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Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Getting better a day at a time. In less pain today. Ate food rather than soup for the first time in a week. Run out of energy very quickly though. I'm going to start work tomorrow, I think, and just do a couple of hours -- I'm a week behind on 1602 stuff right now.

Got my set of the Little Endless statues today. They were immediately snapped up by Maddy for her room. Was surprised to see there were only 750 sets made, which makes it the rarest of all the Sandman statues (even the first one was 1800). I suppose that unscrupulous dealers will soon be selling individual pieces on eBay.

Dear Mr. Gaiman,

I seem to be in the same situation as you, and if you're not better by now and we both die sometime in the near future, I will have forever regretted not asking you this question, even though at that point, the answer would be irrelevent. Am I babbling? I'm sick. Please forgive me. Anyway, my question is this: Are you happy in your career? I know this seems like a question that pretty perfectly misses the point. It's a rather selfish question anyhow. I know that no one appointed you as a guidance counsellor for young people either, but you know, some of us look up to you just a touch. So, my question is, aside from your family and relationships, which I'm sure bring happiness, does the success that you've achieved in your career make you happy? Or does it simply become another monotonous job? I mean, if all the success in the literary world that one could achieve doesn't make one happy, then I'd just as soon become some backpacker wandering about Europe or climbing mountains somewhere and keep my writing to myself.

I don't really expect you to know all of the answers. I'd just like to know what your way of approaching them is.

Sincerely,
Sarah


No, success doesn't make me happy. But writing and directing and making art does. Just as doing a signing doesn't make me happy, while doing a reading does (if it's a good reading anyway). I've been writing now professionally for twenty years and it's not yet become "another monotonous job" -- although when I was done with journalism I stopped, and when I could see myself becoming tired of comics if I didn't take a break and learn some new skills, I took a break and learned how to write novels and screenplays, before coming back to comics.

Learning how to do new things makes me happy. ( I think I was happier making "A Short Film About John Bolton" than I have been in the last few years, just because there were so many new things to learn.)

"Being successful" is a sort of indefinable thing anyway. I'm very aware that I'm lucky, in that the stories I want to tell are, in the main, stories that people want to read. Currently Coraline, a book I took ten years to write and was pretty convinced was going to be barely publishable, seems to be the most successful thing I've written in terms of hardback sales and the number of countries it's been sold to. However, the next novel I'm going to write is nothing like Coraline and nothing very much like American Gods, but it's the book I want to write, and I'm pretty sure that in the writing of it, I'll be happy. (And just as often during the writing of it I'll walk around convinced I was an idiot to ever have started it with no idea of whatever happens next -- and, strangely, that's part of the process I enjoy as well, at least in retrospect.)

If I felt that I was as successful as I could possibly be (which doesn't have much to do with money or acclaim, but has a lot with not getting any better as a writer), I'd probably go off and do something else. Luckily, most of the time I just see how far what I wanted to create is from what I actually made, and that keeps me, fairly contentedly, chasing the horizon. As Browning put it, Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, Or what's a heaven for?

And get well soon, Sarah.
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