Friday, September 20, 2002
When I got an e-mail from Pen & Drama Maven Bill Stiteler telling me that there was an article on me & Clive & Michael Chabon & carl Hiassen & Isabel Allende over at Books | Kids lit grows up, I sighed.

There have been a lot of those articles recently in newspapers -- Lucy Anne at the Dreaming rounded up a small herd of them last week -- and they all seem to say the same things. Often very enthusiastic things, but fundamentally baffled articles that begin by assuming we're probably doing it for the money or something, and go on from there.

So I went to the article without enthusiasm. The enthusiasm crept in as I read the article, which is the first of these articles to say some really wise and funny things and not treat it as a marketing phenomenon or something.

It's odd: the hardest things to write tend to be looked down on. It's easier to write something serious and depressing than it is to write something that's genuinely funny. Depressing writers are out there in droves, while really honest to goodness funny writers... if one good one comes along every five years or so we're doing well. It's easier to write mimetic fiction, in which everything's set in this world just the way it is, than to change things with the conviction that'll keep people walking with you and believing. And it's easier to write for adults than it is to write for kids...

But for me the joy of writing is that I can write. The only bounds that are set on what I write are the ones I make. I'm allowed to write funny and I to write sad. I can write genre and I can write confluence (slipstream, interstitial, whatever). I can write for adults and I can write for kids. It's fun.

Finished (way late, but I'm catching up now) part 2 of 1602 right now, and am learning an awful lot from it. The most important thing I'm learning is that the next time I have something with a huge cast, I'm going to make a wall chart and plot all their stories and timelines and everything on it, to make sure that I'm not trying to make something happen in issue 2 that probably won't happen until the end of issue 3 or later. Also, I'm having an awful lot of fun.


Great conversations of our time:

Scene: Me and Maddy, eating in a diner this evening. Half way through the meal she looks up as only an eight year old can and says:

Maddy: Dad. I need to know the truth. Are you famous?

Me: No. Not really.

Maddy: But there are people who know who you are, aren't there?

Me: Well, yes.

Maddy: And they think you're famous?

Me: Some of them do, I suppose, yes. Why?

Maddy: Well, you see, I've been looking at people a lot recently. People in cars. And sometimes I think that maybe they're movie stars or people I've seen on the TV. And I thought to myself, "Don't be silly. People on the TV wouldn't just be driving about." But then I thought about you. I mean there are people who'd see you, and go "He wouldn't just be driving about" and you are. So I think probably they are movie stars after all.

The logic and the magic of which was unassailable. We spent a fun afternoon and evening together -- she read while I wrote, and she went to sleep out in my office with Dawn French reading Coraline on the tape player. She loves it -- which makes me happy -- although it has had one unfortunate side-effect. I have a lovely cat-stuffed-toy out at my writing cabin that I was given on the American Gods tour by a young lady named Mya, who makes them herself. It has black button eyes. Maddy politely requested it not be around while the story was being read.


Hey Neil - I thoroughly enjoyed your review of the new Future Bible Heroes
album three months ago, and I'm sure I wasn't the only one. But you should
maybe have posted a notice in the journal a month ago when it was actually
released in the shops. I didn't know it had been released, and discovered it
by accident yesterday. Anyway, I created a thread on the message board of
this site where I reposted your review along with a few reviews from other
sources - And it seems like other people who (unlike you) don't personally
know Stephin Merritt and Cludia Gonson love the album just as much as you

Link to thread:

Michael Thomsen, Denmark

Oops. I'm a twit. The Future Bible Heroes album Eternal Youth is now out, everyone. And Claudia, Stephin and Chris are going to be playing gigs -- including a Minneapolis one.