Terry Pratchett

13 Mar

When I was twelve years old I made my first attempt at reading Lord of the Rings. After a few too many chapter-long songs and a vague sense of disappointment, I decided to set it down in search of something else that would satisfy my desire to explore any world that I thought might be more interesting than this one.

Eventually I would give Lord of the Rings another chance, reading all three cover to cover several times, but before I was able to appreciate Middle-Earth I found somewhere else, the Discworld. I fell in love almost immediately.

I picked up The Hogfather from my school library because of the fantastic illustration that adorned it and proved to myself that sometimes judging a book by its cover is perfectly acceptable. For the next few years I read nothing but Pratchett. Every trip to the bookstore was brief because I knew exactly where ‘P’ was in the Fantasy section and picking up any of his books that I hadn’t read yet was going to be a safe bet. By the time I was sixteen I knew more about the Discworld’s geography (from the Rim to the Hub and to the other side of the Rim, both turnwise and widdershins), its politics (Vetinari, need I say more?) and its rich history (from the birth of some of its oldest gods to the invention of the printing press, moving pictures and the gonne) than I did of Earth’s.

Pratchett taught me how to read and after a while I started loving and appreciating the works of other authors. Tolkien was next, then Douglas Adams and the rest is a blur. But I could always jump back into the Discworld (and this is important) at any point along its complex chronology that I wanted.

I won’t claim to have read all of his books, some of them have eluded me (In fact, I’ve yet to read anything that takes place outside the Discworld) and as I’ve gotten older my desire to explore other worlds has become a much greater distraction, but that’s okay. It will always be there.

Since I started reading whatever it was that got me hooked on words (my mum insists that it was Spot the Dog when I was two years old) I’ve known that it was okay to get lost in these incredible worlds that people have created and although I’d been writing my own short stories long before I’d discovered him, Terry Pratchett taught me that its okay to get lost in your own world sometimes. Of all the books I’ve read, set on our world or on others, I’ve never come across another writer who was so obviously completely and utterly in love with the world and characters that they had created. The Discworld didn’t just exist and stagnate. It breathed. It lived and it grew. Every book that he wrote added something to the world without diminishing anything else. The magic that he wrote about evolved alongside the characters, even its technology advanced and changed the mechanics of the next book in the series. This is just one of the many reasons that he was such a brilliant writer.

When I heard the news that he had died I was shocked, even though I knew he had been battling Alzheimer’s disease for so long. I was so confused that I had to stop what I was doing and run outside for a cigarette to calm my nerves and attempt to gather myself. This was unfortunate as I was currently serving customers in the café I work in. But never mind. They’ll live, he won’t.

As I was reading about his death I read a quote from my favourite Pratchett book, one of the greatest pieces of fiction I have ever read, Reaper Man. I felt the tears come on almost immediately:

“No one is finally dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away, until the clock wound up winds down, until the wine she made has finished its ferment, until the crop they planted is harvested. The span of someone’s life is only the core of their actual existence.”

I sat in our office while I thought about what the words meant (thank you, Mick, for reminding me of them) and I realised that although that world won’t grow anymore, I’ll still have it to run back to when this one gets too difficult.

All I wanted to do in that moment was read that book. Unfortunately, and obviously, I didn’t have it with me to bring me comfort. I started to write instead. I’ve always written for myself, but always with the hope that someone else might appreciate it someday. I think that’s fine. I think most works of fiction are probably written that way, even the great ones. But these are the first words I will ever show anyone with absolutely no fear of criticism, because they’ve already served their purpose for me. Even if I keep writing them, they’ll keep doing just that; filling a tiny part of the hole that he has left in my life.

Thanks, Terry.

Gavin.

My little homage

Adrift

8 Nov

Getting lost at sea is easy when all you have to work with is a rowboat and a general idea of where you want to go. I feel like it’s been a long time since I’ve done anything even remotely productive. I feel that way because it has been. Telling yourself you’ll start tomorrow is much easier than actually sitting down and doing the work you need to do, especially when the only time frame you’re working on is the one you’ve set for yourself. I’m my own harshest critic but I’m also absolutely abysmal at telling myself ‘Enough is enough. Get your shit done, you fiend.’

I find these points in my life where I feel like I’ve lost the path are punctuated by periods of diluted enlightenment.Something will rub the sleep out of my eyes for a week or two, sometimes longer, and the spark will burn for a while. It’s taken me until now to realise that it’s not about using these periods as best you can, it’s about extending them as far as they can stretch. Well, I’ve just entered one of these little paradigm shifts, a particularly powerful one at that, and I intend to milk it for everything it’s worth.

It’s far too easy to fall into the Work. Sleep. Repeat. pattern that being a dependent adult naturally pulls you towards. Having a full-time job is tiring. It is monotonous. It is (in most cases) the antithesis of a good time and it grinds you down until the one thing you look forward to is some time off to do nothing at all. This trap terrified me for years and I fell right into it. ‘Tomorrow is another day and right now I want to go out and drink. Progress can wait.’ And it will wait. It has no other choice.

Anyway, as I said ‘it’s about extending them as far as they can stretch’ and I’m not entirely sure how to go about doing that. Still, I have a few ideas. I’m going to force myself to write more, even if I’m not feeling it (in direct contradiction to part of one of my previous posts, but hey, we’re all wrong sometimes), I’m going to use my free time more wisely and I have a goal now. It has nothing to do with writing, directly. But that’s for me to think about and shape for a while.

 

Gavin

Only God Forgives

5 Aug

I went to see Only God Forgives yesterday, the second collaboration between Nicolas Winding Refn and Ryan Gosling. I loved Drive and when I found out that the two were working together on a new film set in Thailand I was extremely happy. And then I went to see the film. Continue reading

Organic Writing

1 Aug

I want to promote something I’ve been referring to as ‘organic writing’.  That term has probably already been coined  because, let’s face it, it’s not that clever. But I do feel that it is an appropriate name for what I want to talk about.

Reading around on various writing resources (among those Reddit’s r/writing) I’ve come across various threads, comments and blog posts (usually in the form of a terribly contrived top 10 list) dealing with things that “every writer should do” or “the key to writing as much as possible with the greatest quality”. I’m calling bullshit on all of them.

These lists and posts usually share a lot in common. Some of them are nothing but thinly veiled rewords of previous posts the creator has seen online and most of them don’t even bother with the inconvenience of disguising the fact that they are not original. The most common tips I see on these posts are the ones I loathe the most.

Continue reading

I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords.

21 May

Daft Punk certainly aren’t new, but Random Access Memories is. When I first heard that the album was coming out, I was far too excited. When ‘Get Lucky’ dropped, my erection tore through my trousers and I passed out in an equal amount of agony and shame. But it doesn’t matter. A new Daft Punk album is coming, I thought, and my mother can sew.

Continue reading

Air Travel: Merit or Malady?

11 May

My relationship with this blog is somewhat similar to that of a terrible marriage. I leave, I come back, I leave again and my brainwashed spouse is still there, waiting for my inevitable return and empty promises. But I’m back again. For good. I promise. Continue reading

Culture Night and The Failings of the Future

21 Sep

Technology has failed me twice tonight. I had this entire blog post typed out and was feeling rather proud of it and then, when I had the gall to try and add a picture, all of my beautiful words were stripped from the page leaving the cold, white glow of the empty box staring back at me, mocking me. The picture in question was one of Sheldon Cooper, a character in one of my most hated television shows ‘The Big Bang Theory’, of which I had a snide remark aimed at. I may still make this snide remark, sans picture, we’ll see what happens.

Continue reading