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Neil Gaiman Addresses the University of the Arts Class of 2012

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    Thank you
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    [laughter]
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    I never really expected to find myself giving advice
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    to people graduating from an establishment of higher education.
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    I never graduated from any such establishment.
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    I never even started at one.
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    I escaped from school as soon as I could,
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    when the prospect of 4 more years of enforced learning,
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    before I could become the writer who I wanted to be, seemed stifling.
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    I got out into the world, I wrote
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    and I became a better writer the more I wrote.
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    And I wrote some more
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    and nobody ever seemed to mind
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    that I was making it all up as I went along.
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    They just read what I wrote and they paid me for it,
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    or they didn't.
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    [laughter]
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    And often they commissioned me
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    to write something else for them, which has left me
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    with a healhty respect and fondness for higher education,
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    that those of my friends and family who attended universities
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    were cured of long ago.
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    Looking back I've had a remarkable ride.
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    I'm not sure I can call it a career,
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    because a career implies that I had some kind of career plan,
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    and I never did.
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    The nearest thing I had was a list I made when I was about 15,
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    of everything I wanted to do.
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    I wanted to write an adult novel,
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    a children's book,
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    a comic, a movie,
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    record an audiobook,
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    write an episode of Dr. Who, and so on.
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    I didn't have a career,
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    I just did the next thing on the list.
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    So I thought I'd tell you everything I wished I'd known starting out
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    and a few things that looking back on it
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    I suppose I did know.
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    And I'll also give you the best piece of advice I'd ever got
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    which I completely failed to follow.
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    First of all,
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    when you start out on a career in the arts,
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    you have no idea what you're doing.
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    This is great.
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    People who know what they are doing know the rules
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    and they know what is possible and what is impossible.
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    You do not, and you should not.
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    The rules on what is possible and impossible in the arts were made
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    by people who had not tested the bounds of the possible
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    by going beyond them.
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    And you can.
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    If you don't know it's impossible,
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    it's easier to do.
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    And because nobody's done it before,
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    they haven't made up rules
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    to stop anyone doing that particular thing again.
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    [applause]
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    Secondly, if you have an idea of what you want to make,
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    what you were put here to do,
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    they just go and do that.
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    And that's much harder than it's sounds
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    and sometimes in the end so much easier than you might imagine.
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    Because normally there are things you have to do
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    before you can get to the place you want to be.
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    I wanted to write comics and novels and stories and films,
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    so I became a journalist,
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    because journalists are allowed to ask questions
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    and to simply go and find out how the world works.
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    And, besides, to do those things I needed to write
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    and to write well.
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    And I was being paid to learn how to write
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    economically, crisply, sometimes under adverse conditions
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    and on deadline.
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    Sometimes the way to do what you hope to do will be clear-cut.
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    And sometimes it would be almost impossible
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    to decide whether or not you're doing the correct thing,
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    because you'll have to balance your goals and hopes
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    with feeding yourself
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    paying debts, finding work
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    settling for what you can get.
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    Something that worked for me
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    was imagining where I wanted to be
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    - which was an author, primarily of fiction,
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    making good books, making good comics,
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    making good drama
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    and supporting myself through my words -
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    imagining that was a mountain,
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    a distant mountain, my goal.
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    And I knew that as long as I kept walking towards the mountain
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    I'd be alright.
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    And when I truly was not sure what to do,
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    I could stop and think about
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    whether it was taking me towards or away from it
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    - the mountain.
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    I said no to editorial jobs on magazines
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    - proper jobs that would have paid proper money -
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    bcause I kew that, attractive though they were, for me
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    they would have been walking away from the mountain.
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    And if those job offers had come earlier
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    I might have taken them,
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    because they still would have been closer to the mountain
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    than I was at that time.
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    I learned to write by writing.
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    I tended to do anything as long as it felt like an adventure
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    and to stop when it felt like work,
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    which meant that life did not feel like work.
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    Thirdly, when you start out you have to deal with the problems of failure.
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    You need to be thick skinned,
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    to learn that not every project will survive.
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    A freelance life, a life in the arts,
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    is sometimes like putting messages in bottles on a desert island
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    and hoping that someone will find one of your bottles
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    and open it and read it
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    and put something in a bottle that will wash its way back to you
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    - appreciation or a commission or money or love.
