Audible was having a sale recently, which led me to look for the Neil Gaiman titles, discovering several of the “collections” that have been put together over the years. One of which, Telling Tales, struck me when I saw the content listing. The lead piece: “A Writer’s Prayer.” The liner notes indicate it “was written shortly before I began American Gods. I knew the first two verses when I began it, and the conclusion was there when I reached it. This is why I love writing.”
I think this, along with his “Words of Fire,” should be somewhere at any writer’s desk.
A Writer’s Prayer
Oh Lord, let me not be one of those who writes too much;
who spreads himself too thinly with his words,
diluting all the things he has to say,
like butter spread too thinly over toast,
or watered milk in some worn-out hotel;
but let me write the things I have to say,
and then be silent, ’til I need to speak.
Oh Lord, let me not be one of those who writes too little;
a decade-man between each tale, or more,
where every word accrues significance
and dread replaces joy upon the page.
Perfectionists like chasing the horizon;
You kept perfection, gave the rest to us,
so let me earn the wisdom to move on.
But over and above those two mad spectres of parsimony and profligacy,
Lord, let me be brave, and let me, while I craft my tales, be wise:
let me say true things in a voice that is true,
and, with the truth in mind, let me write lies.