Category Archives: Diogenes

A New Addition to the Family

So just a couple days ago, The Wise Man’s Fear came out in trade paperback.

(Cue the music from 2001.)

The new format looks even more monolith like than the hardcover. And in fact, there’s only a few differences between the two:

1. It’s cheaper.

2. It’s smaller.

3. We fixed a couple typos.

4. The front cover is slightly different. Now instead of saying, “New York Times Bestseller Patrick Rothfuss,” it says:

Which, I have to admit, makes me feel a little cool….

The last big difference is that this version has blurbs for The Wise Man’s Fear on the back.

(Click to embiggen.)

A lot of these quotes I hadn’t actually seen before. So that was pretty cool…

I got to actually hold my first copy a couple of days ago. They used the same nice paper as the hardcover, so the book still has a solid weight to it. A satisfying feel. But the way I feel holding this book is far from objective….

The cherry on top of the book release sundae was a four-color ad in the New York Times Review of Books.

The ad quotes from the extraordinarily flattering blog George Martin wrote a while back when he was talking about who he was going to nominate for the Hugos this year.

You’ll notice that this picture is not guest starring my thumb, which is usually the case. This is actually guest starring the thumb of Amanda, one of the assistants I mentioned in my last blog.

It’s odd to me that out of all of this, that one small thing is what strikes me as most odd about all of this: Her thumb.

You see, four years ago, my publisher took out an add in the New York Times to help promote the paperback release of The Name of the Wind. At that point in my life, I’d barely been published for a year. I was a complete fluffy puppy of a newbie author, and the fact that my book was being advertised threw me for such a loop that I wrote a blog about it called Following Diogenes.

Then I walked to the grocery store to buy a copy of the paper so I could see the add for myself.

Now, four years later, I’ve got another ad. This one is in color and features glowing praise from an author who is, if not the biggest name in fantasy today, is at least in the top three.

And today, instead of walking to the store myself, my assistant grabbed me a copy.

It’s not just my assistant, either. One of my *several* assistants. I am now a corporate entity. I can’t do my own taxes anymore. Today I was talking to a friend and when I stopped to count, I realized that I employ nine people. Ten if I count myself.

I mean, what the hell is up with that? What has happened to my life that I now employ myself? I actually write myself a paycheck.

In what world does that make fucking sense? Am I supposed to give myself performance reviews and shit? Should I give myself a stern talking to if I’m late to a meeting with myself? At some point in the future, if I get increasingly insubordinate, will I be forced to fire myself and bring in someone else to do my job?

I know I’m into The Meta and everything, but all of this seems recursive to the point of absurdity.

(Recursive Absurdity would be a good name for a band, by the way….)

What’s my point? Fuck. I don’t know. I don’t mean to imply that I’m not happy with the way my life is going. I know I’m very lucky. I’ve met with more success than I have any right to.

But on the other hand, for someone whose personal philosophy has always been to strive toward simplicity, I seem to be doing kind of a shit job of things.

Gech. I’m rambling. And this blog has gone from fun and informative to something bordering on existential angst. What can I do to bring it up out of a nosedive before the end?

Ah. Of course. I’ll focus on my favorite complication. Little Oot.

Quick story: A couple weeks ago, Oot was nursing after a nap.

Then he stopped nursing, hugged Sarah’s breast, and said, “This is my birthday Christmas boob!”

I swear I didn’t make that up.

Lastly, here’s a picture of Oot wearing a Jayne hat that a fan made for him. The picture is pretty old at this point, but it’s got cuteness in spades….

Rather cunning, don’t ya think?

pat

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Also posted in book covers, book two, emo bullshit, Oot | By Pat51 Responses

The Art of Letting Go….

Today, as I sat at my computer answering e-mail and worrying about the election, a lovely person in Japan sent me this photo….

(The Great Buddha in Kamakura, reading my book.)

Seeing this picture made me realize that somewhere along the line, I have lost my way.

I used to be very Buddhist in my thinking. Well… perhaps not *very* Buddhist. But somewhat Buddhist, especially for a westerner. My philosophical beliefs are an eclectic hodgepodge at best, but there’s some good stuff in Buddhism. Stuff that makes a lot of sense.

One of the foundation stones of Buddhist philosophy is especially appealing to me. Namely, that desire leads to suffering.

For example: You see a kid at the grocery store. He wants a candy bar. His mom says no. Result? Suffering. He pitches a fit. Similarly, when I was in my early twenties, I spent a long time desiring various types of romance, and because none was forthcoming, suffering ensued. Much suffering.

It’s simple. The more things you desire, the greater your potential for suffering. It’s basic math. And when you stop to think about it, the solution is obvious. If you want less suffering in your life, you simply have to reduce your desires. You need to let go of things.

This particular truth fits in well with other parts of my personal philosophy: my love for simplicity, my appreciation for the cynicism of Diogenes, and my basic bumish laziness.

