I’m pretty sure Neil Gaiman’s commencement speech is the best speech I’ve heard. I wish I’d been sitting in that audience, instead of sitting at my own college graduation, listening to a lady who barely spoke English talking about something. Seriously, I understood maybe two words and I think she was married to the man one of the school’s galleries were dedicated to, which apparently meant she was a qualified speech-giver.
Neil spoke about how he lied his way into writing positions, and then made a point of writing for all the magazines or journals he claimed to have written for, so in the end he was merely chronologically challenged. He urged the students, and those of us watching, to make good art. No matter what happened, always make good art.
I thanked Neil on Twitter for his words of encouragement, for the reassurance that doing what I wanted, what I felt was right, even if it didn’t land me a “normal job” was the right choice. That I could make a living making art.
He told me I was welcome. I screen-capped it on my phone and sent it to Cat, who had sent me that video of that speech.
We both freaked out a little. I made good art.
But recently, things have gotten harder. There are familial difficulties I’m dealing with, and the pressure, at times, feels insurmountable. I make good art. Then I stop.
Amanda, Neil’s wife, wrote in a song, “Stop pretending art is hard.”
Sometimes art is hard. Or mustering the strength to create that art is. Art takes something beyond oneself. A sort of transcendence. It’s being in the right place of mind.
I’m trying to make good art again. I started a short story I’m really enjoying. I learned how to shoot a gun. I spun fire for the first time in months. Art is hard when you let things overwhelm you.
Channeling it is what makes good art.
Always make good art.
If you haven’t seen it…