“DON’T THINK OF IT AS DYING, said Death. JUST THINK OF IT AS LEAVING EARLY TO AVOID THE RUSH.”
Art by Paul Kidby
I encountered The Color of Magic when I was 17, a college freshman enrolled in Creative Writing. It wasn’t my favorite book, but it did send me chuckling quite a few times. I wanted to read more, and luckily, there were a couple of tables for used books set up every month where I could get my fixes with my allowance.
I got through Carpe Jugulum, The Truth, Monstrous Regiment, and The Folklore of Discworld all in the same year. People started giving me Discworld books for my birthday and Christmas, and I even asked my mom to bring me back any Discworld book she could find while she traveled the US that year.
It was as if someone flicked switch on in my head.
Confession time: I became a journalist because I read somewhere that Neil Gaiman started out as such and he had met Terry Pratchett that way.
As of this month, I am no longer a journalist. I have met some very cool and inspiring people during my time as one, but I met no Terry Pratchett.
Should’ve known those kinds of things don’t happen twice. But I had hoped that one day, if I ever got myself to a con in the US or the UK, I’d still be able to meet him.
I came across a rare find in a very tiny bookstore in 2011: The Art of Discworld by Paul Kidby, and for cheap. I fell in love with how Mr. Kidby really brought Terry Pratchett’s characters to life–especially Death. Who could have thought the Grim Reaper could look so gentle and kind?
I emailed Mr. Kidby my enthusiasm. He actually wrote back and told me that I could expect more, perhaps another book in the future. Another book! Couldn’t wait.
There are three things about Sir Terry’s work: one, you cannot help but want more. Two, he inspires collaborators to do their absolute fucking best. Three, you, a fan, will want to make things, too.
I know I did. I wrote a short story in which I tried to mimic some of his comedic techniques. I still haven’t sold it, but it was one of the stories I submitted for my Clarion application. However indirectly, I have Terry Pratchett and his work to thank for my being at San Diego last year.
I let my godmother, the lady who taught me to read and write, borrow The Color of Magic. She taped a ‘thank you’ note to the cover and told me that it took her a while to understand why I said it was funny, but then she got it, eventually.
My godmother died suddenly a few months later. I never removed the note from the cover. Throughout her wake and in the months following, I either stared at the book or kept turned the image of it over and over in my head. I still stare at the book sometimes, note and all. It’s still not my favorite, but now, especially after March 12 (or 11 on the other side of the world), it’s really special.
Discworld books have their very own space on my beloved shelf. I’ll admit that I haven’t read maybe half of them, and I don’t even have everything. I stalled buying them a few years back. There’ll always be time to read them, I thought. There will always be a new Discworld book. I still have to look for space on my shelf.
Except, there won’t always be new books. I know that now. I knew that for quite some time, ever since I found out that Sir Terry had been using speech recognition software or dictating to his assistant in order to write new books.
But, despite the Alzheimer’s, he kept going and he lost none of his brilliance. It proves that you’re going to write no matter the hardship, if you want it enough.
We should’ve known he’d lose none of his brilliance, really. We–the world–were going to lose it, instead, and much too soon.
Farewell, Sir. I hope Death is as gentle and kind as you made him out to be. You will be sorely, sorely missed.