Stories, like people and butterflies and songbirds’ eggs and human hearts and dreams, are also fragile things, made up of nothing stronger or more lasting than twenty-six letters and a handful of punctuation marks. Or they are words on the air, composed of sounds and ideas-abstract, invisible, gone once they’ve been spoken-and what could be more frail than that? But some stories, small, simple ones about setting out on adventures or people doing wonders, tales of miracles and monsters, have outlasted all the people who told them, and some of them have outlasted the lands in which they were created.
I wanted to write something in honor of the fact that today is Neil Gaiman’s fifty-second birthday, but I am unsure of what it should be. A tribute to his brilliance, I thought, but then I considered the task of choosing some favorite quotes to share and realized there are not enough blog posts on the Internet for that. Perhaps just a thank you, then, instead.
It feels absurdly informal to call a man I have never met, for whom I feel more than a touch of hero worship, by his first name, but Mr. Gaiman does not suit this post. So thank you, Neil.
For soothing my savage dreams and my sleepless nights. For delighting my often stagnant and cynical imagination. For rekindling in me the desire that propelled me through most of my life until suddenly I seemed to lose it, the desire to spin, spin, spin tales that might, in my very wildest dreams, make someone else feel the way yours make me feel. For being creepy and profound and sweet and surprising and always unexpected. For giving me stories and characters that have carved out their own spaces in my heart and taken up residence there, so that I feel them every moment of every day. Stories and characters that I never tire of, no matter how many times I revisit them.
For engaging with fans and showing us genuine glimpses of the man within the stories. For sharing so much of your heart and your life and your loves with us, for making us feel a part of the private interactions to which we really have no right. For giving us the gift of your voice, which lends itself so beautifully to everything it attempts, from audiobook narration to amateur singing to voice acting. For the love and comfort and support you send out and gather in unconditionally for those who need it most, fans and friends alike. For just being so real.
For Nobody Owens and Liza Hempstock and Scarlett Perkins and Silas. For Tristran Thorn and Yvaine. For Coraline and the mouse circus and the cat. For Shadow and Sam and Mr. Nancy and Wednesday. For “Instructions” and “Cinnamon” and “Harlequin Valentine” and all the other stories and stories and stories.
For everything you are and everything you do. And for everything you will be and do in the future.
There is only one writer who is more important to me than you. I love you. I maybe stalk you a little (and thank you, also, for making that such an easy and rewarding endeavor). Please come and be my surrogate father and tell me bedtime stories every night.
Er. I mean … thank you, thank you, thank you. And a very, truly, madly, deeply happy birthday, with many, many more to come.
Your number one fan
If you are unfamiliar with this wonderful man, you can read his journal here, follow him on Twitter here, and, of course, read his books. I recommend beginning with “Stardust”, continuing on to “The Graveyard Book”, and then going wherever the spirit moves you. There is a dark twisty magical path of words laid out before you. Follow it.