Art Matters: An Evening with Neil Gaiman

Last Sunday I drove to the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa to enjoy a live reading from master storyteller Neil Gaiman. Gaiman read passages from Good Omens, his short story “Click Clack the Rattle Bag,” and his poem “The Day the Saucers Came.” In between readings, he answered audience questions with his usual charm and wit, speaking about the production of the upcoming Good Omens series on Amazon Prime and his friendship with Terry Pratchett. This was my second time listening to him live (his last show was in 2017) and it was just as wonderful as the first. Gaiman has such a wonderful voice and his stories are a joy to listen to live.

After the show, I bought a signed copy of Art Matters: Because Your Imagination Can Change the World with illustrations by Chris Riddell. It is a thin book of four short essays by Gaiman, each one presenting a compelling case for the importance of art. There are autobiographical moments in each essay, similar to Stephen King’s On Writing, but Gaiman’s book focuses less on craft and more on why all art matters. One of my favorite passages comes from the essay “Why Our Future Depends on Libraries, Reading, and Daydreaming”: Albert Einstein was once asked how we can make our children intelligent. ‘If you want children to be intelligent,’ he said, ‘Read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.’ Speculative fiction can be entertaining and teach us a lot about the human condition, which is why I enjoy these genres so much. Furthermore, art can heal and speak truth to power, which is something desperately needed in these interesting times! Art Matters is an inspirational little book that I would recommend to all writers artists.

That evening with Neil Gaiman was a joy and gave me a much-needed creative shot to the arm. I left Santa Rosa excited to return to my own writing and editing projects. I do not know if I will ever be as famous as Neil Gaiman (hey, a guy can dream, right?), but I will continue to make my own art and help other writers do the same because it matters regardless of the money or fame.

What I’m Reading and Writing: April, 2019

I’ve fallen behind in my reading goal for the year due to my writing and editing projects. My goal this year is to read thirty books. Unfortunately, I have only read four books so far this year and, according to Goodreads, I’m four books behind schedule! Still planning on completing my reading of Farrer’s 40k novel, but I’m being distracted by Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. Gaiman’s novel is so good and better than I expected, so I will probably finish that one first and have a full review later. One thing I appreciate about Gaiman’s writing is that he does a great job using short, direct sentences that show a lot of emotion and carry a lot of dramatic weight. It’s not easy to do, but he pulls it off well and his style keeps me engaged and coming back for more.

I recently finished doing some developmental edits for a couple of books, so that has given me more time to do more of my own writing before the next editing job. Planning on taking a short break from the novel writing experience to write and submit some short stories to a few journals and contests in the next couple of months, which should be fun. Writing a novel is like planning and constructing a home full of hidden rooms and trap doors. It’s a long process, so it’s nice to write some short fiction and try to capture lightning in a bottle as a break.