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Something Like a Star

Tonight, Oot brought me a penny he’d found on the floor.

“Look,” he said. “It’s burned.”

Say something to us we can learn By heart and when alone repeat. Say something! And it says, 'I burn.'

It wasn’t a bad guess, everything said. A good guess, but wrong. It’s corroded.

For half a moment I thought about correcting him on this, but I didn’t.

Looking back, I could come up with some excuse for *why* I didn’t correct him. I could claim that corrosion is sort of like a slow chemical burning. But that would be bullshittery. The truth was, at that moment, it didn’t feel right to correct my boy. So I didn’t. I went with my gut.

“Maybe it got too close to the sun,” Oot said.

This was another good guess. Though it was probably wrong as well.

What pleased me is that my decision to keep my mouth shut paid such an immediate dividend.

If I’d told my boy the truth right away, he would have nodded and said, “Oh of course!” Or “Oh, I see!” And he would have gained a tiny fact. Namely, that a coin that looks like this is corroded. (Something he could have parroted back to me. But that he wouldn’t have understood in any meaningful way.)

But that’s not what happened. Instead, left to himself. His curiosity was engaged. He asked a question of himself, “How could this have gotten burned?”

Then he came up with an answer: It might have gotten to close to the sun.

This isn’t a bad guess. He knows fire would have to be pretty hot to burn metal. A match isn’t going to do it. What’s hotter than that? The sun.

And here’s the thing. He’s wrong. But the process he’s going though is good. What he’s actually doing, asking questions and attempting to figure out the answers, it’s the roots of rationality. The process he’s undertaking is the core of all true philosophy and science.

He looked at the penny again. “Actually,” He says. “It looks like moss.”

It’s called “verdigris,” I thought. It’s like rust, but it happens on copper instead of iron. Also, interesting fact, it’s mildly poisonous.

I thought that, but I kept my mouth shut.

Why? Because I am occasionally wise.

Because this is not the internet.

(Comic loveliness from the brilliant XKCD, of course.)

Because when a child comes to you in the full flush of discovery, brimming with excitement, correcting them is not the proper thing to do.

Because the truth is, facts can be small, sad things.

But learning to ask questions and guess at answers? That is the beginning of true understanding. Those are the bones of the world.

*     *     *

I have news. I’ll be posting about it as soon as I have internet in my house again. Stay tuned.

This entry was posted in Oot, The Art of Letting Go, Warning: Mild Literary FafferyBy Pat90 Responses

90 Comments

  1. b23
    Posted April 6, 2014 at 8:29 PM | Permalink

    Yeah… And my son, who is in 3rd grade, has had the following two questions put in front of him this year:

    1. True or False: Ancient Greece was surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea.

    2. These explorers (accompanied by a picture of explorer-like dudes in a rowboat with oars, etc, cruising along some coastal waters complete with rocks and ripples and so forth) most likely traveled by:

    a: flag
    b: boat
    c: rock
    d: water

    And there you have it.

    (And if you’re curious, the correct, purchased, sanctioned answer to the first question is “true” (I know, I know) and to the second is “b” (I know, I know again).

    My son answered “false” and “d.” Anyway: carry on.

    • b23
      Posted April 6, 2014 at 8:51 PM | Permalink

      The bigger problem is that when, for example, I asked him why he marked the Ancient Greece question “false,” he assumed i was asking him “Why did you get this wrong?” Which is, of course, not the same question at all.

      Institutions embed themselves quickly.

    • JohnNevets
      Posted April 7, 2014 at 9:20 AM | Permalink

      I actually think your sons answer to the 2nd question could be considered correct. Even if they were in a boat, that boat was on water. Think about Paul Revere, 1 if by land 2 if by water ( I may have that reversed). It’s a valid way to say how someone traveled.

      • b23
        Posted April 7, 2014 at 1:49 PM | Permalink

        Yep — that’s what I’m saying. I think he was right in both cases; each question (and “correct” answer) is horrible in its own way. But, more than that, the fact that our culture views this kind of testing as a valuable part of education (when it is neither valuable nor education) is awful. And what makes it even worse is that when such tests are given, there’s rarely any opportunity for students to question why things were marked the way they were — much less why they had to take the test in the first place.

        • felinecannonball
          Posted April 7, 2014 at 2:04 PM | Permalink

          It took me years to unlearn a few things I “learned” in third grade. Perhaps figuring out early that teachers (and tests) are fallible will help out your son in the long term.

          Less dependence on trusting facts, more dependence on imagination and thinking.

    • ventusio
      Posted April 7, 2014 at 11:51 AM | Permalink

      I don’t think that your sons answer on A is completely incorrect. Ancient Greece wasn’t completely surrounded by water. Greece is still connected to the European continent…

      • GemmaVA
        Posted April 7, 2014 at 12:45 PM | Permalink

        Actually, technically Greece is surrounded by three seas, the Aegean, the Ionian, and the Mediterranean, so the official answer is wrong on that score as well.

        Also, what did they call those waters in ancient times, anyway? Could be wrong for anachronistic naming reasons. Just sayin’.

        • LoK-y-Yo
          Posted April 8, 2014 at 1:20 PM | Permalink

          Tecnically, all those seas are subdivisions of the Mediterranean sea.

    • Ellamenta
      Posted April 7, 2014 at 1:57 PM | Permalink

      How sad that your son’s answers were both correct, and the system did not allow for that. It is very early for him to need to learn that, as my then-seven-year-old daughter once opined, “Some things people say are not true.”

    • Talerick
      Posted April 8, 2014 at 3:37 AM | Permalink

      Actually for the first question depending on what era of ancient greece we’re talking about it could be said that: “ancient greece surrounded the mediterranean sea (and the black sea)” would be more accurate than the other way around. So honestly that first question is wrong in so many ways, I mean not even modern greece is completely surrounded by the sea since as someone pointed out they’re part of mainland europe as well. The only way they would be able to claim that the answer to that question is correct is by switching out ancient greece for modern cyprus.

      Oh and come to think of it the concept of ancient greece as one country is also quite interesting since for the most part of their history they were split up into city-states.

