Neil Gaiman is, without a doubt, my literary idol.
I’ve mentioned before that I am late to the party, comparatively speaking, but however late I feel I might be, I may be just in time. If I should ever get to the point that I am asked to name my influences, his work would be on top of a rather short list.
I’ve just finished reading Neverwhere. Surprise, I know, given the title of this blog. I started with American Gods, which I ended up loving, even though it was a slow beginning and it took me a while to get into it.
Then I read Stardust, mainly because I’d seen the movie and wanted to see what the book was like. And now Neverwhere, which is my favourite out of the three.
I don’t think it would be possible to get as much out of the story, if you didn’t live in London. I recognized every corner and each reference. It was absolutely delightful. I can’t put in words how much I enjoyed that aspect of the story.
I loved the whole novel, of course. I wouldn’t write about it otherwise and I admit I feel inadequate. How do you write about a book without giving anything away?
Story and possible spoilers aside, I read the book very carefully. More carefully than I may have read anything else before. Critically. Sometimes even analytically. I read it for enjoyment as much as to learn.
I read on the morning commute, during lunch break and evening commute. Arriving at work I always thought: How do you stop reading when a book completely sucks you in?
And on that thought, obviously, how will I be able to write a story that will suck people in and won’t want them to stop reading until the last sentence, and even then they will feel deprived.
I have so much to learn still. I can’t even get close to Gaiman’s mastery. But this is where I want to be and so I will continue reading and learning and writing, writing, always writing.
I didn’t want to stop reading Neverwhere, I wanted to go to London Below. I live in London Above and may never look at it the same way again. It certainly opened my eyes just a little more.
I read a tweet yesterday by a guy, who said that whenever he reads Gaiman, he thinks that the guy is batshit crazy and then reading him some more finds that he (Gaiman) really is batshit crazy.
I beg to differ. If Gaiman is crazy, so am I. I read some of his books and never once considered them insane. I kept thinking: What if? Or: Why not? And worse: I wish I had have that idea. Neverwhere’s concept is brilliant and I loved it end to end especially as I am living in London. You can’t possibly get as much out of it, if you’ve never been here.
I’d rather be crazy and live in Gaiman’s world than in London Above without ever seeing all there is.
I want to go to the English countryside. Me, myself and I, pack my laptop, an overnight bag, maybe my camera, and then write for three days straight, only taking a break to go out for a walk, rain or sunshine. Sleep and food are optional.
I am working on some ideas right now, all of them with considerable potential, more than I have seen in any previous ideas. I want and need the time to see where I can go with those and how far any of them may take me.
In the meantime I will read everything Gaiman wrote. I can’t think of a better teacher. Not for me anyway. He’s the one who tells us to make good art and I can hear his voice saying those words.
I can do it. I know I can. As much as I have to learn, no matter how far I have to go. I will get there and it will be good.