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尼爾.蓋曼為2012年藝術大學畢業生演講

Neil Gaiman at the University of the Arts Commencement 2012

 

Photo of three lions hunting on the Serengeti.

講者:尼爾.蓋曼

2012年5月17日演講

 

翻譯:洪曉慧

編輯:朱學恆

簡繁轉換:洪曉慧

後製:洪曉慧

字幕影片後制:謝旻均

 

閱讀中文字幕純文字版本

 

關於這場演講(來源World News.com

尼爾.蓋曼為2012年藝術大學畢業生所做的演講為2012年最佳畢業演講之一。這是每一位藝術家及有志於創作和希望成功者都該看的影片。他勉勵畢業生創作美妙的藝術。

 

關於尼爾.蓋曼(來源Wikipedia

尼爾.蓋曼(生於1960年11月10日)是英國長短篇小說、漫畫、圖像小說、劇本和電影創作者。他的著名作品包括《睡魔》系列漫畫及《星塵》、《美國眾神》、《第十四道門》、《墓園裡的男孩》等小說。他曾榮獲無數獎項,包括雨果獎、星雲獎、史鐸克獎、紐伯瑞兒童文學獎和卡內基文學獎。他是首位以同一部作品榮獲紐伯瑞兒童文學獎及卡內基文學獎的作家。

 

尼爾.蓋曼為2012年藝術大學畢業生演講

 

謝謝。(笑聲)

 

我從未預期過自己有機會為高等學府的畢業生提供建議;我不曾於任何高等學府畢業,甚至不曾唸過任何一所。當我意識到實現成為作家這個畢生夢想前,還有不只四年的制式教育等著我時,我迫不及待地逃離學校。我踏入社會,開始寫作生涯。累積許多寫作經驗後,我成為更優秀的作家;我繼續在創作的道路上前進。一路以來,人們似乎並不在意這些故事全是我鬼扯的(笑聲)。他們只是閱讀我的作品,花錢買書;或不花錢白看(笑聲)。經常有人委託我為他們創作不同的作品,這讓我興起對高等教育的尊重和喜愛,那是我唸過大學的朋友和家人們很久以前就完成的教育。

 

回首過往,我擁有過精彩的人生歷程。我不確定是否能稱它為一份事業,因為所謂事業,意味著我曾經做過某種生涯規劃,但我不曾做過。最接近生涯規劃的作為是,我15歲時列了一張表,寫下我想做的每一件事:我想創作成人小說、兒童讀物、漫畫、電影、錄製有聲書、為《神秘博士》(著名科幻影集)撰寫故事情節等等。但我不曾做過任何生涯規劃,我只是逐一完成列表上的夢想。所以,我想告訴大家所有我希望自己一開始就瞭解的事;回想起來,其中有幾件事確實是我一開始就瞭解的。我也想提供大家我所知最好的建議,但我本身卻完全沒做到。(笑聲)

 

第一點是,當你開始邁向藝術生涯時,並不知道自己在做什麼;這是一件好事。有些人知道自己在做什麼,知道其中的規則,知道什麼可行或不可行;但你不知道,你也最好不知道。藝術領域中是否可行的規則,是那些不曾嘗試跨越自己本身可能性邊界者所制定的;但你們可以大膽嘗試。如果你不知道一件事是否可行,做起來會更容易,因為之前不曾有人嘗試過,所以不存在讓人駐足不前的規則。(笑聲)(歡呼聲)(掌聲)

 

第二點,如果你對自己想做什麼已經有了想法,知道自己打算做什麼,只要勇於嘗試即可。說起來容易,做起來難;有時情況或許比你想像中容易得多。因為在你達成夢想之前,往往必須先做一些嘗試。我想創作漫畫、小說、故事和電影,所以我先成為一名記者,因為記者能不斷地提問,用最直接的方式瞭解世界如何運作。此外,要達成這些夢想,我必須寫作,而且文筆要好。我藉由這份職業學習寫作,無論是經濟議題或平凡的瑣事;有時得在惡劣的環境中寫作,有時得趕稿。