    • iabervon
      Posted April 8, 2014 at 12:27 PM | Permalink

      Based on (1), I think your son’s teachers are Cretans.

  2. petiepete
    Posted April 6, 2014 at 8:46 PM | Permalink

    This is brilliant. I am going to try and stay away from the internet next time I want to know a fact, and be more like your son. Maybe I’ll be more like him one day.

  3. wonds3
    Posted April 6, 2014 at 9:25 PM | Permalink

    “News.”
    I can’t be the only one who’s heart fluttered with hopeful joy at that one word. Excuse me a minute as I get my thoughts into line *terrifying sounds of an internal brawl*
    Ah, so how long is said internet supposed to be gone? I have cookies, if that might encourage it . . .

    • khil1
      Posted April 7, 2014 at 8:19 AM | Permalink

      I have this lovely picture, in my head, of you laying oreos out in a line from the internet provider to Pat’s house, like in the cartoons.

    • cynrtst
      Posted April 7, 2014 at 11:56 AM | Permalink

      I, too, had a moment of an arrested heart. I already received my shipping notice from Albino Dragon, so he can’t be talking about that and why should he care if my personal acquisition of swag will finally be complete. If it’s the book the squeeing must commence. Strip ourselves naked, rub ourselves with laurel, dance in the moonlight, pray to all the gods (with a little “g”) and make it so.

    • Soren
      Posted April 8, 2014 at 7:25 AM | Permalink

      Okay, in all trueness (does that word even exists?), he has said that *multiple* times. It’s something pretty normal with him. The first two times, you are waiting all fucking day to the blog, but then you become neutral to that.
      Althrough I would strip naked if the Auri book had a release date for United States and Spain.

  4. Posted April 6, 2014 at 9:56 PM | Permalink

    This post just made my night! Thanks Pat!

    We are all born scientists, and it’s a sad truth that too often our curiosity and yearning to find our own answers to questions is taken from us far too early.

  5. Sandhya
    Posted April 6, 2014 at 11:47 PM | Permalink

    “I have news. I’ll be posting about it as soon as I have internet in my house again. Stay tuned.” OMG. Can I call AT&T and help you get reconnected in any way??? Now I am going to be glued to your blog. Obviously I do not have a life.

  6. Holmelund
    Posted April 7, 2014 at 12:34 AM | Permalink

    Letting your children make mistakes from time t time is important.

    My daughter asked me this the other day:
    Why do those big chimneys make clouds daddy? (Big industrial chimney pouring out white fluffy polution)
    The perfect answer to at that moment was to tell her its a cloud-factory and that they make clouds so we can have rain for the fields.
    Then the little darling just looks at me and says Daddy I think you are teasing me, but I like when you tease.
    She didn’t inquire further so at some level she probably knows better but liked my story well enough for now.

  7. Lymond
    Posted April 7, 2014 at 12:59 AM | Permalink

    We give children tools: the alphabet, words, basic math. Then we give them the definites: laws of science, proofs, grammar. Eventually we show them what others have learned: theories, not much more than suggestions of possibilities that fit into what others have learned. Each time we provide them with a set of information, we narrow their vision. Pat was right. We know what the dark spot on the penny is, but having Oot consider other possibilities without knowing even the basics :this allows genius to come into being.

  8. Steve MC
    Posted April 7, 2014 at 1:29 AM | Permalink

    This makes me miss talks with my nephew, where I’d do much the same thing. It would allow me to enter his world for a while, which was much more magical than mine. Plus, I loved watching his face scrunch up in thought when I’d ask stuff like, “And how would a penny get near the sun?”

  9. Kthaeh
    Posted April 7, 2014 at 4:06 AM | Permalink

    Oot is a scientist! Love this story.

  10. tanis0
    Posted April 7, 2014 at 9:49 AM | Permalink

    I enjoyed the post. On a minor point though, it would probably be good to attribute the comic or to link back to it: https://xkcd.com/386/

    • Posted April 7, 2014 at 3:20 PM | Permalink

      I used the link he provides on his webpage for embedding, so I kinda assumed that that link would somehow direct folks directly back to his page. (But apparently not.)

      Also, I kinda assume that everyone knows who XKCD is. But yeah, thanks for the heads-up. I’ll add a link back to his page too for the folks that don’t know who he is…

      • ali rahemtulla
        Posted April 7, 2014 at 3:41 PM | Permalink

        You probably did, but you might have said “Oh, maybe it’s poisonous.” Or words to that effect. Perhaps more subtle. I’ll leave that to you, however, what with you being the word-smith and all. And me being random guy on the internet number 245035.

        P.s. That was an educated guess.
        P.s.s Not really.

      • tanis0
        Posted April 8, 2014 at 9:23 AM | Permalink

        I first heard of it on a previous blog post you made. ;) Also, I wasn’t trying to imply you didn’t mean to attribute it if it came across that way.

  11. TLadd
    Posted April 7, 2014 at 11:50 AM | Permalink

    “The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.” – Plutarch

  12. scouvillion
    Posted April 7, 2014 at 11:56 AM | Permalink

    I often have similar conversations with my 4 year old son. Seeing his imagination at work definitely takes me back to my childhood. For a while, there was a family of t-Rex’s living in the park behind our house. We have spent the last several days making “potions” and “experiments” from things around the house (our current one has water, vinegar, a lifesaver, cotton balls, and onion peels). He never seems disappointed when they don’t work the way he thinks they will – in fact, if he’s really determined, he will just pretend they work anyway. And, he has an imaginary mermaid friend named Alice. When he tried to blame his farts on her, I told him mermaids can’t fart because they don’t have butts. He replied, “Well, when she turns into a human to come visit me she has a butt. And guess what? Alice has magic farts.” Alice the magical farting mermaid. Take that, Disney.

    I think a good imagination and the ability to ask questions (and sometimes, invent answers) are some of the best gifts we can give our kids. I once heard a friend tell her daughter, who was playing with a toy vacuum, “You know, it doesn’t really work, you’re not really picking anything up with that.” Kudos to you for letting Oot believe., and helping his mind to grow.