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    And you have to accept that you may put out hundreds of things
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    for every bottle that winds up coming back.
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    The problems of failure, the problems of discouragement,
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    of hopelessness, of hunger.
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    You want everything to happen, and you want it now
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    and things go wrong.
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    My first book, a piece of journalism I'd done only for the money
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    and which had already bought me an electric typewriter
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    from the advance, should have been a best seller.
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    It should have paid me a lot of money,
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    if the publisher hadn't gone into involuntary liquidation
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    between the first print run selling out
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    and the second print run never happening
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    and before any royalties could be paid.
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    It would have done.
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    And I shrugged
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    and I still had my electric typewriter
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    and enough money to pay the rent for a couple of months.
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    And I decided that I'd do my best in the future
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    not to write books just for the money.
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    If you didn't get the money then you didn't have anything.
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    And if I did work I was proud of, and I didn't get the money,
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    at least I'd have the work.
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    Every now and then
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    I forget that rule
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    and whenever I do, the universe kicks me hard
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    and reminds me.
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    I don't know that it's an issue for anybody but me
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    but it's true that nothing I did
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    where the only reason for doing it was the money
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    was ever worth it,
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    except as bitter experience.
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    Usually I didn't wind up getting the money either.
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    [laughter]
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    The things I did because I was excited
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    and wanted to see them exist in reality
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    have never let me down, and I've never regretted
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    the time I spent on any of them.
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    The problems of faillure are hard.
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    The problems of success can be harder,
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    because nobody warns you about them.
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    The first problem of any kind of even limited success
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    is the unshakeable conviction that you're getting away with something
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    and that any moment now they will discover you.
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    [laughter]
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    It's Imposter's Syndrome,
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    something my wife Amanda christened "The Fraud Police".
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    In my case I was convinced there would be a knock on the door
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    and a man with a clipboard
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    - I don't know why he had a clipboard
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    but in my head he always had a clipboard -
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    would be there to tell me it was all over
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    and they caught up with me
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    and now I would have to go and get a real job
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    one that didn't consist of making things up and writing them down
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    and reading books I wanted to read.
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    And then I would go away quietly
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    and get the kind of job
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    I would have to get up early in the morning
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    and wear a tie
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    and not make things up anymore.
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    The problems of success, they're real
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    and with luck, you'll experience them.
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    The point where you stop saying yes to everything
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    because now the bottles you throw in the ocean are all coming back
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    and you have to learn to say "no".
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    I watched my peers and my friends and the ones who are older than me
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    and I watched how miserable some of them were.
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    I'd listen to them telling they couldn't envisage a world
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    where they did what they've always wanted to do anymore,
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    because now they had to earn a certain amount every month
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    just to keep where they were.
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    They couldn't go and do the things that mattered
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    and that they had really wanted to do
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    and that seemed as big a tragedy as any problem of failure.
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    And after that, the biggest problem of success
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    is that the world conspires
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    to stop you doing the thing that you do
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    because you're successful.
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    There was a day when I looked up and realized
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    that I had become someone
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    who professionally replied to email
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    and he wrote as a hobby.
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    I started answering fewer emails
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    and was relieved to find, I was writing much more.
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    Forthly, I hope you'll make mistakes.
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    If you make mistakes, it means you're out there doing something
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    and the mistakes in themselves can be very useful.
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    I once misspelled Caroline in a letter,
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    transposing the A and the O,
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    and I thought "Coraline
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    looks almost like a real name".
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    Remember, whatever discipline you're in,
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    whether you're a musician of a photographer,
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    a fine artist or a cartoonist,
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    a writer, a dancer, a singer, a designer,
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    whatever you do, you have one thing that's unique:
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    you have the ability to make art.
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    And for me, and for so many of the people I've known
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    that's been a lifesaver.
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    The ultimate lifesaver.
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    It gets you though good times, and it gets you
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    through the other ones.
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    Sometimes life is hard, things go wrong
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    in life, and in love, and in business and in friendship
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    and in health and in all the other ways that life can go wrong.
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    And when things get though, this is what you should do.
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    Make good art.
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    I'm serious.
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    [laughter]
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    Husband runs off with a politician?
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    Make good art.
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    [laughter]
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    Leg crushed and then eaten by a mutated boa constrictor?
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    Make good art.
