Last week I had the pleasure of briefly meeting Sir Terry Pratchett at Discworld Con, where he was the guest of honor. I was there to do a bit part in the opening ceremony, which I was happy to do as a long standing fan of Pratchett’s 30+ book Discworld series.
After galloping through my part (details unimportant), I settled down backstage to watch him address the audience. He is extremely sharp and quite funny, and while I listened to him I pondered the nature of fame. If there was a living author whose style I would love to adapt, it would be his. The puns, humor, characters, plots, and wit in his writing is something I can only aspire to. Yet even if I had the pleasure of some personal coaching with Terry, what could he really teach me? He writes as he does because of who he is, and the enormous work he has put into it. There’s no magic he could bestow upon me.
Yet, nonetheless, there was something exciting about listening to him in person.
It was when he mentioned one of his characters, Commander Vimes, during his talk that a lightbulb went off for me. Terry was speaking of an entirely fictional character as a real, flesh and blood person, and every person in that room knew exactly who he meant. The knew how Vimes spoke, his view on other species, his battle with booze, and even which book he reads to his son. Terry Pratchett made Commander Vimes, gave him life, and now millions of people knew who he was.
That’s what was so exciting to me. Seeing this God of Discworld and knowing that the creations and worlds I slave over, hunched in front of my computer, are things that can escape and live on their own. The great storytellers make whole worlds for us to lose ourselves in, like Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, or J.K. Rowling. I’m certainly not in that caliber, but just meeting him was a validation that all of these great worlds were created by normal people just like (or somewhat like) me. It was an incentive to keep on pushing forward in my own writing, and although Terry certainly has no recollection of our brief encounter, I thank him for it.
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