Quotations by Gaiman, Neil


And I wanted someone who is absolutely and utterly powerful. It’s interesting because at the time, John Byrne had just taken over Superman and had announced that he was making Superman less powerful because he had become too powerful and you couldn’t write interesting stories about people that were too powerful. That started me thinking, “Well, no, actually you can, because what makes a person interesting or not interesting isn’t how powerful they are, but who they are.”

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
“Alan Moore got to be the Beatles. … I was Gerry and the Pacemakers,” Interview, Los Angeles Times (2 Dec 2008)

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Added on 14-Dec-11 | Last updated 2-May-12
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How do you finish them? You finish them. There’s no magic answer, I’m afraid. This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it’s done. It’s that easy, and that hard.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
“Pens, Rules, Finishing Things, and Why Stephin Merritt is not Grouchy,” blog entry (2 May 2004)
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On finishing stories.
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      One word after another.
      That’s the only way that novels get written and, short of elves coming in the night and turning your jumbled notes into Chapter Nine, it’s the only way to do it.
      So keep on keeping on. Write another word and then another.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
“Pep Talk from Neil Gaiman,” National Novel Writing Month (2011)
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There’s nothing like studying the bestseller lists of bygone years for teaching an author humility. You’ve heard of the ones that got filmed, normally. Mostly you realize that today’s bestsellers are tomorrow’s forgotten things.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
“This Much I Know,” The Guardian (5 Aug 2017)
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Added on 28-Aug-17 | Last updated 28-Aug-17
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I miss what I had in terms of the speed of memory access. If I needed a word or a fact it was already at my fingertips and now it’s like an arthritic and elderly gentleman has to sit up and go down many, many flights of stairs very slowly and go and rummage in dusty drawers. Eventually he will return four days later, normally at about 1:30 in the morning, and I will sit up and go, “Oh yes! ‘Crepuscular.’ That was the word I was looking for.”

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
“This Much I Know,” The Guardian (5 Aug 2017)
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Added on 11-Sep-17 | Last updated 11-Sep-17
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Ever since I had dinner with Lou Reed I’ve tried to avoid meeting the people who would make me feel starstruck. It was a great dinner but by the end of it Lou Reed was no longer my hero, and I don’t have many heroes. I resolutely avoided meeting David Bowie, which became harder when I became friends with Duncan Jones, his son, and then got even harder when I moved to Woodstock and he lived around the corner. But I love the fact that the Bowie that I have is the Bowie in my head: a strange, evolving, absolutely fictional Bowie who became my hero when I was 11.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
“This Much I Know,” The Guardian (5 Aug 2017)
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I’m convinced if I keep going one day I will write something decent. On very bad days I will observe that I must have written good things in the past, which means that I’ve lost it. But normally I just assume that I don’t have it. The gulf between the thing I set out to make in my head and the sad, lumpy thing that emerges into reality is huge and distant and I just wish that I could get them closer.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
“This Much I Know,” The Guardian (5 Aug 2017)
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You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we’re doing it.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
“Where Do You Get Your Ideas?” (1997)

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I think Hell is something you carry around with you, not somewhere you go.

