Category Archives: a few words you’re probably going to have to look up

Sophie’s Choice

I just had an unexpectedly harrowing experience on the internet.

While I like to think that I’m immune to clickbait, occasionally I leave the high road and tumble gracelessly down into the muddy ditch where I roll around with all the giddy enthusiasm of a dog who’s just found a particularly feculent turd.

(Pat pauses for a moment, looking up at the sentence he just wrote, and thinks that sometimes, just maybe, he should dial the vividity of his phraseologer down from 11.)

Anyway, I stumbled onto the following webpage the other day. I can’t even remember how.

Vote for the best Geek Celebrity Ever.

So I think, Okay, sure. I’ll vote in your little poll. I am wise in the ways of the geek. I have opinions.

The thing is set up as a series of X vs. Y pairings, and you have to vote for one or the other.

The first couple were easy. Obviously Felicia Day beats Peter Jackson. Obviously Johnathan Coulton beats out JJ Abrams. Tina Fey trumps Shatner.

You also have the option to skip voting on a particular pairing. This was first useful when I was given two people I’d never heard of before, a cosplayer and a voice actor. Rather than vote blind, you’re able to just shrug and get a completely new random pairing.

But I didn’t realize how essential the skip button was until this happened:

Don't make me choose!

I saw this, and a gear slipped in my brain. How could I possibly pick? The author of the second comic I’d ever read as an adult (Watchmen). The guy who Promethia. Top Ten. Tom Strong. V for Vendetta. Someone whose work has honesty changed my perception of comic art if not storytelling as a whole. Plus, y’know, wizard.

On the other hand we have Wil: creator of Tabletop, which is a force for good in the world. Co-founder of Wootstock, a source of persistent joy in my life. The actor that played Westley Crusher, a character that made my life suck a little less as a kid. Someone who regularly speaks truth to power, and a damn fine author in his own right….

It was a flabbergasting choice. It’s not like comparing apples and oranges. It’s like comparing sex and videogames. I had to skip that matchup.

Then this happened:

Don't make me choose 2When I saw this, my soul made the sound of ultimate suffering. I think I actually shouted at the screen. “Don’t make me choose!”

As the poll continues, it winnows out the people you don’t know pretty quickly. Then it gets rid of the people you don’t care for. With a little more difficulty you leave behind geek celebs you are merely fond of.

Then it starts to become excruciating. You are forced to make choices no sane person would ever willingly make.

Still the grindstone turns until you are finally confronted with something like this.

Don't make me choose 4

Don’t. Just don’t.

So. If you want to plumb the depths of your  own personal geeky faith, go ahead and check it out. I think the voting ends today.

pat

Edit: Monday July 21st. I just googled “Sophie’s Choice” because while I knew what it meant, I didn’t know the actual etymology of the phrase.

I don’t think I would have used it as the title of this post if I’d known the original referent.

Also posted in a few words you're probably going to have to look up, geeking out, things I shouldn't talk about | By Pat57 Responses

Love Redux

So last year I made a post on Valentines day that happened to be about love.

I wasn’t happy about that, as I’ve got a strong iconoclastic element in my personality. And writing about love on Valentines day is just… it just feels so fucking Hallmark.

But something happened a couple days ago, and it’s been spinning in my head ever since. When that happens, I have to tell a story about it, because that’s just how I’m wired.

So. I’m writing about love again, not because it’s Valentines day, but despite that.

I just want to make it clear this isn’t going to be a yearly thing. Okay? Okay.

*     *     *

A couple days ago, my baby boy smiled at me. A little crooked smile, a smirk.

Cutie - 8 weeks

(The onesie was a gift from a fan. Honest.)

A few days before that, I got my first smile. Today I got several. He also said, “goo” a couple times. I’m not even kidding. It’s amazingly cute.

Here’s the thing. He also smiled at the ceiling fan. He *really* likes the ceiling fan. Given the choice between the ceiling fan and me, the fan will win 3 times out of 4.

But you know what’s strange? I don’t mind. I really don’t.

I don’t mind that he smiles and coos at his mom more than me. It doesn’t make me sad that the ceiling fan takes second place, and that almost any window with a sunlight behind it is a close third.

I’m fine being fourth in line for smiles. I’m just happy to be on the list.

Standing there, holding my new baby, I had a strange sort of revelation. I was feeling a type of love that was in no way jealous.

I think this might be the purest type of love.

*     *     *

Here’s the thing, I’m not a fan of LOVE as a singular concept. It’s a ridiculously broad term that can be applied to pets, sex partners, or Oreos. When a word accretes that many definitions, it becomes virtually nonsensical.

If you’re hunting for more specific words for love, Greek is a good language to start with. They have Eros, Philos, and Agape. Those three do a pretty good job of breaking the great multifarious monolith of LOVE into slightly more manageable pieces.

I’m assuming you know about them, but just for reference:

  • Philos is friend love. Family love.
  • Eros is “I want to bone you” love.
  • Agape is… tricky. Some people call it “unconditional love.” I’ve heard it referred to as “True love” “God Love” or “That love which instils worth.”

There’s also lesser-known storge: “Kindness love.” Which is the sort of love you feel for something that’s dependent on you. Like an infant or a dog.

So. I’m standing there, looking at my sweet baby, and he’s smiling at the ceiling fan. And I realize I don’t mind. I’m just happy that he’s happy. I’m just happy that sometimes he smiles at me. I’m just happy he’s around.

This is a strange and wonderful sensation. This is, I feel, a different type of love.

