Friday, May 02, 2003

In which our author wanders all over the place while attempting to stick to the point.

I see that Bill Gibson is going to give up blogging, as it's incompatible with being a novelist. I suspect that what he means is that he uses the same engines to blog that he would to write novels with, and there's less point in writing a story if you can simply tell people things.

He might have a point. I find it fairly easy to blog while writing film scripts, articles, introductions, blurbs and short stories. I had to stop doing it for a few days back in January to finish the Shadow novella for Robert Silverberg's new Legends volume...

And I've certainly wondered about needing to stop keeping this journal when I get deeper into the new novel: not just paddling around in the shallows of the first chapter, like I am now, but when I'm in way over my head, at the point where what's going on in the book is much more interesting and weird and real than anything happening in any other part of my life.

I suspect it's much easier for Bill, who's been blogging for a few months, to just plan to give it up, cold turkey, than it would be for me. I've been keeping this journal for well over two years, and I like having somewhere to complain about the way that socks go missing, and to kvell over the kids.

("Did you tell them I'm going to Bryn Mawr?" asked Holly, when I spoke to her last night.

"No," I said. "I didn't."

She's concerned there are still people out there on tenterhooks as to where the envelopes went and what her final decision was: so Holly's going to Bryn Mawr, and not to Smith. Which means I'll get to learn more about Philadelphia, and not to revisit Northampton, where I once, according to Scott McCloud, either did or did not live in a deserted bank, depending on whether or not that panel was true.)

(Which reminds me -- I keep meaning to suggest to Scott McCloud that he put the "17 Panels about Neil Gaiman, 9 of which are True" comic he and Ivy did on the web as an interactive thing, where you can find out your score at the end. Even my family have never got 100%.)

(Now back out of brackets and onto the pros and cons of giving up blogging.)

On the other hand, I was in my topic on The Well for most of American Gods, on Compuserve and later on Genie all through Sandman and Neverwhere-the-tv-scripts (although not the novel, most of which was written during a couple of weeks of madness in a tourist hotel somewhere north of San Diego).

On the third hand, Cait Kiernan blogs her way just fine while writing novels, and makes the highs and lows of writing both exciting and moving. (And we did not meet for the first time at World Horror in Atlanta in 1995 like she says; we met in 1994 in New Orleans. In the art show.)

On the fourth hand, in a worse case scenario, if I decide to put the journal on hiatus until the novel's written, then I'd probably do just that: put it on hiatus, and pick it up the week after the novel was finished. It wouldn't be over and done with.


Dear Neil,

I've encountered quite a few fascinating books through the mentions you've made regarding your reading tastes (Saki's "Sredni Vashtar" now holds a firm place amongst the most engaging stories I've ever read), but I've been unable to find a good copy of John Aubrey's Brief Lives. Every version I've located is either abridged or has "fixed" his spelling. Is there an edition you would recommend?

Ben Hostmark

That's because Aubrey didn't write, or at least, didn't finish, a book called Brief Lives. All the various versions we have have been assembled posthumously from his notes (and bear in mind, he'd often put notes about one person in the middle of what he was writing about someone else). My own edition is a nice hardback from the 1950s I found in a bookshop in Stillwater, and it's many thousands of miles away. You rarely go wrong with a Penguin Classics edition, though.


Yesterday I saw the medieval castle on the top of the hill ("It's entirely built in the last hundred years," I was told that evening,) and I signed books and comics at the BD Forum, and then went to dinner with Luis Rodrigues and Joao Barrieros and Modesta. It's good to meet local writers, and Luis does the terrific Fantastic Metropolis website. He gave me a copy of Breaking Windows, the book of the website (or at least, the book of the best of where the website was some months ago). Nice-looking book, and more fun to read than clicking to the next page every 150 words. I wonder if it's going to start a trend...