 

有時達成夢想的途徑十分明確,有時則很難確定自己是否走在正確的道路上;因為你必須在夢想和現實間取得平衡。你得養活自己、付帳單、找工作、解決所有面臨的問題。我的因應之道是,想像我希望達成的目標-成為一位作家,主要是寫小說;創作美妙的文字、漫畫,創作精彩的戲劇-勉勵自己在夢想的道路上堅持下去。想像那是一座山,一座位於遠處的山,那就是我的目標。我知道,只要以堅定的步伐朝那座山邁進,就能達成目標。當我不確定該怎麼做時,就停下腳步,思考這麼做會使我朝著那座山邁進,還是會使我遠離那座山。

 

我拒絕了雜誌編輯的工作-一份薪水合理、適合我的工作。因為我知道,雖然那份工作很吸引人,但對我來說,它會使我與那座山漸行漸遠。如果早點遇上那份工作機會,或許我會接受,因為對當時的我來說,那份工作仍能使我朝那座山邁進。我藉由寫作學習寫作,我願意嘗試任何能帶給我冒險感覺的事。當某件事讓我感覺僅像是一份工作時,我就罷手。這意味著人生不該令人感覺僅像是一份工作。

 

第三點,當你展開人生旅程時,也得學習處理失敗問題。你必須以堅強的心志,接受並非所有計畫都能成功的事實。從事自由職業、藝術工作,有時就像在荒島上扔出瓶中信,希望有人會發現你扔出的瓶子,打開它、閱讀其中的訊息、在瓶中放入某些你期待的回應:欣賞、委託、金錢或喜愛。你必須接受或許送出了千百條訊息,卻得不到任何回應的事實。失敗的困境包括沮喪、失望和渴求;你希望立即得到回應,卻無法如願以償。

 

我的第一本著作-一本以賺錢為目的而寫的傳記報導,光是預付版稅就足以讓我買一台電動打字機-本來應該是一本暢銷書,應該能讓我大賺一筆,如果在第一版售罄、第二版印刷前出版社沒有遭受強制破產處分的話;還有在我收到版稅前。我應該能大賺一筆才是。我一笑置之;至少我還擁有一台電動打字機和足以支付幾個月房租的錢。於是我決定,今後我會盡量試著不只是為了賺錢而寫書,若是如此,當我賺不到錢時,將一無所獲;如果我創作令自己驕傲的作品,就算賺不到錢,至少我還擁有足以自豪的作品。

 

有時我會忘了這個原則,每當發生這種情形時,上天就會狠狠給我一頓教訓,提醒我這件事。我不清楚除了我以外,別人是否也有同樣的經驗,但確實如此。只要我單純為了錢而做某件事,除了痛苦的經歷外,往往一無所獲;很多時候我也拿不到錢(笑聲)。那些我因為感興趣而做、為了實現夢想而做的事從未令我失望過,我也不曾後悔將時間花在那些事上。

 

失敗是個很難處理的問題,成功則是更難處理的問題,因為沒有人會向你提出警告。任何形式、即使是微不足道的成功,帶來的第一個問題是-我無法避免地確信這全是一時僥倖,人們隨時都可能揭穿我的真面目(笑聲)(掌聲)。這就是所謂的冒充者症候群(Imposter Syndrome),某種我妻子Amanda稱之為「造假警察」的東西(笑聲)。

 

在我的想像中,我確信總有一天,我會聽見有人敲門-一名手中拿著筆記板的男子。我不知道他為什麼拿著筆記板,但在我的想像中(笑聲),他總是拿著筆記板。他會出現在門口,告訴我一切都已結束,他們逮到了我,現在我不得不去找一份真正的工作,一份不包括編故事、寫故事、閱讀我想讀的書的工作。我只能默默地離開,找一份工作。從此,我必須早起上班、打上領帶,再也沒機會寫任何故事。

 