Now it might seem like I’m talking about agape-style love here. Or storge. But I’m not. This is something different.

What I’m talking about here is love-without-expectation.

*     *     *

We need to stop for a moment and make a word.

If I’m going to spend some time trying to describe a largely unfamiliar concept, I need a name for it. Love-without-expectation-or-desire isn’t going to work. It’s not elegant. A newish concept needs a newish name. It needs its own space to grow. You grok?

Plus I just like making words. It’s kind of a thing that I do.

From what I gather the Hebrew concept of “חסד” is pretty close to what I’m looking for here. And it’s one of the Sephira, which gives it extra gravitas. Unfortunately, it’s not going to work because when you transliterate it, it’s spelled “chesed” and that looks too much like “cheesed” to me.

Fuck it. I know it’s not linguistically sound, but I’m going to call it Eleutheria.

*     *     *

Remember where we were? Me. My baby. Ceiling fan.

20140214_122916

(In his defense, it’s a really nice fan.)

I simply love him, and I expect nothing in return. This is strangely, delightfully freeing. I don’t feel bad that if he pays more attention to his mom. I don’t mind that he smiles at the fan or his big brother.

I don’t mind if he falls asleep. I don’t mind if he throws up on me.

Elutheria – Love which demands nothing. The love that expects nothing.

This is an odd concept for me. Because I am a creature composed almost entirely of expectations.

This isn’t entirely a bad thing. The ability to anticipate, desire, and plan is important. It gives us control of our lives. It gives us the ability to see forward in time a little. It gives us the ability to steer our destiny a little so we can avoid wrecking our lives against the rocks.

Not always, of course, sometimes your ship is going to wreck no matter your best efforts. Shit happens. But if you’re able to anticipate the future, you can at least brace for impact. That’s better than nothing.

Without the ability to predict and therefore exert control on the future, we are helpless. Subject to the constant random battering of a largely entropic universe.

The ability to predict and anticipate isn’t bad. The desire for control isn’t bad. If you put those things together with a love for language and a vague compulsion for storytelling, you get The Name of the Wind.

If you combine these characteristics with a love of charity and a desire to make the world a better place, you get Worldbuilders.

If you combine them with a relationship… it’s not so good.

Because trying to control the people you love isn’t good.

For one thing, people don’t like it. (For the most part.) But also because controlling someone means hanging expectations on them. And if people don’t live up to your expectations, you’re disappointed. And disappointment leads to frustration and anger. This spiral continues down to the dark side of the force.

How much nicer would it be to simply love someone? If you expected nothing from your beloved, you could never be disappointed. Nothing could jeopardize that love. It would be unassailable.

This would be Elutheria, the love that expects nothing.

*     *     *

What I’m talking about here, is the diametrical opposite of selfish love.

Selfish love demands things. It demands attention. Most of all, selfish love demands love in return. Typically it usually demands ALL the love in return. It demands primacy. Exclusivity. Ownership. Control.

What I’m talking about here is what’s commonly called “Romantic Love.”

Romantic love is championed as being awesome in our culture. It’s the sort of love you’ve seen a thousand times in movies and literature. You’ve seen it the lives of your friends and family members. You’ve probably experienced some version of it yourselves.

It’s the sort of love where you where you fall for someone, and they don’t love you back, and then you kill yourself. (Actual results may vary.)

It’s the sort of love where you see you girl talking to another guy and you feel jealous.

It’s the sort of love where you see your guy looking at another girl and you feel angry.

It’s the sort of love that makes you think it’s okay to consider someone “your girl” or “your guy.” As if you owned them. As if they were under your control. As if your affection made them somehow beholden to you.

And as I stand there, smiling at my baby, (who is smiling at our ceiling fan) I am perfectly happy. And I wonder to my self, “At what point did loving someone become an excuse to be a greedy asshole?”

*     *     *

I bounced my idea off a couple people over the last week or so. Love without expectation. I explained about my baby and the ceiling fan. I talked about the chains of desire….

“Well,” someone said. “It sounds nice, but I don’t think that’s something that could exist in an adult relationship.”

Several people said this, or something very close to it. These comments came up almost compulsively, in a knee-jerk way.

I think people have this automatic response for two reasons.

First, I think they feel attacked. As if I’m telling them they’re loving wrong.

I’m not. That’s not what this is about. When I talk about how much I’d like a Tesla, it doesn’t mean I think you’re a dick for driving a Prius. I’m not trying to start a fight here. I’m looking to discuss an idea.

Second, I think people react badly because Elutheria a profoundly unfamiliar concept. We all grew up reading stories about Lancelot and Guenevere (or permutations thereof.)

The Arthurian legend is one of our mythic cornerstones. It echoes through the last 1000 years of our art and literature. Well… 800 years, if we’re talking about Lancelot. You see, he wasn’t in the original story. The French added him in the 1200′s.

dicksee-belle-dame

(Yeah. I know that’s not Lance and Gwen. I just really love Waterhouse.)

And you know what? It’s a better story with Lancelot in it. More drama. More tension. More universal appeal.

The downside? Lancelot and Guenevere are generally held up to be the villains of the whole Arthurian schtick. They ruined Camelot. Their dirty, dirty lust wrecked the golden age.

But the truth is, if Arthur hadn’t been such a douche about the whole thing, there wouldn’t have been any problem. If Arthur had just gotten over himself and admitted that Lance was pretty hunky, it could have been cool. If he’d just wanted Gwen to be happy, he should have just stepped aside. Or at least turned a blind eye.