  13. Sublime Lime
    Posted April 7, 2014 at 12:20 PM | Permalink

    @Pat

    Now I get this is a tale of analytically thinking and it’s evolution, but I also wonder about the “other side of the coin”. Could you, would you, should you have said something even more outlandish? How did it get to the sun? A dragon, an astronaut, an alien? Is the moss eating the penny? Are they friends? Is the penny giving the moss a place to live and food to eat?

    How do you choose to when to feed logic, and when to feed fantastic thinking?

    • Posted April 7, 2014 at 7:22 PM | Permalink

      That’s a good question. But it’s a big one.

      Off the cuff, I don’t know if there is a valid distinction between logical and fantastic thinking.

      It’s all just thinking.

  14. felinecannonball
    Posted April 7, 2014 at 12:40 PM | Permalink

    “Because the truth is, facts can be small, sad things.”

    Hey! As a chemist I’d probably go with the long slow burn theory and point out all the other stuff around us that was slowly oxidizing.

    But I’d probably be wrong. A friend (who is a physics professor) once tried to explain to his boy that there was no reason to be afraid of the moon because it was very far away in a stable orbit, gravitational force balanced by forward momentum, in which it has remained relatively unchanged for 4+ billion years, and in fact the moon has been slowly receding from the earth due to drag related to tidal deformation that’s also slowing down the earth’s rotation, and in the late precambrian the day was only 18 hours long, blah blah blah blah . . . .

    The boy’s brother told him “don’t worry, the moon always stays outside” and he was reassured.

    • felinecannonball
      Posted April 7, 2014 at 12:46 PM | Permalink

      I’d add that anyone doing real science is wrong most of the time. If not, your questions are boring.

  15. isaiasw
    Posted April 7, 2014 at 1:17 PM | Permalink

    Hey, Pat? “…occasionally wise”, as if your books aren’t filled with wisdom. I like your posts, I always seem to learn something new whenever I come here. I think I’m years away of having a kid, but somehow I’m sure I’ll remember about this lesson here, to let the imagination of the child fly.
    I’ll do everything I can to help you have your internet back. And that’s wishful thinking. A whole lot of wishful thinking.

  16. miceala
    Posted April 7, 2014 at 2:41 PM | Permalink

    22-year-old-me is sitting here, having read this post, smiling. Because 22-year-old-me is thinking of 8-year-old-me. And 7, and 6, and 12, and 15, and all those other ages of past me. Those past me’s who would’ve loved to have been given the freedom to wonder. The safety to ask questions and not worry about being crushed if I’d gotten them wrong. To muck around and explore and not feel like my worth was hanging in the balance if I didn’t get it right the first time.

    22-year-old-me supports your parenting decision, to put it briefly. So. Good going. :)

    Keep us updated on Oot’s theories, if he comes up with anymore, please?

  17. twich22
    Posted April 7, 2014 at 3:12 PM | Permalink

    “news”. Damn, I feel like one of Pavlov’s dogs; I even registered just to make this post.

  18. PentaChills
    Posted April 7, 2014 at 3:23 PM | Permalink

    I was seconds from posting a comment about the lack of a link to the XKCD comic, despite using the provided embed. But you responded to someone above as I was typing.
    Thank you, despite it being such a minor gripe.

  19. mousyman
    Posted April 7, 2014 at 3:25 PM | Permalink

    Reminds me of a story I once read about a little boy that was born with a gold screw in his belly button, a good story that held a delightful truth.

  20. michael.h.tritter
    Posted April 7, 2014 at 4:17 PM | Permalink

    I’m on strict diet currently (training for race, don’t ask); weights, running, lean food, total commitment. I come home and my 4-year old son runs up to me with a chocolate-chip cookie in each hand. The cookie on the left is half gone and there is cookie-smear-goatee all around his face. “Mom made cookies!” he tells me. Then he tries to hand me uneaten one, watching me great big eyes. “They’re delicious. Eat it!”

    I eat it for the same reason. It is not too soon to teach him that things he thinks are bad might have some good in them (broccoli comes to mind), but it still too soon to teach him that things he thinks are good might have some bad in them. To him the good in the world is still pure and unmarred, pleasure is pleasure, and I’ll eat a 100 cookies before I take that away before he learns it on his own.

    I loved this story of Oot. Nice job, dad.

  21. Kurty
    Posted April 7, 2014 at 4:49 PM | Permalink

    I never knew that Americans use the word penny. I thought that it was just what us Brits call a one pence piece

  22. Cavalorn
    Posted April 8, 2014 at 5:35 AM | Permalink

    As I read this, a quote from “The Wise Man’s Fear” came to my mind:

    “It’s the questions we can’t answer that teach us the most. They teach us how to think. If you give a man an answer, all he gains is a little fact. But give him a question and he’ll look for his own answers.”

    That said, I can’t wait to hear this “news” you mentioned.

  23. Soren
    Posted April 8, 2014 at 7:27 AM | Permalink

    Pat, the cards arrived today. Thanks!
    But I’m supposed to study all afternoon; how the fuck I will be able to when I have the cards laying there all fucking day?!

  24. Neville Longbottom
    Posted April 8, 2014 at 10:20 AM | Permalink

    Some time around fifth grade, the education system gave me a test in which we had to draw things. One of them was a “sack.” I had just learned to draw the 3D box that kids love…the one with two overlapping squares, connected at the corners by four lines.

    My thinking was that since my drawing didn’t specify a material, my teacher would easily generalize a few things and assume that I had just drawn a 3D paper sack.

    Back in the real world, what happened was that my parents got called in for a special conference, and I ended up with a math and reading tutor.

    Apparently, that question was more important than you’d think.

    Also, I’ve never understood why, if they were so concerned with my drawing, they didn’t just get me a drawing tutor.

  25. Werechull
    Posted April 8, 2014 at 11:10 AM | Permalink

    Pat’s big news:
    “I just saved a bunch of money on car insurance by switching to Geico!”

  26. cellima
    Posted April 8, 2014 at 11:17 AM | Permalink

    My husband and I are arguing about this. Our son is only two and a half and my husband seems to think two is already too old to be feeding an unrealistic image of the world. I take your side (in this case and in most of the situations we argue about), but I agree that at some point we need to help him understand the difference between fact and fiction-hopefully while encouraging a love for both. Oot is, four? Five now? I won this round of marital bickering, but I think my husband wouldn’t have given in if our son was that old. Thoughts?

