People always look for excuses. My favorite one is, “Well that’s easy for you because you have a really popular blog.” As if my really popular blog was something I won in the lottery. I had a really unpopular blog for three years in a row where 10 or 20 people were reading it. When I got started in the book business, I received 900 rejection letters. So you don’t look at the end result — at the Richard Bransons and Maria Popovas — and say, “Well they have that thing that I don’t.” They got that thing by showing up. I am really focused on helping people understand that not showing up is a failure of will more than it is a failure of birth.

Excerpt from an interview with Seth Godin in the 10th anniversary issue of the wonderful Australian creative culture magazine Dumbo Feather

As Tchaikovsky put it, “A self-respecting artist must not fold his hands on the pretext that he is not in the mood.” Or, per Isabel Allende, “Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up, too.”

More on the role of showing up in creative work here

Also see Godin on vulnerability and how to dance with the fear of failure

(via explore-blog)

I’m occasionally baffled when young writers ask me for advice, and I give it, and then I see comments that say that none of my advice applies because I’m a best-selling author. As if I had spent my whole life as a best-selling author, and had never been anything else…

(via luminarystudies)

minimooseontheloose:

I don’t know how well this is going to show up on here, but I decided to type up the transcript for Neil Gaiman’s “Make Good Art” graduation address from a couple of years back and make a poster of it. I hope to get myself a copy made to hang on my wall.

whoa.

minimooseontheloose:

I don’t know how well this is going to show up on here, but I decided to type up the transcript for Neil Gaiman’s “Make Good Art” graduation address from a couple of years back and make a poster of it. I hope to get myself a copy made to hang on my wall.

whoa.

asker

hesitation---waltz asked: How do you propose these hypothetical young artists make "LOTS of money" by doing art? If wishing for it hard enough made it happen, they would already be rich. Hard work gets very few people to the point where they're rolling in it.

Wishing hard enough doesn’t make anything happen. Not ever. I don’t believe I’ve proposed it anywhere.

I think you may have missed my point (although I probably should have been more clear) which was, when as a young artist (and that’s any kind of artist) you find yourself under attack by people who are convinced you are headed for inevitable poverty, you have two main courses you can take, and, by inference, one that you shouldn’t take.

It’s your attitude, and your approach:

Either you go on a path that potentially makes money (which isn’t the same as selling out, or making commercial choices — I’m not sure that anything I’ve ever done solely for the money has been worth it, and mostly when I did those things I didn’t get the money), and, for preference, makes you, in the end, plenty of money…

Or you choose a path and a lifestyle where money matters less, and making money or not making money through your art becomes almost an irrelevance. 

What you don’t do (I hope) is go “Whoa, someone who knows a lot thinks I’m going to starve if I make art, so I will now stop making art and go and get a real job instead”. (Although if, as young artist, you’re that easily put off, perhaps you should indeed get a “real job”. The way ahead is going to be filled with frustration and setbacks and disappointments, even at its best.)

Most of the writers and artists I know started out somewhere between poor and dirt poor. Some of them stayed there, some went back there, some made money, a few made a lot of money, doing what they loved. On the whole, and with few exceptions, the ones who worked hard, and worked wisely, and who kept working hard at their art, made money.

I certainly wasn’t proposing any kind of magical solution: when I started out as a writer, with no income except what I wrote, I spent three years dirt poor, another three years pretty much on the poverty line (at that point with two small children). Working long, and working hard on stories that I was proud of took years to pay off financially,  but it did pay off. (I have no doubt that luck helped too, but I can never forget something lyricist Alan Lerner’s father said to someone who congratulated him on his son’s astonishing luck, “The strange thing is, the harder he works, the luckier he gets.”)

kellysue:

athenagirl1990:

neil-gaiman:

 
This is the way to get work: be bright and be smart and be reliable and be nice and be competent. 
(remember this?
That’s her.)
If I remember correctly, Kelly Sue turned up at a signing in about 1996 and asked if I needed an assistant, and gave me her email address. I didn’t, I already had one, but she’d seemed really nice and smart, and I wrote back to her telling her I didn’t need an assistant and wishing her well. And  we stayed in touch. She wrote interesting emails, of the kind that you reply to, and sometimes she needed help or advice and I was always happy to give it. I think we got together once, socially, in late ‘98, and I was always sorry that it was just that once.
If I did any good to her career, other than being encouraging over the years, and being really thrilled whenever anything she did was successful (including getting married and having kids while writing good comics), I don’t know what it was. I liked being her cheerleader and I’ve enjoyed being her friend. For as long as I’ve been watching, she did it all herself.
There are married couples in comics, often brought together by a mutual interest in comics in the first place.
And there is a crippling sort of social sexism that sees women as peculiar appendages of their men.
It’s sad to see Kelly Sue having to defend herself. It’s reassuring to see her do it so well.
And I’m reblogging for all the people, especially the male people, who never gave any of this stuff a moment’s thought, so that next time something like this creeps across their radar they’re a little bit wiser, a little bit more prepared.


What you did: 
Mostly, you encouraged me to keep writing, which, at the time, was—and still is—huge.  
Then, though, more specifically, you allowed me to make two phone calls on your behalf when you were researching American Gods. Not a big deal; meant more to me than it actually saved you time, I’m sure. You also let me read the book in draft. For making those calls and reading that draft, you listed my name in the acknowledgements of the book.
I then told everyone I’d ever met that my name was in American Gods. 
A bit later, Tokyopop was looking for someone to do the English adaptation of a series called DEMON DIARY. They wanted a PRINCESS MONONOKE feel.  Jamie S. Rich recalled that I had ‘worked with Neil Gaiman’ — a wild exaggeration I did nothing to correct — and got me a try out.  I adapted 10 pages as a test, got the gig and then… well, work begets work.  7 years later I had 10k + pages of adaptation under my belt — because I did good work, not because you let me make those two phone calls. But the fact that you let me make those two phone calls certainly helped. 
(So did the fact that Jamie’s memory was filtered through a game of telephone and my ethics are apparently shifty.)
But there you go.  
That’s What You Did. 

