Reflections on Neil Gaiman

            On November 14 I heard Neil Gaiman speak at the Drew/Heinz lecture series here in Pittsburgh.  He inspired everyone with his astounding talent, humor, advice on writing.  For one thing, he does not believe we “find adventure,” he says we “make it.”  This came to mind again this morning over coffee with my husband, as he read Heather McNaugher’s imagist poem, “Eating a donut alone in the dark.  I paraphrase here:

“Alternatively, being a hawk or rather a man, calm as a building, from whose golden ledge the hawk takes off.”  Wow—talk about “making adventure.”

            For a second thing, Gaiman also spoke of writing his books long hand—something new for him in this last decade.  He feels that it’s better for him, because it requires revision—he must type it into the computer.  When he finds 4 chapters handwritten that aren’t interesting, he just doesn’t include them.  For him, it’s not the same loss as deleting 4 chapters from a manuscript on the computer already.  So he’s now hooked on this method of writing.

            After his talk, I felt so inspired, but I found myself thinking he’s a genius.  I’m not.

            Then I heard a commentary on differing approaches to education in Japan and in the United States.  In the States we seem to value “smarts” and intellect.  We praise intelligence and mental gifts.  In Japan, however, educators praise effort and struggle.  So I calmed about my inferior intellect and talent, and renewed effort.  And I’m having so much fun.

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About Sally Hobart Alexander

Blinded at the age of twenty-six, I left California and elementary school teaching for life in Pittsburgh, Pa. There, I met my husband, got a Masters' degree in social work, had two kids, now 35 and 32, and became a writer. Surprisingly, the writing career led me full-circle to teaching, and I teach in Chatham University's M.F.A. program and lead two writing critique groups. Always, since the age of 26, I have traveled, not in the stereotypic darkness attributed to blindness, but a mist. My blog then, "traveling through the mist" will deal with issues in my culturally different life as a blind writer, teacher, speaker, and human being.
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