Monday, January 02, 2006

Meat Machines

A reminder for anyone in the New York area that I'll be doing a talk (and, I believe, probably signing afterwards) at the 92nd St Y, next week.

hi Neil,
a question about your show at the 92nd st Y: the student discount isn't mentioned on the website, so is there a way to buy discounted tickets in advance? or just at the door? (and will there definitely be tickets available there?)

and a more personal question that I've always wondered about: how do you feel about compliments? adoring fans? do they make you feel fuzzy inside or do they annoy you sometimes? do loving things fans say ever make you cry? it amazes me that you are so modest and kind despite the fact that millions of people love you (or love things you've created). I mean, how does that feel? what's it like? I wish you'd write a story or something about what it feels like to be a beautiful beloved storyteller.
with much adoration and even more curiosity,

The only information I have on the student discount was from Circus who said, --


Just a quick bit about prices for the 92Y event, specifically for the poor student types (myself included) among your readers. I called yesterday to inquire about the student price ($12.50) and was told that it is not possible to puchase tickets at the discounted rate in advance. The only way one can get the student rate is to go to the Y an hour before the show and buy them then. Thought your readers would appreciate the information.

See you in January,

...which seems fair enough. I'm doing an interview with someone from the 92nd St Y soon and will ask him if there's any more information.

As to the "How I feel about fans/being an author/etc" question... I'm not sure there's a short or an easy answer. A lot of the time, it doesn't feel like it has much to do with me, which may be one of the problems with being a writer, or may be one of the benefits of being a writer. It's probably more immediate being a singer, say, or an actor -- you go out there at night and do the thing you do for lots of people who cheer or clap or don't. But the thing I do, that's important when I do it well, is to write, and that's a pretty solitary sort of occupation. I like the privacy and whatever anonymity I still have.

As for the rest of it... I like it, but I don't take it personally. I'm pleased people like the stories, but consider that mostly to be my good fortune in that the stories I like to write seem to be stories that many people want to read -- I couldn't write "to suit popular taste" to save my life, so I'm just lucky there's an audience out there; I'm always very aware that most writers have real jobs, and that those of us who can give up our day jobs to write are few and far between and very lucky indeed; I'm pleased when the stories help people (something I had to come to terms with at first with Sandman, when I'd get letters from people for whom Death, as a character, had allowed them to cope with the death of a parent or a child) but I'm always aware that the stories weren't written to do that, they just did, and that it had as much to do with the people reading as it did to do with me.

I've been doing some of it too long for it to have a huge impact, I suspect: I've been signing people's books and comics for about 20 years now, which is long enough for any sense of "Wow, they want ME to sign something I WROTE for THEM!" to wear off, say about fifteen years ago, but it's still extraordinarily pleasant to meet the people, and to replace the numbers with faces.

Much of the time I forget about the stuff you listed completely. Having written something people liked doesn't make it any easier the next time you're staring at a half-filled page, convinced that it's all tripe, and badly-written tripe at that. There's a cabinet filled with awards, because they were getting all over the house, and I think I feel better about them being off where I can forget about their existence, for much the same reason. (Except for my Hugo for "A Study In Emerald" which is, for some reason lost in the mists of history, sitting on top of my chest of drawers in the bedroom, between my Mr Punch puppet and The Bride of Frankenstein, and is currently being straddled by a sock monkey I was given at a signing last month, thus increasing its resemblance to some kind of slightly dangerous futuristic silver sex toy.)

So I'm grateful, and I'm lucky. But every now and again I wonder whether it's just some sort of odd dream I'm having when I'm twelve in which I got to do everything I ever wanted, and sooner or later my Dad's going to wake me up with a cup of tea and tell me that I'm late for school, and I still won't have done my geography homework.


I suspect that there's a cover-up going on, as one of the new biotech iPods seems to have got out in Honolulu about twenty years ahead of schedule.