Paste your Google Webmaster Tools verification code here

Category Archives: My Iconoclastic Tendencies

Wherein I Start Reading Fifty (50) Shades of Grey

Okay, so everyone’s been talking about it for ages. Everyone’s reading these books. There’s a movie out. Articles are being written all over the place…

I tend to have a irrational aversion to things that are really popular. But at the same time, I feel its my job to be aware what the general populous is reading.

So I’ve decided to start reading 50 Shades of Grey:
DSC04157

It might take me a little while….

I’ve heard that there’s some racy stuff in there, so I’ve been careful to keep Oot away, lest his innocence be irreparably harmed….

DSC04188

God. He’s such a little ham. I can’t imagine where he gets it from….

DSC04180

Now right now I can hear you thinking, “Pat, did you just spend 500 dollars on books just so you can make a joke on the internet?”

To which I reply: You bet your ass I did. What’s more, I don’t feel even the slightest bit bad about it.

The main reason for this is the fact that Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde is an amazingly good book. And I never feel bad about spending money on books I love. (You can see my gushy review of it over here on Goodreads.)

What’s more, I’m sure I’ll find something else fun to do with these books. Maybe I’ll go and hand them out at the movie theatre to people standing in line to see Fifty Shades of Grey. Maybe I’ll just give them away to friends. Maybe we’ll include them in something we’re doing in the future for Worldbuilders.

That’s all I’ve got for today, folks. Sorry to pun and run….

pat

P.S. And just to head off people who will doubtless be asking in the comments. I haven’t read Fifty Shades of Grey or seen the movie, so I don’t have much of an opinion on them.

That said, I have heard that they’re not a good depiction of proper BDSM behavior. Which is a shame, because tying people up (or being tied up) can be a ton of fun with the right partner if you do it in the right way. Alternately, it can be a supremely bad scene when you do it in the wrong way. Do your homework before jumping into something like this, folks.

P.P.S. There’s only two days left on on the Humble Bundle book deal. Then it’ll be gone forever.

Also posted in Fucking With You, Oot | By Pat69 Responses

NaNoWriMo – Epilogue

So last month I got all riled up and decided to try NaNoWriMo.

I walked into the experience full of  hubris. Despite the fact that I was starting a week late, I was sure I’d be able to stride in, thunder forth 50,000 words, then still have time to make a delicious sandwich, invent a perpetual motion machine, and wrestle a bear before the end of November.

After all, I thought to myself. Am I not a published author? Have I not published over half a million words of fiction? Am I not, in fact, Patrick Rothfuss, international bestselling author, polymath, iconoclast, and haptodysphorian despoiler of women?

In the heat of the moment I forgot that in addition to being those things, I am Pat Rothfuss, who took fourteen years to publish his first book, and four to publish his second. And while *Patrick* Rothfuss looks pretty good on paper, *Pat* Rothfuss is, at his heart, something of a slacker, a dabbler, and a hooligan. What’s more, I am prone to obsessive revision and a certain degree of linguistic faffery.

So let’s jump straight to the ending of the story. Did I win NaNoWriMo?

Well, there are two answers to that.

If  by “win” you mean “did you manage to write 50,000 words by the end of the month?” then the answer is a resounding, “no.”

Not only did I not write 50,000 words, but I broke pretty much all NaNoWriMo’s rules from the very beginning.

You’re supposed to start a novel and stick with that project all the way through the month. You’re supposed to move ever-forward, never looking back, never stopping to revise.

I did none of these things. This is in part because I am a contrary person. (See above, under iconoclast.) But it’s also because I prefer to adhere to the spirit of the law rather than the letter of it. And to me, the spirit of NaNoWriMo is writing 50,000 words.

This I did not do. I was short by about 15,000 words. So no matter if you’re looking at the spirit or the letter of the law, I’m a loser.

(Woo! NaNoWriMo Losers Unite!)