成功也會帶來問題;確實如此。幸運的話,你們將會體驗到這一點。到那時,你無法再對任何事都來者不拒,因為此時,你扔進海裡的瓶子全都漂了回來,你必須學會說「不」。我觀察我的同輩、我的朋友和一些比我年長的人,目睹其中一些人過著悲慘的人生,聆聽他們訴說,他們已不再盼望能過一種做自己想做的事的生活,因為現在他們每個月必須賺一定數量的錢,才能維持目前的生活方式。他們無法做自己重視及真正想做的事,這似乎跟失敗的處境一樣悲慘。

 

接下來,成功最大的問題在於-這個世界似乎不懷好意地阻撓你進行的工作,因為你已經獲得成功。某天,當我抬頭審視時,發現回覆電子郵件已成了我的正職,寫作反而成了業餘嗜好,於是我開始減少回覆電子郵件,欣慰地發現寫作時間變多了。

 

第四點,我希望你們犯錯。如果你犯了錯,代表你做了某些嘗試。錯誤本身也能帶來很大幫助。我曾經在一封信中拼錯了Caroline這個字,將a和o的位置弄反了;然後我想,「Coraline似乎也能當作一個名字。」(笑聲)

 

記住,無論你唸的是什麼科系,無論你將成為音樂家、攝影師、美術家、漫畫家、作家、舞者、歌手、設計師;無論你從事什麼行業,都擁有一樣獨一無二的東西,那就是創作藝術的能力。對於我和許多我認識的人來說,那是一項救贖,最終的救贖,它能陪伴你度過人生的順境與逆境。有時人生充滿艱辛,不如意事十之八九,生活、愛情、事業、友誼、健康和任何方面都可能出問題。當你遇上困境時,這就是你應該做的事-創作美妙的藝術。我是說真的(笑聲)。丈夫被某個政客拐跑了?創作美妙的藝術(笑聲)。腿斷了、還被突變的巨蟒吃了?(笑聲)創作美妙的藝術(笑聲)。國稅局找你麻煩?創作美妙的藝術(笑聲)。貓爆炸了?創作美妙的藝術(笑聲)。有人在網路上批評你做的事愚蠢、邪惡或了無新意?創作美妙的藝術。或許情況會不知何故地好轉,時間終究會撫平所有傷痛,這都無所謂;做你最拿手的事,創作美妙的藝術。遭遇逆境時請這麼做,處於順境時也一樣。

 

第五點,當你這麼做時,請創作屬於自己的藝術;創作只有你能做的東西。這份熱情往往從模仿開始,這不是什麼壞事。大多數人往往在模仿許多人後,才找到屬於自己的聲音。但唯獨你擁有、其它人無法擁有的東西,就是你自己。你的聲音、你的心靈、你的故事、你的觀點。因此,以你獨有的方式,去寫、去畫、去創造、去演出、去跳舞、去生活。想像在某個時刻-只是做個假設-你赤裸裸地走在大街上,將心靈、思想、內心的一切都暴露在外,盡情展現自我;在那一刻,你或許才開始步上正軌。

 

我曾經獲得的最大成就,往往是我最沒自信的作品;那些我確信絕不會受歡迎的故事,或極可能遭受尷尬的失敗、讓人們聚在一起批評到世界末日的故事(笑聲)。這些作品都有一個共同點:回首過往,人們試著解釋為什麼這些作品會如此成功,當我創作它們時,並未預期會獲得這樣的成果;我依然不知道其中原因。完成你已知會成功的事有什麼樂趣?有時,我的努力確實一無所獲。我寫的故事有些不曾再版,其中一些甚至不曾出版,但我從它們身上學到的就跟那些成功作品一樣多。

 

