NPR posted excerpts from an on-air interview with Neil Gaiman in “Gaiman’s New ‘Ocean’ Is No Kiddie Pool”, plus a link to the full podcast.
Having just finished a deadline assignment yesterday, I was especially sympathetic to Gaiman’s comment about journalism. As he told NPR’s Scott Simon:
“I was never a very good journalist, but I loved being a journalist, and I loved it because it taught me two really, really important things about writing. It taught me compression: If I was interviewing somebody, and I talked to them, and I’d wind up with 3,000 words, 4,000 words, and I’d need to get that down, I learned how to compress what they’d said while still keeping speech patterns, which became incredibly important later when I was writing comics. And even more important than that, I learned about deadlines.
“I do remember once, getting a phone call one evening from an editor, saying, ‘Your book review, it’s due in tomorrow.’ And I said, ‘No no no no no, it’s due in on Tuesday.’ And they said, ‘Yes, today is Monday.’ And I hadn’t written it, and I looked around the room and I couldn’t see the book. And I said, ‘What happens if I don’t get it in?’ And they said, ‘Well, then we’d have a blank page, and we’d have to run a little photograph of you, with your address and your telephone number that anybody could call up if they wanted to find out what that book was like.’ And that concentrated the mind wonderfully.”
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.]