Monday, March 18, 2013

Aiming for Neil Gaiman

No matter how many long I live, or become jaded or overwhelmed by life, I find that there is a part of me that will always be a starry-eyed child.

That's me. The kind of kid who sets his sights on something, no matter how unrealistic, and longs for it… or worse yet… hopes for it enough to ask for it… expecting a positive outcome.

We all know where getting one’s hopes up can get you. Don’t we?

Has that ever stopped me? Not even in the slightest.

It is with those facts in mind that I write this today… to inform you, dear reader, of my latest fool’s errand.

I was given (on by a former roommate, and one by a random trucker at a truck stop in the middle of the night) two of the single best works of fiction I’ve ever read. One was Sandman Issue #50 - Ramadan. It was given to me by a roommate when I was 19 years old, and it changed the whole way I viewed comic books (which I had been reading, at that point, for 12 years).

This was likely one of the single best stand alone, one issue, stories I’ve ever had the pleasure to read in my life. If you haven’t read it…  do so. Do so with all haste. It is so much worth your time that I don’t really have the proper words to express its value to you. I wouldn’t lie to you. It is as much a work of true art as any painting by a renaissance master painter. Don’t want to take my word for it? It was rated #60 on Wizard Magazine's "100 Best Single Issue Comics Since You Were Born" list. I still hold that it deserved to be higher.

The second was a beaten, dirty, and well-worn paperback copy of a little book called Neverwhere. This was the work that changed my outlook on storytelling. This amazing story, its intricate bizarre world, and its completely fresh and startling characters, all worked in concert to not only entertain me more than any book I’d read to that point. It served to show me that the kinds of stories I wanted to tell myself could actually be told. If you haven’t read this one then you are honestly doing a disservice to yourself. I’ve got 3 copies, as well as the BBC Mini-series on DVD (the sets and production value are nostalgic to me, because they look as though Tom Baker could stroll in at any moment and lead Richard and Door from London Below into the Tardis and take them on as new companions.

It is because of these two works… both written by Neil Gaiman, that I am a writer. I’m not saying I didn’t read a lot books before these… or after them for that matter… but these two were serious turning points in my life, and both of them came to me free.

It is because of these two books that I now have a stack of books, over 3 feet high, by Neil…  including Volume one and two of the Annotated Sandman, two Death graphic novels, and a world of wonderful Novels, short fiction, and his marvelous poetry.

The man and his words are a legitimate treasure to the world at large.

Why am I telling you all this?

Because, I have embarked on a fool’s errand, and it is because of all the things I’ve just told you. I have decided that I want to give a book back to Neil, for free, for the free words that have since inspired me to be more than I had thought I could be.

To be completely honest... I am only looking to give him an eBook.

I’m not trying to get anything out of the man, (Believe me when I tell you he’s given me more with his work than he’ll likely ever know)  I simply want to present him with this eBook personally… so I know he actually got it and it wasn’t intercepted somewhere along the way by one of what I’m sure is a veritable army of people he pays well to do exactly that.

I'm currently trying to reach him through social media, as I know he personally handles his accounts. This is another thing about Neil that I find noteworthy, and praiseworthy. He is in touch with his readers, no matter how successful he becomes. He was even nice enough to retweet a link on Twitter for me a couple of years back. It was for an anthology I had a story in, and all the proceeds were going to St.Jude's for brain cancer research. Did he have to do that when I asked? No. Not at all. He did it because he is... well, who he is. Neil is without parallel. 

I don’t know if I’m aiming too high, or asking too much, but this is my goal. Wish me luck.

I’ll let you know if I succeed or not.

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