好,第六點,我想分享一些從事自由職業的秘訣。秘訣總是有益的,對任何計劃為大眾創作藝術、或進入任何自由職業領域的人來說十分有用。這是我從漫畫生涯中獲得的經驗,但也適用於其他領域,那就是:人們獲得工作的原因是-莫名其妙地,他們就被雇用了(笑聲)。以我本身為例,我曾經做過一些在這個年代很容易調查、會讓我惹上麻煩的事。當我踏入社會時,網路尚未興起,我採取一種看似合理的求職策略:當編輯詢問我曾經在哪裡工作過時,我撒了謊(笑聲)。我列出一些聽起來合理的雜誌社,展現出信心十足的模樣,於是得到了那份工作(笑聲)(歡呼聲)(掌聲)。為了保住面子,我只好為每一本幫助我得到第一份工作的雜誌社寫了些文章(笑聲)。所以事實上我並沒有撒謊,只是循序漸進地挑戰而已(笑聲)。總之,找到工作就是達到目的了。

 

但人們紛紛投入自由職業領域。在當今世界裡,從事自由職業者越來越多,原因在於他們的作品優秀、在於他們容易相處、在於他們能準時交稿。你甚至不需要同時擁有這三項優勢,只要擁有其中兩項即可(笑聲)。人們會容忍你多麼難相處;只要你的作品優秀、準時交稿(笑聲)(掌聲)。人們會原諒你拖稿;如果你的作品優秀、性格討喜(笑聲)。你不需要跟別人一樣才華洋溢;如果你能準時交稿、討人喜歡。(笑聲)(歡呼聲)(掌聲)

 

當我接受這場演講邀請時,我開始回想這些年來聽過的最好建議,然後我意識到,事實上我並沒有遵從那項建議。那是來自史蒂芬.金的建議,當20年前我創作的漫畫《睡魔》開始爆紅時(掌聲)。喔,謝謝(掌聲)。我創作了一部人們喜愛及重視的漫畫;史蒂芬.金喜歡《睡魔》及我和Terry Pratchett合著的小說《好預兆》。他目睹這部漫畫造成的瘋狂、索取簽名的長列隊伍等等。他給我的建議是,「這相當棒,你應該樂在其中。」但我沒有;我忽視了曾經聽過最好的建議。相反地,我老是憂心忡忡;擔心下一次截稿日、煩惱下一個點子、憂心接下來的故事內容。之後的14、15年期間,我腦海裡總是不停地思索、考量創作內容;我並沒有停下腳步,環顧四周,體會這個過程確實非常有趣。我希望當時能更享受這個過程。這是一趟美妙的旅程,但我錯過了某些部分,因為我太杞人憂天;擔心出差錯、煩惱接下來的故事情節,而無法享受這個過程。我想,這是對我來說最艱難的一課:敞開心胸,享受人生旅程,因為它會將你帶往一些美妙且意想不到的地方。對我來說,今天來到這裡,站在這個講台上,正是來到其中一處美妙之地,我十分樂在其中(掌聲)。老實說,我把這句話放在括弧裡,以防萬一我無法樂在其中,就略過不提(笑聲)。

 

今天所有的畢業生,祝你們好運。運氣十分有用。通常你會發現,越是努力工作、越是運用智慧工作,就會越幸運。但很多事都得靠運氣,它確實能帶來幫助。

 

我們正處於一個過渡的世界。如果你投入任何一種藝術領域,因為傳遞作品的本質已發生變化,創作者展現自己作品的模式也逐漸改變,他們在創作的同時,餬口謀生的方式全都隨之改變。我曾經和位於出版業食物鏈頂端的人談過,也曾和書商及音樂界等所有領域的人談過,沒人知道兩年後會是什麼情形,更別提十年後了。人們於上世紀建立的行銷管道或出版通路已發生改變,對視覺藝術家、音樂家和各類創意工作者來說皆是如此。一方面來說,這是一項威脅;另一方面來說,則是極大的解放。

 

我們目前認為如何讓你的作品和表現呈現在大眾眼前的規則和假設已被打破,守門人逐漸離開大門,你可以盡情發揮創意,讓人們看見你的作品。YouTube和網路,及任何在YouTube和網路之後出現的管道,可以讓你的作品被更多人看見,那是電視宣傳無法達到的效果。舊規則正在崩潰,沒人知道新規則會是什麼。所以,請創造屬於自己的規則。

 

