“The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.” – Terry Pratchett
I’ve been meaning to write about Terry Pratchett since I learned of his untimely death a couple months back, just before what would have been his 67th birthday. Pratchett is another one of those writers I admire for starting in journalism and then applying that journalistic writing toward things he did as a creative writer. It’s always encouraging to know that the possibility for that to happen does exist.
“Journalism makes you think fast,” Pratchett noted. “You have to speak to people in all walks of life. Especially when you do local journalism.” Truer words were never spoken. “Local” journalism is a remarkable way to learn how to study people and the world around you as well as how to set and keep deadlines. And as most journalists know, you need to knock out that first draft of a story so that you have a foundation from which to build your final piece. Perfect training for creative writing.
Pratchett, who was knighted for his contributions to the literary world, wrote 40 books in his “Discworld” series and has a 41st set for later this year. His work, like that of J.R.R. Martin and J.K. Rowling, is always anxiously anticipated by legions of loyal readers, who have purchased nearly 100 million copies of his books. He holds the record as the U.K.’s best-selling author of the 1990s and in the 2000s he was second only to Rowling.
In 2008 he developed early onset Alzheimer’s, but rather than languish in self-pity he wrote feverishly to finish as many of the things he had planned as possible. He also collaborated with the BBC to create two programs documenting his struggles with Alzheimer's – and then donated huge amounts of his royalties toward researching the disease and helping its victims.
“It is often said that before you die your life passes before your eyes,” this wise and benevolent author wrote. “It is, in fact, true. It’s called living.”