“There are times in life when people must know when not to let go. Balloons are designed to teach small children this” TP
Sorry Terry, if you don’t mind me calling you that, but this is not THE END. You were a lover of words, a social commitator, and in some ways a sociologist and ethonographer. That is, an observer of the lives around you. And we had a good laugh about it all, didn’t we. Weatherwax not so much.
When I heard that death had popped by, to say hello to the great TP, my first thought was a reflection on my own insignificance. Generations of people past and present have asked one another the same question
Where were you when… ?
So a few, or hopefully a many, will be asking today and tomorrow, until we join you sitting by Cronin in a Discworld twist of Valhalla, where were you when Terry Pratchett died? Only they’ve kind of got it wrong. Let me explain why.
When I heard you had died (for the record you are my favourite author) I was at Writing Across Boundaries, Durham University. If I may ask you to suspend disbelief for a moment, I was at a seminar for using creative writing skills in academic writing.
The seminar began quoting your words “If you don’t write your own story someone will write you into one of theirs” or something like that, which I think came from A Slip of the Keyboard (someone please correct me).
I started this blog with a picture of your last series of tweets. Writing ‘The End’, which is of course the ending to many stories, is also a beginning. As Bill Herbert said, in those final moments you wrote yourself back into story.
While I can’t do the breadth of your writing justive, my response as a writer looks a little like this.
The end, types Terry.
QUESTION MARK, says Death.
I imagine the rest of the story goes a little like this…
‘The end,’ said Professor, Sir, Daft Old Fart OBE, Blackboard Monitor, Terry, man-of-words, Pratchett. He wasn’t about to take this lying down. So he sat up. ‘But is it the end?’ Pratchett asked.
Death’s blue eyes stared into the back of one’s skull as they always did. He had learnt a lot from watching humans. From those who knew they were being watched and those that did not. He was about to impart his wisdom on this subject when Pratchett added, ‘Isn’t the fact that we are here having this conversation proof that I live on?’
TO BE CONTINUED DOT DOT DOT.
‘Exactly,’ said Pratchett . ‘This is the first dot. If this is the first dot what’s next?’
Death had come across writer’s before. He knew better than to argue with them.
RAGE AGAINST THE DYING OF THE LIGHT.
‘I was raging against being a carrot,’ Pratchett tapped his head. ‘Is the old noggin fixed? Will I still have days when I put my trousers on the wrong way, lower them to the ground and shuffle round?’
CARROTS ARE REAL BUT NOT, THAT I AM AWARE, SENTIENT. YOUR CLOTHES ARE METAPHORICAL.
‘What about cups of tea and mushrooms, are they real?’
THEY ARE REAL.
‘Are they real here?’
THEY ARE REAL EVERYWHERE.
‘If I run are you oblidged to chase me?’
IT MAKES NO DIFFERENCE.
‘I’m happy with my final words. I wanted to end on a high note rather than a squish. Squishes are, as a rule, hard to control. Do you tweet?’
‘Now, as I reflect on it, this not being the end, is it possible to go back and tweak my last words a bit?’
‘Fair enough. I’m ready.’
There was a moment of silence as Death adjusted his robe. A little human guesture to make people feel more comfortable , which inevitably showed quite a lot of rib cage and the endless space between them.
WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE?
‘My tweet. I’d like to change it to, to be continued.’
DOT DOT DOT.
‘It’s a more optimistic outlook.’
Death was used to looking at the world through a realistic framework. Not that there was one truth, or that everyone narrated their lives like a story. Life was complicated and messy. The only prediciatble part being that he got to meet everyone at some point. Some people’s endings were more pointy than others. Like wizard’s hats.
‘If the story doesn’t end, at The End, where does it end? The page, the reader, the death of the reader. Obviously not,’ Pratchett guestured to the body he accepted was his whether he liked it or not.
‘May be the story really ends when words are lost back into the void where everything came from. Just because it’s black doesn’t mean it’s empty, a non-colour. It is a colour. One that has form and shape, like writing on a page. When the ink runs out, when we run out and cease being, apart from the echos perhaps it all gets erased and starts again.
‘Say if all that is left of the human race, on the physical realm, is a capsule with recordings, songs, maths and pictures; accompanied by a helpful map and a place to park. If another life form follows these antique references back to Earth and discovers we’ve uprooted to Mars or died off, then is that the end?’
I DO NOT KNOW.
‘I don’t know either,’ said Pratchett.
They walked together in silence.
There were plenty of things to quieten that silence.
Neither of them chose to break the moment.
A man in jeans, and his favourite hat, walked with a skeleton in a robe. It sounds like the start of a bad joke. Slowly they start to become transparent; begin to look like moving outlines; skethces on a canvas; and then ___ .
Except, not entirely
[please share links to your own Pratchett stories below]