An Evening With
On sunday I was lucky enough to attend an Evening with Neil Gaiman. I’m a big fan of his writing, in fact he’s written 2 of my favourite books of all time in American Gods and Good Omens. I never read Sandman (yes, I know), as I was only about 10 when it started and was more interested in X-men and the Steve Jackson/Ian Livingstone’s Fighting Fantasy books.
Anyway, Neil was an excellent host and spoke about his life growing up in Portsmouth, alongside his writing and working on Doctor Who. He read from his book, “The Ocean at the End of the Lane”, which sounded very good (I won’t be reading it for a while as I’m under orders to read The Stand, which I’ve also never read).
It was an excellent evening all round, and then came the Q&A bit. At the end a woman in the audience asked Neil what he’d sacrificed to become a writer. His answer was the first time I’d heard another writer say what I’d always thought. That writers are somewhat detached from the rest of the world.
Now what I mean by that, is that when a non-writer watches the news or sees something good or bad happen in front of them, or to them, they respond in the normal way; anger, happiness, sadness, whatever that emotion might be. A writer’s brain will do this with 75% of them, but that remaining 25% is thinking, “how can I use this in a book?” or “that’s interesting information, I must file it away for future keeping.”
As I said, I’d never heard another writer talk about it in such a candied way, and it’s nice to know that I’m not the only crazy person out there. From talking to other writers, it appears that actually this is a common theme. So I’ve gone from thinking I’m slightly nuts, to actually being normal. Albeit, normal within my peer group of writers.
Which in some ways, is actually more concerning than it was to begin with.