Sir Terry Pratchett, author of the phenomenally successful Discworld novels, as well as a number of first class children’s books, died yesterday aged only 66.
I was first introduced to his writing nearly twenty years ago when a friend recommended the Discworld book, Reaper Man.
His first novel, The Carpet People, was published in 1971 and he went on to write more than 70 books in the next 43 years. That is pretty extraordinary by anyone’s standards.
In an interview in The Internet Writing Journal in 2000, Terry Pratchett had this to say about writing:
“Everyone finds their own way of doing things. I certainly don’t sit down and plan a book out before I write it. There’s a phrase I use called “The Valley Full of Clouds.” Writing a novel is as if you are going off on a journey across a valley. The valley is full of mist, but you can see the top of a tree here and the top of another tree over there. And with any luck you can see the other side of the valley. But you cannot see down into the mist. Nevertheless, you head for the first tree. At this stage in the book, I know a little about how I want to start. I know some of the things that I want to do on the way. I think I know how I want it to end. This is enough. The thing now is to get as much down as possible. If necessary, I will write the ending fairly early on in the process. Now that ending may not turn out to be the real ending by the time that I have finished. But I will write down now what I think the conclusion of the book is going to be. It’s all a technique, not to get over writer’s block, but to get 15,000 or 20,000 words of text under my belt. When you’ve got that text down, then you can work on it. Then you start giving yourself ideas.”
I’ve read quite a lot of advice about writing, much of it from accomplished authors, but Terry Pratchett’s attitude particularly inspires and enthuses me.
Dedicating your life to fulfilling and enjoyable work (which, ideally, produces a nice income) is one of the things that makes life worth living. Terry Pratchett loved writing, and people loved reading what he wrote. It was the perfect scenario.