Despite the fact that I failed to hit the 50,000 mark. I consider the experience to be a huge success. Why?

  • I had fun.

Writing is usually a very isolationist activity. Heading onto the NaNoWriMo website every day and seeing how other folks were doing make writing just a *tiny* bit social. Sure, I was spending hours alone in a room, but I was spending all that time alone with other people. If that makes any sense to you.

For example, I found out fairly early that Veronica Belmont was taking her first run at a novel this year. So I wandered over and looked at her stats.

(Click to Embiggen)

Specifically, here’s the graph that charts how many words she’s written every day:

See her powerful lines? See how she’s been on track since day one?

That means she’s been writing the 1,667 words you need to produce every day to reach 50,000 by the end of the month.

By comparison, let’s look at my graph:

(Imagine a sad, cartoony trombone noise here. Wah-wah…)

Now I *did* start a week late. But even so, you have to admit that my graph looks…. um…. sad. One might even call it “wretched” or “sickly.” A particularly scathing person might even use the word, “flaccid.”

I wouldn’t use that word, mind you. But someone might.

When I contacted Veronica to see if she was okay with me using her stats in my upcoming blog, she said something along the lines of, “No problem. Thanks for reminding me I need to get my writing done for the day. I should really quit playing Skyrim…”

Her offhand comment filled me with a burning shame and fury. She was beating my ass AND PLAYING SKYRIM AT THE SAME TIME?

Fueled by shame, I wrote 15,000 words over the next four days.

It wasn’t enough for me to hit 50,000 words. But it was enough so I could end the month with my head held high.

So not only was it fun. It was motivating as well.

  • I got a lot of writing done.

No matter how you slice it, I got 35,000 words in three weeks.

I made serious headway on one project that I’ve been putting off for a while, got a start on another, and finished a third one entirely.

It’s a good feeling, getting those smaller projects done. And as an added bonus, it means y’all are going to be seeing some other stories in the next year while I’m still slogging away on book three.

  • I learned a lot.

Around the 10th day I found myself thinking things like:

I wrote 700 words today when I was answering fanmail.  That counts as writing, right?

To which I had to reply to myself: No. It’s not really writing.

What about the e-mail that I wrote to my editor and agent? That counts as writing, right?

No. You *are* typing words, and it’s part of your job. But it’s not getting work done on a publishable story.

What about the questions I answered on my translator forum?

Ummmm. No. Doesn’t count. It’s not producing new material.

What about the thousand-word blog I wrote? That’s a story. Kinda. And it’s new material.

No. Shut up. Shut up and write.

Ultimately, it made me come to grips with a platonic truth: Only real writing is writing.

Other stuff I learned:

  • I don’t need a big chunk of time to get good writing done.

Normally I like to have 3-4 hours free to write. But just 30 minutes can be productive if  I knuckle down hard.

  • You can always find a reason *not* to write.

Sometimes they’re big reasons. You want to spend time with your adorable baby. You have to take a business trip. Maybe you’re trying to get your awesome yearly fundraiser organized.

But y’know, there’s always going to be something going on. You’re tired. You’ve got a sniffle. Your roommate is being a choad. Your girlfriend wants to make out. You just discovered a cool tower defense game….

You can either let those things stop you from writing, or you can write. It’s that simple.

  • I can write 1000 words in an hour.

On one memorable day, I sat down knowing that I had to meet Sarah soon. In the hour that I had to work, I wrote a thousand words. It felt pretty awesome.

Later that day I came back to the computer and worked on revising the story. I worked for 3 hours and by the end of I was only up about 250 words.

I don’t regret taking the time for revision. Wordcount may be impressive, but revision is vital for a good story. Those 250 words were really important.

  • I learned I can write an entire story in a single sitting.

(This was, by far, the coolest part of NaNoWriMo for me.)

It was the last day of November, and I had painted myself into a corner. I hadn’t been good about writing my daily 1667 words, and I was paying for it. I was only at 32,000 words for the month, and feeling rather ashamed.