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Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
(Attributed)
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Later, he wondered if he could have changed things, if that gesture would have done any good, if it could have averted any of the harm that was to come. He told himself it wouldn’t. He knew it wouldn’t. But still, afterward, he wished that, just for a moment on that slow flight home, he had touched Wednesday’s hand.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
American Gods, ch. 10 (2001)
Added on 8-Sep-07 | Last updated 15-Dec-09
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I can believe things that are true and I can believe things that aren’t true and I can believe things where nobody knows if they’re true or not. I can believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny and Marilyn Monroe and the Beatles and Elvis and Mister Ed. Listen — I believe that people are perfectible, that knowledge is infinite, that the world is run by secret banking cartels and is visited by aliens on a regular basis, nice ones who look like wrinkledy lemurs and bad ones who mutilate cattle and want our water and our women. I believe that the future sucks and I believe that the future rocks and I believe that one day White Buffalo Woman is going to come back and kick everyone’s ass. I believe that all men are just overgrown boys with deep problems communicating and that the decline of good sex in America is coincident with the decline in drive-in movie theaters from state to state. I believe that all politicians are unprincipled crooks and I still believe that they are better than the alternative. I believe that California is going to sink into the sea when the Big One comes, while Florida is going to dissolve into madness and alligators and toxic waste. I believe that antibacterial soap is destroying our resistance to dirt and disease so that one day we’ll all be wiped out by the common cold like the Martians in War of The Worlds. I believe that the greatest poets of the last century were Edith Sitwell and Don Marquis, that jade is dried dragon sperm, and that thousands of years ago in a former life I was a one-armed Siberian shaman. I believe that mankind’s destiny lies in the stars. I believe that candy really did taste better when I was a kid, that it’s aerodynamically impossible for a bumblebee to fly, that light is a wave and a particle, that there’s a cat in a box somewhere who’s alive and dead at the same time (although if they don’t ever open the box to feed it it’ll eventually just be two different kinds of dead), and that there are stars in the universe billions of years older than the universe itself. I believe in a personal god who cares about me and worries and oversees everything I do. I believe in an impersonal god who set the universe in motion and went off to hang with her girlfriends and doesn’t even know that I’m alive. I believe in an empty and godless universe of causal chaos, background noise, and sheer blind luck. I believe that anyone who says that sex is overrated just hasn’t done it properly. I believe that anyone who claims to know what’s going on will lie about the little things too. I believe in absolute honesty and sensible social lies too. I believe in a woman’s right to choose, a baby’s right to live, that while all human life is sacred there’s nothing wrong with the death penalty if you can trust the legal system implicitly, and that no one but a moron would ever trust the legal system. I believe that life is a game, that life is a cruel joke, and that life is what happens when you’re alive and that you might as well lie back and enjoy it.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
American Gods, ch. 13 [Sam] (2001)
Added on 22-Jun-09 | Last updated 22-Jun-09
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“You’re fucked up, Mister. But you’re cool.”
“I believe that’s what they call the human condition,” said Shadow.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
American Gods, ch. 7 (2001)
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Every hour wounds. The last one kills.

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Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
American Gods, epigraph (2001)
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Gaiman notes this as an "old saying." It is frequently found on sun dials or other clocks, sometimes in Latin. Variations:
  • "All hours wound; the last one kills."
  • "All the hours wound you, the last one kills."
  • "They all wound; the last one kills."
  • "Vulnerant omnes, ultima necat."
  • "Omnes vulnerant. Postuma necat."
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Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Coraline (2002)

Paraphrase by Gaiman of G. K. Chesterton. Gaiman included it as an epigraph, attributed to Chesterton, but without looking up the exact wording.
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Crowley thumped the wheel. Everything had been going so well, he’d had it really under his thumb these few centuries. That’s how it goes, you think you’re on top of the world, and suddenly they spring Armageddon on you.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Good Omens “Eleven Years Ago” [with Terry Pratchett] (1990)
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Three very crowded hours went past. They involved quite a lot of phone calls, telexes, and faxes. Twenty-seven people were got out of bed in quick succession and they got another fifty-three out of bed, because if there is one thing a man wants to know when he’s woken up in a panic at 4:00 A.M., it’s that he’s not alone.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Good Omens [with Terry Pratchett] (1990)
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He didn’t say “That’s weird.” He wouldn’t have said “That’s weird” if a flock of sheep had cycled past playing violins. It wasn’t the sort of thing a responsible engineer said.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Good Omens [with Terry Pratchett] (1990)
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So computers are tools of the Devil? thought Newt. He had no problem believing it. Computers had to be the tools of somebody, and all he knew for certain was that it definitely wasn’t him.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Good Omens [with Terry Pratchett] (1990)
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Now, as Crowley would be the first to protest, most demons weren’t deep down evil. In the great cosmic game they felt they occupied the same position as tax inspectors — doing an unpopular job, maybe, but essential to the overall operation of the whole thing. If it came to that, some angels weren’t paragons of virtue; Crowley had met one or two who, when it came to righteously smiting the ungodly, smote a good deal harder than was strictly necessary. On the whole, everyone had a job to do, and just did it. And on the other hand, you got people like Ligur and Hastur, who took such a dark delight in unpleasantness you might even have mistaken them for human.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Good Omens [with Terry Pratchett] (1990)
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    “So you’re not one hundred percent clear on this?” said Aziraphale.
    “It’s not given to us to understand the ineffable Plan,” said the Metatron, “but of course the Great Plan –”
    “But the Great Plan can only be a tiny part of the overall ineffability,” said Crowley. “You can’t be certain that what’s happening right now isn’t exactly right, from an ineffable point of view.”
    “It izz written!” bellowed Beelzebub.
    “But it might be written differently somewhere else,” said Crowley. “Where you can’t read it.”
    “In bigger letters,” said Aziraphale.
    “Underlined,” Crowley added.
    “Twice,” suggested Aziraphale.
    “Perhaps this isn’t just a test of the world,” said Crowley. “It might be a test of you people, too. Hmm?”
    “God does not play games with His loyal servants,” said the Metatron, but in a worried tone of voice.
    “Whooo-eee,” said Crowley. “Where have you been?”

