The Discworld author, Sir Terry Pratchett has died. I’m very sad about this – surprisingly sad.
Don’t get me wrong – I find death can be a very sad occasion but it is a necessary one and one that is a unique experience to none of us. I don’t know why I’m so saddened by this person’s death. I didn’t know him. I’ve never so much as met him in passing. I didn’t follow him particularly. I knew little about his life. My daily routine won’t be affected by the fact that he’s not around any more.
I do like his writing though. I did wonder if I’m just being selfish and sad because there will be no more Discworld books for me to read. The truth is that’s part of it. It was nice to know there could always be more and it is sad to know that now there will not be, although that had been off the cards for quite a while now.
Pratchett’s writings ushered me into adolescence and manhood and I still maintain that of all the fictional characters I’ve read, Terry’s collections of witches, trolls, wizards, werewolves, anthropomorphical entities, deities, and other creatures are the most human I’ve ever read. They are fantastical creatures flawed, half the time, in such boring ways that they just feel so real.
Growing up, I tried my hand at writing. In fact, I devoted huge swathes of my time to it. Most nights I sat up way past my bedtime hunched over my little Psion palmtop computer, under the duvet, typing away furtively by the light of its screen.
I have pages and paged of unfinished novels, short stories, and filling several notebooks with ideas for plots, characters, and scenarios from my teenaged mind and he was the kick. He was a spur and a goal post each time. He was very often consciously in my mind as I wrote and reading back through some of it, this is embarrassingly obvious.
His books shaped the way I think in some ways and are certainly present to some degree in the things I find funny. The Coggingtons may well not exist without seeds dropping from Terry's imagination and implanting and germinating within my own.
But I haven’t yet gotten round to reading half the books he has written so I’ve a wealth of reading to do before I need to worry about there being no more for me to read.
Maybe it’s because it had been reassuring to know the mind that gave life to this wonderful collection of people, fictional though they were, was still ticking over and giving them fresh breath.
But more than that, I think it just felt nice to know that mind was out there; one that seemed to understand what it was to be human so well, and was able to continually synthesise it into heartbreakingly hilarious prose. It felt like each new book might shed more light on life.
Terry just seemed to get it.
And now I’m not sure there’s anyone out there who does.
I'm sure he was bluffing it just like the rest of us, but it felt like he knew. Either way, he wrote about it well.
I’m feeling inspired to start huddling under my duvet with my laptop at night again, to see if I can’t at least have a bash at figuring it out.