    • Holmelund
      Posted April 8, 2014 at 1:33 PM | Permalink

      Non polite answer: tell your husbond to get bend!

      Polite answer :)
      Tell your husband that children will soon enough face and learn the rigors of the world. Let them be children for as long as they can without taking the magic and fantasy away.
      No harm will come from believing Santa Claus is real at the age of 35.
      Great harm can come from telling a 3 year old the ugly truth of the world instead of letting them work out their fantastic (but wrong) answers to problems.

      • Brady Dill
        Posted April 9, 2014 at 6:26 AM | Permalink

        Get bend? I don’t understand. Also, did you mean 3/5 instead of 35? I think a great deal of harm can come from believing Santa is real at 35.

        I’m 17, and I wish I hadn’t been told so many lies about the world when I was younger. Santa, God, not knowing what sex actually *was*–I feel that one can engender a sense of mystery and awe for the world in a child with truth. Make the child realize how valuable Christmas is as a tradition for bringing family together and expressing, person to person, how much the family members mean to one another; make the child realize how complex and full of questions the origin of the universe is, and how beautiful science and thought are in and of themselves.

        To provide an opposing perspective to Holmelund’s: As a general rule, greater harm comes from lies than from truth. This was, for me at least, one of those cases.

        • mmtauff
          Posted April 11, 2014 at 12:08 PM | Permalink

          I think the emphasis here should be on getting your kid to think and figure things out. Its nice to let them dream. Its also nice to give them a good understanding of the world. But if they dont get the skills to solve lifes many puzzles and think critically based on the facts they have… well, that kinda sucks

  27. Kallendun
    Posted April 8, 2014 at 4:51 PM | Permalink

    Second to last paragraph of chapter 87 in Name of the Wind: “Nearby there were three great pillars covered in green verdigris so thick it looked like moss.”

    Not touching the heart of this post, but an interesting connection between father and son. More to the heart of things, I would recommend a book (something sort of like a beginner’s guide to an interesting world): The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles. It’s been years since I last read it, but I still remember how it showed me how fun putting an image into words could be. It’s something along the lines of the Phantom Tollbooth, but a little more mature, if that’s the right word.

  28. c_m_reed
    Posted April 9, 2014 at 1:30 PM | Permalink

    Hello Pat.

    I’m a long-time fan posting here for the first time, mainly because of the following line that you wrote: “Because the truth is, facts can be small, sad things.”

    It reminds me so much of one my favorite essays of all time, written forty years ago by the magnificent Ursula K. LeGuin, called “Why Are Americans Afraid of Dragons?” I’m sure you’ve probably read this beautiful gem of an essay sometime in your life, but I thought I’d quote a little bit of it because it coincides so well with the theme of your post:

    ‘So I believe that we should trust our children. Normal children do not confuse reality and fantasy — they confuse them much less often than we adults do (as a certain great fantasist pointed out in a story called “The Emperor’s New Clothes”). Children know perfectly well that unicorns aren’t real, but they also know that books about unicorns, if they are good books, are true books. All too often, that’s more than Mummy and Daddy know; for, in denying their childhood, the adults are left with the sad, sterile little fact: “Unicorns aren’t real.” ‘ — Ursula K. LeGuin

    Thanks so much for writing the books you have written. They have enriched my life more than you know.

    Charles

  29. gilgamesh
    Posted April 9, 2014 at 3:46 PM | Permalink

    So what is the news? You obviously have internet as you are commenting on the posts. You wait years before you even hint at news about book 3, then when you do have news (probably has nothing to do with book 3) you say “I’ll be posting about it as soon as I have internet in my house again. Stay tuned.” I as a fan am getting sick of authors who think that they owe the fans nothing. Don’t start a story then not finish it! How about updates from time to time. Not everyday but maybe once or twice a year would be nice. You constantly say that you have the greatest fans in the world, why not throw them a bone every once and a while? DON’T TURN INTO ANOTHER MARTIN!

    • Brady Dill
      Posted April 9, 2014 at 4:50 PM | Permalink

      Neil Gaiman has something to say to you: http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2009/05/entitlement-issues.html

      Furthermore, Pat has thrown us a bone. He said in the Triangulation interview several months ago something along the lines of “Maybe late 2015.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBAirLGSsy8&safe=active&safety_mode=true

      Do your research next time before you SHOUT! incoherently in the personal website of someone who has spent a large piece of his life creating works of art for you.

      • johnw314
        Posted April 10, 2014 at 12:48 AM | Permalink

        Brady Dill:

        It looks like you need to do your research before you SHOUT. Or at least listen to your own link.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBAirLGSsy8&safe=active&safety_mode=true#t=12m05s

        Rothfuss says that book 3 probably will not be out in 2015, but it also will not be “this year” (2013). So that strongly implies 2014. Unless you think it will be 2016 or later.

        gilgamesh:

        You are absolutely correct. I’ve been disappointed in Rothfuss’ communications about his books from the beginning. When the first book came out, he said that he had all the books completed and they would come out one per year. Obviously, he seriously missed that prediction.

        But I do not expect authors to predict when they will finish a book. With the exception of Sanderson and Butcher, that is a task beyond most fantasy authors. But it would be nice if authors of multi-book stories kept us up to date on writing progress. Something like, the work on book 3 is about 75% done. Updating a percentage like that once a month (even if the percentage stays the same or goes down) would be a good show of respect to readers.

      • gilgamesh
        Posted April 10, 2014 at 11:58 AM | Permalink

        First: Throwing us a bone is not making me watch a two interview, and several months is almost 12.
        Second: This is not a personal website, its here for the fans.
        Third: He has not” spent a large piece of his life creating works of art for you.” He’s writing to get paid. If he wasn’t, the book would be free.
        Fourth: I don’t care what Neil Gaiman has to say.

        • Holmelund
          Posted April 11, 2014 at 3:26 AM | Permalink

          Some people are wonderfull and inspireing and some people are a waste of breath. Guess which category you just placed yourself in.