Either that or jumped into the sack with both of them. Because… y’know… hunky.

Imagine the glorious world we’d be living in if *that* was one of our mythic cornerstones, folks. Imagine a world where slash fiction didn’t exist because we were, all of us, constantly living the dream.

Okay, back on track here.

Generally speaking, everyone agrees that Arthur overreacted. But Lance and Gwen? They’re traitors. It’s their *fault*. Traitors deserve the lowest, darkest circle of hell.

Arthur was a little hot headed, sure. But it was justified, right? Lance and Gwen, their actions were a betrayal.

What were they betraying?

Expectations.

*     *     *

Those of you who have studied any Buddhism are probably nodding along by this point. Believe me, I’m very aware that the more I roll the concept of Elutheria around, the more similar it seems to the four noble truths that lead to the eightfold path.

For those of you who haven’t studied Buddhism, here it is in a nutshell:

  1. There is suffering.
  2. Suffering comes from thwarted desire.
  3. Therefore, if you eliminate desire, you eliminate suffering.
  4. Profit. Moksha.

There is an unassailable simplicity here. There’s a reason I’m fond of Buddhism.

*     *     *

I wish I had a strong closer for you, but I’m not really making an argument here. I’m not heading for a conclusion. I’m merely working out my thoughts in text. Writing things down helps me understand them better. It helps me knock the rough corners off my new ideas. (It’s my attempt at “Right Understanding,” the first step of the eightfold path.)

But is Elutheria something a person can realistically achieve?

With my baby, the answer seems to be yes.

But then things become more complicated. You see, I have responsibilities.

My older son is four. And while it would be pleasant to simply love him and let the chips fall where they may, if I were to do that, I would be failing him as a parent. I need to provide guidance and discipline. I need to control his base monkey instincts with the hope that he may eventually rise above them and become a fully-formed human being.

There’s that word again: Control. It’s my job to control him. It’s my job to have expectations.

Still, I think discarding Elutheria entirely would be like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. There are certain expectations that are essential. I expect him to be polite. I expect him to be honest. I expect him to be mindful and kind.

Those are the requirements for being a good human being. It’s my job to guide and coach him until he gets there.

Any expectations beyond that, I should be wary of. I shouldn’t expect him to be all those things *all* the time. I shouldn’t expect him to be tidy. Or quiet when I’m trying to work.

I shouldn’t expect him to be straight, or a democrat, or a painter. I shouldn’t expect him to love books.

Oot and book

Expectation is a trap, you see. There’s nothing to be gained from it. I don’t feel *more* joy seeing him read because I hoped for it. I only leave myself open to disappointment if he doesn’t.

Similarly, my relationship with Sarah consists of more than simple love. We are engaged in the partnership. We maintain a household and the purpose of that household is to raise children that are physically and emotionally healthy.

Her cooperation in these things is essential. I expect it.

But other things? Should I expect her never ogle the pretty college boys on the track team who jog around town every spring? No. Foolishness. Should I expect her to want to organize the kitchen the way I would? To want the same color paint in the dining room? To have dinner cooked and ready for me when I come home from work?

Should I expect her to always love me best, and most, and only?

No. I think not. I think that would be selfish and self-centered.

The more of these expectations I can let go of, the happier I will be.

But it’s hard. Oh it’s hard. It goes against a lifetime full of training. It goes against my obsessive desire to control. It goes against my meticulous nature. It goes against what so many stories told me was true.

Inconclusively yours,

pat

Also posted in a few words you're probably going to have to look up, Cutie Snoo, love, musings, naming, the longest fucking blog ever | By Pat95 Responses

Stretch Goals Past and Stretch Goals Yet To Come….

Hey there everybody,

We’re entering the final stretch of the Worldbuilders. And in case you don’t make a habit of checking the Worldbuilders News page, or following us on facebook or twitter, I thought I’d take a moment to talk about one of the newer things we’ve been doing this year.

I’m talking about our Stretch Goals, of course.

As I write this, geeks of all creeds and nations have banded together to raise $274,000 dollars, which means we’ve unlocked ten Stretch Goals and we’re closing in fast on the eleventh.

In case you’ve missed  a few, I thought it would be a good idea to gather them all in one place for you to take a gander at.

We mentioned this one on the blog last month, but back then we didn’t have the terrifying video footage yet.

Since then, we’ve edited together this:

Honestly, this video kinda horrified everyone in the office, and the first time we watched it there was a lot of awkward laughter and cringing behind hands. But it definitely started us out in the right foot in terms of proper promotional Ballyhoo.

This one pretty much speaks for itself.

You don’t want to know how many times I’ve listened to that.

False Equivalency - Final

(Click to embiggen. If you dare….)

Jim did yet another of his cover pose parodies for our $75,000 fundraiser, and did a great write up about it over here.

If this intrigues, or even disturbs you, you can buy a calendar full of these over on The Tinker’s Packs.

This is a really cool one.  Brandon has agreed to write a story and broadcast the event live for everyone to see.

What’s more, the story will be based on ideas and suggestions from viewers turning in to watch.

BrandonGray

Afterward, he will be releasing the story into the Creative Commons, so anyone can download the story and finish it on their own.

If you want to be a part of it, keep your schedule open on January 17th from 2-7pm Mountain Time, and keep an eye out for the link to view it on the Worldbuilders Facebook Page.

I’ve talked about my love for the Doubleclicks before. And I’m pretty sure I’ve shared around their epic song Nothing To Prove, where they talk about the bullshittery inherent in the whole Fake Geek Girl movement.

