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Art and Purpose...And How Neil Gaiman Keeps on Being Really Awesome

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Art and Purpose...And How Neil Gaiman Keeps on Being Really Awesome

Sara General

The Epic Birthday Blog

Having finished the first course of my program and having a short break before the next course begins, I decided to take some time to organize my creative writing efforts and to plan how to share the stories I have been working on.  I’m editing, formatting and looking at how to seek help to improve the quality of my stories. I want it to be a good reading experience and I realize that I may not be able to see it as clearly as a beta reader or another pair of experienced editing eyes.   I’m also learning that I am a little shy though I realize that being shy doesn't mean you can't share.

I have been writing stories of varying length for many years now and like many writers I follow on Twitter, I find that writing is wonderful, fulfilling and occasionally overwhelming - a storytelling hunger that is best sated and calmed by doing more of it.  And reading. Creativity feasts on books and ideas.    I love this about the process.  The call to create is powerful and profound but when you have the opportunity to share in someone’s art by reading it or appreciating it, it reinvigorates the whole cycle all over again. Write, read, and then write some more.  And every now and again, think of how you want to share your stories with others.

I have just finished reading Neil Gaiman’s newest book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane. For those of you who are looking for a summer read that will both move and inspire you, I highly recommend it.  Neil Gaiman tells a good story.  He stirs the soul.  You can tell that he wants to communicate, that he is exceptional at it, and that if there is any fear in him about sharing too much - he just finds a way to do it anyways in a voice that is wholly his and it makes his writing more magical.  I can’t say that I understood everything that happens in this book, but it spoke to me, as stories sometimes do, as his often do, and I know that I will be returning to read it again.  I think it is my favourite.

The ethereal and beautiful promotional poster for Neil's book

I heard that a lot of people cried when they read this book.  I could understand that completely.  I certainly did.  I cried because while it was a tale to enthral, it also made me realize that I had to make a change and that my purpose is calling me, sweetly and kindly.  And that just like the Hempstock’s farm, I have been weaving my way towards it all this time.  It is a purpose that is mine and yet it’s also a shared thing, since the fulfillment of it rests in the interactions I am able to establish with other people.

I realize that there is this creative force or spirit inside of me that notices all of these wondrous things about the universe.  I think my spirit understands and accepts the truth of things much easier than I consciously do, but I don’t mind.  I like doing the work to listen and interpret – I like trying to make the connections and share what I think I have found with others.  Is this what writers do?  Do they listen to the stories no one else can hear or experience and find ways to communicate them?  This is a part of it, and there is much more, I am sure.

I think about one of the characters in my story and realize what an important character she has become to me.  A person who has had to find her way, who used her gifts poorly at first but learned over time to hone them and use them better.  She is like so many people - her energy manifesting itself in these powerful bursts that can almost destroy things and it hurts her at first because she doesn’t realize that it does and can get better if she is patient, peaceful and willing to learn.  All these big things that she is feeling can be used for good.   She can change.  She can help.

In the end, these are the things I hope for most as well.  To grow and to help.  I think this is what purposes can sometimes do.  They can help you see how you can be helpful.  And they can help you realize that you are special, that only you can do or write or educate or create art in that special way that you can do.  And that is quite simply, awesome.  And it you don't believe me - listen to Neil.  He'll tell you how awesome you are.  And if you don't believe Neil - see what his wife Amanda Palmer had to say about how awesome Neil is in her blog.  Just kidding!  But do check these links out - they're really beautiful communications.  But most of all - be you, make good art, and remember how very cool and special you are!

Neil Gaiman's, "Make Good Art" speech

Amanda Palmer's Book and Marriage Review

Happy reading and happier creating,

S