There’s a blank page in front of me. It’s white, pristine, and untouched, and I wonder. What can I put on it that would do him justice. What can I say that would not tarnish his name, would not cheapen his memory in the minds of my readers.
As soon as I start to put something down, as soon as I start to write, I realise the page is done. Tarnished forever. Whatever worlds I may build, whatever stories I may tell, the page will never be white again, will never be pure and pristine again, and a part of me is sad.
But then, the stories he told, the worlds he made, they all started on paper too. For every world created, a blank page had to be sacrificed. And, well, I’ve already begun.
Because of him, I’ve seen planets and asteroids, visited suns and moons and distant stars. I’ve walked with him through waves of living grass, I’ve watched the stars come out over planets of eternal sunshine. I’ve lived the life of a peasant and a prince, a King and a Captain. I’ve wondered, I’ve dreamed, I’ve lived, and I’ve wandered. I’ve lived so many different lives, in so many different places, and I know that I am who I am because of him.
I can see him now, sitting just over there, his back to me as he watches the sun set slowly in the sky. He’s bent, old, and I cannot see his face. But his movements; reaching for his glass, reaching for his pen, his pipe, his hat. In his movements I see care, I see wisdom, thought and imagination. I see worlds.
I see worlds that will never be seen again, because he is gone. I see worlds that are gone forever, and I realise.
Those worlds are only gone if we let them go.
He too, must have seen the same. Years ago, he too must have seen stories and worlds vanish in an instant, and he too must have thought:
I can’t let that happen. I can see them, I can see them vanishing as he dies, and I won’t let them go, not without a fight.
And so can I. I can see them, I can see the worlds vanishing. But I won’t let them go, I won’t let them go quietly into the night, won’t let them fade without even a chance at light.
I will visit the worlds he could not. I will jump in my ship, I will visit the places he can no longer go. I will write, I will catalogue, I will dream. I will imagine.
This is not a story, not a tale. There is no twist, no ending, no beginning even. It is a manifesto. A pledge that, for every author, for every storyteller, for every mentor we lose, I will try. We will all try. We will try to fill the gap of their passing.
We never will, for every one of him we lose is unique. But we will try. And someday, someday when we are fading out, when our stories are slipping away silently into the night, someone will look at us and say,
I can’t let that happen. I won’t let the stories go, not without a fight.
And the old man, sitting on his chair, looking longingly towards the setting sun. Who is he?
For me he is David Eddings. He is Leonard Nimoy, and Isaac Asimov, Robert Jordan and Terry Pratchett. He’s everyone who’s gone on before me.
Who is he for you?