So when they agreed to come in and help us spread the word about Worldbuilders by performing Moonlight Sonata on a pair of cat keyboards… Well, I couldn’t help but love them just a little bit more.

Epic and awesome.

Mary Robinette Kowal is a truly awesome person. Some of you might remember her as the person who beat me at being me in my twitter contest earlier this year.

Since Mary has proven that she can mimic me so well none of you can tell the difference, we were delighted when she offered to write some NOTW erotica fan fiction for us.

Yeah. You heard that right.

The Wind Comes - Cover

You can download it and read it over here.

You may have seen the recent blog on the subject, but if you haven’t, it’s over here.

We haven’t gotten the video for this yet, but it’s for a very legitimate reason:

So while we might not have this one yet, we’re pretty sure it’s going to be awesome.

  • $225,000 Patrick Rothfuss will reveal his first piece of fan fiction.

Once, years and miles away, I wrote out the lyrics to a song that gets mentioned in some of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels.

Specifically, I wrote the lyrics to “A Wizard’s Staff Has a Knob on the End.”

This was long, long ago, you realize. Twenty years.

Neverthleless, because I’m a packrat, I managed to find an old copy tucked away in a folder. It was printed out on a dot-matrix printer, for those of you who even know what that is. In computer terms, it’s like finding something written on a papyrus scroll.

It was my first piece of fan fiction. And now that I’ve unearthed it, I’ll be doing a blog about it and posting a video very soon.

  • $250,000 Peter Orullian will perform a heavy metal version of Joss Whedon’s “Ballad of Serenity” theme with lyrics retooled for Worldbuilders.

This also got a lot of laughs in the office.

Future Stretch Goals

We’ve got some awesome stuff lined up for the next two weeks as well:

$275,000 Trey Ratcliff, internationally renowned photographer, will take an “ill-advised” bathroom selfie.
$300,000 Scott Lynch & Elizabeth Bear will give a drunken review of the second Hobbit film.
$325,000 John Scalzi will perform “But Not Tonight” on either ukulele or tenor guitar.
$350,000 Hank Green will seduce a particularly nice-looking tree.
$375,000 Patrick Rothfuss will team up with Mary Robinette Kowal to read the NOTW erotica she wrote.
$400,000 Sandeep Parikh will drink Capri Sun while doing a handstand with other members of The Guild.
$425,000 Bradley P. Beaulieu will read an excerpt from The Hobbit while enjoying the Wisconsin weather.
$433,420 Molly Lewis will perform The Greatest Adventure on various silly instruments.
$475,000
Pat Rothfuss and Amber Benson will write urban fantasy erotica together.
$500,000
Neil Gaiman will read you Green Eggs and Ham.

Now I hear the more observant of you saying, “What’s up with that $433,420 stretch goal?”

Well you see, that’s how much money Worldbuilders managed to raise last year: $433,420.

That is my personal goal for this year’s fundraiser. I would very much like to beat that. If you’d like to see that happen as well, there’s a few things you can do to help.

1. You can donate here.

This one’s obvious. If you donate to Heifer on our Team page, you’re not only making the world a better place, but you can win some of the thousands of books donated by generous authors and publishers.

ShelfJanuary

2. You can help us spread the word.

Share the videos. Tell your friends. Makes some noise on twitter or your blog. (If you’d like to contact us for a more traditional interview, or would like to help out in some other way, here’s our e-mail: questions [@] worldbuilders.org)

3. Let us know what you’d like to see.

If you have any suggestions for future stretch goals, I’d love to see those too. I’m hoping we’ll need to add a few more before we’re done this year….

Thanks for tuning in folks, and thanks for being awesome,

pat

Also posted in a few words you're probably going to have to look up, Acts of Whimsy, Worldbuilders 2013 | By Pat24 Responses

Twitter Contest – The Memes, Cleverness, and Prizes….

So we’re almost a week in, and the twitter contest is ticking along nicely….

(If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you can check out the first blog explaining the game here.)

TheRealRothfussUpdate

There’s been a lot of discussion as to the best way to refer to a group of Rothfi. A ponderance? A blither? Someone very clever suggested “Pontography.” Someone else proposed “Pisser” as the proper collective noun. There were a lot of good ones.

Personally, I think a group of us should be “a maunder of Rothfi.”

And don’t bother running off and seeing which of the profiles has mentioned that. I just made it up right now. I’m not going to tip my hand here.

Grammatical flummery aside, so far the contest has been a ton of fun. I’ve enjoyed it immensely, and it seems like most of the spectators are digging it too.

And honestly I’m amazed at the level of competition. Amazed. I knew I was bringing in clever people here, but I didn’t give them *nearly* enough credit.

But it hasn’t all been sunshine and kisses in the shade. There have been a few problems, and the biggest of these has been…

  • Verification:

Normally, getting verified on twitter is something you strive for. It’s a stamp of legitimacy. It shows you’re *really* Neil Patrick Harris, and not just some schmoe that grabbed a picture off the internet.

Before I started this contest, I thought verification was something you applied for. I thought there was some arduous process, some gauntlet you had to run. A quest you needed to complete that would please the distant ineffible twitter gods, high on their mountain.

And apparently, that’s kinda true. There is a form you can fill out. There is an application you can submit. Many do strive for verification. Apparently John Scalzi himself has been trying to get verified for ages and hasn’t managed it.

But look at what happened to us about 18 hours into our contest:

First Verification

See that little blue checkmark? That means that they *verified* one of our accounts.