I wrote late into the night, then slept in my office. I woke up about seven hours later and sat right back down in front of the computer again.

I opened the story I’d been doing most of my work on over the month, (it’s a novella, set in my world). That’s when I remembered a little idea I’d had the day before when I was walking home.

The idea tickled at me. So rather than potentially forget it, I opened a new file and jotted it down. I jotted down the first line of the story, too. And the first couple of sentences.

Then I finished up the introductory scene. Then I did the second scene too, because it was short, and it was obvious in my head.

And since things were going well, I did another scene. And then I saw how the middle should go. And I was having fun, and it was turning out pretty cool, so I jumped in and started writing that too….
I knew I should be getting back to my novella so I could blaze some trail. I wasn’t going to get a lot of words out of my new story. It was stylistic, the POV was odd, and the language was very lean. But it was turning out really good….

After I finished the middle, I realized it would be stupid for me to do anything other than press on until the end. Because I knew exactly where it was going.

So I finished it. Beginning to end, it took me seven and a half hours. I was exhausted and excited. I’d never done anything like that before.

That final day sort of summed up my entire NaNoWriMo experience. Technically, I failed because I didn’t churn out a huge number of words. But realistically, I rang the bell hard and won the fuzzy pink elephant.

And you want to know the funny part?

You want to know the final wordcount on the story?

1667 words.

No kidding.

Also posted in a few words you're probably going to have to look up, Achievement Unlocked!, hubris, Nathan Taylor Art, small adventures, the craft of writing | By Pat61 Responses

Fanmail FAQ: NaNoWriMo

Pat,

Do you know about National Novel Writing Month? I’ve tried it for three years now, though I’ve only ever managed to make 50,000 words one time back in 2009.

I was just wondering if you’d ever tried it. In some ways, it seems like it might be like your thing. But the more I thought about it, it seems like it might NOT be your thing. Your writing is really carefully put together, mythic and lyrical, so I could see how your style wouldn’t really lend itself to being able to write a whole 50,000 words in a single month.

So I guess I have two questions:

1. Have you ever done NaNoWriMo? (I’m guessing no, because I couldn’t find you on their website.)

2. Do you have any tips for keeping up this grueling writing pace? How do you stay motivated?

A fan,

Jake

For those of you who don’t know what Jake is talking about, National Novel Writing Month is when people who want to write get together in November and vow to get 50,000 words done on their novels in a single month.

I’ve actually known about it since the year 2000. I remember the date because one of my web-savvy friends caught wind of it. He knew I’d been working on a novel and thought I might be interested.

My immediate reaction was dismissive disdain.

You see, in November of 2000, I was in the midst of the most productive writing jag of my entire life. I’d been working on “The Book” off and on for over six years, and I was finally closing in on the end of huge arcing story that I’d started by writing, “My name is Kvothe” on a friend’s computer back in 1994.

At that time in my life, I’d been tracking my writing progress for a couple years. I was taking it seriously and held myself accountable for 1500 words or three hours of writing a day. Whichever came first.

I’d been keeping up that pace for the better part of a year. But as I closed in on the ending of my story, the writing got faster and faster. I could write for 10 or 12 hours at a stretch, day after day, and it came easy as breathing.

So when my friend brought NaNoWriMo to my attention, my thoughts were roughly along these lines:

“I laugh at your piddly 50,000 words! I am a golden god of writing! I’ve been doing this on my own for years! I don’t need some gimmicky bullshit for encouragement! I’m a *real* writer….”

Over the next couple weeks, I finished my draft and started revising. Several months later, I went to grad school. There, under the soul-crushing boot heel of academia, my vast torrent of creative output dwindled until it was a tiny trickle that resembled an an old man in Waiting for Godot trying to take a piss.

