WOSSNAME -- NOVEMBER 2004 -- PART 4 OF 6
- WOSSNAME -- NOVEMBER 2004 -- PART 4 OF 6
4) THE MASTER SPEAKS...MASTERFULLY!
Terry Pratchett's Lecture at Melbourne University
11th November 2004
by Sarah McLaren, An Acolyte
He stood to one side of the lectern, the man who needs no
introduction, waiting until it was finished. My first thought,
as he doffed the trademark black hat, was: But he's so thin,
and small, and, well...normal! He was. Is. Physically, at least.
Most days, if I saw him in the street, I'd pass him without a
second glance. But then he moved into the spotlight, opened his
mouth, and started speaking.
It was a wonderful, peripatetic ramble, talking about giving talks,
about masquerades and misleading appearances , about writing and
reading, about *Going Postal* (fortunately for me, not much. I
haven't read it yet!), and next year's Discworld novel, (*Thud!*,
a sequel to *Night Watch*), about meeting sci-fi fans and being a
sci-fi fan. He told us about going to his first convention at age
16 and finding Arthur C. Clarke washing his hands in the Men's:
It was like being the lowest acolyte in the Vatican City, walking
into the lavatory and meeting St. Peter. Teenaged Terry was
amazed to find that these authors, towering idols in his mind,
were not just Authors (with a capital Auth) but normal human
beings. Then, of course, I thought, They're authors, and they're
people. I'm a person, ergo (well, not *ergo**, I wasn't anywhere
*near* that sophisticated at sixteen)  *I* can be an author.
He paused. There was a reason I failed Mathematics in high
As he moved gratefully, it seemed into the Question & Answer
section, he expanded on his approach to writing. When asked if he
knew what was going to happen to all characters ahead of time, he
cheerfully replied, No! I make it up as I go along. He
hastened to assure that, despite all that, he still knows what
he's doing. When I write my Draft Zero, I scramble into the
plot, build the whole thing up. Then I chip away everything
unimportant. I sculpt plots.
Another question was about his approach to the bad days in writing.
On the bad days, I work harder. I've discovered there's no such
thing as writer's block. There's writing everything wrong and not
knowing why. There's writing yourself into a corner. There's
wanting, not to write, but *to have written*. On the bad days, I
actually write better, because I work harder.
One on-the-ball audience member asked why the character of William
de Worde had a mention in the first *Discworld Companion*, years
before *The Truth* was published. "Ah. Every now and then I do
that deliberately. This was one of those few times. The overly
educated amongst you might have spotted another one in two of the
noble families of Ankh-Morpork: the Selachiis, whose name
translates from dog-Latin into Sharks, and the Venturiis, which
translates roughly as Jets. This was deliberate, and one day
there'll be a Discworld *Romeo & Juliet* “ which I always
thought was meant to be a comedy." A ripple of appreciative
laughter. "Possible with Nanny Ogg." Louder laughter and some
Touching back on earlier references to Terry's use of
autobiography in the Discworld , an audience member asked if
he had used himself in any of his other characters. "Every single
one. Although I wish there were a bit more of Sam Vimes in me,
he's a much better man than I am." He also gave some gently
humorous advice on getting published, a process he likened to
giving away homing pigeons. "First, let punctuation, spelling and
grammar into your life. Read widely *outside* the genre you're
working in. Read for interest, and that will become your research.
Listen to the noise in your brain, the random thought or idea;
write it down, play with it, don't be afraid of it being bad.
*Work* at writing all the time, make it a habit, think about what
you write, think about how other writers achieve what they do.
And be very, very patient."
As the applause died away, and the audience stood, gearing itself
for Terry's second signing of the day, I was struck by the man's
modesty and generosity. Too many authors strut and preen, hiding
behind *Literature*. Terry Pratchett does not. Terry Pratchett is
an Author, capital Auth, of the highest calibre. And he's not
afraid of being a normal person.
 Like one in a dimly-lit hall in Wiltshire, where he suddenly
realised that Death was sitting in the fifth row. He was
marginally relieved to realise that it was, in fact, a fan with
too much time on his hands. The costume was *that* good.
 Yes, the man can actually speak in parentheses.
 In case anyone in Roundworld doesn't get the reference,
*Romeo and Juliet* was what the famous musical *West Side Story*
was based on. The warring gangs in W.S.S. were called the Sharks
and the Jets.
 William de Worde's attempt to interview a suicidal steeplejack
could be said to be one of the most striking of these instances
during Terry's period as a journalist, he actually tried to do
5) LETTERS FROM OUR READERS
A GOOD OLD CLASSICAL CHAUVINIST
To the Editor:
I just been watching yet another of the BBC's costume dramas that
they do so well, this one titled "Gunpowder, Treason and Plot".
It started with Mary, Queen of Scots, and her return to Scotland.
And there it came, that famous declaration that Pterry turned into a
title and a book. Mary and her ladies are in a room, and John Knox
bursts in and declaims "God save us from the Monstrous Regiment
I went searching and found the original treatise by Knox here:-
STEVEN SEES DR. WHITEFACE
To the Editor:
Recently I got a *wonderful* drawing of Dr Whiteface from the Fool's
Guild, as drawn by Paul Kidby.
And then, two days ago, I met him in person. Minus his "face".
Kidby's drawing is of a middle-age to slightly elderly man, in white
face paint, with an enormous crude smile drawn on. Underneath the
paint, he is frowning. Not just a little frown, but his mouth looks
like an upside down U. If you try to frown, chances are your lips will
pout. In Kidby's drawing, there was no sign of pouting on this fellow:
hard, thin lips all the way, pressed together tightly.
This is a seriously miserable grump.
And somebody looking *exactly* like this, minus the actual white
paint and painted on smile, got on the train the other day.
-- Steven D'Aprano
(Ed: Woo hoo?)
AUSTRALIAN DW CON IN 2006
To the Editor:
I paid my money to sponsor Troll Bridge and consequently
receive the newsletter. Daniel from Snowgum Films was
at the signing, and mentioned :
"Present in the line, I discovered an army of organisers for the
Australian Discworld Convention in 2006 (www.ausdwcon.org), small
children, the odd witches hat, and a large set of novelty boobs (don't ask)"
BU strikes again :)
If you did not get all 4 parts, write: jschaum111@...
End of Part 4, says my computer -- continued on Part 5 of 6
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