最近有人問我如何著手進行她認為困難的事;她的困難是錄製有聲書。我建議她假裝自己是某個有能力做到這一點的人(笑聲);不是假裝去做,而是假裝自己是某個有能力做到的人。她把我的建議貼在工作室牆上,她說這確實有幫助。

 

所以,請運用智慧,因為這個世界需要更多智慧。如果你並不聰明,只要假裝自己是聰明人,做聰明人會做的事就行。(笑聲)(歡呼聲)(掌聲)

 

現在就開始!犯有趣的錯、犯精彩的錯、犯輝煌而絕妙的錯;打破規則,讓世界因為你們的存在而變得更有趣。創作美妙的藝術。謝謝。(歡呼聲)(掌聲)

 

以下為系統擷取之英文原文

 About The Talk

Neil Gaiman Addresses the University of the Arts Class of 2012 One of the best commencement speeches. A must watch for any artist and everyone who hopes to be creative and successful. Make Good Art.


 

About Neil Gaiman

Neil Richard Gaiman ( born 10 November 1960) is an English author of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels, audio theatre and films. His notable works include the comic book series The Sandman and novels Stardust, American Gods, Coraline, and The Graveyard Book. He has won numerous awards, including Hugo, Nebula, Bram Stoker, Newbery Medal, and Carnegie Medal in Literature. He is the first author to win both the Newbery and the Carnegie medals for the same work.



About This Transcript

I never really expected to find myself giving advice to people graduating from an establishment of higher education.  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'd become the writer I wanted to be was 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 up as I went along, they just read what I wrote and they paid for it, or they didn't, and often they commissioned me to write something else for them.

Which has left me with a healthy respect and fondness for higher education that those of my friends and family, who attended Universities, were cured of long ago.

Looking back, I've had a remarkable ride. I'm not sure I can call it a career, because a career implies that I had some kind of career plan, and I never did. The nearest thing I had was a list I made when I was 15 of everything I wanted to do: to write an adult novel, a children's book, a comic, a movie, record an audiobook, write an episode of Doctor Who... and so on. I didn't have a career. I just did the next thing on the list.

So I thought I'd tell you everything I wish I'd known starting out, and a few things that, looking back on it, I suppose that I did know. And that I would also give you the best piece of advice I'd ever got, which I completely failed to follow.

First of all: When you start out on a career in the arts you have no idea what you are doing.

This is great. People who know what they are doing know the rules, and know what is possible and 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 again, yet.

Secondly, If you have an idea of what you want to make, what you were put here to do, then just go and do that.

And 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. I wanted to write comics and novels and stories and films, so I became a journalist, because journalists are allowed to ask questions, and to simply go and find out how the world works, and besides, to do those things I needed to write and to write well, and I was being paid to learn how to write economically,  crisply, sometimes under adverse conditions, and on time.

Sometimes the way to do what you hope to do will be clear cut, and sometimes  it will be almost impossible to decide whether or not you are doing the correct thing, because you'll have to balance your goals and hopes with feeding yourself, paying debts, finding work, settling for what you can get.

Something that worked for me was imagining that where I wanted to be – an author, primarily of fiction, making good books, making good comics and supporting myself through my words – was a mountain. A distant mountain. My goal.

And I knew that as long as I kept walking towards the mountain I would be all right. And when I truly was not sure what to do, I could stop, and think about whether it was taking me towards or away from the mountain. I said no to editorial jobs on magazines, proper jobs that would have paid proper money because I knew that, attractive though they were, for me they would have been walking away from the mountain. And if those job offers had come along earlier I might have taken them, because they still would have been closer to the mountain than I was at the time.

I learned to write by writing. I tended to do anything as long as it felt like an adventure, and to stop when it felt like work, which meant that life did not feel like work.

Thirdly, When you start off, you have to deal with the problems of failure. You need to be thickskinned, to learn that not every project will survive. A freelance life, a life in the arts, is sometimes like putting messages in bottles, on a desert island, and hoping that someone will find one of your bottles and open it and read it, and put something in a bottle that will wash its way back to you: appreciation, or a commission, or money, or love. And you have to accept that you may put out a hundred things for every bottle that winds up coming back.