What’s really funny is this. We created all these accounts using throwaway e-mail addresses *literally* named like this: twitter1@etc.com, twitter2@etc.com, twitter3@etc.com, twitter4@etc.com…

What’s more, the accounts were all identical except for the name and the picture. They all followed the same 7 profiles. They all had the same tagline: “It’s my job to break your heart.” They all listed my blog as their website. They all had one identical post.

And they’ve all sat there, inactive for more than a year.

Then the contest started, and within 18 hours, one of them got verified.

This is because, in addition to having an application process, twitter has a bot that searches around for people and auto-verifies them.

We were all a little stunned when this happened. We figured it was an odd fluke, and figured out how to remove the verification by changing the name on the profile and changing it back.

Then less than a day later….

The second verification

Re-verified.

We don’t know what sort of algorithm the twitter-bot uses. Nobody does.

After the shock wore off, I realized how hilarious it was. You see, this means is that one of us has completely convinced twitter that this profile is Pat Rothfuss.

And I think this is awesome.

A lot of people have taken this to mean that the contest is over. That it’s spoiled. But nothing could be further from the truth.

The fact is, the only information the twitter-bot has access to is circumstantial. It’s deciding based off the tweets themselves. The friends added. The links linked. I dunno. Maybe the picture, too?

It’s making a judgement based on those things. The same information you have access to.

All this really means is that the twitter-bot has decided to cast its vote early in our contest.

You can trust it if you want. It seems pretty sure of itself.

But personally, I’d like to think that my readers are more independent than that.

In fact, one of my favorite things about the contest so far is watching people declare their allegiance, sometimes just due to a turn of phrase:

@PatRothfuss Header Photo

Or a piece of punctuation:

@patrickrothfuss4

Some folks are just having fun with it:

Beautiful game 2

I see folks planting their flags, then sometimes spinning 180 with such force that you’d be amazed they don’t break their own necks.

beautiful game 4b

Here’s one of my favorites:

Beautiful game 1

I love this. These guys are fucking *into* it. They are using their vasty human intellect to crack this puzzle.

This is the very essence of a #BeautifulGame.

So… yeah. If you want to pick a profile based exclusively on what some computer algorithm thinks. That’s your choice. But honestly? I’m a little sad for you….

  • Other ways to screw yourselves by being too clever.

I know a lot of you are game players. Probably excellent game players. And if you like my books, odds are that you have at least a passing interest in looking for hidden clues.

So when I put this contest together, I knew I had to thwart those tendencies. For example, if you try to guess based on what device different profiles are twittering from? You’re probably going to be wrong. Why? Because one of the requirements for all the players is that they tweet from all manner of different platforms and devices.

Also, you should be aware that some of the profiles started this game with 5000-6000 more followers than others. In the year the profiles sat around, some collected 6-7 thousand followers. Others only collected 1-2 thousand.

So if you look at a profile and think, “Wow, this one has 4000 more followers, obviously that’s the one pat would pick to use as his own.” or “Wow, this is the one pat would pick because this twitter name is more like something he’d want.” you’re kinda screwing yourself.

First, because you’re missing the main point of the contest, to see who’s best at being me.

And second, you’re screwing yourself because when we assigned these profiles, we pulled names out of a hat for each one. They’re deliciously random.

Ultimately, this game is based on skill. It is a contest of trickery, persuasion, and cunning.

If I were you, I’d base your choice off that….

  • What’s still to come.

Two weeks is kind of a long time.  Particularly with something that moves as fast as twitter.  Maybe I should’ve thought of that before, but I had no way of knowing.

Lest things start to get a little same-y. We’re going to add a few things to the contest just to keep things interesting.

One of the suggestions someone made to me was that if I’m selling out and getting on twitter, I might as well go whole hog and start making memes too.

I don’t know if they were being snarky or not, but either way, I think it’s a great idea. I think memes and twitter go together like…

Like a…

Like a pithy writer and a good analogy.

So I’m going to challenge my fellow competitors to meme everyone’s new favorite pet from the photo contest.

That’s right: Ugly Cat.

I’ve never memed before. So we’ll use this as another piece of the puzzle that will help people discover #TheRealRothfuss.

UC-Holding

(Oh Ugly Cat, you still fill me with such joy…)

Are you good to go, gentlemen?  Ready… set…. meme!

  • On Being A Winner.

After my first blog post, there was some confusion about how the money was going to go to the charities in question.

So. Just to clarify, when the contest is over, there will be a great voting. The profile that gets the most votes, wins. The person running that profile will be the winner, and the charity they chose will get the $1000 from DAW.

Originally, that was my entire plan. But now that I’m thinking about it, I don’t see why y’all can’t be in the running for some cool things too….

Iron Drabs resized

These are some prototype drabs we’re working on. They’re not ready to go up in the store yet. But do I have a few we can give away as prizes….

So here’s what we’re going to do.

The whole point of this contest is for people to be clever and have fun. To play a beautiful game.

So starting now, if you do something on twitter that strikes me as particularly cunning, or funny, or sly, or smart. I will make a post along these lines.

“Congratulations, @JoeTwitter. That’s the funniest thing I’ve seen today. You know how to play #ABeautifulGame.”

Or

“That’s a really good point, @JustSusan. I bow to your unassailable Aristotelian logic. Congratulations on #ABeautifulGame.”

Then one of my lovely assistants will get in contact with you, get your mailing address, and we’ll mail you one of these prototype drabs. You can then use that drab to taunt your friends until they cry.

Each of my five Rothfussian comrades will be doing the same thing, of course.

