Sunday, May 3, 2015

Neil Gaiman Gives me Arm Tingles

There are three writers who inspire me the most to write, Roald Dahl, Neil Gaiman, and Aaron Starmer.  I love their vast, bizarre, crazy imaginations. If you are a writer you might be familiar with the feeling.  You read something by a writer or you hear a writer speak and it begins, an effervescent feeling in your brain like a glass of newly poured soda.  The feeling moves from your head, down your neck, then into your shoulder.  From your shoulder it rests briefly in your elbow before swirling its way to your wrist. Finally the tingles seep into your hand, to your very finger tips. You know that if you cannot find a pen, or a keyboard, a hammer and chisel, your arm will explode .  That is how the above mentioned writers make me feel.

Now unless I encounter him in zombie or ghost form, there is no possibility of meeting Roald Dahl. I've not only met Aaron Starmer, but I have had the extreme fortune of having him as a teacher for a writing class. Then there is Neil Gaiman. It seemed that every time there was a chance to hear him speak, something would happen, and the opportunity would slip through my fingers.  The more missed chances, the higher Neil Gaiman rose on my bucket list, so as you can imagine, I practically sprained my fingers to acquire tickets when I saw that he would be speaking at The Tower Theater in Pennsylvania. 

During the evening Neil worked back and forth between answering audience questions (written on note cards prior to the show's start), and reading from his works.  He is a marvelous storyteller, which is what makes him such a marvelous writer.  Every question that he answered elicited a beautifully crafted story, from his first encounter with Terry Pratchett to meeting Benedict Cumberbatch (if only you could have seen the joy on my face during that one).  

Some of my favorites from the evening-

Favorite personal life story- Neil explained that when he was 11, he dreamed about finding a parallel universe where he existed, but J.R.R Tolkien did not. He would bring Lord of the Rings with him to that universe, commit a robbery, then use the money to hire an adult to re-type Lord of the Rings. He would then have to kill that adult, and then he could pass off the Lord of the Rings manuscript as his own.  This is when he had second thoughts about being a writer, because it seemed like rather bloody work.

Favorite story about his own writing- He explained how Coraline was inspired by a story his  daughter used to tell him when she was five.

Favorite piece of writing advice- An 11 year old asked what advice did Neil have for an 11 year old who wants to be an author.  Neil first stated, read everything. He then went on to say that built up in your arm are about 100,000 rubbish words. What you have to do is write them out.  You must write, and write, and write, and write so that all of those rubbish words can move down your arm and out. Eventually  when all of the rubbish words have moved out of your arm, the good words will work their way down and onto your page.

Things to be excited about- Something that sounds like a show or mini-series that will air on BBC (he couldn't give details yet), working with Bryan Fuller on the American Gods television series, and another episode of Doctor Who because he promised Peter Capaldi he would write an episode for him (though not this season).  

I could have listened to Neil Gaiman speak all night, and not just because of his cool accent or his kind of Alan Rickmanish melodic tone. Everything that he said was smart, funny, and inspiring. Hopefully my writing tingles from experiencing this incredible evening will last far into the future.  

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