In my mind, authors can be technically skilled and excellent or bad, and those two categories have essentially nothing to do with each other. As Alberto Manguel said,

There may be no poem, however powerful, that can remove one ounce of pain or transform a single moment of injustice. But there may be no poem, however poorly written, that may not contain, for its secret and elected reader, a consolation, a call to arms, a glimmer of happiness, an epiphany. Something there is in the modest page that, mysteriously and unexpectedly, allows us, not wisdom, but the possibility of wisdom, caught between the experience of everyday life and the experience of literary reality.

Further, I feel that–let me put it this way. I have no personal use for the craft of art/film/media reviewing because that person’s taste is not mine. All they can tell me objectively is how successful the art was technically, and as I’ve said, that doesn’t matter so much to me. Authors, directors, actors, painters and musicians are all a matter so intensely personal that I think of finding good ones, ones that suit me, almost like Tetris. Like Rocky said, I’ve got gaps, and some artists fill those gaps and some don’t.

Neil Gaiman fills my gaps so completely and successfully that I never imagined another creator could ever reach the same level. I’ve followed him since discovering Sandman in high school. I own very nearly everything’s he’s written, and I adore all but one of those things. Seriously. In his entire career, the man has written just one story that I don’t love and marvel at, and I will gladly cop to the fact that I have a hard time reading “The Problem of Susan” because I grew up in Narnia and am not quite brave enough. It’s not him, it’s me–and, I’m certain I’ll get there eventually. I’m patient with good literature. And myself.

I started watching the new series of Doctor Who a few years ago, just after Tennant began. I can’t remember now why I started. I never watched the old Who when I was younger. I tried once, but I didn’t have any context for the wobbly sets, and it just looked crap, and I couldn’t get past that. So David Tennant was my first Doctor. I was watching and loving it, looking up everything else he’d been in–Taking Over the Asylum was breathtakingly good. He was so sweet in that that it hurt, and I loved it. It was all going swimmingly, like the first days of any romance…and then he appeared. It was there, right at the beginning of “The Girl in the Fireplace”, but of course I didn’t know what I’d seen until it was too late.

Steven Moffat.

My attentions turned, as completely as a girl in a cheesy vampire novel when she first sees the Boy. For the first time in my life, I wept at a TV show. And I wept hard. He crafted a story as perfect for me as anything Neil Gaiman ever wrote, and I was stunned. I had no idea it was possible. Believe me, I had the usual stable of favorite authors–Heinlein, Borges, Spider Robinson, others–but I thought Gaiman was the One. I thought that there was a one, for heaven’s sake! Like so many before me, I thought wrong.

Tonight I watched the final episode of Sherlock, Steven Moffat’s latest creation. I’ve not read all the Holmes stories yet, but I know how they end. Batman is of course my hero par excellence, and when I read Holmes’ explanation of how his mind was an attic and therefore he refused to fill it with junk, I could have outshone the sun with delight–he was Batman! (I do know it’s the other way round, except it isn’t because time is a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff, and this is my timestream we’re discussing.)

I called the ending of the show tonight, the moment Holmes entered the pool. And even with this handicap, I was still shocked and delighted-I’m talking huge emotional payoff here-when the end finally came. The fact that I could see the set-up, see where all the pieces lay, and still get caught by surprise–that is Moffat’s genius*. I am flabbergasted. I pray the Writer’s Prayer:

Please, sweet Ladies. Just ever give me one moment, one scene, a single line, that good, and it will all be worth it.

*Unless that was Mark Gatiss, in which case my threesome with Gaiman and Moffat will surely have to expand.