This is a new part of the game. Not only do you have to guess at what might tickle the fancy of the Rothfi, but seeing what behavior each profile rewards should give you a lot of insight into which one of us is #TheRealRothfuss.

Have fun, everyone.

pat

Also posted in a few words you're probably going to have to look up, Beautiful Games, contests, My brilliant ideas | By Pat58 Responses

Concerning Fanmail #3

So a couple months ago, I unlocked another achievement in the great sandbox videogame that is my life.

Specifically, I hit 10,000 pieces of fanmail.

fanmail_10kWhile I occasionally answer questions people send me, or post quotes from letters up on facebook, I haven’t actually written anything about fanmail itself since…

*Pat goes to check the archives*

Wow. Since five years ago. I did two blogs back then. One talking about fanmail in general. And another giving some memorable quotes.

Back in October of 2008, I’d just hit 1500 pieces of fanmail. I was pretty sure it was impossible to get any more mail than that.

Back then, I made a point of answering every piece of fanmail. It’s something I put a lot of effort into, and a lot of time. It was really important to me…

Fast forward to today.

For those of you that are into the specifics, I should clarify that this 10,000 mark is kinda arbitrary. I’m only counting messages that come to me through my website’s contact form. (Right now, because it’s taken me a couple months to write this blog, that total is standing at closer to 12,000 messages.)

That total doesn’t count people who e-mail me multiple times. Folks that contact me through other channels, or messages sent to me through facebook, goodreads, or good old-fashioned paper letters.

20131010_141249[1]

Here’s several hundred RL letters that have been sent over the years. I don’t know if it’s weird for me to keep them, but throwing them away seems unspeakable awful.

I’m guessing that if I totaled up all these varied instances of epistolary perspicacity, it would be somewhere closer to 20,000 pieces of mail.

Back in 2008, I wrote:

Fanmail is great. There have been occasional exceptions to this, like the guy who sent me a message saying that he hoped a dog would bite me on the nuts. But even that made me laugh.

This is still true today. The vast majority of fanmail I get is friendly, witty, touching, or funny. People send me useful info. People tell me stories of how my book has impacted their lives.

Here’s one I got a while back:

Your books have given me a way of communicating with a teenage son who has now metamorphosed from a complete alien to a fine young man.

As a dad myself, I can hardly think of a nicer thing to hear.

Unless it’s something like this:

I would forever live with a small piece of my heart unfulfilled had I not met Kvothe.

I have hundreds of these little snippets from messages my readers have sent me. I hoard them like treasure. Sometimes the best part of my day is a short message someone has sent me. Sometimes it’s a 15 year old girl from Brazil. Sometimes it’s a 70 year old grandmother in Virginia.

But I won’t lie to you. It’s not all good…

*      *      *

Here’s the thing. I used to respond to every piece of fanmail. Even if it was just a brief note. Even if it took me months to get the message out.

Not responding never really occurred to me at first. After all, a lot of these people had written elaborate letters, or said really touching things. Not responding would have felt unspeakably rude….

But eventually I had to give it up. If the reason isn’t obvious, here’s a visual aid to drive the point home….

email-screenshot

That’s a screen capture from my sent items folder back in 2008. If you embiggen it, it paints a grim picture of what my day was like.

So I stopped replying to everyone. It was a slow decline. At first I still replied to most of them. Then half. Then maybe a third. These days it’s dwindled to about one in ten, and even those replies are usually brief.

But the truth is, I never decided to cut back. It’s nothing I ever wanted or deliberately chose to do. It’s something I was forced into because there simply weren’t enough hours in the day. And honestly, I still feel guilty about it.

My one consolation was that I still make a point of reading all my fanmail. On facebook. On goodreads. I read it all.

Well, that’s not entirely true. Sometimes I would get a 4000 word message. Those I skim.

But I’m guessing that the math-savvy among you can see the problem looming, can’t you?

Let’s say I can read each message in just one minute. One minute x 20,000 e-mails ends up being well over 300 hours.

That means just to read that many messages takes me two months of full-time work. That’s assuming every day I did nothing but read e-mail for 8 hours.

That doesn’t count the time it might take me to occasionally respond to a message. Or reading the messages that are more than just 60-70 words long. Many of them are 200-300 words. About as much text as page in a paperback novel.

A more realistic estimate would probably be that it takes me 2-3 minutes on average to read a message.

That means that since 2007, I’ve spent between four and six months of full-time work reading messages people have sent me.

God. I’ve honestly never done that math before. I knew it was a huge chunk of time, but not that much. That’s fucking horrifying.

Because that doesn’t take into account me *replying* to messages or actually taking care of the rest of my daily e-mail. And I get a shit-ton of that, too.

I guess it does make me feel a little better about this though:

outlook screen grab

(Yes. I use an archaic e-mail program. Don’t judge me.)

Let’s ignore the 100+ regular unread messages. And the flashing danger light that is more than 100 unread messages deliberately tucked into a folder called “Important.”

Circled in red, you can see that I’ve got more than 300 unread pieces of reader mail. I’m terribly behind.

And that’s not counting Goodreads:

Good Reads

There’s 80 unread messages piled up there.

My facebook fan page has another 250….

messages tab FB

And that’s *despite* the fact that I’ve pointedly mentioned that it’s a bad place to contact me.

I’d also like to point out that these aren’t a year’s worth of messages. It’s just these last couple months where things have really started to spiral out of my control…

Here’s the worst of it:

photo-6

The stack of unread letters. 50 or 60 of them from all over the world. Probably half a year’s worth. People WROTE these on real paper. They paid money to mail them to me. These are tangible acts of affection, and I’ve been too busy to give them the time they deserve.