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    IRS on your trail? Make good art.
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    Cat exploded? Make good art.
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    Someone on the internet thinks what you're doing
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    is stupid or evil or it's all been done before?
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    Make good art.
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    Probably things will work out somehow,
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    eventually time will take the sting away
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    and that doesn't even matter.
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    Do what only you can do best.
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    Make good art.
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    Make it on the bad days.
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    Make it on the good days too.
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    And fifthly, while you're at it,
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    make your art.
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    Do the stuff that only you can do.
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    The urge, starting out, is to copy
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    and that is not a bad thing.
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    Most of us only find our own voices
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    after we've sounded like a lot of other people.
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    [laughter]
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    But one thing that you have, that nobody else has
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    is you, your voice, your mind, your story, your vision.
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    So write and draw and build and play
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    and dance and live as only you can.
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    The moment that you feel that just possibly
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    you're walking down the street naked
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    exposing too much of your heart and your mind
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    and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself,
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    that's the moment you may be starting to get it right.
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    The things I've done that work the best
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    were the things I was the least certain about.
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    The stories where I was sure they would either work
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    or, more likely, be the kind of embarrassing failures
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    that people would gather together and discuss until the end of time.
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    They always had that in common: looking back at them
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    people explain why they were inevitable successes
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    and when I was doing them I had no idea.
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    I still don't.
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    And where would be the fun in making something
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    you knew was going to work?
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    And sometimes the things I did really didn't work.
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    There are stories of mine that have never been reprinted.
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    Some of them have never even left the house.
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    But I learned as much from them as I did from the things that worked.
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    Ok, sixthly, I'm gonna pass on some secret freelancer knowledge.
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    Secret knowledge is always good and it's useful
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    for anyone who ever plans to create art for other people,
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    to enter a freelance world of any kind.
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    I learned it in comics
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    but it applies to other fields too, and it's this.
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    People get hired because, somehow, they get hired.
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    [laughter]
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    In my case, I did something which these days would be easy to check
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    and would get me into a lot of trouble
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    and when I started out in those pre-internet days
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    seemed like a sensible career strategy.
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    When I was asked by editors who I'd written for,
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    I lied.
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    [laughter]
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    I listed a handful of magazines that sounded likely
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    and I sounded confident and I got jobs.
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    [cheering]
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    I then made it a point of honour to have written
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    something for each of the magazines I'd listed
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    to get that first job.
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    So that I hadn't actually lied,
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    I had just been chronologically challenged.
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    [laughter]
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    But you get work however you get work.
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    But people keep working, in a freelance world
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    - and more and more of today's world is freelance -
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    because the work is good
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    and because they're easy to get along with
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    and because they deliver the work on time.
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    And you don't even need all three.
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    Two out of three is fine.
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    [laughter]
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    People will tolerate how unpleasant you are
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    if your work is good and you deliver it on time.
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    [laughter]
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    People will forgive the lateness of your work
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    if it's good and they like you.
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    [laughter]
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    And you don't have to be as good as everyone else
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    if you're on time and it's always a pleasure to hear from you.
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    [laughter]
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    [applause]
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    So when I agreed to give this address
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    I thought what is the best piece of advice I was ever given
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    and I realized that it was actually a piece of advice
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    that I had failed to follow
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    and it came from Stephen King.
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    It was 20 years ago, at the height of the success
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    - the initial success -
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    of Sandman, the comic I was writing.
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    [applause] Oh thank you
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    I was writing a comic people loved
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    and they were taking it seriously
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    and Stephen King liked Sandman
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    and my novel with Terry Pratchett, Good Omens,
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    and he saw the madness that was going on
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    - the long signing lines, all of that stuff -
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    and his advice to me was this.
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    He said "this is really great
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    you should enjoy it".
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    And I didn't.
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    Best advice I ever got that I ignored.
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    Instead, I worried about it.
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    I worried about the next deadline,
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    the next idea,
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    the next story.
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    There wasn't a moment for the next 14 or 15 years
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    that I wasn't writing something in my head
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    or wondering about it.
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    And I didn't stop and look around and go:
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    "this is really fun".
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    I wish I'd enjoyed it more.
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    It's been an amazing ride,
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    but there were parts of the ride that I missed,
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    because I was too worried about things going wrong,
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    about what came next, to enjoy the bit that I was on.
