It was the 9th of February 2001. I'd spent most of the previous two years writing a novel (oddly enough, a lot of it in the house I'm currently borrowing), and now I was finally going to start writing a blog. (Which for obscure reasons mostly having to do with my agent Merrilee, I tended to call my blogger, perhaps because it was, and oddly enough still is, hosted by Blogger.) It wasn't NeilGaiman.com yet - we started the journal at Americangods.com when all it contained was a countdown and a blog.
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.
And then one day about three weeks ago it was done. And after that I spent a week cutting and trimming it. (I'd read Stephen King's On Writing on the plane home from Ireland, where I'd gone to do final rewrites and reworkings, and was fired up enough by his war on adverbs that I did a search through the manuscript for -----ly, and peered at each adverb suspiciously before letting it live or zapping it into oblivion. A lot of them survived. Still, according to the old proverb, God is better pleased with adverbs than with nouns...)
Today I wrote a letter to go in the front of a Quick and Dirty reading edition Harper will put out -- taken from the file I sent them, so it'll be filled with transatlantic spelling, odd formatting errors and the rest, but it'll be something to give to the buyers from bookstores and to people who get advance manuscripts so they can see what kind of book this is.
I have no idea what kind of book this is. Or rather, there's nothing quite like it out there that I can point to. Sooner or later some reviewer will say something silly but quotable like "If JRR Tolkien had written The Bonfire of the Vanities..." and it'll go on the paperback cover and thus put off everyone who might have enjoyed it...
The Website soon became Neilgaiman.com and looked a lot like this.
The blog looked like this.
And then by late 2002 it looked more like this:
and inside the blog looked like this:
And then in January 2006 it started looking like it does now. Which means that, really, the website these days needs a from-the-ground-up overhaul...
But you know, creaky interface and lost links and all, this blog is thirteen years old today. In Internet Years, that means it is a huge slow thing, covered in cobwebs, with a deep rumbly voice like a mountain that is trying to remember how to talk. In person years it means it has acne and has just been barmitvahed, and is dreading writing all the thank you letters to the grown-ups who slipped it envelopes with cheques in.
Probably you haven't gone looking around this website. It's been a long time since I have...
So I thought we'd give you a reason to go poking around. The webgoblin went to work, and now there are, er, clues hidden all through Neilgaiman.com. The prize will be a Google Hangout with me. (Second prize, the snappy comedian in the back of my head announces, TWO Google hangouts with me.)