Book club: The Graveyard Book

Tonight is our monthly Book Club meeting, so last night I had to quickly catch up on the last 50 or so pages I had left to read of Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book. I filled the tub with bubble bath, poured myself a glass of wine, and settled in to read the last few chapters of Nobody Owens’ supernatural coming of age story.

I am long-time fan of Neil Gaiman’s work. As a goth tween, I teethed on Vertigo comics & the Sandman chronicles. As a young single mother, I was courted by romantic interests who brought me signed copies of Neverwhere & Good Omens. My husband and I even included a reading from Stardust in our wedding ceremony. All of this to say that I may have more than my fair share of bias when it comes to Mr. Gaiman’s work.

The Graveyard Book did not disappoint. To be honest, I was a little concerned a few chapters in, when the story turned from its rather simplistic beginnings and alluded to a vast, multi-faceted universe that seemed like it might be too big and intricate to be confined to a small children’s novel. By the last few chapters, however, the stray story threads were neatly tied in with Bod’s own loops, and the method to all the madness was revealed. And while the book did leave me hungry for more (who exactly are the Honour Guard, and what is their story?) I did spend the last few pages misty-eyed at Bod’s coming-of-age transition from graveyard to reality.

But my favorite part of the book wasn’t even the story itself. It was the acknowledgments at the end of the book.

As a writer, I’m always interested in the writing process, the places things were written, the length of time it took to write, and what inspired a writer to write in the first place. Mr. Gaiman is great for including specifics in his works — who he visited, who helped, and how long the book lived inside his head before it was ever committed to paper. It always gives me a snapshot of what the kind of life I want for myself might look like — visiting friends in faraway places with the expressed intention of working on novels, for example. And it reminds me that sometimes books will live in your head for years — even decades — before they at ready to be written.

As I grow older, I become more confident that such a lifestyle is in my future. I am consciously aware of the slow progress I make towards that goal every day. I am published, now. I get paid for writing, now. Most importantly, I am writing, passionately and deliberately, each and every day, with a dedication & fervor that hasn’t been present in my creative life for a very long time. I’ve redefined what writing means to me, and I am enthusiastic and optimistic about how that definition will continue to shape my life.

And it is in no small part thanks to writers like Neil Gaiman, who share not only their stories, but also the stories behind their stories, and make the impossible seem probable for dreamers everywhere.

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