Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Notes on the Gaiman Crush, Part 2

So, I’m sure you’re burning with curiosity how I am faring with my temptation to crush on Neil Gaiman. I’d have to say I’ve lost the first week’s battle pretty soundly.

Planning to read more of his books? Yes.
Thinking of doing a tribute site? Still no!
Hoarding a few more wallpapers? Yes.
Marveling at his mind? Yes, yes, yes.

What I really love about Neil boils down to—no, not the smile—his ability to describe exactly what it is like to be a writer. I mean, in the same terms (although much more eloquently) than I would. Before you non-writers tune out, bear with me: Imagine encountering someone who really gets [fill in your particular passion here], in a manner you thought was practically unique to you. Yeah, it’s a heady trip when that happens.

Case in point: I watched the rest of the Google interview video. In response to a question about archetypal hero themes, Neil brought up Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with 10,000 Faces. As a Jungian author I’m all about archetypes, and I’ve read some Campbell, and I followed where Neil was going with this. But personally, I’ve never wanted to read too much Joseph Campbell, for fear that studying the creative process in that way might inhibit my natural ability to tap into the unconscious and draw stories from it.

I was thinking about this, just as Neil said [something like] “I was part way into the book and I thought, ‘I shouldn’t be reading this.’” In that moment I realized he and I had the very same thought on the subject. It was spooky. Even spookier was the fact that as Neil went on, expressing basically what I just did in the paragraph above, the questioner responded in a way that demonstrated he had missed the point. He was a smart guy, he just wasn’t a writer.

Earlier in the video, Neil read another of his poems, this one about Scheherazade inventing the Arabian Nights tales. This poem also hit upon the writing process in a manner that to my mind was spot on. I felt like if Neil had changed some of the words he could have been describing what I’ve been doing lately with the Bloodchained sequel! Of course I’m not under threat of death like Scheherazade, and my book can hardly compare to Aladdin’s adventures, but you get my drift.

Last time I posted, I discussed how scary it can be finding out about the real life of the object of one’s infatuation. I won’t lie that I am terribly intimidated by this man, who has a dozen celebrities on speed dial, sees his work adapted for movies and musical theater, and is adored by millions. I have no wish to throw myself among the rabid crowd of fanboys (and in the case of sexy Neil, there are plenty of fangirls as well) that follow Neil Gaiman from sci fi con to sci fi con.

Nevertheless, I’m beginning to think some good could come of this thing.

As always happens when I read good fiction, I find inspiration in Neil’s work to improve my own. For example, he has a tremendous knack for embellishing a scene with a few marvelously selected details, phrased utterly without cliché, thereby making that scene more colorful and substantial in the mind’s eye. My own personal weakness has always been description—I ought to be a playwright with my love of dialogue—and I can only dream of having such a skill. Nevertheless, I can try to emulate the man a little, and my prose will only be the better for the effort.

I explained this to my husband yesterday, saying “Of course I could never write like Neil Gaiman.” Davie replied, “Well, and he could never write like you, either.” It was a very kind thing to say, and also, I’ll admit, true. I don’t want to write like anyone other than myself, and no doubt Neil would encourage that attitude. I am at last too mature to want to express my worshipful feelings for another person by trying to be him.

That said, however, I cannot help but be moved by the man’s perception of the creative process and the way he describes it. In this one small way (actually in my case, not so small), he and I are soul mates of a sort.

Therefore I am becoming more comfortable with the idea of having my imaginary version of Neil Gaiman—for how could my concept of him be anything but imaginary?—serve as a sort of muse. My imaginary versions of celebrities I’m "in crush with" have often served as inspirations to my life and work, and considering this is the first time I’ve glommed on to an author, the muse thing is definitely in order.

So, doesn’t it sound like I’m being all sensible about this and stuff? Doesn’t it? Acting my age and all that? Well, don’t think that I’ve ruled out the possibility of seeing him in person some day…he lives in Minneapolis and that’s just over the border from Wisconsin, people.

I’ll keep you posted, you know I will, whether you like it or not.


VT said...

Stumbled across your blog looking for something else entirely, and laughed when I read the posts on Neil.

He does make a fantastic muse, doesn't he?

Diana Laurence said...

So far so good, VT. And what's uncanny is, I just read the passages in "American Gods" where the hero, Shadow, visits House on the Rock and the region between Madison, Wis. and parts southerly including Peru, Ill. I've been visiting HOTR since I was a little girl...and meanwhile, will be traveling to see family in Peru in a week. The real life version of my muse has trod the same physical roads as I have. Jung would definitely consider this synchronicity, and I'm taking it as confirmation to continue in Neil Mode at least for awhile!

Miss Organizized said...

Meanwhile, what are the odds that a story by one man is narrated by another man, both of whom you blogged about "crushing on" four days apart??? That's gotta mean something [looking in Carl Jung's direction where ever he may be!]

Diana Laurence said...

Katesi, it's spooky beyond spooky. I wonder what is going to happen when we visit Peru, Ill. this weekend...maybe we'll run into Neil shopping with Michael for Kerry Wood Cubs apparel at the Peru Mall!