Terry Pratchett: 1948 – 2015

Several days ago, the literary world lost a beloved man. However, like most people with titles (which is a great many of us), he was not merely a man. He was an author, a dreamer, a myth maker, a builder of entire worlds. Builders of world are usually a serious lot: creating trees and dirt and people and entire nations only to fiercely judge them and cast lightning on the poor man who makes the mistake of forsaking them. However, Sir Terry Pratchet showed us that it’s not all serious business. He liked to have fun when building his worlds, adding humor to a literary genre that tried to stay true to the tragedies of life no matter how many made-up creatures or unlikely scenarios there are.

I first came upon the Disc World series when I was taking a summer course at the University of Brighton. There was a book sale going on outside of their library and I bought a copy of “The Colour of Magic” (and you could tell that it was the British edition since color was spelled with a “U”) for about five pounds. I knew I would enjoy the book when I read the humorous “About the Author” blurb. When I read the book, I was introduced to Rincewind the flawed wizard and his magical sentient chest with working legs. I was also introduced to the people and odd happenings of Ankh-Morpork. Of course, I was no different than anyone else who read the book since they were ALL introduced to this. It was the first in a very long series after all.

Pratchett may not have lived quite to the old age that we wanted him to, but he was privileged to be given many years to hone his skill and create his characters. He has inspired beginning authors far and wide even before the age of the internet. Like Walt Disney and Charles Schultz, his creations have stuck with him and have embedded themselves in popular culture to the point where they mind as well be real to us. This is especially telling in the beautiful posthumous tweets that were posted on his Twitter:

And so, Terry now lives in the same place where his fictional characters reside: in our hearts and minds. Thank you, Sir Terry Pratchett. You may be gone but you have left definitely left your mark. I have only read one book in the Disc World series but I will make it a goal to read more and uncover your world of absurdities and impossibilities, one that will continue on for as long as we’d like it to.

What is an Author, Exactly?

This article was written by a person who believes that only authors who have published with a professional/vanity press should be worthy of the title: http://goodereader.com/blog/commentary/self-publishers-should-not-be-called-authors

I will admit, Michael Kowzlowski has a point when he says that there is a difference between a singer and a professional singer. One makes money from his/her talent while the other doesn’t. That’s a good enough argument. Also, I’ve taken a graduate class entitled “Digital Publishing” and was confused when I saw that it was just as much about blog writing as it was about e-book publishing.

Indeed, the difference between a published author and an amateur fanfiction writer is roughly equal to the difference between a wine conneseur and a wino. But really, must we be so elitist when it comes to the term “author?” The ideal definition being suggested in this article is someone who has sold a certain amount of books from a “big” press. An author, to me, is one who takes his/her craft seriously and goes through a painstaking process to get their work out to the world no matter which format they do it with. To deny a title like that to someone who self-publishes, even if he/she edits and re-edits and hires an honest-to-god editer, would certainly be unfair.

This doesn’t bare repeating, but let’s face it, it does: Most authors start out small and unnoticed. A long time ago, when I used to play on Neopets (God I feel old), people on the message board would complain about newbies as if they never started out as one. Chances are, those professional authors started out at their college or town newspaper. Heck, some of them probably don’t even have writing degrees, but I supposed I should digress before I start sounding elitist myself. Some of these publishers, like internet entertainers on YouTube, get noticed by executives and receive fame off the internet as well.

Most of all, indie publishers are basically indie businesses, which I support wholeheartedly. Every summer, I go to my local farmers’ market to meet the growers of veggies and the makers of sweets themselves and to taste food that has been grown/made within 200 miles of where I live. This doesn’t mean that I don’t still go to the supermarket to get other food since bananas and avocados don’t grow around where I live. However, it is nice to know that there are other choices that are close by. The internet is not just a marketplace of ideas (and a marketplace of nonsense to boot) but also a marketplace in general. Even if it is true that anyone can upload a manuscript to Amazon these days, they will still get feedback from others and re-upload a revised edition. Hell, you can do that with indie publishers as well.