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Good Omens [with Terry Pratchett] (1990)
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She was beautiful, but she was beautiful in the way a forest fire was beautiful: something to be admired from a distance, not up close.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Good Omens [with Terry Pratchett] (1990)
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It may help to understand human affairs to be clear that most of the great triumphs and tragedies of history are caused, not by people being fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, but by people being fundamentally people.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Good Omens, “Eleven Years Ago” [with Terry Pratchett] (1990)
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He’d been an angel once. He hadn’t meant to Fall. He’d just hung around with the wrong people.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Good Omens, “Eleven Years Ago” [with Terry Pratchett] (1990)
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Most of the members of the convent were old-fashoned Satanists, like their parents and grandparents before them. They’d been brought up to it and weren’t, when you got right down to it, particularly evil. Human beings mostly aren’t. They just get carried away by new ideas, like dressing up in jackboots and shooting people, or dressing up in white sheets and lynching people, or dressing up in tie-dye jeans and playing guitars at people. Offer people a new creed with a costume and their hearts and minds will follow.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Good Omens, “Eleven Years Ago” [with Terry Pratchett] (1990)
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They had once — at Adam’s instigation — tried a health food diet for a while one afternoon. Their verdict was that you could live very well on healthy food provided you had a big cooked lunch beforehand.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Good Omens, “Thursday” [with Terry Pratchett] (1990)
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Most books on witchcraft will tell you that witches work naked. This is because most books on witchcraft are written by men.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Good Omens, “Wednesday” [with Terry Pratchett] (1990)
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I’ve never been convinced that there’s any meaningful division between high culture and pop culture — I think there’s good stuff out there, and there’s stuff that’s not much good, and that Sturgeon’s Law applies to high culture and popular culture: 90% of it will be crap, which means that 10% of it will be amazing.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Neil Gaiman’s Journal (2 Apr 2009)

Full text.

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I think any argument that states that comics (or radio or film or a musical or the novel or insert your favourite medium here…) by its nature trivialises its subject matter is foolish, shortsighted, dim, lazy and wrong. You can say, “This is a bad comic.” You can’t say, “This is bad because it’s a comic.”

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Neil Gaiman’s Journal (21 Feb 2008)

Entry
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I think the most important thing I learned from Stephen King I learned as a teenager, reading King’s book of essays on horror and on writing, Danse Macabre. In there he points out that if you just write a page a day, just 300 words, at the end of a year you’d have a novel. It was immensely reassuring – suddenly something huge and impossible became strangely easy. As an adult, it’s how I’ve written books I haven’t had the time to write, like my children’s novel Coraline.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Neil Gaiman’s Journal (blog) (28 Apr 2012)