The problems of failure are problems of discouragement, of hopelessness, of hunger. You want everything to happen and you want it now, and things go wrong. My first book – a piece of journalism I had done for the money, and which had already bought me an electric typewriter  from the advance – should have been a bestseller. It should have paid me a lot of money. If the publisher hadn't gone into involuntary liquidation between the first print run selling out and the second printing, and before any royalties could be paid, it would have done.

And I shrugged, and I still had my electric typewriter and enough money to pay the rent for a couple of months, and I decided that I would do my best in future not to write books just for the money. If you didn't get the money, then you didn't have anything. If I did work I was proud of, and I didn't get the money, at least I'd have the work.

Every now and again, I forget that rule, and whenever I do, the universe kicks me hard and reminds me. I don't know that it's an issue for anybody but me, but it's true that nothing I did where the only reason for doing it was the money was ever worth it, except as bitter experience. Usually I didn't wind up getting the money, either.  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.

The problems of failure are hard.

The problems of success can be harder, because nobody warns you about them.

The first problem of any kind of even limited success is the unshakable conviction that you are getting away with something, and that any moment now they will discover you. It's Imposter Syndrome, something my wife Amanda christened the Fraud Police.

In my case, I was convinced that there would be a knock on the door, and a man with a clipboard (I don't know why he carried a clipboard, in my head, but he did) would be there, to tell me it was all over, and they had caught up with me, and now I would have to go and get a real job, one that didn't consist of making things up and writing them down, and reading books I wanted to read. And then I would go away quietly and get the kind of job where you don't have to make things up any more.

The problems of success. They're real, and with luck you'll experience them. The point where you stop saying yes to everything, because now the bottles you threw in the ocean are all coming back, and have to learn to say no.

I watched my peers, and my friends, and the ones who were older than me and watch how miserable some of them were: I'd listen to them telling me that they couldn't envisage a world where they did what they had always wanted to do any more, because now they had to earn a certain amount every month just to keep where they were. They couldn't go and do the things that mattered, and that they had really wanted to do; and that seemed as a big a tragedy as any problem of failure.

And after that, the biggest problem of success is that the world conspires to stop you doing the thing that you do, because you are successful. There was a day when I looked up and realised that I had become someone who professionally replied to email, and who wrote as a hobby.  I started answering fewer emails, and was relieved to find I was writing much more.

Fourthly, I hope you'll make mistakes. If you're making mistakes, it means you're out there doing something. And the mistakes in themselves can be useful. I once misspelled Caroline, in a letter, transposing the A and the O, and I thought, “Coraline looks like a real name...”

And remember that whatever discipline you are in, whether you are a musician or a photographer, a fine artist or a cartoonist, a writer, a dancer, a designer, whatever you do you have one thing that's unique. You have the ability to make art.

And for me, and for so many of the people I have known, that's been a lifesaver. The ultimate lifesaver. It gets you through good times and it gets you through the other ones.

Life is sometimes hard. Things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all the other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do.

Make good art.

I'm serious. Husband runs off with a politician? Make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by mutated boa constrictor? Make good art. IRS on your trail? Make good art. Cat exploded? Make good art. Somebody on the Internet thinks what you do is stupid or evil or it's all been done before? Make good art. Probably things will work out somehow, and eventually time will take the sting away, but that doesn't matter. Do what only you do best. Make good art.

Make it on the good days too.

And Fifthly, while you are at it, make your art. Do the stuff that only you can do.

The urge, starting out, is to copy. And that's not a bad thing. Most of us only find our own voices after we've sounded like a lot of other people. But 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.

The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you're walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself. That's the moment you may be starting to get it right.

The things I've done that worked the best were the things I was the least certain about, the stories where I was sure they would either work, or more likely be the kinds of embarrassing failures people would gather together and talk about  until the end of time. They always had that in common: looking back at them, people explain why they were inevitable successes. While I was doing them, I had no idea.

I still don't. And where would be the fun in making something you knew was going to work?

