February 22, 2017

The Mundane as an Inspiration: Neil Gaiman's "The View From the Cheap Seats"



I listened to this on audio, and I still don’t think you get as deep an experience ‘reading’ an audiobook as you do interacting with a dead tree book. You can’t argue with it or find a pen to underline the passages you like or highlight where you went wrong.

But on the plus side, you do get to hear Neil’s sweet, mellifluous voice (or you think that because you’re an American and all British people sound musical and smart, even low-class chavs. True story, when I was a kid I my dad was in the army and there were a lot of different nationalities around, and on the bus I befriended a kid a couple grades younger than me because I was intrigued by his accent.)

Here’s the other plus side. These bits are from real life, and listening to them made me want to read more. I already went and bought books from a couple of authors he wrote about. I reread Good Omens when I was listening to this, and I bought the whole of the Long Earth Series (Pretty much the last of the Pratchett I haven’t read. In a way, I was saving it up.) I also finally bough Delaney, but haven’t started Dahlgren.

Then the other plus plus side. It makes you want to write more. I’m here writing this because reading about the everyday of authors you like makes the process more real and more accessible. I forget who he was quoting, but in one of the essays, Neil was talking about a prolific author and being asked how you do it, and the answer was pretty much 200 horrible words a day. I eschew quotes there because my memory is imprecise.

So, if you’re a reader or a writer or want to be a reader or someone who writes or someone who has once written, this is your book.