I'm devouring Neil Gaiman by the chapterful at the moment. I'm having a hard time with it--not because I don't like it, but because I love it so much! I read something of his--especially his short stuff--and I think, Ah, well, the world has Neil Gaiman. Don't need me.
His prose is so clean, for one, that it takes a while to get to know his characters. It's also so confident, hovering up there within the realm of John Irving, that you trust it will work out in the end. (I'm thinking A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY here.) I particularly like Shadow from AMERICAN GODS. Gaiman reports (paraphrasing here) that he was a difficult character because he's so quiet. He doesn't do all the convenient things an author likes a character to do, like ask questions or rebel or anything. Shadow tends to go along. He's being paid, for one, and his nature just tends to accept things as they are, you know, like a dead, decaying wife who keeps reappearing. But Gaiman trusts Shadow's instincts and so does the reader.
Anyway, it's been great for me to read, because I've put Sentinel on a severe diet in the past weeks and it's now a svelte 84,000 words--down from 107,000!! There's a reason why internal narrative is so tough for me: I'm not meant to write much of it.
The other reason Gaiman's dampening my confidence is because of the sheer amplitude of his ideas. He strides beyond social and moral commentary into true fantastical metaphor, like that odd crawling you get on the back of your neck when the cat stares at the corner. I mean, what a fucking mind on that man.
AMERICAN GODS is about all the gods who were brought here by immigrants, gods who eventually lost power as belief in them faded. But they're gods, so they're immortal and basically stuck. It's given me much to think about when it comes to my book(s) and especially Kaelin's relationship with the demon. I mean, even a demon should grow and change throughout a story, right? I'm going to work to make the demon actually sympathetic. He's a fish out of water. Heh. That'll be fun.
In the Bad News Bears category, I just discovered my talk at RMFW Conference has been moved to 8:30 on friggin' Sunday morning. Whaaa? I mean, no one's at their best on Sunday am anyway. Last year I think I was holed-up in some hotel room until four in the morning on Saturday night, slurring with someone about writing. But y'all better come anyway (Travis, this means YOU!).