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    That was the hardest lesson for me, I think:
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    to let go, and enjoy the ride.
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    Because the ride takes you to some remarkable
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    and unexpected places.
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    And here, on this platform, today for me
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    is one of those places
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    and I am enjoying myself immensely.
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    [applause]
  • 16:57 - 16:59
    I'd actually put that in brackets.
  • 16:59 - 17:01
    Just in case I wasn't, I wouldn't say it.
  • 17:01 - 17:05
    [laughter]
  • 17:05 - 17:08
    To all today's graduates:
  • 17:08 - 17:11
    I wish you luck, luck is useful.
  • 17:11 - 17:13
    Often you will discover that the harder you work
  • 17:13 - 17:15
    and the more wisely that you work
  • 17:15 - 17:17
    the luckier you will get.
  • 17:17 - 17:20
    But there is luck, and it helps.
  • 17:20 - 17:24
    We're in a transitional world right now
  • 17:24 - 17:27
    if you're in any kind of artistic field,
  • 17:27 - 17:30
    because the nature of distribution is changing.
  • 17:30 - 17:33
    The models by which creators got their work out into the world
  • 17:33 - 17:35
    and got to keep a roof over their head
  • 17:35 - 17:37
    and buy sandwhiches while they did that
  • 17:37 - 17:39
    they're all changing.
  • 17:39 - 17:42
    I talked to people at the top of the food chain
  • 17:42 - 17:44
    in publishing and bookselling,
  • 17:44 - 17:46
    in music, in all those areas
  • 17:46 - 17:49
    and no one knows what the landscape will look like
  • 17:49 - 17:52
    two years from now, let alone a decade away.
  • 17:52 - 17:54
    The distribution channels that people have built
  • 17:54 - 17:57
    over the last century or so, are in flux
  • 17:57 - 18:00
    for print, for visual artists, for musicians,
  • 18:00 - 18:03
    for creative people of all kinds.
  • 18:03 - 18:05
    Which is on the one hand intimidating
  • 18:05 - 18:10
    and on the other, immensely liberating.
  • 18:10 - 18:12
    The rules, the assumptions, the now-we're-supposed-tos
  • 18:12 - 18:16
    of how you get your work seen and what you do then,
  • 18:16 - 18:19
    they're breaking down.
  • 18:19 - 18:23
    The gatekeepers are leaving their gates.
  • 18:23 - 18:27
    You can be as creative as you need to be, to get your work seen.
  • 18:27 - 18:31
    YouTube and the Web and whatever comes after YouTube and the Web
  • 18:31 - 18:32
    can give you more people watching
  • 18:32 - 18:35
    than all television ever did.
  • 18:35 - 18:37
    The old rules are crumbling
  • 18:37 - 18:40
    and nobody knows what the new rules are.
  • 18:40 - 18:43
    So make up your own rules.
  • 18:43 - 18:45
    Someone asked me recently how to do
  • 18:45 - 18:47
    something she thought was going to be difficult,
  • 18:47 - 18:49
    in this case recording an audiobook.
  • 18:49 - 18:55
    And I suggested she pretend that she was someone who could do it.
  • 18:55 - 18:56
    [laughter]
  • 18:56 - 19:00
    Not pretend to do it, but pretend she was someone who could.
  • 19:00 - 19:03
    She put up a notice to this effect on the studio wall
  • 19:03 - 19:06
    and she said it helped.
  • 19:06 - 19:10
    So be wise, because the world needs more wisdom
  • 19:10 - 19:14
    and if you cannot be wise, pretend to be someone who is wise
  • 19:14 - 19:17
    and then just behave like they would.
  • 19:17 - 19:29
    [applause]
  • 19:29 - 19:32
    And now go, and make interesting mistakes,
  • 19:32 - 19:34
    make amazing mistakes,
  • 19:34 - 19:37
    make glorious and fantastic mistakes.
  • 19:37 - 19:38
    Break rules.
  • 19:38 - 19:41
    Leave the world more interesting for your being here.
  • 19:41 - 19:44
    Make good art.
  • 19:44 - 19:46
    Thank you.
  • 19:46 - 19:54
    [applause]
Titre:
Neil Gaiman Addresses the University of the Arts Class of 2012
Langue de la vidéo:
English
Durée:
19:55

sous-titres en English

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