I definitely had every intention of finding a few of my favorites quotes of yours and building them cleverly into this letter, but the fact is there are way too many of them and it’s just not going to happen. Frankly if I’m going to be using your words to talk to you I’m not sure why I should bother writing at all. So please appreciate this stumbling attempt to express to you how grateful I am for your profound influence on my life for what it is.
The thing about you, Neil (may I call you Neil?) is that you are not on my favorite authors list because you’ve written some of my favorite books. Don’t take that the wrong way–I own everything you’ve ever written and I deeply love it all. I recommend your writing far and wide and I’ve convinced more than one person to read Sandman who otherwise would flatly refuse to read graphic novels (spoiler alert: they have all adored the series). I even take some time each year to re-read some of my favorites of yours, notably Neverwhere and The Graveyard Book (though Ocean at the End of the Lane did something to me and is definitely going to be on this year’s rotation). But what I really love about you, what really gets me about you, is who you are outside of what you’ve written.
I have a running Google Doc of all my favorite quotes of yours from your books, from interviews, from talks, from social media, etc. On my list of tattoos I badly want I’ve got about six of your quotes (they are the only quotes on my list because generally I’m not that into the idea of word tattoos). If I had to lay down my life philosophy in writing I could probably do it by stringing your wisdom nuggets together.
Your words have had a profound influence on me and on my life for as long as I can remember. Sometimes I’ll read something you wrote and I’ll think to myself, “Wow, I’ve always felt that way but never been able to put it into words. How does he do that?” Other times I’ll read them and think, “Wow he’s brilliant. Why have I never thought about it that way?”
And the thing is, Neil, that I bet you’ll be both pleased to know you’ve had this kind of an effect on my life and also mildly embarrassed by it. I like to imagine that you’d feel a little bit like anyone who listens to you must be an idiot because of course you don’t know what you’re talking about, but mostly you’d be happy to know that all the work you’ve put into your art has done some work of its own. You’re always encouraging people to live their lives, to tell their story, to put themselves out into the world and to change the world just a little bit at a time. I’d just like you to know that you’ve made quite a success of that yourself, and I couldn’t appreciate you more for it.
Thank you, and never stop doing what you do (pretty please),