          • gilgamesh
            Posted April 11, 2014 at 11:26 AM | Permalink

            One can not be wonderfull or inspireing, as those are not words.
            Now who’s a waste of breath?

          • Brady Dill
            Posted April 11, 2014 at 11:47 AM | Permalink

            Look, I’m not one to point out one’s spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes, and I think this has turned into a ridiculous, rather pathetic fight instead of an actual discussion of an author’s obligation to his or her readers, but…gilgamesh, come on. You’re being hypocritical. Let’s look at all your mistakes, just in your short reply to my comment alone:

            1) “two interview”
            2) “its” should be “it’s”
            3) random quotation mark next to “not”
            4) “If he wasn’t” should be “If he weren’t”–it’s contrary-to-fact imperfect subjunctive in a protasis

            Let’s all either discuss why an author should or should not have obligation to his or her readers or not discuss at all. Witless Internet jibes are less than worthless.

      • falsig
        Posted April 11, 2014 at 4:33 PM | Permalink

        Brady Dill:

        Did you listen to your own link interview?

        It is implied that book 3 will be out in 2014 in that interview.

        At around the 12 minute mark, Pat says it probably will not be 2015, but it probably will not be “this year” (2013) either.

        • Brady Dill
          Posted April 11, 2014 at 8:11 PM | Permalink

          Yes, apologies for the confusion–when an author that takes many years on each book says it *might* be out one year, I always convert that to the next in my mind. Learned this with Brandon Sanderson and Words of Radiance and the end of The Wheel of Time. He was so hesitant that I assumed that it would eventually be pushed back to early 2015 or even late 2015 to allow for more obsessive yet brilliant revision. I watched this a year ago and didn’t remember where in the interview he said it, so I was working from a memory which I had deliberately altered.

          • falsig
            Posted April 11, 2014 at 9:47 PM | Permalink

            So you are saying that you should have done your research before you shouted at gilgamesh, eh? ;-)

          • Brady Dill
            Posted April 13, 2014 at 10:03 PM | Permalink

            I see. *I* was the shouter in that relationship. Didn’t see that coming…

    • Holmelund
      Posted April 10, 2014 at 1:42 AM | Permalink

      You forgot two things:
      1. Pat is not your bitch (Look up Gaiman´s blog on the issue)
      2. Wheaton´s Law

    • falsig
      Posted April 11, 2014 at 4:41 PM | Permalink

      gilgamesh:

      I completely agree with you. Unless an author is giving books out for free, then the author does have some sort of obligation to people who buy the books. One could look at it metaphorically as an employer / employee relationship (since people who buy the books are ultimately the source of the author’s money) ; or one could look at it as a business in which case the business representatives need to provide good customer service if they want the reputation of their business to be good. Either way, the author really should show some respect for the people who buy the books in a multi-book series by keeping them informed on the writing progress.

      Ideally, I’d like to see a monthly blog post that says something like “work on book 3 is about 75% completed”. This does NOT need a prediction of publication date, which let’s face it, unless you are Sanderson or Butcher, is not something that fantasy authors can provide. But just a rough estimate of how much work is already complete for the book. This number could even stay the same or go down (if there is an unanticipated change or setback), but just reporting the number regularly shows respect to the people who are awaiting the next book. I’d even settle for quarterly updates instead of monthly, for people like Rothfuss or Martin who take 4 or 5 years for a book.

      • Brady Dill
        Posted April 11, 2014 at 8:36 PM | Permalink

        falsig:

        I agree that it would be ideal if an author could update us “39.7 % done with The Doors of Stone” on a regular basis, but things Rothfuss has said before make me think that he just doesn’t have any clue how close it is to being done. It’s not word count–he had it at a fairly long length before he even published The Name of the Wind; from what I can tell now, he’s just working on polishing it to a blinding shine. How does one quantify that sort of information? “It is 1.02 times as good as last month, folks.” That wouldn’t give us any meaningful information.

        Let’s look at his F.A.Q. http://www.patrickrothfuss.com/content/contact.asp#q1

        “When will book 3 be out?

        Rest assured, as I promised for book 2, when there is news about book 3, I will pass it along. I don’t glean joy from withholding information; when there’s news, I’ll tell you.”

        Rothfuss can’t give us information he doesn’t know. From what I can tell, very little of his time is spent writing new material. It is difficult to quantify it except in vague terms that would give us no information except that he has been working on it.

        And we already know that. He’s been working on it. What more can we ask? It won’t change the publication date.

        • falsig
          Posted April 11, 2014 at 9:44 PM | Permalink

          Nice try, strawman. If you cannot refute the actual argument, just make up a silly one and refute that. :-)

          There is a big difference between saying 39.7% completed and saying something like “about 75% completed”. The former suggests a level of precision that is obviously not possible.

          However, giving an ESTIMATE of completion, to a precision of 5% (or preferably, 1%) is perfectly feasible. That does not mean the number is not subject to revision, as I already said. But at any point in time, one just looks at the work that has been completed, and the work that remains (whether it is writing, revising, editing, etc.), and makes an ESTIMATE. If a month goes by where it seems like a lot of progress was made, then increase the percentage by a point or two. Or if little or no progress was made, keep the percentage the same. If it becomes clear that a whole section needs to be redone, then reduce the percentage. This is not rocket science. It is just an estimate. Lack of accuracy is easily forgivable, but not even making an effort to give a rough estimate shows a lack of respect for people who buy the books.

          • Holmelund
            Posted April 12, 2014 at 7:35 AM | Permalink

            All of the fucktwits who think they are entitled to rudely demand any updates at all ought to read this by Patrick Rothfuss:
            ” it would be nice if everyone was conscious of the fact that I am a person, not a whirling machine that does nothing but churn out EFP.

            It would also be nice if folks avoided bitching to me about the delay. It’s really counterproductive. I actually do read all my e-mail and the comments on my blog. When someone goes out of their way to snipe and bitch at me… Well, the best possible outcome is that it makes me tired and depressed.

            At worst it makes me think things like, “You little fucker, I’ll be damned if I write you a book! I’m going to play Spore for 15 hours just to spite you!”

