Technically, I suppose you could argue about whether it's the tenth birthday of this blog or not. When it started, on Februrary the 9th, 2001, it was the american.gods.com blog, and it didn't become the neilgaiman.com blog until September 2001, when I decided to make it sort of permanent, and Trevor Valle (who owned the neilgaiman.com domain name) gave it to me and I gave it to Harper Collins and we started building this site.
But on the 9th of February 2001 I wrote my first entry. It was entry # 2, because entry #1 was written by someone at Authors On The Web who were webmastering things back then. It was going to be a blog about the publishing of a book, and it started,
June the 19th 2001 is the publication date of American Gods, a book which despite the many shelves in this office filled with books with my name on the spine, feels an awful lot like a first novel. (Perhaps because it was the first long work I've done without any collaborative input from anyone, and that wasn't first something else.) And this, in case you were wondering, is the occasional journal on the americangods.com website. I thought the journal could count us down to publication, and see us through the US and the UK publication and tours for the book in June and July.
I first suggested we do something like this to my editor, the redoubtable Jennifer Hershey, about a year ago, while the book was still being written (a process that continued until about 3 weeks ago). She preferred to wait until the book was on the conveyor belt to actual publication, thus sparing the reading world lots of entries like "Feb 13th: wrote some stuff. It was crap." and "Feb 14th: wrote some brilliant stuff. This is going to be such a good novel. Honest it is." followed by "Feb 15th. no, it's crap" and so on. It was a bit like wrestling a bear. Some days I was on top. Most days, the bear was on top. So you missed watching an author staring in bafflement as the manuscript got longer and longer, and the deadlines flew about like dry leaves in a gale, and the book remained unfinished.
You can read the rest over at http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2001/02/american-gods-blog-post-2_09.html
While I'm not going to ever post a picture of me blogging in the nude, I suppose after ten years we know each other well enough for you to see what I mostly look like when I start writing a blog entry. Here's me a couple of hours ago, starting this blog entry, unshaven and pyjamaed...
And that was interrupted by several things (including a bunch of my blood being drawn for my annual medical*) so now, finishing it, shaved, showered and dressed, I look like this:
It's the office. Lots of email gets done here. Blogging sometimes, but almost no fiction gets written here. Behind me is Maddy's nook. Over to screen right is a desk where Lorraine sits and works and answers the phone and deals with things.
* I just got a call from my Doctor to tell me that my blood work is the best it's ever been. Rah, as my wife says, for diet and exercise.
So I have some plans for Tenth Blog Anniversary things. One thing I want to do this month is repost some of my favourite blog entries from a decade of doing things. And to find out what people's favourites have been from over the years.
It was written in October 2001, after a week away from the web. I think I was writing Sandman: Endless Nights at the time.
This is the kind of journal entry you can only write at leisure; and at enforced leisure, at that, because I cannot get online, so this will be posted in a day or so. Truth to tell, I don't mind not being able to get online, just as I don't mind that my cellphone is out of service where I am right now. It's a good thing. My only contact with technology is a single phone call home each night, to read a chapter of Daniel Pinkwater's LIZARD MUSIC to my daughter Maddy.She has a copy of her own, at the other end of the phone, and fills in occasional paragraphs.
I was woken up this morning by the sound of artillary bombardment in my dreams. Blam. Blam.Blammety crash. Blam. I opened my eyes, and someone was dropping bricks from the sky. The bricks would crash onto the low roof of the cottage I'm staying in and then thud off the roof onto the grass. I got up, bleary-eyed, and stared out of the window.
Blam. That was the sound of someone dropping a brick onto my car.
The problem, I eventually concluded, was the walnuts. Not the nice, wrinkeldy brown nuts you get in Festive Nut Hampers, but the kind that fall from trees, like compact green cricket balls with the nut somewhere inside. The outer covering contains walnut juice, as I find when I pick one up. In fiction, as a boy, people were forever staining their skin with walnut juice in order to pass for Indians or Arabs, and I couldn't understand how the nut gave the juice. It doesn't. It's the yellow goop inside the green case.
So. I'm hiding out in a pretechnological world, with a wood-burning stove and lethal rains of noisy walnuts, getting some writing done between engagements (viz. an appearance at MIT with Messrs Harlan Ellison and Peter David, and the parents' weekend at my son Mike's college this coming weekend).
The MIT appearance was enjoyable. Harlan was Harlan, and Peter was Peter, and I was me; and I thought at the end that in while Peter and I had enjoyed ourselves we were not quite as in evidence as we might have been, and that someone should just book Harlan Ellison vs. MIT, the rematch. ("In this corner, one distinguished-looking gentleman with wearing a brown suit and orange shoes, who still uses a manual typewriter and who has not even begun to fight; in the far corner, 900 mildly outraged people who wish to further contest Mr Ellison's collective characterization of them as 'Dumb as bricks and a waste of good oxygen'...")
Harlan was the big star, but I think overall the three of us made an impressive sort of constellation.
That was the sound of another exploding walnut crashing down from the heavens onto the roof and rattling down onto the ground.
Snuffle snuffle grurp munch.
That was the sound of a large pot-bellied pig eating walnuts. The pot-bellied pigs live on the farm next door. But they wander. And they like walnuts. I suspect the pig's mouth and chin are stained with Walnut Juice.(I just went and checked. They were.)
Me, I really enjoyed the MIT thing, and the company on and off stage, although I could have done without the signing at the end. I read a poem called CRAZY HAIR that I really do have to publish as a book because after I read it people ask me for it; and I read the House of Clocks segment of the story I'm writing with Gene Wolfe for World Horror. And then I drove south, and came eventually to rest in a tiny cottage with a wood burning stove, a spiral staircase, a well-stocked fridge and an antique telephone, for some peace and quiet and writing time.
And autumnal calm and sunlight and October-blue skies. The wind sighing in the maple trees and the high elms. Deer down at the pond, drinking. No cell phones, no noise, no nothing. Just a chance to collect my thoughts and work, in a three hundred and fifty year old cottage under a walnut tree.
Several days later...
I've left the perfect autumnal cottage. Normally on leaving somewhere that cool, I'd post its whereabouts, but then, if I did that it might be fully booked the next time I wanted to go back, and unspoilt and perfect places are few enough in the world.
The lady next door runs a home for pigs. I went down each morning to say my hellos to the pigs and the people: cute little wee black piglings and mighty great boars and snufflers. Not for eating:Vietnamese potbellied pigs, pet pigs, some being boarded, some for sale, some for adoption.
The lady who owns it took me around and introduced me to many of the pigs.
"Now this one," she said, pointing to one small and chirpy looking black fellow in a cage "was a pet pig. He was an ungelded boar, who was owned by people with Pomeranians. But they couldn't cope, and we're looking after him until he can be adopted."
"Why couldn't they cope?"
"Ah," she said. "Well, there's no way to put this delicately. I gelded him myself a couple of days ago. But an un-neutered boar needs to ejaculate at least twice a day to remain healthy. And this fellow, not being neutered, was trying to meet his ejaculatory needs with whatever came to hand. Mostly the Pomeranians. And the family, well, they really hadn't bargained for that."
I agreed that they probably hadn't. And then I shook my head, listening to the grunt and snuffle of the pigs, and contemplating the silence of the Pomeranians.