* Here’s the brilliant Neil Gaiman talking about writing fiction.
Neil’s so adorable that I don’t even care that this is a commercial. In fact, it makes me think maybe I should check out Blackberry, that they’re using Neil in a commercial. But capitalism aside, I was struck by Neil’s discussion of the loneliness of the fiction writer.
I don’t write fiction (in spite of what some of my opponents might like to claim!). Most of the writing that I do is persuasive legal writing and then I do a bit of mini-essay-type writing for this blog and for my blog at the Pagan Square. I don’t find loneliness to be as large a problem as does Neil. I have to be “alone” to write, but, really, I’m never alone. The voices of the judges who wrote the opinions that I’m using, the voices of my law professors, the voices of the attorneys who took me from a raw law school grad and turned me into an advocate, my dad, who taught me grammar, and Mrs. Ichangelo, who taught me to diagram sentences and, as a result, how to think — those voices fill up my office whenever I sit down to write. And my audience — the judges on the panel — sits down on my office armchairs, lets me know when it’s bored by commenting on the art on my walls, and stands behind me as I write, delete, write, backspace, write, requote, add an elipsis, revise. “Maybe you overstated that just a bit; don’t rush your fences.” “Tired phrase; we’ve seen it a hundred times.” “Don’t forget the question I left hanging in that earlier opinion.” “What???”
And, I admit, I write almost as much for my opponents as I do for the judges. I’m happy with a paragraph when I know that it will make them groan, when I know that there’s really no good answer to what I’ve written. “Didn’t know about that case, did you, Big Guy?” “Didn’t think I’d read the entire case and see how your point was only good when taken out of context, did you?” “Here, Scarecrow, want to play ball?” Because the entire time that I’m writing, I’m figuring out what answer the other side could make to this particular argument. And when they can’t make one, that’s when I’m done.
That’s completely different, I think, from the lonely fiction writing that Mr. Gaiman discusses.
All of that said, watch the video and check out Mr. Gaiman’s writing studio. I want it. I want it bad. But I wonder if I’d ever manage to really write in it.
Do you write alone? Is it a problem or a plus?