My Misspent Youth.

So a couple days ago, I come home, open the door, and find this waiting for me:

My first thought is that I might have blacked out and overdone it on Amazon again. But when I looked closer I realized what was really going on:

My book. My baby.

My next thought was that these might be my author copies. But there was WAY too many for that. Then I remembered that a couple weeks ago, one of the PR people at Penguin told me that a bookstore owner had read the advance copy of the book and really loved it. He wanted to buy a hundred copies for his store, and was wondering if I would sign them for him.

I said, “sure, no problem,” then pretty much forgot about it.

Carrying all the books inside really made me realize that 100 books is, to put it delicately, a whole shitload. And this is just for one store….

So anyway, I pulled out a book and decided to get started. I figured this was going to take me a while, unpacking, signing, then repacking the books to ship back out.

But before I even opened the first book, I was paralyzed with performance anxiety. Seriously. I held the pen and thought, “What if my signature doesn’t look… well… authory enough?”

You know that phase you go through when you’re in middle school, where you practice your signature so you’re ready for when you become a rock star and have to sign autographs all the time? I know most of my peer group went through this somewhere between the ages of 11 and 16. One of my friends actually developed an entire variant style of cursive writing that he’s used ever since. It was, and still is, totally cool looking.

Anyway, I never went through that phase. I wanted to be a rock star. But I suspected I didn’t have the right sort of hair. I also had the penmanship of a demented monkey. Plus, I was lazy and had no musical talent to speak of.

Instead I wasted my time reading books, talking to girls, and doing my physics homework. As I looked down at the hundred books I was supposed to sign, I mourned my misspent youth.

So I sat down and signed my name a couple times. Its one of those things that’s easy if you’re not thinking about it, and hard when you’re concentrating too much. I suddenly became very aware of the fact that the O leading into the T and the H is kinda hard to do quickly. If you rush it, you get tripped up and your H gets tangled up with the F.

That’s right. Laugh it up. It’s a hard name to sign, especially when you’re obsessing, and nervous, and you have, at best, the penmanship of a third grader.

Anyway, I toughed it out and did my best. I still think my signature looks a little goofy, and there are a few of them where the H looks like it’s getting freaky with the F, and the F might not be entirely cool with it. But still, given the fact that I started this whole process with a significant handicap, I think I did pretty well.

I just finished the last one, repacked the boxes, and got them ready to send out.

So before I go to bed, I’d like to give you aspiring writers out there some advice. Learn from my mistakes. Practice your signature now.


This entry was posted in My checkered past, my rockstar life, Things I didn't know about publishingBy Pat23 Responses


  1. Shawn C. Speakman
    Posted March 27, 2007 at 2:03 AM | Permalink

    Shall I take a picture of the boxes o’ books you’ll soon be signing, Pat? heheCongrats on learning how to write again. Must be truly tough. The amusing thing is some year down the road after your signature has morphed into its final, paralysized state those early signed copies — with their unsure hand — will be worth a mint. *grins*

  2. Miriam
    Posted March 27, 2007 at 5:47 AM | Permalink

    This entry made me go “awwwww”. Very true though. I guess I should practice my signature now. My handwriting is probably worse than yours–it LOOKS like a demented monkey my four-year-old brother would draw. So there.

  3. Maryelizabeth Hart
    Posted March 27, 2007 at 4:12 PM | Permalink

    Hi, Patrick:All of us, especially Patrick, are delighted you have the books and are eagerly awaiting the signed first editions to share with our customers!Pax,Maryelizabeth

  4. Pat
    Posted March 27, 2007 at 4:28 PM | Permalink

    Heh. Thanks Mary. It was a good time, and it did make me feel like a rockstar for a while. It was also good practice. Otherwise I would probably have had a similar episode in public when I tried to have my first signing. Thanks for sparing me that. pat

  5. Steven Ford
    Posted March 27, 2007 at 4:35 PM | Permalink

    Ever since I heard you were going to be doing book signings, I’d been wondering to myself “does his handwriting still look like a drunken 3rd grader’s?”I can’t believe you haven’t been practicing all along…Enjoy your big day, I’m so excited for you. I’ll expect my signed copy sometime in the near future … ;)Been trying to reach you recently, by the way… but can imagine just how crazy things are. Hope to catch up with you soon.Take care.

  6. Pat
    Posted March 27, 2007 at 4:54 PM | Permalink

    Steve! You were the one I was talking about when I mentioned the guy who deveoped his own cursive style. Do you still write like that? If so, do you want to come out to the signing and pretend to be me with your much cooler signature? pat

  7. Anonymous
    Posted March 28, 2007 at 3:04 AM | Permalink

    LOL Yea I remeber jumping around my bed room with a hairbrsh-mic. Jump off the bed then sign my name a couple hundred times to all my stuffed fans.But hey look at it this way from what I have seen the richer someone is the worse their penmenship. Just look at doctors. The more money you pay them the harder it is to read the Rx.Mabey you could come up with some little thing to put after your name like I don’t know a small simple leaf or star or spider. I don’t know. I’m a blond and just taking up space.Lots of Luck Stef

  8. David Anthony Durham
    Posted March 28, 2007 at 2:54 PM | Permalink

    Patrick,Just stopping in to say hello. I had the pleasure of reading a review of your book on the Agony Column. It was a great review, even more enjoyable for me because my fantasy debut, Acacia, was reviewed right along with it!Rick Kleffel liked both our books, and says so wonderfully. The url to it is:, all the best with your book – and I know exactly what you mean about the signature thing. I’ve taken to only signing my last name – less of it to mess up.Best,David.