I used to be good at letting go. I kept my life simple and had few desires. That was what made it possible for me to work on my book for more than a decade without wanting to kill myself. I told myself the truth: that it would probably never be published. I did my best to avoid that desire (sometimes with only moderate success) and therefore saved myself a lot of disappointment over a great many years.

But lately, I’ve fallen from that path. I worry endlessly about all manner of things. I feel responsible for so much. I want to make sure book two is really good. I want to to be pleasing for my fans and successful for my publisher. I want to lose some weight. I want my country to get back on track, to take care of its citizens and stop shitting on the rest of the world. I want, I want, I want….

And for a year now, I’ve been wondering why, for the most part, I’m not really happy. It sounds really horrible to say, but it’s true. By the numbers, I’m way ahead of the game. But emotionally….

Here’s the deal. It’s one thing to be unhappy when your dog gets hit by a car and your house burns down. You should be unhappy then. Everyone can understand that. That’s a sensible response to your situation.

But when your book gets published, becomes a bestseller, and gets translated into a billion languages you’re supposed to feel good. You’re supposed to feel super-amazing-good. But a lot of times I don’t. That’s not sensible. I don’t understand it, and it frustrates me. Not only that, but it seems downright perverse at times. Then on top of it all, I feel like a real shit for not constantly feeling like the universe is giving me a hummer.

So why, I constantly ask myself, was I so perfectly content as a poor teacher with an unpublished book and 20,000 dollars of credit card debt? Now I own a goddamn riding lawnmower, and I worry about my lawn. For over a year now I’ve had a solid knot of tension nestled between my shoulderblades like a lump of hot lead. I worry about the next translation of my book. I worry about my carbon footprint. I worry that in writing this blog, I’m going to come off as an utterly self-absorbed frothing emo titmonkey.

But writing about it helps. That’s what I do, you see. I write about things. That’s my deal.

People who don’t write usually assume that writing is a process of communication. They think I have something in my head, and I’m just transcribing it onto the page.

But that really isn’t the truth. Writing is a process of discovery. I think about things, but then when I start to write about them, I learn things while I write. I figure things out *because* I write. This happens in poems. In those silly satire columns I write, in the novel, and today, it’s been happening here in the blog.

Right now in fact. I think I’ve finally put my finger on something important. Desire. I have been too much with the world lately, getting and spending. I think I need to start letting go.

I realize that might sound ominous, but it isn’t. I feel good. Better than I have in months. Letting go shouldn’t be seen as giving up, either. In Buddhist philosophy, once the problem of suffering is realized, there is still right thought and right action.

So now I’m going to go vote, largely without desire. It feels good letting go of that. Later I will work on the book without desire.

In between those two, I think I will go the Kebab House for lunch. Sometimes they serve a great soup called “Fire and Rice.” That, I think, I will desire just a little. Because it is really good soup, and no matter what else I might be, I’m still only human.

Later everyone,

pat

Also posted in foreign happenings, hodgelany | By Pat61 Responses

Do Not Bounce.

So, I can’t imagine my life without Dr. Horrible. I’m dimly aware of doing things prior to watching it. I wrote a book, learned to walk, lost my virginity, etc etc. Silly things. Trivial things.

Joss Whedon. I don’t think there’s even a word for what I feel for him.

There’s awe, that’s a given, plus a vasty respect. Then those two emotions are tangled up with an odd, primal terror. I know that sounds odd, but that’s the only way I can describe it. He terrifies me. It’s the same fear a caveman would feel when confronted with, say, Opimus Prime. It’s the terror that drove people to burn witches at the stake. Why? Well, because they can do things. They have preternatural abilities that freak us out right down to the marrow of our bones.

So. You take that knot of molten awe, respect, and holy terror, wrap it up in a fluffy blanket of love, then sprinkle it lightly with toasted coconut. That’s how I feel about Joss Whedon. Is there a word for that? If not, we need one.

Were I not Pat, I would be Diogenes. Were I neither of those, I would be Joss Whedon.

But I’m not. I can’t be Dr. Horrible either. Is it wrong that I want to dress up like him? Where can I get a lab-coat like that?

I think that there might be something wrong with me….

By tomorrow I’m guessing I will have settled down a little. But right now I’m thinking I might want to do a video blog or two. But honestly, I don’t know if that’s a good idea, I am many things, but I’m no Neil Patrick Harris.

What about you guys? Would any of you be interested in seeing a video blog?

pat

Also posted in geeking out, Joss Whedon | By Pat52 Responses

Following Diogenes

The other day I was getting dressed, and I experienced something unfamiliar, something I couldn’t remember ever experiencing before.

For this to make sense, I need to explain something first. I’m a sensation seeker.

Some people with this personality trait call themselves “thrill seekers,” but that’s not really appropriate in my case. I don’t feel the need to jump off bridges and go snorkeling with sharks. I’m not an adrenaline junkie — I simply like to experience new things.

And if you have my peculiar type of curiosity, there are new things all over the place. This is part of the reason I like meeting people and going places. It’s why I like reading books, which is like meeting people and going places except you don’t have to take a shower and find your pants first.