Contributor's note to an interview with Stephen King for the Sunday Times Magazine. Full text.
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You ask, What makes it worth defending? and the only answer I can give is this: Freedom to write, freedom to read, freedom to own material that you believe is worth defending means you’re going to have to stand up for stuff you don’t believe is worth defending, even stuff you find actively distasteful, because laws are big blunt instruments that do not differentiate between what you like and what you don’t, because prosecutors are humans and bear grudges and fight for re-election, because one person’s obscenity is another person’s art. Because if you don’t stand up for the stuff you don’t like, when they come for the stuff you do like, you’ve already lost.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Neil Gaiman’s Journal, “Why defend freedom of icky speech?” (1 Dec 2008 )
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The Law is a blunt instrument. It’s not a scalpel. It’s a club. If there is something you consider indefensible, and there is something you consider defensible, and the same laws can take them both out, you are going to find yourself defending the indefensible.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Neil Gaiman’s Journal, “Why defend freedom of icky speech?” (1 Dec 2008)
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I loved coming to the US in 1992, mostly because I loved the idea that freedom of speech was paramount. I still do. With all its faults, the US has Freedom of Speech. The First Amendment states that you can’t be arrested for saying things the government doesn’t like. You can say what you like, write what you like, and know that the remedy to someone saying or writing or showing something that offends you is not to read it, or to speak out against it. I loved that I could read and make my own mind up about something.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Neil Gaiman’s Journal, “Why defend freedom of icky speech?” (1 Dec 2008)
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Richard had noted that events were cowards: they didn’t occur singly, but instead they would run in packs and leap out at him all at once.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Neverwhere, ch. 1 (1996)
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And Islington said nothing, but it smiled, in the manner of a cat who has not only devoured the cream and the canary, but also the chicken you were saving for dinner, and the crème brûlée that would have been dessert.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Neverwhere, ch. 17 (1996)
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“I am impressed. What a brain, Mister Vandemar. Keen and incisive isn’t the half of it. Some of us are so sharp,” and he leaned in closer to Richard, went up on tiptoes into Richard’s face, “we could just cut ourselves.”

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Neverwhere, ch. 2 [Mr. Croup] (1996)
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Richard did not believe in angels. He never had believed in angels. He was damned if he was going to start now. Still, it was much easier not to believe in something when it was not actually looking directly at you, and saying your name.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Neverwhere, ch. 9 (1996)
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The old woman took the umbrella, gratefully, and smiled her thanks. “You’ve a good heart,” she told him. “Sometimes that’s enough to see you safe wherever you go.” Then she shook her head. “But mostly, it’s not.”

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Neverwhere (1996)
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Richard found himself, on otherwise sensible weekends, accompanying her to places like the National Gallery and the Tate Gallery, where he learned that walking around museums too long hurts your feet, that the great art treasures of the world all blur into each other after a while, and that it is almost beyond the human capacity for belief to accept how much museum cafeterias will brazenly charge for a slice of cake and a cup of tea.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Neverwhere (1996)
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There was an old telephone in the corner of the room, an antique, two-part telephone, unused in the hospital since the 1920s, made of wood and Bakelite. Mr. Croup picked up the earpiece, which was on a long, cloth-wrapped cord, and spoke into the mouthpiece, which was attached to the base. “Croup and Vandemar,” he said, smoothly, “the Old Firm. Obstacles obliterated, nuisances eradicated, bothersome limbs removed and tutelary dentistry.”

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Neverwhere (1996)
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Richard looked at the woman in leather. “Is there anything, really, to be scared of?”
“Only the night on the bridge,” she said.
“The kind in armor?”
“The kind that comes when day is over.”

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Neverwhere (1996)
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Richard was not dead. He was sitting in the dark, on a ledge, on the side of a storm drain, wondering what to do, wondering how much further out of his league he could possibly get. His life so far, he decided, had prepared him perfectly for a job in Securities, for shopping at the supermarket, for watching soccer on the television on the weekends, for turning up the thermostat if he got cold. It had magnificently failed to prepare him for a life as an un-person on the roofs and in the sewers of London, for a life in the cold and the wet and the dark.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Neverwhere (1996)
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Then he smiled, like a cat who had just been entrusted with the keys to a home for wayward but plump canaries.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Neverwhere (1996)
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“What,” asked Mr. Croup, “do you want?”
“What,” asked the marquis de Carabas, a little more rhetorically, “does anyone want?”
“Dead things,” suggested Mr. Vandemar. “Extra teeth.”

