Terry Pratchett is…
well, it’s difficult to explain what Terry Pratchett is to me.
Let’s start with the facts: He was a prolific writer, the creator of the legendary Discworld books. He also famously wrote Good Omens with Neil Gaimen and a slew of other books, essays, and musings. He was a terrific satirist, a compelling character creator, a stunning world builder, and by all accounts a devoted friend and a loving husband and father.
Unfortunately, some of the more personal facts of his life do not pertain to me, specifically. I never had the great fortune to meet him. Nor was I ever given the chance to engage in a single conversation, collaboration, or even discourse regarding humdrum daily activities.
But he is incredibly important to me. To my worldview. To my understanding of right and wrong, of sinners and saints, of light and dark, of the world around me and how I move through it.
He shaped my comprehension of, and my belief in, the REALLY important and intangible things. Of truth and hope. Of patriotism and diplomacy. Of love and compassion. Of law and justice. Of magic and power. He did this not just by creating characters that embodied these intangibles, but that did so HONESTLY.
You knew who the witches were, and the coppers. You knew the wizards and the royals. You knew the dwarves and the trolls and the Patrician and the Librarian. You knew so many characters that populated a world that you knew, and felt, so vividly.
And six years ago today he died, leaving the world better for have been here and us better for having read his tremendous characters and seen through their eyes and walked in their shoes. Or sandals. Or paws…
For me, the hardest part of his passing, after feeling his absence, was realizing there would be no more stories. No more stories of the Watch: no more Carrot, Angua, Cheery, Detritus, Colon – not even Nobby. No more stories of the people of Ankh Morpork, Quirm, Pseudopolis, Uberwald, Klatch, or even the kingdom of Lancre. No more tales of Albert, or Susan or her grandfather, Death.
No more witches of Lancre or the Chalk. Oh, what I’d give to have another tale of Nanny and Magrat and Agnes (and Perdita), of Tiffany and Horace and the feegles.
And Granny Weatherwax.
Or Sam Vimes.
Those two disparate characters, and their stories, well, their loss is keenly felt – two gaping holes in my heart. Granny and Vimes. Vimes and Granny. I feel as if I know them. I mean really, truly know them. And like when people you know leave this world, you miss them every day. Maybe you wonder what they would think when a situation arises. Or maybe you just think of them. Or maybe you just miss them when you smell lilacs in bloom.
I keenly feel their loss when I need courage and strength to fight injustice (and right now I feel I need both every damn day).
But isn’t that the greatest gift? How characters written for a world completely unlike our own can embody EVERYTHING we need to see in our world? And in ourselves?
Because of the writings of Terry Pratchett I have met and truly connected with some amazing people all over the world through international groups and online communities. I have learned how to make friends, and more importantly how to be a friend. I have come to understand how important we are in this world and how important it is that we understand others are important too. I have learned how to see myself in a myriad of ways. I have learned to listen to myself. And to believe in me.
So thank you Terry Pratchett for all of your writings, but especially the Discworld. Thank you for all that you taught me and for the stories and characters you leave behind on this roundworld.
“Do you not know that a man is not dead while his name is still spoken?”
― Terry Pratchett, Going Postal
GNU Terry Pratchett.
Mind how you go.