  9. Steven Ford
    Posted March 28, 2007 at 3:50 PM | Permalink

    Heh, if only I could help you sign… I just wish I was back in Wisconsin to catch one of your signings. I assume my writing is still as purty as ever, it hasn’t changed much… though my signature has gotten less legible, but much quicker, than it once was. I swear, the best practice for you would be to buy a house… nothing like signing your name 400 times to make you find a groove… Hope your first signing went well. Get your people to find you somewhere in New England for a signing and come see us dangit.

  10. Scott Oden
    Posted March 28, 2007 at 11:39 PM | Permalink

    Now I don’t feel so bad about practising my ‘author signature’ :) Congrats on the book!(Found you via David Anthony Durham’s blog)

  11. K. M. Hammond
    Posted March 29, 2007 at 3:06 AM | Permalink

    Isn’t there some invention somewhere that “signs” a book for the author? You could just use that–no more “performance anxiety” over autographs. And since it’s a machine, you won’t have to bother with personalizing or anything. You could even use someone else’s handwriting for the template and just claim that it’s yours–no one would know the difference!Yes. The brilliance of technology. I love it.

  12. Chad Van Ess
    Posted March 29, 2007 at 10:12 PM | Permalink

    Pat – I’m with Steve. Let’s see a New England tour in the near future. I’m in Boston and I think Steve is in Maine, so why don’t we meet in southern NH and split the difference?I distinctly remember the signature practice. Wasn’t everbody jealous of Busse’s signature and that’s how it started? I remember Steve’s to be the best too. I still cross my “v” with my “n” to this day. In other words, I’m still trying too hard.

  13. Browen
    Posted March 30, 2007 at 12:57 PM | Permalink

    Hey Pat,So here I was thinking I was going to have to wait to read your book until:A. I sent Andy some money and he got me a spiffy signed copy (I still want one, just to let you know! But I MUST READ YOUR BOOK!!!)B. Had to order a copy and wait forever for it to come in…But imagine my surprise when I just checked my local Border’s all the way here in Maine to find out your book is in stock!!! I reserved it and most certainly will be picking it up tonight. I can’t wait to read it. Congratz!I’m so happy I could pee!

  14. browen
    Posted March 30, 2007 at 1:00 PM | Permalink

    p.s. I am also with Steve and Chad, get your butt to New England….specifically Maine for a signing. I will shamelessly promote your book in the meantime.

  15. Steven Ford
    Posted March 30, 2007 at 4:30 PM | Permalink

    Well, that’s two calls for a visit to Maine. Though I didn’t know you knew anyone else out here… I honestly don’t remember practicing a signature much though… guess my youth was rather misspent as well… still, not much call for autographs among engineers…

  16. Browen
    Posted March 30, 2007 at 5:05 PM | Permalink

    Okay, he doesn’t -technically- know me. Just through association. I’m a friend of a good friend of his :D And a fan.And I plan on getting other people hooked on Pat. It’s part of the evil plan to have Pat take over the world. Shhh, don’t tell anyone – it’s a secret. :D

  17. Teri Pettit
    Posted April 1, 2007 at 4:08 AM | Permalink

    Signatures don’t get more elegant with practice, they just get more and more abstract. That’s why doctors’ signatures are nearly always wavy lines that bear only a tenuous relationship to actual script. Readers who buy this first batch of your signed books will probably possess the most legible version of your signature that the public will ever see.So, are you going to have a signing tour? I couldn’t find anything about a tour schedule on the web site.

  18. Darkson
    Posted April 1, 2007 at 4:19 PM | Permalink

    Have you ever seen Steven Brust’s signature? How about Charles DeLint’s? I’m sure you’ll fit right in. I just picked up my copy of your book at Uncle Hugo’s yesterday, right before I had the pleasure of having Kim Harrison sign some books for me. I’m home sick today and taking advantage of the fact to get as many pages read as my congested head will allow. Looking forward to having you write in my copy later this month.

  19. Anonymous
    Posted April 4, 2007 at 6:05 PM | Permalink
  20. Anonymous
    Posted April 4, 2007 at 6:08 PM | Permalink

    Oh drat, the URL’s too long. Anyway, it’s a Margaret Atwood invention; you can google it.

  21. WiL
    Posted October 15, 2008 at 2:43 PM | Permalink

    Forever, the “hf” digraph, in “Rothfuss” and elsewhere, will remind me of a hermaphrodite getting freaky with a ferret(Frenchman?), and the ferret/Frenchman may not be entirely cool with it.

  22. Posted October 24, 2011 at 1:39 AM | Permalink

    I got tired of signing my long name years ago. Carpal Tunnel hastened my decision. Since a legal signature is whatever you make it at your bank, I went down to my three initials which flow easily together. So I’m all set. :)

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  • […] remember laughing when Patrick Rothfuss confessed to book-signing performance anxiety. (I suspect he’s rather over that by now, by simple necessity.) I hadn’t ever practiced […]

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