WHO WROTE WHAT BIT?
Ah. Another tricky one. As the official Keeper of the One True Copy, Terry physically wrote more of Draft 1 than Neil. But if 2,000 words are written down after a lot of excited shouting, it’s a moot point whose words they are. And, in any case, as a matter of honor both of them rewrote and footnoted the other guy’s stuff, and both can write passably in the other guy’s style. The Agnes Nutter scenes and the kids mostly originated with Terry, the Four Horsemen and anything with maggots started with Neil. Neil had the most influence on the opening, Terry on the ending. Apart from that, they just shouted excitedly a lot.
The point they both realised the text had wandered into its own world was in the basement of the old Gollancz books, where they’d got together to proofread the final copy, and Neil congratulated Terry on a line that Terry knew he hadn’t written, and Neil was certain that he hadn’t written either. They both privately suspect that at some point the book had started to generate text on its own, but neither of them will actually admit this publicly for fear of being thought odd.
”—Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (2006 edition) - appendix by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman (via horriblybookish)
“Most writers were the kids who easily, almost automatically, got A’s in English class. (There are exceptions, but they often also seem to be exceptions to the general writerly habit of putting off writing as long as possible.) At an early age, when grammar school teachers were struggling to inculcate the lesson that effort was the main key to success in school, these future scribblers gave the obvious lie to this assertion. Where others read haltingly, they were plowing two grades ahead in the reading workbooks. These are the kids who turned in a completed YA novel for their fifth-grade project. It isn’t that they never failed, but at a very early age, they didn’t have to fail much; their natural talents kept them at the head of the class.
This teaches a very bad, very false lesson: that success in work mostly depends on natural talent. Unfortunately, when you are a professional writer, you are competing with all the other kids who were at the top of their English classes. Your stuff may not—indeed, probably won’t—be the best anymore.
If you’ve spent most of your life cruising ahead on natural ability, doing what came easily and quickly, every word you write becomes a test of just how much ability you have, every article a referendum on how good a writer you are. As long as you have not written that article, that speech, that novel, it could still be good. Before you take to the keys, you are Proust and Oscar Wilde and George Orwell all rolled up into one delicious package. By the time you’re finished, you’re more like one of those 1940’s pulp hacks who strung hundred-page paragraphs together with semicolons because it was too much effort to figure out where the sentence should end.”—
“As Arnold points out, there is an otherwise inexplicable shift in direction in the Piccadilly line passing east out of South Kensington. “In fact,” she writes, “the tunnel curves between Knightsbridge and South Kensington stations because it was impossible to drill through the mass of skeletal remains buried in Hyde Park.” I will admit that I think she means “between Knightsbridge and Hyde Park Corner”—although there is apparently a “small plague pit dating from around 1664” beneath Knightsbridge Green—but I will defer to Arnold’s research.
But to put that another way, the ground was so solidly packed with the interlocked skeletons of 17th-century victims of the Great Plague that the Tube’s 19th-century excavation teams couldn’t even hack their way through them all. The Tube thus had to swerve to the side along a subterranean detour in order to avoid this huge congested knot of skulls, ribs, legs, and arms tangled in the soil—an artificial geology made of people, caught in the throat of greater London.”—