And sometimes the things I did really didn't work. There are stories of mine that have never been reprinted. Some of them never even left the house. But I learned as much from them as I did from the things that worked.

Sixthly. I will pass on some secret freelancer knowledge. Secret knowledge is always good. And it is useful for anyone who ever plans to create art for other people, to enter a freelance world of any kind. I learned it in comics, but it applies to other fields too. And it's this:

People get hired because, somehow, they get hired. In my case I did something which these days would be easy to check, and would get me into trouble, and when I started out, in those pre-internet days, seemed like a sensible career strategy: when I was asked by editors who I'd worked for, I lied. I listed a handful of magazines that sounded likely, and I sounded confident, and I got jobs. I then made it a point of honour to have written something for each of the magazines I'd listed to get that first job, so that I hadn't actually lied, I'd just been chronologically challenged... You get work however you get work.

People keep working, in a freelance world, and more and more of today's world is freelance, because their work is good, and because they are easy to get along with, and because they deliver the work on time. And you don't even need all three. Two out of three is fine. People will tolerate how unpleasant you are if your work is good and you deliver it on time. They'll forgive the lateness of the work if it's good, and if they like you. And you don't have to be as good as the others if you're on time and it's always a pleasure to hear from you.

When I agreed to give this address, I started trying to think what the best advice I'd been given over the years was.

And it came from Stephen King twenty years ago, at the height of the success of Sandman. I was writing a comic that people loved and were taking seriously. King had liked Sandman and my novel with Terry Pratchett, Good Omens, and he saw the madness, the long signing lines, all that, and his advice was this:

This is really great. You should enjoy it.

And I didn't. Best advice I got that I ignored.Instead I worried about it. I worried about the next deadline, the next idea, the next story. There wasn't a moment for the next fourteen or fifteen years that I wasn't writing something in my head, or wondering about it. And I didn't stop and look around and go, this is really fun. I wish I'd enjoyed it more. It's been an amazing ride. But there were parts of the ride I missed, because I was too worried about things going wrong, about what came next, to enjoy the bit I was on.

That was the hardest lesson for me, I think: to let go and enjoy the ride, because the ride takes you to some remarkable and unexpected places.

And here, on this platform, today, is one of those places. (I am enjoying myself immensely.)

To all today's graduates: I wish you luck. Luck is useful. Often you will discover that the harder you work, and the more wisely you work, the luckier you get. But there is luck, and it helps.

We're in a transitional world right now, if you're in any kind of artistic field, because the nature of distribution is changing, the models by which creators got their work out into the world, and got to keep a roof over their heads and buy sandwiches while they did that, are all changing. I've talked to people at the top of the food chain in publishing, in bookselling, in all those areas, and nobody knows what the landscape will look like two years from now, let alone a decade away. The distribution channels that people had built over the last century or so are in flux for print, for visual artists, for musicians, for creative people of all kinds.

Which is, on the one hand, intimidating, and on the other, immensely liberating. The rules, the assumptions, the now-we're supposed to's of how you get your work seen, and what you do then, are breaking down. The gatekeepers are leaving their gates. You can be as creative as you need to be to get your work seen. YouTube and the web (and whatever comes after YouTube and the web) can give you more people watching than television ever did. The old rules are crumbling and nobody knows what the new rules are.

So make up your own rules.

Someone asked me recently how to do something she thought was going to be difficult, in this case recording an audio book, and I suggested she pretend that she was someone who could do it. Not pretend to do it, but pretend she was someone who could. She put up a notice to this effect on the studio wall, and she said it helped.

So be wise, because the world needs more wisdom, and if you cannot be wise, pretend to be someone who is wise, and then just behave like they would.

And now go, and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here. Make good art.


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有關本課程的討論

課程討論
好有趣啊

Anonymous, 2012-11-06 05:14:40
課程討論
謝謝! 這是我所缺的鼓勵!
Anonymous, 2012-08-23 20:34:35
課程討論
Make good art.
Anonymous, 2012-08-23 20:25:15

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