By this time tomorrow, I will have had the chance to meet one of my inspirations, Neil Gaiman. I know I won’t have the time, or chance to put this into words when I’m at the reading, so I just wanted to put them here as an open letter.
I know you probably get hundreds of letters, emails, tweets, and smoke signals on a daily basis thanking you for your writing, and I wanted to add in my voice. Your writing has been a source of constant inspiration. Your imagination and way with words always re-excites me when I feel like I’ve lost my way, or want to give up. I actually credit you with my still writing today.
When I was 16, I had a dear friend that I wrote with. We were in the literary club at our high school and read together a lot. Words were what our friendship was built on; we’d share poetry, stories, and ideas with each other, and try to pick out exactly how you became a writer. We both loved the sky, the constellations, and were fascinated by space.
One night I went out to look at the stars, count the galaxies and see how many constollations I could recognize. Everything was cold, clear, and perfect, and I remember thinking that words are just like stars: if you put them in the right shape, they create meanings even in the dark.
While I was out counting stars on that spring night, she put a gun to her head and pulled the trigger. My world collapsed into a single dark point. I couldn’t think, couldn’t write, couldn’t speak, couldn’t do anything. I only could form three letters making up one word that echoed in my head over and over: Why?
If words hadn’t been able to save her, what was the point of them at all? I lost my love of words; I threw it away. I couldn’t imagine the thought of writing, of words, of trying to create something when it hadn’t saved anything. Despite amazing support from friends and family, I struggled through that year.
And that was when one new teacher introduced me to your work, and set me down with American Gods.
Your world weaved around me, and helped me see the language of words in the dark again. Your stories showed me that words do matter, that there is something to the rhythm and patterns of how letters crash together, and that a story can make you feel alive when you were starting to doubt it yourself.
As soon as I finished American Gods, I picked up a pencil and got back to writing for me, and for her. I wrote, and I wrote, and I wrote. And since then I’ve never stopped. I have no plans on it.
So thank you. Thank you for the wit, and wonder, and imagination that you bring into the world, and the way that you put together words, and stories into something as natural as the sky in all its varying shades. Thank you for being the inspiration that keeps me (and countless others) moving forwards.