A group of us went to see Neil Gaiman at USAO (University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma) in Chickasha, OK. The funny thing is, I didn’t know he was going to be so close by! We had found out that he’d be in Tulsa, OK. When I clicked the option to buy tickets, I notice there was an option for Neil Gaiman in Chickasha, further down the page. I clicked it but it didn’t go anywhere. This peaked my curiosity, so instead of buying tickets I did a search for “Neil Gaiman Chickasha”. This is where I found a page that said there was a free event at USAO but the free tickets were not yet available. I was suspicious on whether it was a scam or not. I checked out the Where’s Neil page on Neil’s website, and sure enough, it was there. So I sat at my computer screen waiting for 8AM and immediately submitted for free tickets. A week or so later, I got tickets in the mail!
I had never gone to see an author speak and all I could imagine was how boring it is to listen to authors talk about their art at conventions. I did not expect Neil to be as charming and funny as he was. He had that dry British humor that I like. When he talked about his art, it was very entertaining and also inspiring. I want to share my thoughts on how Neil was inspiring to me. It was all centered around the question “Where do you get your ideas?”
Neil talked about this topic in his humorous and charming way, but ultimately, he said it was because “We don’t know.” I am not just a writer, I am an artist too. I was born with a talent for drawing, mostly cartoons, and I understood this statement. One day, someone watched me draw and finish a character and she said “Wow. How did you get the idea for that?” and my reply was “I didn’t.”
She was confused, so I elaborated “I just draw and that’s what came out. What comes is just as exciting to me as it is to you. I didn’t know she would be a girl. I didn’t know she would be a rabbit, an alien, or whatever. I didn’t know what hairstyle she’d have, what clothes, or even what colors. She just exists somewhere inside me and I didn’t know her until she was done.”
Neil has also said that ideas come “… from a bunch of different places…”
I might surf the web looking for a pose “That’s an interesting pose.” I draw the pose and then the rest just happens. I have a hard time saying “it comes to me” because I don’t even see it in my mind, I feel it. I just do things… make things with no direction. It’s like when I am asked how I learned to draw… I didn’t. It just happened. I do often get a basic idea or notion, such as “I love that hairstyle. That would be so cute on a mouse.” Then I draw that cute little mouse and everything else just becomes… like that’s the way that mouse was meant to be.
Neil said “There are moments where things just come out of your pen that were not there thirty seconds ago.”
Sure, I can design a character in all it’s details… but my best work is when I just let it happen. There’s something about the feeling of my hand moving on the paper, and the curiosity of who is going to born today from my imagination. When I just feel like drawing and have no inspiration, or have artist’s block, I use the world as my guide. I might just pick a random animal or humanoid, then I look for a pose that looks fun, and then everything usually just happens. In the rare instance that it doesn’t come, I look around in the world, whether people watching or surfing the net. Everything falls into place and “That’s her.” It’s like everything about her was meant to be this way, it just took some time to find all the pieces.
Outside of my artwork, I obviously like to write. To finish the previous quote, he said “… from a bunch of different places, normally from asking yourself questions.”, “What if I could fly?”, “If Only?”, and “Primarily what you do, is you daydream.” This is so true. I’m not an author of books, but that is exactly what I conveyed to my husband a while back. I told him that I daydream a lot, I ask myself questions, and I come up with these answers and ideas that feel right to me. I have this whole world in my mind that I don’t often share. It’s such a deeply personal place. Neil understands the artist within me, despite that he doesn’t know me at all. His words made me feel inspired to share my world. Isn’t that what writing truly is anyway?