An open letter to the late, great Sir Terry Pratchett from Nicola’s anxiety

Dear Sir Terry,

It has been many years since you were in Nicola’s life. You see, we were at odds for a long time. When she first picked up a copy of your book Soul Music, she was only thirteen, and I had a firm grip on her by then. She couldn’t be alone with her own thoughts, because I made them too dark and frightening for her. Some days I was really winning – she felt sick and struggled to focus on anything else other than the ideas I fed to her. And make no mistake, they were vivid and horrific. And yet…

She picked up your books, on days when she could barely stand her own thoughts, and she smiled. Sometimes she laughed. And in the midst of all the shit I made her wade through, she even started writing her own stories, drawing on your humorous style. You were winning, Sir Terry. 

But I didn’t give up so easily. You are no stranger to anthropomorphic personifications, given that you wrote Death into your books, who quickly became one of Nicola’s favourite characters, so you will understand that this anthropomorphic personification couldn’t just “let it go”, as the kids these days say.  So I used a different tactic, and this one worked SO. WELL. (See, like Death, I too can talk in all caps.) 

I convinced her to go “full-fundy”. I persuaded her that reading stories about magic, wizards, witches and spells was not what a good Christian should be doing. I convinced her that God didn’t like Discworld, nor did he want her reading it. In short, I turned to scrupulosity. And it worked. At age fifteen, having devoured many of your works, and having found joy and beauty in them, she willingly put them down. And she never picked them up again. 

Until tonight.

She’s sad she didn’t take the chance to write to you when you were alive, to thank you for being there for her through your books, and for making her laugh when little else could. But she would like you to know that 16 years after she put down your books, tonight she borrowed one. And she doesn’t know if she’ll like it the way she did over half her lifetime ago, but she does this in honour of you – and quite honestly, to give me the middle finger as well. 

I held her off for 16 years, Sir Terry, but in the end, it turns out your writing was stronger. And she was stronger too. So she’s back. 

I concede this round to you. 

From Nicola’s anxiety


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