And I feel awful about it. All the time.

I was keeping up pretty well until a couple months ago. I jump in occasionally and prune the online messages back…. but it’s like kudzu…

No. That’s not right. Because I’ll say it again, the vast majority of these messages are friendly, or heartwarming, or delightfully eccentric.

Dear Pat,

I admitted to my boyfriend that his only real competition is Kvothe only to have him admit that my only real competition is Kvothe too. I’m simultaneously flattered that only Kvothe can outshine me and impressed that my boyfriend’s sexuality is now under question due to a couple of words you put together.

Though occasionally there are other types of messages….

But I don’t know if I want to get into that. I don’t know if y’all would be interested in hearing about the other kind of messages people send.

On to my point–

Creft. What is my point here? I don’t know anymore. When I started writing this blog hours ago, I really didn’t expect it to get as long as this.

I think these are my points:

1. Part of this is just bitching a little. I’ll cop to that.

And while I’m well aware that it’s hard to get more first-world-problem than: “Oh noes! I have too many fanmails!” the truth is that this *is* my blog. I’m allowed to kvetch a little if I want.

2. Much more than that, this is a blanket explanation and apology to everyone who has e-mailed me and never received a reply.

I am sorry. I wish I had all the time in the world so I could e-mail you back and thank you for taking the time to drop me a line. I wish we could all have lunch together and hang out and talk about fun, useless bullshit all afternoon.

3. I want y’all to know that even if I haven’t replied, I have read your e-mail, your message, your letter, your postcard, your engraved clay tablet, your origami crane, your smoke signal, your telepathic space beam.

I have these missives and appreciated them. They have made me smile and they have made me weepy. They have made me feel proud, and loved, and very, very lucky.

That said, things will have to change soon. I’m not sure *how* they will change, but I need to find a way to keep more time for myself while not feeling hellishly guilty about being selfish for keeping time to myself. This is a hard thing for me.

Until I say otherwise, know that I’m still reading your messages.

Eventually.

Fondly,

pat

Also posted in a few words you're probably going to have to look up, Achievement Unlocked!, fanmail, Surreal enthusiasm, Things I didn't know about publishing, things I shouldn't talk about | By Pat94 Responses

Tit for Tat

Okay. I’ll admit it, I couldn’t come up with a good title for this blog.

What we have up there isn’t just a *meh* title either. It’s a bad title. It implies things that simply are not borne out in the blog itself. This is simply a blog about tattoos.

Let me make it up to you with a utterly useless etymological fact: The phrase “tit for tat” actually comes from an old Norse expression “tip for tap” which meant, literally, “If you hit me, I’ll hit you back.”

How do I know this? Hell. I’m an endless trove of useless, fascinating information. I don’t even bother seeking it out any more. It just comes to me. I accrete it. I pluck it from the luminiferous aether. I apprehend it through examination of my Socratic soul.

It’s also possible that I make some of it up, then forget that I make it up. Or that I dream it. Or that I lie. But you know what? Sometimes I make shit up, and I *know* I just made it up, but it turns out to be real anyway. Or real enough, at any rate.

Anyway, tattoos.

Several years ago, I met someone that had tattooed my signature on their arm. An act of devotion that was equal parts flattering and flummoxing. But I assumed that that event was going to stand by itself as a statistical anomaly.

Then, a while later, someone dropped me a link to a literary tattoo page. I just went looking for now so I could link to it, and got 404′d, but I did find the photo archived somewhere else….

tumblr_m3ngblWc3e1rvxj0ko1_500

If I remember the story from that now-defunct website correctly, she’d been through a bad breakup, and got a Kvothe’s quote as a reminder for herself.

At first I thought, “Wow. That’s pretty cool.” And, of course, I was flattered, too…

…but more than that, I realized I was oddly proud. Those words are words I’m proud to have someone claim as their own.

Since then I’ve had perhaps a dozen people e-mail me or facebook me pictures of their NOTW tattoos.

Tattoo

Most of them are texty:

Tatoo - sun will shine

(“And the sun will still rise in the morning.”)

Some are no text at all…

book cover tattoo

Some have quotes I would expect….

941647_10151677890130908_1405206476_n

Some have quotes that were a surprise to me….

DSC01514

(“Vorfelan Rhinata Morie”)

And some that are as simple as they are obscure:

Tattoo - name

The horrible thing is that I know I have more pictures than these, but I can’t for the life of me find them on my computer. I haven’t cleaned up my desktop in… well… years at least. Maybe forever.

But rather than postpone this blog as I have so many others, I’ll post it up for now, incomplete as it is, with the hope that these pictures bring you some of the geeky joy that they brought me….

Wearily but with love,

pat

Also posted in a few words you're probably going to have to look up, Surreal enthusiasm | By Pat51 Responses

A Paean for Gaiman or What I Learned Reading The Ocean at the End of the Lane

So Neil Gaiman has a new book coming out in June. It’s called The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

I mention this for those of you who live deep in the wilderness or high atop some craggy mountain. (I’m assuming you access my blog with the help of some sort of friendly pigeon, or by using a type of prana-bindu meditation.)

I assume everyone except a complete eremite knows this book is coming out. Because generally speaking, I’m pretty clueless, and I’ve known about it for over half a year.

That means for half a year I have *craved* this book. I have desired it with a sort of grim, white-knuckled intensity that is normally the purview of sociopaths and teenage boys.