I spent the lion’s share of the next two years getting rejected by agents, revising The Book, then getting rejected by agents again. When someone pointed out NaNoWriMo a second time, I looked down my nose at it, thinking something along the lines of:

” Writing is something you do all the time, not just one month out of the year! Besides, it’s not the length of a book that matters. It’s how polished it is. I know that now because I’m a *real* writer.”

In 2005, a third friend mentioned NaNoWriMo to me. Again, I scoffed at it:

“I’ve been published in an anthology,” I thought to myself. “I have an agent. I’ve written a 500,000 word fantasy trilogy. I have nothing to prove. I write because I’m a writer, not because for one month out of the year it’s fashionable. I’m not doing this out of some desperate need for social approbation. I’m doing this because I’m a *real* writer.”

By 2008 The Name of the Wind had been on the shelves for a year, and I was woefully behind deadline for the second book. Some of my fans asked me if I was going to participate in NaNoWriMo. It came at a bad time, because I was feeling guilty for missing my deadline. So this time I didn’t merely scoff, I scorned:

“I’m a professional author now,” I thought. “I’ve sold a book. I’ve hit the New York Times bestseller list. I’m published in multiple countries. I don’t need to get into a circle and sing kumbaya. I don’t need to join a cult of newbies and wankers. I write because it’s my job. I’m a *real* writer.”

Now it’s 2011 and people are asking me about NaNoWriMo again. You’re not the only one, Jake.

I like to think I’m a little wiser than I was a few years ago. I’ve certainly learned a lot about writing. If nothing else, I’ve come to realize one single fact:

Anything that motivates you to write is a good thing.

For some people, having a writing group helps. Others take a class. Some people go out and get their MFA’s. Some people drink gin and smoke black tar heroin.

And for some people, NaNoWriMo provides a swift kick up the ass that helps them put pen to paper.

Everyone is different. Ultimately, what motivates a writer is a very personal thing. What works for me, Jake, might not work for you….

For example I’ve come to realize that I have a strong seam of contrarian in the bedrock of my personality. If someone says I can’t do something, a piece of my hind brain rears up and says, “the fuck I can’t!”

In the past this has led me into trouble. I’ve done all manner of stupid shit because someone’s dared presume I wouldn’t. Examples include making a naked snow angel, living for a week using nothing but my wits and three dollars, and eating an entire package of ranch seasoning. (Not ranch dressing, mind you. That would have been easy. I’m talking about the seasoning packet that you would use to make a pint of ranch dressing.)

I’ve mellowed somewhat in my old age, and these days the heavy-handed “I dare you…” taunts that used to set me off no longer have any power to sway me.

But your subtle implication that my writing style “wouldn’t really lend itself to being able to write a whole 50,000 words in a single month” made me raise my hackles a little bit.

“Who does this little punk think he is?” I found myself thinking. “Implying I can’t swing NaNoWriMo? You think I can’t be mythic and lyric AND write 50,000 words? The fuck I can’t!”

So. I’m going to participate this year. What’s more, I’m going to officially start now, on November 7th. That’s right, Jake, I’ve given you a week’s head start. You just try to stay ahead of me.

For more than a decade, I didn’t give NaNoWriMo a fair shot. More than that, I actively maligned it.

But never let it be said I can’t admit I’m wrong. I’m willing to eat my words. I’d make you eat your words too, Jake. But you know what? I’m going to eat them instead. I’m going to eat all the words I can get my hands on in this next month and turn them into mythic, lyric story that will break your heart.

And then I’m going to go update my wordcount on the profile I just created on the NaNoWriMo website.

Because I’m a real writer.

pat

Also posted in Fanmail Q + A, FAQ, the craft of writing | By Pat91 Responses

The Way of Kings

I have trouble taking things seriously. If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, this probably doesn’t come as a huge surprise to you.

In medieval times, people probably would have referred to me as “Phlegmatic” and attributed this tendency to an imbalance of my humors. These days people just think of me as an an irreverent asshat.

