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16 Stirring Neil Gaiman Quotes About Life, Death, and Creativity

Celebrate Neil Gaiman's birthday on November 10th with these unforgettable words of wisdom.

Neil Gaiman quotes
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“Books are the way that we communicate with the dead. The way that we learn lessons from those who are no longer with us, that humanity has built on itself, progressed, made knowledge incremental rather than something that has to be relearned, over and over. There are tales that are older than most countries, tales that have long outlasted the cultures and the buildings in which they were first told. I think we have responsibilities to the future.”

“Life is life, and it is infinitely better than the alternative, or so we presume, for nobody returns to dispute it.”

“Grown-ups don't look like grown-ups on the inside either.” 

“You grow up reading about pirates and cowboys and spacemen and stuff, and jus' when you think the world's full of amazing things, they tell you it's really all dead whales and chopped-down forests and nuclear waste hanging about for millions of years.”

“Some years ago, I was lucky enough [to be] invited to a gathering of great and good people: artists and scientists, writers and discoverers of things. And I felt that at any moment they would realise that I didn’t qualify to be there, among these people who had really done things. On my second or third night there [...] I started talking to a very nice, polite, elderly gentleman about several things, including our shared first name. And then he pointed to the hall of people, and said words to the effect of, "I just look at all these people, and I think, what the heck am I doing here? They’ve made amazing things. I just went where I was sent." And I said, "Yes. But you were the first man on the moon. I think that counts for something." And I felt a bit better. Because if Neil Armstrong felt like an imposter, maybe everyone did.” 

“One of the joys of comics has always been the knowledge that it was, in many ways, untouched ground. It was virgin territory. When I was working on Sandman, I felt a lot of the time that I was actually picking up a machete and heading out into the jungle. I got to write in places and do things that nobody had ever done before.”

“Always worth it to have tried, even if you fail, even if you fall like a meteor forever. Better to have flamed in the darkness, to have inspired others, to have lived, than to have sat in the darkness, cursing the people who borrowed, but did not return, your candle.” 

“There's never been a true war that wasn't fought between two sets of people who were certain they were in the right. The really dangerous people believe they are doing whatever they are doing solely and only because it is without question the right thing to do.”

“Stories are like spiders, with all they long legs, and stories are like spiderwebs, which man gets himself all tangled up in but which look pretty when you see them under a leaf in the morning dew, and in the elegant way that they connect to one another, each to each.”

“Hearts may break, but hearts are the toughest of muscles, able to pump for a lifetime, seventy times a minute, and scarcely falter along the way. Even dreams, the most delicate and intangible of things, can prove remarkably difficult to kill.”

“Go and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here.”

“I don’t want whatever I want. Nobody does. Not really. What kind of fun would it be if I just got everything I ever wanted just like that, and it didn’t mean anything? What then?”

“My first piece of advice is this: Ignore all advice. In my experience, most interesting art gets made by people who don’t know the rules and have no idea that certain things simply aren’t done: so they do them. Transgress. Break things. Have too much fun.”

“When we hold each other, in the darkness, it doesn’t make the darkness go away. The bad things are still out there. The nightmares still walking. When we hold each other we feel not safe, but better. ‘It’s all right’ we whisper, "I’m here, I love you.”' and we lie: "I’ll never leave you." For just a moment or two the darkness doesn’t seem so bad.”

“Do the stuff that only you can do. The urge, starting out, is to copy. And that’s not a bad thing. Most of us only find our own voices after we’ve sounded like a lot of other people. But the one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can. The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you’re walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself. That’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.”

"One of the most magical things about Douglas's writing [...] was that you knew the person writing was on your side, that he was not laughing at you, but that you were in on the joke."

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