Terry Pratchett is dead.
This doesn’t seem real. Pratchett’s books have been there for me for my entire life, and it doesn’t seem possible that no more will be coming. I don’t even remember when I read my first Discworld book. I remember that it was The Color of Magic, and that I was burning my way through the fantasy and sci-fi section of the local library–I was in middle school, I think?–and this world, these characters, this beautiful way of writing, got their hooks deep into my mind and soul. His work has so much style, so much goddamn humanity, and now I’m crying at work as I write this.
Give me a second here.
I tried to copy that style, at first. This was the best writing I’d seen, and I wanted to write, so it was natural, you know? To try and write like Terry. Like this British genius I never had the opportunity to meet, and now never will. It came out awful and goofy, a child trying to copy the work of a master, because that’s what it was, but it set me down this path of loving literature and wanting to create more of it. In a very real sense, I would not be the person I am today if I had not picked up a couple Discworld novels in the library one forgotten day in my childhood.
Fuck. Terry Pratchett is dead, and all I can talk about is myself.
That’s the thing, I guess, the crux of this whole pain I’m feeling right now. Terry Pratchett was great, was knighted, not just because his books were good (though they will forever stand high in the pantheon of literature), but because they affected people. He wrote fantasy that shaped my life, how I perceive the world, and I know I’m not the only one to feel that way. That long line of books on my shelf is a better monument than any stone memorial could hope to be. It is an indelible mark on my life, and the result of decades of love and effort by a writer who I can only hope to be even half as good as. When I read one of his books it felt like he understood me, and the world and all the people in it, and we could get each other through it side by side if we only tried. They were funny and tragic and fun and true, and the worst of them outshines the best I have ever created.
I don’t know if I’m making any sense right now. Seeing this news come up in my Facebook feed felt like a brick hitting me in the stomach, and it hasn’t gotten any better since. I actually spent a moment checking to see if it was an Onion article that I’d seen or some other lying thing, though I know they don’t write articles like this, because my brain refused to believe it. Terry Pratchett has died, age 66, of the Alzheimer’s we all knew would kill him eventually.
Eventually is the word there, I guess. You never expect eventually to actually make an appearance. Maybe it was more obvious to those who were close to him, maybe it’s less of a shock to people who aren’t some American kid an ocean and a lifetime away from the man, but I can only speak to how sudden it was to me, and how fucked up I am right now.
God. I can’t even think straight.
Sir Terry Pratchett, you never knew me, but I knew you through your work. You left the world far better than you found it, but I can’t help but wish you could have stuck around to enjoy it for longer. I’m sorry I never got to meet you. I’d say I’m sorry you’ll never know how much you meant to me, but you did, you knew how much your writing meant to all your fans, everyone who met you at conventions and told you stories about how you’d changed and shaped their lives. Still, I wish I’d gotten a chance to thank you in person. Thank you for your work, your love of wordplay and story and narrative and human characters. Thank you for giving me magic, for so long. A sorcerer in your world is a wizard squared, a source of magic, and I can think of no better description for you yourself. Your work stands immortal, but the source is gone, and the world is lesser without it. I never thought I’d have to say goodbye to you, never really thought this background voice to my life would fall silent, but here it is. All that is left is what you have done and the people you left us as.
I’m completely gutted here. Empty and hollow, a drum when the drummer has left the building. No idea what else to say.
Terry Pratchett. Thank you for everything.