            Now I’m not saying you can’t be pissed. Feel free. And I’m not saying you shouldn’t express those honest emotions. Don’t keep it bottled up. It’s not healthy.

            What I *am* asking is that you don’t bring your frothy rage round here to my house. Screed away on your own blog, curse my name on a discussion board, punch your pillow. By all means, vent your spleen. Just don’t vent it at me. It makes me hurty inside.

            I say that as a joke, but like most jokes it has a grain of truth to it. That’s the reason I’ve turned the comments off for this blog. I know they would break down roughly like this:

            30 considerate, supportive comments.
            20 touching, heartfelt comments.
            15 funny comments
            10 comments saying, “Meh, I already knew.”
            5 passive-aggressive snarks masquerading as one of the above.
            1 comment from some anonymous frothy dickhole.

            And you know which comment I’d focus on? Yeah. The last one. It would sit there like a steaming turd in my bowl of cereal. It doesn’t matter how delicious the cereal is. It could be Fruity Pebbles, or even Cookie Crisp. But in a situation like this it doesn’t matter. You can’t just eat around it. All you can do is focus on the turd.

            That’s why I’ve turned the comments off for today. I’m really fond of y’all. Over this last year, interacting with my readers has been one of the true, rare joys in my life. You have shown yourselves to be intelligent, funny, and generous. And many of you continuously surprise me with how are gracious and kind-hearted you can be. Many of you are enthusiastic to the point where it gives me a tingle.

            I’m not just glad to have you as readers, I’m proud to have you as readers. You are my Cookie Crisp, and I don’t want one turd to spoil how I feel about you.

            Good lord. I’m pretty sure I just wrote a completely new sentence. I’d be willing to bet what I just wrote up there has never, ever been said before in the history of history. Hallmark should turn that into a Sweetest Day card. I’d buy one.

            Okay. We good here? Yeah. We’re good. “

          • falsig
            Posted April 12, 2014 at 1:49 PM | Permalink

            Holmelund:

            It is odd that you call people “fuckwits” while accusing them of being rude.

            As far as what you quoted, it is irrelevant. No one here is “bitching about the delay” or bringing rage to his house.

            A request for periodic updates on writing progress is neither of those. Keeping book buyers up to date on writing progress is perfectly feasible and shows respect for buyers of an authors books.

        • khil1
          Posted April 14, 2014 at 10:44 AM | Permalink

          I would actually love updates like that!

          “Update 1: book is now 1.3 times more shiny”

          “Update 2: book is now contains exactly 72% less suck in a certain chapter”

          “Update 3: Big update! Book no longer causes random house fires after reading the first half of the book”

          “Update 4: kvothe is now a bunny
          “Update 4.2: revision kvothe is now 100% less bunny”

          “Update 5: book is now now contains the wonderful musing of me bang my head against the keyboard”

          “Update 6: Considering dedicating all of chapter 12 to Bast talking about how great a charity worldbuilders is.”

          And so on… Actually a little disappointed this isn’t real.
          Calling it right now though, Bunny Kvothe would be killer

          • Posted April 14, 2014 at 4:44 PM | Permalink

            While updates are a nice thought, it may not be entirely up to Pat to do such a thing. Or entirely feasible as claimed, I wouldn’t jump the gun on placing the blame fully on him or thinking him disrespectful, as I’ve never witnessed his online persona to be such a thing, nor heard stories of him acting as such from other fans who had the opportunity to meet him.
            I know it’s not common knowledge how the publishing industry works, I am by no means an expert, but Pat is very far from the Employee / Employer metaphor to his fans.
            He is more closer to an employee of his publisher, and it is at least partially up to them what can and cannot be done in regards to the book as they are partial owners, how much say they have is not quantifiable as we do not know the details of the agreement. Pat sells his books to DAW, not to fans, DAW sells the book to fans.
            Pat likely negotiated a contract with DAW long ago that outlined how much he would receive for the book and how much and when he would begin to receive sales royalties if any.
            If you really want updates like that you should not petition him here, but petition the person who really gets your money, which is the publisher.
            Not that I’m encouraging a million outraged emails to them or anything, but this is part of the business.
            Even if Pat was finished with the book tomorrow, he couldn’t put it out on shelves, that is up to his publisher and likely a very intelligent marketing team that works hard to make the most money for said publisher and author. Not to mention timing for best seller lists and god only knows what other variables. Saying he has finished the book on here, would be rather unfair to them, as they have the real say as to when it is actually ready for release. Not to mention it may get some fans hopes up only to have them dashed by months of waiting for the “right time” thus encouraging further belligerence.

            Outside that, I understand that it is hard to wait, I have vacation days saved specifically for “Just in Case DOS comes out” LOL. However, the wait between NoTW and WMF was 4 years, it has barely crested 3 years wait time for DOS currently, so it is not really taking an unexpected or unprecedented amount of time. This wait time is going much smoother in my opinion as we have been so lucky to get “extra” additions to the story and worldbuilding. We will have gotten at least three additional stories to the 4C’s universe likely before we get DOS. I’ve heard rumor their is another in the works too, but if it will be out before or after is hard to say. That’s awesome! Much better than waiting 4 years cold turkey, so to speak. Outside that, we also got another Princess book. If we’re lucky we might even see some rules to TAK in the future, all things completely worth being excited for. I find it best to try and have a positive outlook on such things. Last wait was just a wait, this wait their are literally tons of things happening to keep the story alive in our minds.

            Last update I heard, DOS hadn’t even hit Beta yet, that was during the Worldbuilder’s fundraiser. However, a picture of the manuscript was posted to his Google+ acct, so I assume that means it has at least been to his editor once. If I was going to make a wager, based on the last two releases and what I’ve gathered from following in a minorly obsessive fashion, I’d wager we see it first quarter 2015.
            Anyone want to take that bet? LOL.

            Lets all try to relax, in the end we’re all fans of the story and just want to see what happens next. Pat is doing his best for us, I’m sure. He is a human too however, and lets not forget besides having a Oot, he just barely had a new arrival, I doubt he took off even 6 weeks to sit around a bond with him. He’s making those sort of sacrifices to get this done for us and fulfill his obligations to his publisher. That’s really quite diligent and more so than I would be willing to do for my own job. I doubt I am alone on that front! LOL

          • Brady Dill
            Posted April 14, 2014 at 8:10 PM | Permalink

            Beautiful.

