I would not call myself a die-hard Pratchett fan. I know there are many who are far more deserving of the title, who have read each book 100 times over and can quote just about everything the man ever wrote. I don’t think ‘fan’ is the word for me now. Though it was to begin with.
When I first read The Colour of Magic as a teenager, I was hooked. Pratchett-obsessed over night. I read everything of his that I could get my hands on. His work was just so good, and unlike anything I had ever read before. I didn’t even know books could be written like that. His work informed everything I did, the way I viewed the world, and even some of the choices I made that have fundamentally altered the way my life has gone.
More than that, I started to write. Writing like I had never written before. Thousands and thousands of words, numerous stories. Stories that started out, mostly, in an attempt to replicate Terry’s own unique style (something that, of course, can’t be done), but that ultimately evolved and grew into my own creative voice. A voice that I use to write films, to construct image style for my art, and a voice that I hear coming out of my mouth every day since.
I realised today how long it’s been since I read anything Terry wrote. I’ve lost track of what his latest published work is, and the details of many of his books have started to fade into the background of my memory. So no, ‘fan’ is not the word. I don’t know what the word is.
Because his work has been such a fundamental part of my development as a human being that whether or not I am a fan is no longer relevant. His work is a core element in the construction of my foundation as a person, the building blocks upon which I grew. What is the word for that? Mentor? Inspiration? Possibly. He is this and much more to many thousands of people worldwide.
Through his work I have forged many friendships with people who have all expressed a similar inability to find the right words to sum up how utterly devastating the loss of Terry Pratchett is. I get the impression that none of us are just ‘fans’ really.
I’ve never been so affected by the death of someone I’ve never met before. It’s difficult to properly explain why, but I guess anyone else who has been shaped and inspired by his work will also understand what I mean when I say that I feel a bit empty today.
For anyone who doesn’t understand, I would recommend either The Colour of Magic, or The Wee Free Men as a good place to start.