a writer he should have used "genuine" eh? Tsk. "Good" has become a butter to be spread upon everything -- an oleomargarine without seasonings or flavour OR any real meaning except "acceptable to the general Great Unwashed". In which case, Walmart is apparently "good". Oy!

    As for gender programming...I can't connect in the same manner as you do, but I agree with you -- and hopefully we, as a society, is progressing to an equality of gender (despite the protestations of the Bible Belt).

    Regarding self-esteem....your work is more than worthy. Go forth. Conquer.

    1. "Good" being a relative term, perhaps "genuine" would've been better... but then, "genuine" might be an intimidating term to those just starting out!

      Thanks for the pep talk. ;-)

      Right now, however, "getting out of Dodge" is my main priority... conquering inertia, and just moving on. My next post may address this: the art of physically extricating oneself from places one no longer belongs... in this case, selling ones childhood home and relocating. Stay tuned.