Reblogged for Historical Accuracy, and for the curious, and because as I read it I found myself thinking about that line in my Make Good Art speech, when I said,
“You get work however you get work, but keep people keep working in a freelance world (and more and more of todays world is freelance), because their work is good, because they are easy to get along with and because they deliver the work on time. And you don’t even need all three! Two out of three is fine. People will tolerate how unpleasant you are if your work is good and you deliver it on time. People will forgive the lateness of your work if it is good and they like you. And you don’t have to be as good as everyone else if you’re on time and it’s always a pleasure to hear from you.”
I read this and thought, You get work however you get work. I love how Kelly Sue got work. I’m glad I was part of it. And if it hadn’t been like that, it would have been another way. Water finds its way downhill…
But she kept getting work because she did the work, and did it well. A ferocious work-ethic combined with niceness.
(Also note, she was helpful. I don’t just hand out thank you’s in the back of books indiscriminately, you know. You actually have to have helped.)

kellysue:

athenagirl1990:

neil-gaiman:

 

This is the way to get work: be bright and be smart and be reliable and be nice and be competent. 

(remember this?

That’s her.)

If I remember correctly, Kelly Sue turned up at a signing in about 1996 and asked if I needed an assistant, and gave me her email address. I didn’t, I already had one, but she’d seemed really nice and smart, and I wrote back to her telling her I didn’t need an assistant and wishing her well. And  we stayed in touch. She wrote interesting emails, of the kind that you reply to, and sometimes she needed help or advice and I was always happy to give it. I think we got together once, socially, in late ‘98, and I was always sorry that it was just that once.

If I did any good to her career, other than being encouraging over the years, and being really thrilled whenever anything she did was successful (including getting married and having kids while writing good comics), I don’t know what it was. I liked being her cheerleader and I’ve enjoyed being her friend. For as long as I’ve been watching, she did it all herself.

There are married couples in comics, often brought together by a mutual interest in comics in the first place.

And there is a crippling sort of social sexism that sees women as peculiar appendages of their men.

It’s sad to see Kelly Sue having to defend herself. It’s reassuring to see her do it so well.

And I’m reblogging for all the people, especially the male people, who never gave any of this stuff a moment’s thought, so that next time something like this creeps across their radar they’re a little bit wiser, a little bit more prepared.

What you did: 

Mostly, you encouraged me to keep writing, which, at the time, was—and still is—huge.  

Then, though, more specifically, you allowed me to make two phone calls on your behalf when you were researching American Gods. Not a big deal; meant more to me than it actually saved you time, I’m sure. You also let me read the book in draft. For making those calls and reading that draft, you listed my name in the acknowledgements of the book.

I then told everyone I’d ever met that my name was in American Gods. 

A bit later, Tokyopop was looking for someone to do the English adaptation of a series called DEMON DIARY. They wanted a PRINCESS MONONOKE feel.  Jamie S. Rich recalled that I had ‘worked with Neil Gaiman’ — a wild exaggeration I did nothing to correct — and got me a try out.  I adapted 10 pages as a test, got the gig and then… well, work begets work.  7 years later I had 10k + pages of adaptation under my belt — because I did good work, not because you let me make those two phone calls. But the fact that you let me make those two phone calls certainly helped. 

(So did the fact that Jamie’s memory was filtered through a game of telephone and my ethics are apparently shifty.)

But there you go.  

That’s What You Did. 

Reblogged for Historical Accuracy, and for the curious, and because as I read it I found myself thinking about that line in my Make Good Art speech, when I said,

“You get work however you get work, but keep people keep working in a freelance world (and more and more of todays world is freelance), because their work is good, because they are easy to get along with and because they deliver the work on time. And you don’t even need all three! Two out of three is fine. People will tolerate how unpleasant you are if your work is good and you deliver it on time. People will forgive the lateness of your work if it is good and they like you. And you don’t have to be as good as everyone else if you’re on time and it’s always a pleasure to hear from you.”

I read this and thought, You get work however you get work. I love how Kelly Sue got work. I’m glad I was part of it. And if it hadn’t been like that, it would have been another way. Water finds its way downhill…

But she kept getting work because she did the work, and did it well. A ferocious work-ethic combined with niceness.

(Also note, she was helpful. I don’t just hand out thank you’s in the back of books indiscriminately, you know. You actually have to have helped.)

amandapalmer:

We’d probably most of us agree that these are dark times, and stupid ones, but do we need fiction that does nothing but dramatize how dark and stupid it is? In dark times, the definition of good art would seem to be art that locates and applies CPR to those elements of what’s human and magical that still live and glow despite the times’ darkness.

David Foster Wallace, quoted in Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace by D. T. Max

…via maria popova, @brainpicker.

People ask what Make Good Art means, and what Good Art is. I tell them it’s what you’re heading towards — that you get to decide and describe it.

This definition is beautiful.

-Neil Gaiman  (Make Good Art)

The Chip Kidd designs for the book are remarkable…

And it’s published tomorrow.

MAKE GOOD ART preview…

Ah, the truth-pain, it hurts…
(This is what he’s talking about.)

Ah, the truth-pain, it hurts…

(This is what he’s talking about.)