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Neverwhere (1996)
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The three of them were walking, with extreme care, along the bank of an underground river. The bank was slippery, a narrow path along dark rock and sharp masonry. Richard watched with respect as the gray water rushed and tumbled, within arm’s reach. This was not the kind of river you fell into and got out of again; it was the other kind.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Neverwhere (1996)
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All Bette’s stories have happy endings. That’s because she knows where to stop. She’s realized the real problem with stories — if you keep them going long enough, they always end in death.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
The Sandman, Vol. 1, Preludes and Nocturnes, “24 Hours” (#6) (1989)
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It’s astonishing how much trouble one can get oneself into, if one works at it. And astonishing how much trouble one can get oneself out of, if one simply assumes that everything will, somehow or other, work out for the best.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
The Sandman, Vol. 10, The Wake, “Chapter 3, In Which We Wake” [Destruction] (#72) (1995)
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Well, my own fine words notwithstanding, life is no play. We meet people once, and never see them again. There is no shape to events, no point at which we turn to the audience for their praise. No time at which we step behind the stage, to see the actors changing their wigs, and painting their faces, and muttering their lines.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
The Sandman, Vol. 10, The Wake, “The Tempest” [Shakespeare] (#75) (1996)
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“And then she woke up.” I suppose there are worse endings.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
The Sandman, Vol. 2, The Doll’s House, “Lost Hearts” [Rose Walker] (#16) (1990)
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Little one, I would like to see anyone — prophet, king or God — persuade a thousand cats to do anything at the same time.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
The Sandman, Vol. 3, Dream Country, “A Dream of a Thousand Cats” [Cynical Cat] (#18) (1990)
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It is a fool’s prerogative to utter truths that no one else will speak.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
The Sandman, Vol. 3, Dream Country, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” [Dream] (#19) (1990)

Perhaps because the story includes William Shakespeare as a character and is named after Shakespeare's play (which is performed in the story), this line has been misattributed to Shakespeare himself.
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Things need not have happened to be true. Tales and dreams are the shadow-truths that will endure when mere facts are dust and ashes, and forgotten.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
The Sandman, Vol. 3, Dream Country, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” [Dream] (#19) (1990)
Added on 5-Jan-10 | Last updated 5-Jan-10
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When the first living thing existed, I was there, waiting. When the last living thing dies, my job is finished. I’ll put the chairs on tables, turn out the lights and lock the universe behind me when I leave.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
The Sandman, Vol. 3, Dream Country, “Façade” [Death] (#20) (1990)
Added on 11-May-10 | Last updated 11-May-10
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Never a possession, always the possessor, with skin as pale as smoke, and eyes tawny and sharp as yellow wine: Desire is everything you have ever wanted. Whoever you are. Whatever you are. Everything.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
The Sandman, Vol. 4, Season of Mists, Prologue (#21) (1991)
Added on 15-Dec-09 | Last updated 15-Dec-09
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“I must confess, I have always wondered what lay beyond life, my dear.”
“Yeah, everybody wonders. And sooner or later everybody gets to find out.”

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
The Sandman, Vol. 6, Fables and Reflections, “Distant Mirrors – Three Septembers and a January” [Norton I and Death] (#31) (1991)
Added on 9-Mar-10 | Last updated 9-Mar-10
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It is sometimes a mistake to climb, it is always a mistake never even to make the attempt.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
The Sandman, Vol. 6, Fables and Reflections, “Fear of Falling” [Dream] (Vertigo Preview) (1992)
Added on 9-Feb-10 | Last updated 9-Feb-10
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“But I did okay, didn’t I? I mean I got, what, fifteen thousand years. That’s pretty good, isn’t it? I lived a pretty long time.”

“You lived what anybody gets, Bernie. You got a lifetime. No more. No less.”

