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A Slip Of The Keyboard

Collected Non-Fiction

Terry Pratchett

"I handed over the manuscript of my first book to a local small press publisher, just because I met him one day and he seemed a decent type. He liked it. I was totally unknown and he'd never published fiction before, so it didn't make much money. Nor did the next two. The fourth title was the first book in the Discworld series. It didn't exactly walk out of the shops but it crawled quite briskly and with every sign that it was determined to make it to its feet. Transworld hesitated, then published it in paperback. I hired my former publisher as my agent, and life became rather crowded."

I got really lucky. So I don't know too much about How To Be A Writer. So instead, I give you tips on how to become a professional boxer. A good diet is essential, as is a daily regime of exercise. pay attention to your footwork; it will often get you out of trouble. Go down to the gym every day. Take every opportunity to watch a good professional fight. In fact, watch as many bouts as you can, because you can even learn something from the boxers who get it wrong. Don't listen to what they say, watch what they do. And don't forget the diet and the exercise and the roadwork.

Got it? Well becoming a writer is basically exactly the same thing, except it isn't about boxing.

Discworld Conventions, where they drink like the rugby club and fight like the chess club.

"My name is Terry Pratchett. If this comes as a surprise to you, you still have a little time left in which to leave."

The 'Fred Factor'. Fred has been given a job and some tools and told he's got an hour to do it. Fred has to wire up three completely independent fail-safe systems and he does that except for one critical wire for each system that must go through the wall and into the control system. And Fred thinks "Why should I drill three holes when one will clearly do?" And so he runs all three wires through the wall right under the Acme Sharp-Edged Shelving System right where a very small forklift is moving stuff around and backing up a lot and good heavens, one day all three fail-safe systems fail at once, which is a tremendous surprise to everyone, even Fred.

Retired from work as PR for nuclear power station when started making enough money from Discworld books. "They gave me a lovely statue made of a kind of dull gray metal which I keep by my bed because it saves me having to switch the light on while I read."

So now he's wealthy, but horizontally wealthy. As opposed to the vertically wealthy, who go off and buy status symbols, because they think that's what the rich should do. But horizontally rich people just buy more of what they like, such as books.

LOTR is a "cult classic". We know what 'cult' means. It's a put-down word. It's used by the self-appointed guardians of public taste to dismiss anything that is liked by the wrong sort of people. It has associations with cool drinks in Jonestown. A British bookshop chain held a vote for favourite book. It was LOTR. The critics squawked. "Look we've been trying to tell you for years which books are good. And you won't listen. You keep reading all these books written by people who don't come to our parties and don't care what we think. It's rubbish and you must be stupid, stupid, stupid." And of course no-one listens. They go right on picking LOTR.

At a book signing where a woman reluctantly admitted her name was Galadriel. "Were you by any chance born in a cannabis plantation in Wales?" "It was a camper van in Cornwall, but you get the idea."

Evo was far more thrilling than Genesis. Who would not rather be a rising ape than a falling angel?

Biggest problem with his developing Alzheimers was getting his Y-fronts on the right way round. Got a bit upset about it for a while, because always a 50-50 chance of getting it wrong. Then figured it out. If went on wrong, just drop them to the floor, walk around them and approach them from the other side. Plus it's healthy exercise.

"In England, unlike in Ireland, where I gather you punch each other's lights out for fun and entertainment at both weddings and funerals, the govt does not like to hold a referendum. Because that would mean that stupid people, which is to say people who aren't politicians, would make decisions which are better left to stupid, and as we learn, dishonest politicians instead."

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