A Writer of All Trades

The Ocean at the End of the Lane marks the publication of Neil Gaiman’s first adult novel in a decade, since he published American Gods and Anasi Boys. While this is the first book that Mr. Gaiman has published in a while, he has hardly been idle. Recently, Gaiman wrote episodes for the BBC television series “Dr. Who”, The Doctor’s Wife and Nightmare in Silver, and had two books, Coraline and Stardust, adapted into movies. He’s also published comic book series and graphic novels, such as his hit series “The Sandman.” And that’s only to name some of the things Mr. Gaiman has been up to during his career.

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Image from “The Sandman”

Neil Gaiman’s career has included a wide variety of creative endeavors, from writing young adult novels, graphic novels, and TV shows. In a world of increasing specialization, Mr. Gaiman shows writers that they can experiment in different forms of writing. Most writers stick to one medium, such as novels, and the majority of those writers always write in the same genre, such as mystery or fantasy. Neil Gaiman, however, has written in many different genres for a variety of mediums.

As a writer with diverse interests of my own, I find this very encouraging. Neil Gaiman has engaged in all the forms of writing that interest me—novels, television, movies, and comics. He is, in a sense, a jack-of-all-trades, and those are hard to come by these days. Some of the greatest writers of our time, however, have demonstrated their greatness through different genres. Neil Gaiman is an obvious example, but he is not the only one. Melina Marchetta’s books have ranged from contemporary fiction to fantasy, and she writes the screenplay adaptations of her novels.

All this is to say that I think it is healthy, artistic even, for writers to expand their comfort zone and experiment in different mediums. They may discover they have a talent for a new genre or experience a new way of developing plot or presenting characters. They will also grow as writers overall, as new experiences and practice will develop their writing as a whole.

Writing for different mediums shows a talent not just for writing novels, per say, but also for writing for its own sake. With The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman has demonstrated his mastery of the art the novel, but throughout his career, Mr. Gaiman has shown that he has an unrivaled mastery for writing in any form.

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Matt Smith as The Doctor in “Nightmare in Silver”

I look forward to reading The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and hopefully to watching more “Dr. Who” episodes written by Neil Gaiman. I look forward to seeing what new endeavors Neil Gaiman takes as a writer as he keeps inspiring me to experiment as I develop as a writer.

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