            (Yes, a reference.)

            I second this.

          • falsig
            Posted April 15, 2014 at 10:42 PM | Permalink

            Ivory Doom:

            The publisher does not control what he posts on his blog. And while the publisher does channel money to the author, it is the book buyers who are the ultimate source of that money. Authors can make money without publishers (self-publishing), but most authors would have a hard time making money without (e)book buyers.

            It is perfectly feasible for him to post work updates periodically. While giving a rough estimate of percent of work completed would be ideal, even posting just a few sentences every few months about the work he has been doing on the book would be nice.

          • Posted April 16, 2014 at 4:09 PM | Permalink

            While I agree the publisher doesn’t control what he posts on his blog, they may have some degree of say in what he posts in regards to DOS. We really don’t know. Their is no way to rule this out. It is no longer solely his work to share about.
            Outside that, even our money is hardly seen by him. The major purchasers of his books are large stores like Barnes & Noble or Powells, etc. who stock the book with the expectation of a return through mark up. The person who really makes money off of you and I specifically are the people who furnish the books to us, like Amazon, B&N, Powells, or whatever Book Store you purchase from. Even his publisher does not furnish directly to us. We are far removed from that of employer of Patrick Rothfuss. Even if none of us bought the book when it came out, he’d still sell literally thousands of copies to corporate stores and smaller retail alike who if they did not sell them again, would simply drop the price, donate them, or trash them as a loss to there personal finances.
            This is one of the upsides of not Self Publishing. Pat doesn’t self publish.

            I really don’t think it’s up to us to say what is or isn’t feasible for another person. I personally wouldn’t find calculating an estimated percentage of my own writing an easy or convenient thing to do, especially if using discovery writing, not to mention the added input of Editors and industry Production which can add so many changes, not to mention further ideas. We have no way to say if Pat would or would not feel the same. What is simple for some, is not simple for all. We are all different, that’s what makes the world such an interesting place to live.
            Outside that, and to put it simply, he may not want to. Pat didn’t force us to buy his books, we did so for enjoyment. He will not force us to purchase nor read any of his further writing. Our free choice to read and purchase a story he wrote does not now entitle us to demand he do something he has no desire to do. Choosing to judge him for that is a personal choice. His choice isn’t hurting anyone, so it doesn’t really bother me. He’s made it pretty clear that a third book is forthcoming. I assume when it is available he will let us know, until then, it’s just not ready. What more is really necessary to know?

            Nothing wrong with being curious, and hell, I’d be overjoyed for any tid bit on the next KKC book, but it isn’t owed to us by any means. I certainly received everything I paid for.

            Anywho, just hoping I could give you a different perspective to help make the wait a little more bearable.
            If you are interested we do lots of talking about the books on the Goodreads group “Rothfussians” and their are some awesome boardies who always post updates really fast over there, you might check it out. Plus it’s fun to debate ideas.
            Have a good one. I feel like I should probably stop blowing up Pat’s blog about his kid on something so off topic. LOL.

            PS – Love Oot stories. Thanks for sharing Pat.

          • falsig
            Posted April 16, 2014 at 10:13 PM | Permalink

            Ivory Doom:

            The publisher cannot control what he writes in his blog. Not about what we are discussing. I can certainly rule that out.

            No matter how much you try to talk around the issue, the fact remains that the ultimate source of money for book authors is the people who buy the books or ebooks. Not the publishers. Not the bookstores. Without the book buyers, there would be no bookstores, no publishers, and no money for the authors.

            And it is absolutely, perfectly feasible to periodically post something about work progress on a book. This is not a matter of opinion — it is an obvious fact. It is not terribly difficult as such things go. In fact, it is expected in most any field of work, even for the most complicated projects, to provide progress reports to the employer or funders of the project. Many people working on much more complicated projects are able to provide progress updates. In comparison, it is relatively easy for an author to provide short, periodic progress updates on a book.

            It is really just a choice an author makes. They can show respect for the book buyers of a multi-book story by periodically sharing what work they have recently done on the book, or they can choose not to do so. It is their choice. And what they choose shows how much respect, or lack of respect, they have for the people who buy their books.

  30. Werechull
    Posted April 9, 2014 at 5:12 PM | Permalink

    Pat’s big news: “I am not, in fact, a man with an incredible beard. I am actually an incredible beard with a growth on my butt that vaguely resembles a man.”

  31. falsig
    Posted April 10, 2014 at 7:41 PM | Permalink

    So when will you have internet in your house again?

  32. Bolda
    Posted April 10, 2014 at 9:55 PM | Permalink

    “Once upon a time,” I began. “There was a little boy born in a little town. He was perfect, or so his
    mother thought. But one thing was different about him. He had a gold screw in his belly button.
    Just the head of it peeping out.“Now his mother was simply glad he had all his fingers and toes to count with. But as the boy grew
    up he realized not everyone had screws in their belly buttons, let alone gold ones. He asked his
    mother what it was for, but she didn’t know. Next he asked his father, but his father didn’t know.
    He asked his grandparents, but they didn’t know either.
    “That settled it for a while, but it kept nagging him. Finally, when he was old enough, he packed a
    bag and set out, hoping he could find someone who knew the truth of it.
    “He went from place to place, asking everyone who claimed to know something about anything. He
    asked midwives and physickers, but they couldn’t make heads or tails of it. The boy asked arcanists,
    tinkers, and old hermits living in the woods, but no one had ever seen anything like it.
    “He went to ask the Cealdim merchants, thinking if anyone would know about gold, it would be
    them. But the Cealdim merchants didn’t know. He went to the arcanists at the University, thinking
    if anyone would know about screws and their workings, they would. But the arcanists didn’t know.
    The boy followed the road over the Stormwal to ask the witch women of the Tahl, but none of them
    could give him an answer.
    “Eventually he went to the King of Vint, the richest king in the world. But the king didn’t know. He
    went to the Emperor of Atur, but even with all his power, the emperor didn’t know. He went to
    each of the small kingdoms, one by one, but no one could tell him anything.
    “Finally the boy went to the High King of Modeg, the wisest of all the kings in the world. The high
    king looked closely at the head of the golden screw peeping from the boy’s belly button. Then the
    high king made a gesture, and his seneschal brought out a pillow of golden silk. On that pillow was a
    golden box. The high king took a golden key from around his neck, opened the box, and inside was a
    golden screwdriver.
    “The high king took the screwdriver and motioned the boy to come closer. Trembling with
    excitement, the boy did. Then the high king took the golden screwdriver and put it in the boy’s belly
    button.”
    I paused to take a long drink of water. I could feel my small audience leaning toward me. “Then the
    high king carefully turned the golden screw. Once: Nothing. Twice: Nothing. Then he turned it the
    third time, and the boy’s ass fell off.”
    There was a moment of stunned silence.
    “What?” Hespe asked incredulously.
    “His ass fell off,”
    ― Patrick Rothfuss, The Wise Man’s Fear

