Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Make Good Art, Neil Gaiman


Make Good Art


Neil Gaiman

Category: Self-help

Synopsis: Gaiman’s 2012 graduation address to Philadelphia’s University of the Arts’ graduating class.

Date finished: 9 June 2014

Rating: ***

The only other Gaiman book I’ve read is Fortunately, the Milk. There, I feel better now that that confession’s been made. I know he has quite the following, but he doesn’t write the kind of books I enjoy. That’s why I was so excited to read this. It’s an easy way to get a peek into a writer’s creative genius without having to read a novel you don’t enjoy.

Plus, I tend to geek out over little advice books and graduation speeches.

But you know how the Bible says “There’s nothing new under the sun”? That’s how I feel about this one. There’s nothing new here that I haven’t been reading in “how to be a writer/artist/musician” books for years.

A summary:
1. You have no idea what you’re doing. This is Great, an Advantage.
2. Do what you want to do.
3. Be thick-skinned about failure.
4. Make mistakes. It means you’re doing stuff.
5. Commit the art that only you can.
6. You get work however you get work.*

See? Good advice, but nothing new or particularly life-changing. And his personal stories to illustrate these points are lackluster at best.

The best part about this book is the graphic design by Chip Kidd. It’s a three-color design that uses every layout you can imagine. Way too often, the design was so distracting that I missed the meaning and had to re-read the text. It felt like amateur-night at a music club when they don’t get the mix of the guitar, drums, and vocals right, and the singer is drowned out. Trouble is, I enjoyed the graphic design more than the text.

All in all, I’ve read better. And you probably have too.

*He advocates lying. This was the nail in the coffin for me.

Would you recommend this to a friend?
Not really.

You might also enjoy:
On Writing, Stephen King (another writer I’ll likely never read outside of this book for writers)
What Now?, Anne Patchett
Just Who Will You Be?, Maria Shriver

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