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
The Sandman, Vol. 7, Brief Lives, “Chapter 3” [Bernie Capax and Death] (#43) (1992)
Added on 16-Feb-10 | Last updated 16-Feb-10
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“Was that the truth, Cluracan?”

“All of it except the sword-fight with the palace guard, which I threw in to add verisimilitude, excitement, and local color to an otherwise bald and insipid narrative.”

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
The Sandman, Vol. 8, World’s End, “Cluracan’s Tale” [Innkeeper and Cluracan] (#52) (1993)
Added on 16-Mar-10 | Last updated 16-Mar-10
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Can’t say I’ve ever been too fond of beginnings, myself. Messy little things. Give me a good ending any time. You know where you are with an ending.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
The Sandman, Vol. 9, The Kindly Ones, “Chapter 1” [Eldest Fate] (#57) (1994)
Added on 23-Feb-10 | Last updated 23-Feb-10
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I had the hubris originally to regard myself as a collaborator, as a co-author. Very rapidly I found myself reduced to the status of character, following something of a disagreement in the fundamental direction of the Creation.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
The Sandman, Vol. 9, The Kindly Ones, “Chapter 13” [Lucifer] (#69) (1995)
Added on 6-Apr-10 | Last updated 6-Apr-10
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It has always been the prerogative of children and half-wits to point out that the emperor has no clothes. But the half-wit remains a half-wit, and the emperor remains an emperor.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
The Sandman, Vol. 9, The Kindly Ones, “Chapter 4” [Dream] (#60) (1994)
Added on 2-Mar-10 | Last updated 19-Apr-18
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I didn’t say it was my fault. I said it was my responsibility. I know the difference.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
The Sandman, Vol. 9, The Kindly Ones, “Chapter 4” [Rose Walker] (#60) (1994)
Added on 23-Mar-10 | Last updated 23-Mar-10
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Go and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here. Make. Good. Art.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Commencement address, University of the Arts, Philadelphia (2012)
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Added on 2-Jan-14 | Last updated 2-Jan-14
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Sometimes life is hard. Things go wrong — and in life, and in love, and in business, and in friendship, and in health, and in all the other ways in which life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do: Make good art. I’m serious. Husband runs off with a politician? Make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by a mutated boa constrictor? Make good art. IRS on your trail? Make good art. Cat exploded? Make good art. Someone on the internet thinks what you’re doing is stupid, or evil, or it’s all been done before? Make good art.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Commencement address, University of the Arts, Philadelphia (2012)
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Added on 16-Apr-14 | Last updated 16-Apr-14
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May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Comment (31 Dec 2001)
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Added on 12-Feb-18 | Last updated 12-Feb-18
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Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
In “Ten Rules for Writing Fiction,” The Guardian (20 Feb 2010)
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Added on 7-Aug-14 | Last updated 7-Aug-14
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Remember that, sooner or later, before it ever reaches perfection, you will have to let it go and move on and start to write the next thing. Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
In “Ten Rules for Writing Fiction,” The Guardian (20 Feb 2010)
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Added on 14-Aug-14 | Last updated 14-Aug-14
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The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
In “Ten Rules for Writing Fiction,” The Guardian (20 Feb 2010)
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Added on 21-Aug-14 | Last updated 21-Aug-14
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Make mistakes. Make great mistakes, make wonderful mistakes, make glorious mistakes. Better to make a hundred mistakes than to stare at a blank piece of paper too scared to do anything wrong, too scared to do anything.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Speech, Harvey Awards (2004)
Added on 27-Jun-04 | Last updated 27-Jun-04
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Some years ago, I was lucky enough 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 was standing at the back of the hall, while a musical entertainment happened, and 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. Maybe there weren’t any grown-ups, only people who had worked hard and also got lucky and were slightly out of their depth, all of us doing the best job we could, which is all we can really hope for.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Tumblr post (12 May 2017)
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Added on 6-Nov-18 | Last updated 6-Nov-18
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How important are free speech and satire? Important enough that people will murder others to silence the kind of speech they don’t like.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Twitter (7 Jan 2014)
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Regarding the mass murder at the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris.
Added on 13-Jan-15 | Last updated 13-Jan-15
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