It’s especially bad when I’m asked to write anything remotely promotional. A good example of this is my endless struggle with biography.

It’s also a real problem when I want to write a blurb for someone’s book.

I very rarely give blurbs, and part of the reason for this is when I sit down to write one, I feel like I have to be all professional and formal. I feel like I should use words like, “Luminous” and “Scintillating” and “Perspicacious” “Resplendent.”

But that’s not how I talk. If I really liked a book, I would say to my friend, “This is a really fucking good book. Seriously. Have you read it? No? Go buy it, shitweasel.”

However, that’s not really the sort of thing publishers are looking to print on the cover of a book.

My most recent experience blurbing a book was when Brandon Sanderson sent me an ARC of the Way of Kings a while back.

I read the book and liked it, which irritated me. Brandon writes way faster than I do, and his books are consistently good. This means that I feel like I should really despise him. Either that or hunt him down like an animal so I can devour his liver and thereby gain some of his power.

But even though I’ve tried really hard, I can’t help but like him. Brandon’s a really nice guy.

So I sit down and try to write a professional style blurb for him. Here’s what I come up with:

“Brandon Sanderson is one of my favorite new authors, and The Way of Kings continues his tradition of creating vivid, fantastic worlds for us to visit.”

How’s that for awful? That isn’t just some first quick attempt, either. I worked for like twenty minutes to come up with that. It’s one part bland, one part stiff, and two parts fake-sounding. “Continues his tradition”? Who the hell says something like that? Not me.

So I try again:

“Sanderson knows how to tell a good story, and he’s created another vivid and fantastic world in The Way of Kings.”

If anything, this one’s even worse. It’s more boring. And I’m clinging to the word “vivid” like it’s somehow going to keep me from looking like an idiot.

At this point I’m frustrated. So I quit taking the whole process seriously and write,

“Brandon Sanderson’s books are so good that he’s starting to piss me off.”

And you know what? It feels pretty good. That’s something I’d actually say out loud. And in its own way, that blurb is more honest and complementary than the other two.

So I decide to run with it, and write.

“This book is cool, and Brandon Sanderson smells like fresh-baked cookies.”

“Sanderson’s newest Brobdingnagian epic is sure to please. Look it up, bitches.”

“Brandon Sanderson’s new book is printed on delightfully soft-yet durable paper. With more than a thousand pages, The Way of Kings is sure to bring you several weeks of good, solid use, though that may vary according to your diet and personal hygiene.”

“When’s book two coming out? What’s taking so long?”

“Brandon Sanderson is one of the great new writers on the scene today. And he’s not hard on the eyes either. Rawr.”

“The Way of Kings is a tour-de-force. Luminously meretricious, yet with a round oaky underbite, this book offers notes of toffee and broam with just a hint of having someone’s nephew hit you in the groin with a tennis ball. Best served with fish.”

Writing these sorts of blurbs come really naturally to me.

After about an hour of this, I sent a handful of potential blurbs along to Brandon and his agent. I told them the truth, that I suck at giving the classic blurb.

And that was the last I thought of it until I wandered into the bookstore two days ago and saw that The Way of Kings has just hit the shelves.

I picked it up just to check how many long it was. It’s over a thousand pages, so that made me feel better about The Wise Man’s Fear. Especially because I just added a new chapter yesterday.

Then I flipped it over and saw this:

What’s that down there on the bottom?

Just me and Orson Scott Card, hanging out on the back of Brandon Sanderson’s book.

And you know what? I kinda like my blurb. It’s not fancy, but then again, I’m not a fancy person. But sincere? I’ve got sincere in spades.

If you’re looking for something to read, you might want to check it out…

Best,

pat

Also posted in my dumbness, recommendations, the art of blurbing, Things I didn't know about publishing | By Pat129 Responses
  • Our Store

  • Previous Posts

  • Archives

  • My Twitter

  • Bookmark this Blog

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