Hmmm…. I still feel like I might be giving the wrong impression. I’m not talking about going anywhere exotic. A few years ago I really enjoyed visiting a small town called Amherst – population: not much. They had a great river, and the locks on the public mailboxes were really cool. New York was interesting too, but despite all the museums and landmarks I saw, the thing that I liked the most were the pigeons and the sidewalks. The sidewalks in Soho are really great.

It would probably be fair to say that I’m a thrill seeker with simple tastes. If you’ve ever been driving around central Wisconsin and seen someone running his hands over the bark of a tree, or staring intently into the water that’s running along the gutter and into a storm drain, it was quite possibly me.

The point of all this is that I am tuned to the sensation of a new experience.

So a few days ago, I was getting dressed. I was halfway thought putting on my socks when I realized that I was experiencing something new…. But for the life of me I couldn’t put my finger on what it was.

It took me the better part of a minute to figure it out: I was sitting on my bed while I put on my socks.

The socks weren’t the new thing. The new thing was sitting on the bed while putting them on. Normally I put my socks on standing up. Part of the reason I do this is because I have ninja-like balance that I use at every opportunity, lest I dull my keen fighting edge. But the main reason I’ve always done it this way is that for the last 15 years I haven’t owned a bed.

Where do I sleep? Well, with the exception of a few years of futon while in grad school, I’ve usually just slept on a mattress on the floor.

I use sheets, mind you. I’m not an animal. I just never bothered getting all those other parts that go together with the mattress to make it a bed.

While I was sitting on my bed, thinking, “Hmm. This is different,” I realized y’all probably have a terribly inaccurate idea of what my life is like. You’ve come in at the end of the story, so to speak.

It would be reasonable for you to assume that my life has always been this luxurious, full of beds, posh coffee drinks, and Chinese food delivered directly to my house. But the truth is, for most of my life I have practiced simplicity of living. As a philosophy, it is very appealing to me. And, as a bonus, when you aren’t worried about making a lot of money, it frees up a lot of your time for writing.

Simplicity has come naturally to me over the years. It’s easy when you don’t have much money. I live cheaply, move often, and don’t focus on frippery. Please don’t compare me to Thoreau. While he made some good points, Thoreau was kind of a poser.

No. Ever since I studied the Greek philosophers, I’ve done my best to follow in footsteps of Diogenes. The man who threw away his bowl after seeing a boy drinking out of his cupped hands. The man Plato called, “Socrates gone mad.” Brilliant, bitter, barefoot Diogenes.

This means for most of my adult life I’ve only owned one pair of shoes, one coat, and one pair of pants. I’ve eaten a lot of ramen. (Chicken Maruchen ramen, given a choice.) Before selling the book, I never paid more than $250 a month for rent, or more than ten dollars for a piece of furniture.

No, wait, that isn’t true. I paid 80 bucks for a desk back in 1998. It was one of those plywood assemble-it-yourself kits. Two years later I moved, and when I realized it couldn’t be taken apart, I just ripped the top piece off and laid it across two filing cabinets. That’s what I still use for a desk. That’s what I’m typing on right now.

Do I have a point? No. Probably not. Except to say that life is strange. I have lived most of my adult life happily poor. (Though I have never been truly desperate or destitute by any means.) Now I have a bed. A real bed with a box spring and a frame and everything. I recently bought a dishwasher. I have a house — or at least a mortgage in the shape of a house.

I’ve been up all night, writing and thinking. And before I lay down in my new bed in my new house and catch a refreshing day’s sleep, I’m going to go out and buy a couple copies of the Sunday edition of the New York Times. This is another thing I’ve never done before. I wonder how heavy three copies will be? How much does the Times cost?

I’m buying a Sunday paper because there is a full page ad for The Name of the Wind in there today. A full-page color ad. And though I don’t know the specific numbers, I expect this ad cost the publisher more money than I made in a year of teaching at the university. It is terribly flattering. It is a glamorous gesture of faith and support. It shows that they really believe in the book.

Today I have a full-color ad in the New York Times, and my life is strange. This is not a bad thing. After I post this up on my blog, I will take a shower, put on my only pair of pants and walk downtown to buy a Sunday paper for the first time. Spring is finally here in Wisconsin, and though the trees are still dark and leafless, the ground has thawed. It is almost fifty degrees out. More luxury. More than I deserve. I will celebrate by leaving my only pair of shoes at home and make my way barefoot, pretending for a while that I am still following Diogenes.

Take care everyone,

pat

*** Edit – 9:45 AM ***

First off, it turns out it isn’t a color ad. That makes me feel better, actually.

Secondly, they reallydon’t want to let you into the grocery store if you don’t have any shoes on. Even if it’s just so you can buy a paper. Even if it’s just for a minute so you can buy a paper that has an ad for your book in it.

If it wasn’t for the authority of my majestic beard, I don’t think they would have let me through….

Thirdly:

(Click to Embiggen)

Whoot!

pat

Also posted in cool things, day in the life, the man behind the curtain | By Pat36 Responses
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