Neil Gaiman: Hope You Fail
Neil Gaiman – Make Good Art
Neil Gaiman reminds us that making mistakes is an important part of life and that we should embrace our uniqueness to make art.
I hope you’ll make mistakes. If you make mistakes, it means you’re out there doing something.
I never graduated from any such establishment. I never even started at one. I escaped from school as soon as I could, when the prospect of four more years of enforced learning before I could become the writer I wanted to be, seemed stifling. I got out into the world, I wrote, and I became a better writer the more I wrote, and I wrote some more, and nobody ever seemed to mind that I was making it all up as I went along. They just read what I wrote and they paid me for it … or they didn’t.
The nearest thing I had, was a list I made when I was about 15, of everything I wanted to do. I wanted to write an adult novel, a children’s book, a comic, a movie, record an audio-book, write an episode of Doctor Who, and so on. I didn’t have a career, I just did the next thing on the list.
When you start out in the arts, you have no idea what you’re doing. This is great. People who know what they’re doing know the rules, and they know what is possible and what is impossible. You do not, and you should not. The rules on what is possible and impossible in the arts, were made by people who had not tested the bounds of the possible, by going beyond them, and you can. If you don’t know it’s impossible, it’s easier to do, and because nobody’s done it before, they haven’t made up rules to stop anyone doing that particular thing again. That’s much harder than it sounds, and sometimes, in the end, so much easier than you might imagine, because normally, there are things you have to do before you can get to the place you want to be.
When you start out, you have to deal with the problems of failure. You need to be thick-skinned. The things I did because I was excited and wanted to see them exist in reality have never let me down, and I’ve never regretted the time I spent on any of them.
If you have an idea of what you want to make, what you were put here to do, then just go and do that, whether you’re a musician or a photographer, a fine artist, or a cartoonist, a writer, a dancer … singer, a designer, whatever you do, you have one thing that’s unique, you have the ability to make art. For me, and for so many of the people I’ve known, that’s been a lifesaver … the ultimate lifesaver. It gets you through good times, and it gets you through the other ones.
The one thing that you have that nobody else has, is you … your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw, and build and play, and dance and live, as only you can. Do what only you can do best, make good art. Make it on the bad days. Make it on the good days too.