    Pretty smart man that author

  33. isaiasw
    Posted April 13, 2014 at 4:24 PM | Permalink

    Just passing by to cheer for the return of your internet, Pat. We miss your recurrent posts. Unless you are having a good time without internet, living in a island of relaxation and fun. In which case I’ll hope your internet takes a little while longer. See ya.

  34. silentmum
    Posted April 14, 2014 at 8:39 AM | Permalink

    Little story about ‘magination…my little un, at the age of 5, proudly came up to me and announced the following…
    “Mum, I know where lecktricty comes from”,
    “really, where?”
    “Well, you see there are gophers that live underground and they run back ‘n forth between the lecktrick poles all day, occasionally stopping for a cup of tea” (we had just moved to Canada from England and there were loads of gophers). These gophers then run around a while and then they run up the inside of the pole tree and stand on the top and lecktricty comes out of their mouth and goes along the wire to our house”……….
    I replied (completely without any sort of smile)…”wow, I didn’t know that!”….
    “Yes, it’s true ‘cos I’m five and I know things”

    Yes, my darling you certainly do…..and it was years before she knew different………keep up the ‘magination, it bodes well for all

  35. AsimpleReader
    Posted April 14, 2014 at 10:56 AM | Permalink

    As my name suggests I am a simple reader. I can however make a few comments based on previous truths and draw upon them to make conclusions about the future.
    Firstly, neither NOTW nor WMF had an update progress percentage or any such mumbo jumbo thingy (I realize I’m getting very scientific here so if there are questions please save them for the end.) I think all of us here can agree that the books were amazing.
    Secondly, making such an update progress thingamajig would take time. Time I assure you that wouldn’t be spent on writing the third book.
    Now, lets use this information to take into consideration the third book. A. His process for making the first two books did not include a progress thinger and they are amazing. Therefore he doesn’t need it to make the next book amazing. B. Making said thingy would take time, which would push back said book being done because it would have no positive impact on the book becoming finished.
    In conclusion, the want for a progress thingamabob is purely selfish and serves writer and writing no purpose whatsoever . If you would like to protest the amount of time it is taking feel free to not buy or read it when it comes out as that is your choice. I will happily wait and hope that my anticipation spurs on my joy when I do get the chance to read it. Because guess what, that’s what it is for us. An opportunity, one that wouldn’t even exist without this writer. He is not your damn employee but an artist. So, shut your pie hole and wait.

    • khil1
      Posted April 14, 2014 at 3:29 PM | Permalink

      I have decided that we need to use the “bunny Kvothe method”
      Where instead of Pat giving us an update of the book, he asks Oot, who then uses his creativity to give us a hilarious answer.
      It’s a win, win strategy. We get an “update” on the book and Pat gets to talk about his son more.

      Perfect solution, you know, except for the exploitation of a child’s imagination…

  36. charlief33
    Posted April 14, 2014 at 9:40 PM | Permalink

    When I was a teacher I often worried about my questioning techniques. I did not go to school to be a teacher (In NJ we have what’s called alternate route teachers). I read everything I could find on the subject. But ultimately I was left with the same questions (and doubts) as when I set out. How do you promote “higher order thinking/learning”? In the end, I learned (through experience and not from the internet) the specific questions you ask are immaterial. It’s how they are asked and much more importantly how you respond to the students’ answer. Teach a student the answer and you’ve taught them for a day…

  37. jordynlynn
    Posted April 15, 2014 at 2:34 PM | Permalink

    So. Here I am, slightly procrastinating on studying for U.S. History. And as I am reading this, I am stuck thinking “Whats the point of school just spouting facts at us? Why didn’t I get the opportunity to think for myself. Even if the answer I came up with was wrong?” You, dear sir, got me thinking. And I thank you. Being a high school junior, its nice to be able to pick up a book and instantly make connections and wondering and making theories. I mean, my dad and I will sit and listen to the book together and just talk and think and sometimes argue, its fantastic. Its thrilling, but then that brings me back to the whole school thing. When at school all I can think is that its all just basic memorization, I’m not really retaining much of anything. And that, is boring. Not thinking, not observing is boring and tedious.
    You, dear sir, are giving your son the experience of a lifetime (along with all you readers). And I only wish there were more parents out there who would teach their children to embrace and love thinking and making connections.
    Guess its time to stop procrastinating. :)

    • jordynlynn
      Posted April 15, 2014 at 2:47 PM | Permalink

      *Change not observing to not learning, or not contemplating—but not observing works also. Its difficult to pay attention when you are greeted with repeated information…okay. I am definitely done procrastinating!

  38. firebird
    Posted April 16, 2014 at 10:30 AM | Permalink

    Omg how do you not have Internet by now??

  39. fmb
    Posted April 16, 2014 at 5:48 PM | Permalink
    • Veelk
      Posted April 16, 2014 at 10:49 PM | Permalink

      Pat writes so slow that he got beat to announcing his own book by a random internet commenter, on his own blog.

  40. Rob M
    Posted April 16, 2014 at 8:56 PM | Permalink

    Won’t lie, have checked the blog 4-5 times a day to hear the “news” since this post. And even before this after I attended the Q&A in Cambridge, MA. Looking forward to your next post! Will continue my vigilance!

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