I want to say first, thanks Gypsy Esguerra for this post on Neil Gaiman on your FB timeline which I saw on my news feed. I took the time to look up the transcription on Google because I currently have sabaw internet connection. I will watch the whole thing when I get home where I have high-speed internet.
I’ve known of a part of this speech, apparently. I saw the quote proliferating online during graduation time just this March. I had thought it was just one of Mr. Gaiman’s witty quips. I didn’t know it was from an honest-to-goodness keynote address to a graduating class. Of course, having read the whole, I could only sigh and think, Neil Gaiman is just such a brilliant man.
Many of the things he said in his speech holds true for me. I had no plan, too, of what I wanted to be, what I wanted to achieve when I left college. Heck, I went through college not really knowing why I was taking up the course I took up. It was a degree that could get me a college diploma, nothing more. It wasn’t an assurance for me that it would be a career although I was willing to make my life in that industry. But like Neil (feeling close?), I made things up as I went along.
Until I found writing.
You can look at the about me tab on this site that tells the story of how I started out in this career. However, this post isn’t about me finally finding my niche in the world. It’s about why I think I am now in a slump. Which brings me to the main feature of this entry: The Keynote Address.
I decided that I would do my best in future not to write books just for the money. If you didn’t get the money, then you didn’t have anything. If I did work I was proud of, and I didn’t get the money, at least I’d have the work.
I gave up my day job and finally decided I could and wanted to make a real career out of being a novelist. Then at some point, my manuscripts took form as answers to my financial needs. If I wanted to spend for something, I thought of achieving it in terms of manuscripts approved.
Really, there’s nothing wrong with that. A lot of writers I know and respect do look at their career as a means to answer financial needs alone. Apparently, it doesn’t work for me. How else do I explain the drought I am now experiencing? I put myself in some kind of pressure I am not able to meet and so I get depressed over the non-achievement therefore contributing further to the slump.
And then this… Passage 2:
“This is really great. You should enjoy it.” (quoted by Gaiman as Stephen King’s comment on his work)
And I didn’t. Best advice I got that I ignored.Instead I worried about it. I worried about the next deadline, the next idea, the next story. There wasn’t a moment for the next fourteen or fifteen years that I wasn’t writing something in my head, or wondering about it. And I didn’t stop and look around and go, this is really fun. I wish I’d enjoyed it more. It’s been an amazing ride. But there were parts of the ride I missed, because I was too worried about things going wrong, about what came next, to enjoy the bit I was on.
Because Peso signs began to attach to images of my finished manuscripts, I started to lose the pure enjoyment of writing. I started to get tired of this ‘job’ I purposefully put myself into. I had become too obsessed with making sure everything was technically perfect that I forgot that I loved writing. Period.
And so, I will put back my joy, my love, myself in my work and make it once more my passion.
If you’re interested to read/watch Neil Gaiman’s speech, click here.