The worst part was that I knew Advance Reading Copies existed somewhere, but I didn’t know who I could schmooze to get one. You see, I’m at that point in my career where I know how publishing works, but I’m not exactly sure if it’s entirely cool to… say… contact Neil’s publisher and just ask for an ARC.

Trapped between my powerful desires and my own uselessness, eventually I did the modern equivalent of crying out the name of my beloved to the unfeeling sky, which is to say that I whined about it on goodreads.

Surprisingly, this helped a bit. I got it off my chest and was able to move on with my life.

Then, months later, when I’d almost manged to forget about it, something arrived in the mail:

full book

And on the back cover….

Back coverWait. Wait for it….

It gives me a tingle

Y’know, I feel like I should try to be cool about this. I am a professional author after all, have been for years. That means in some odd way I’m a colleague of Gaiman’s. Part of me feels that, as a professional, I should feign some sort of nonchalance about getting this book.

But it’s just not true. I am the furthest thing from nonchalance. I am brim-full of chalance. Overflowing with it.

The truth is, when I opened the envelope and saw this book, my heart actually beat faster. I was filled with a giddy joy. For a couple days, I carried it around with me. I showed it to my friends, filling them with rage and despair.

The truth is, I’m not a grown up. Underneath all of this, I’m still the same kid who used to spend all his allowance at Waldenbooks.

The truth is, I love books. I love them beyond all reason and sense. I will not pretend otherwise, and I am not ashamed. I am a geek, and the thought of having a special book signed by one of my absolute favorite authors fills me with a ridiculous and disproportionate amount of joy.

So. I got the book. My fondest wish. My heart’s desire.

You know about the shape of stories. You know where things go after this. Now we gently slide into a sweet and simple ending, an easy ever-after. Right?

No. Oh no. If you think that then you’re forgetting who I am. You’re forgetting who Gaiman is too.

I lack the ability to write a simple story with a simple ending. (I am, even now, telling you a story about a story. I cannot help it.)

And Gaiman’s stories, while they may be sweet, are never merely sweet. And when his stories are simple, they are deceptively so.

So this is the place where the story takes a turn.

*     *     *

Once I had the book, I did not read it.

At first the reason was a simple one. I was in the middle of a book. I can’t stop a book halfway any more than you can stop a sneeze. Neither can I read two books at once. The very idea strikes me as being vaguely obscene.

So I finished the book I was reading.

But still I didn’t read The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

The problem this time was that I was busy, putting in 12-14 hour days. Then I was traveling and didn’t want to risk taking the book. When I returned, I was swamped again, desperately trying to catch up on the work I had missed.

Then I caught up a little bit. Not entirely, but enough to have some breathing room. Enough to read.

Still I didn’t read the book.

Through all of this, the book sat on my desk where I could see it. It was nice having it there. Looking at it made me happy. Sometimes I would reach out and touch it a little bit. Occasionally I would pick it up and turn it over in my hands a little.

Then I would put it back down, unopened and unread.

I didn’t think much about it at first. After all, I was still busy. I would wait until I had enough time to relax and enjoy it….

So it continued to sit by my computer. I would reach out and touch it. Its presence comforted me.

Then, after a couple of days, something occurred to me. This is addict behavior. This is exactly how an experienced drug addict with good coping mechanisms treats their stash. Those of you who have had junkie friends will probably know exactly what I’m talking about…

Once I started thinking about my reading in these terms, the parallels were a little disturbing. I read about 150 novels a year, that’s not counting the comic books I’m increasingly fond of. Not nearly as much reading as I used to do, but it’s still a hell of a lot considering I’m usually working 10-12 hours a day.

I binge read. I read compulsively. I have been known to break plans with others in favor of staying home and reading. When I go too long without reading, I get irritable and depressed. The list goes on and on…. 

It kinda sounds like I’m making a joke here, but I’m really not. While labeling my reading a full-blown addiction would be a little silly (not to mention insulting to folks who struggle with genuine chemical addictions) I actually suspect that I may have an honest-to-god compulsive obsession with reading.

That said, as far as compulsions go, I’m pretty okay with it.

Besides, even if I wanted to fight it at this point, I doubt I could break the habit. The thought fills me with genuine horror. (Which is, of course, another sign of addiction.)

Still, the realization was a little troubling. So, looking for a little comfort, I did what I always do.

I started reading The Ocean at the End of the Lane. The only reason it took two sittings is because the restaurant closed and kicked me out.

(I feel as if I should mention at this point there won’t be any spoilers in this blog. I don’t go in for that sort of thing.)

I will say this. It made me smile. I laughed out loud. I cried. Not because of any particular sad moment, but because sometimes the shape a story makes is like a key turning inside me and I cannot do anything but weep.

Gaiman’s stories do this to me with fair regularity, which is one of the reasons I’m so fond of him. We are not similar writers. Not at all. But I like to think we share a fondness for the shape of stories.

Ultimately, when you tell a friend about a book, there is only one truly meaningful question to answer: “Is this book worth your time?”

So I will simply say, “Yes.”

If you’re curious to hear more, I wax more rhapsodic over here on goodreads.

Later,

pat

P.S. Absolutely worth your time…..

Also posted in a few words you're probably going to have to look up, cool things, love, Neil Gaiman, Stories about stories. | By Pat85 Responses
  • Our Store

  • Previous Posts

  • Archives

  • My Twitter

  • Bookmark this Blog

    (IE and Firefox users only - Safari users, click Command-D)