Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wisdom and inspiration from Neil Gaiman

He is the multi-talented, multi-award-winning author of brilliant works such as The Sandman and The Graveyard Book. He is also a hero to many young people. And that is why the commencement speech Neil Gaiman gave earlier this month at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia is drawing raves on the Web.

I watched the speech on YouTube this morning after receiving the link from Commitscion Natasha Rego (Class of 2014). She wrote she found it to be "beautifully inspiring". I agree, and I think you will, too.


While there are many thoughtful and thought-provoking aspects to what Gaiman said, what I found striking was that he got his start as a journalist:

I wanted to write comics and novels and stories and films, so I became a journalist, because journalists are allowed to ask questions, and to simply go and find out how the world works, and besides, to do those things I needed to write and to write well, and I was being paid to learn how to write economically, crisply, sometimes under adverse conditions, and on time.

Gaiman also makes a lot of sense when he speaks about learning from failure:

The problems of failure are problems of discouragement, of hopelessness, of hunger. You want everything to happen and you want it now, and things go wrong. My first book a piece of journalism I had done for the money, and which had already bought me an electric typewriter  from the advance should have been a bestseller. It should have paid me a lot of money. If the publisher hadn't gone into involuntary liquidation between the first print run selling out and the second printing, and before any royalties could be paid, it would have done.

And I shrugged, and I still had my electric typewriter and enough money to pay the rent for a couple of months, and I decided that I would do my best in future not to write books just for the money. If you didn't get the money, then you didn't have anything. If I did work I was proud of, and I didn't get the money, at least I'd have the work.

Every now and again, I forget that rule, and whenever I do, the universe kicks me hard and reminds me.

To plug into Neil Gaiman's very original philosophy and to understand why what he said is such a hit, watch the full commencement address yourself here.

If you would rather read up on the six key points of Gaiman's address, go here.
  • Also read: Neil Gaiman talks to the New York Times about his favourite books, his reading habits, and other book-related matters: By the Book.

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