2012 University of the Arts Keynote Address – Neil Gaiman

Highlights:

* You get work however you get work, but people keep working in a freelance world (and more and more of today’s world is freelance) because their work is good, 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. People will forgive the lateness of your work if it is good and they like you. And you don’t have to be as good as everyone else if you’re on time and it’s always a pleasure to hear from you.

* 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.

* 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 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.

 

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