Productive shame….


Over the years, I have perfected the art of dicking around.

This skill is not as common as you might think. Anyone can procrastinate, that’s just the absence of action. In the hands of a master such as myself, the mere act of not-doing something is raised to the level of art, and beyond. My ability to not-do things is considered by many people to be nigh-transcendental in its scope.

Just to give you an idea of what I’m talking about, back when I was in college, I was putting off writing a paper. Now anyone can put off a paper by watching TV or playing a video game, that’s a cakewalk. I, however, was watching snow melt on the sidewalk and occasionally poking at things with a stick. That’s all, and I’d been keeping it up for four hours.

So profound was my non-productivity that a nearby Buddhist monk was embarrassingly upstaged. He was so thrown off his groove that not only did he fail to reach nirvana, but he broke into a nearby pet store and promptly punched a kitten.

Anyway. Today I was dicking around. Just casually, enough to keep my hand in. I’m supposed to be working on the revisions of my second book. But instead I went to the video store to see if they have the third disk of Avatar: the last Airbender.

They don’t. So I wander around looking for something else. Then, out of nowhere, a young woman comes up to me. She’s bright-eyed and lovely, and as soon as I see her all I can think of is the fact that I am profoundly not bright-eyed and lovely. I’m whatever opposite of that is. Shambly and shabby. Once, when I was enjoying the warm summer sun on a parkbench, I took nodded off for a nap. When I woke up, there was several dollars worth of loose change in one of my shoes. That’s what I look like.

Anyway this lovely young woman comes up to me and tells me that she loves my book. I’m still not used to this sort of thing happening, and I’m caught flatfooted. Still, it’s nice. She says some very flattering things and tells me how much she wants to read the second book. She’s waiting for it, she says.

Without meaning too, she shames me into leaving the video store without renting anything. But it’s a good kind of shame. I felt excited at the thought of going back to work on the book. And while it probably wouldn’t be fair to call me bright-eyed as I drove home, I was at least somewhat less shambly feeling. That’s worth something.


P.S. My spellchecker doesn’t recognize, “dicking” as a valid word. I think I need to call Microsoft and offer to help them with their casual language filter.

This entry was posted in the craft of writingBy Pat17 Responses


  1. josie
    Posted June 4, 2007 at 1:22 PM | Permalink

    Microsoft definitely needs to update spell check. Anyway, I send out a heartfelt thanks to the bright-eyed girl in the movie store, since I am most assuredly waiting for the second book too. Although you probably have about a year, if it’s as thick as the first one you should get started on revising it. Have fun!

  2. Adam B. Shaeffer
    Posted June 4, 2007 at 2:33 PM | Permalink

    Thank you movie store girl!

  3. Hob Gammidge
    Posted June 4, 2007 at 2:58 PM | Permalink

    I can’t wait for the second book, so no more dicking around than necessary Mr. Rothfuss.Amen to thinking to help Microsoft.

  4. Thorn
    Posted June 4, 2007 at 3:33 PM | Permalink

    I think the release for book two is set for March (?) regardless of when it’s done. :(But, thanks for the amusing story, Pat – I always love your blog posts. And you’ve made me think of procrastination in a whole new way. I’m going to have to try poking things with a stick.

  5. tycho
    Posted June 4, 2007 at 5:03 PM | Permalink

    Ahah, that park story’s classic. I’m going to be smiling all day.

  6. Anonymous
    Posted June 4, 2007 at 9:08 PM | Permalink

    If you liked the park story ask Pat about the time his pants were stolen.Todd

  7. Sean T. M. Stiennon
    Posted June 4, 2007 at 10:10 PM | Permalink

    My procrastination generally involves checking blogs….

  8. Jennye
    Posted June 5, 2007 at 6:10 PM | Permalink

    I’m with Sean….surfing blogs and livejournals is definitely my way of procrastinating….at work. Reading tends to be my number one procrastination in all other areas of my life!And “HI!” Patrick. I’m visiting after looking in on Ms. Hobb’s livejournal. I told you I’d come see you here. I’m the one who stuck my foot in my mouth after recommending your book on her site with high praise, and following it up with my opinion that her books are still better. Now that I’m on your site, I can say with as much enthusiasm that yours is better!Besides procrastination, I also have a certain proclivity for brown-nosing. ;-)Have a great day!

  9. Me
    Posted June 6, 2007 at 1:20 AM | Permalink

    Without knowing it, I realized why I’ve bookmarked this blog. Maybe as you journal how you get through it, I’ll get picked up in the wake and stop procrastinating m’damn self.Let’s do it!

  10. Anonymous
    Posted June 6, 2007 at 9:01 PM | Permalink

    Wow! Four hours! I thought I was a good dicker…uh…dickerer…um…dicker arounder…

  11. Anonymous
    Posted June 8, 2007 at 6:45 PM | Permalink

    alright-i’ll ask: what happened when pat’s pants were stolen?

  12. Pat
    Posted June 8, 2007 at 8:00 PM | Permalink

    That, as they say, is a different story.

  13. KSS
    Posted June 8, 2007 at 8:34 PM | Permalink

    This is a very sweet story. I had just been telling some of my friends how excited I was to finally get your book, and daydreaming about being able to tell you how much I am enjoying it so far if/when I ever get back to the old alma mater. I’ll likely be bright-eyed too. :) The way I see it, procrastination is akin to “bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees”. It’s a necessary part, and the most important process, of creativity. Without it, you don’t get a delicious finished product that’s more than just the ingredients you used. Here’s to slow-cooking that second book!

  14. erika
    Posted June 10, 2007 at 6:15 AM | Permalink

    i just started reading your posts. u seem very cool and amusing in a sarcastic way. keep it up! i just bought your book about a month ago and finished it in a few days. loved it. no more dicking around please… i’m so impatient. sigh…

  15. K. M. Hammond
    Posted June 10, 2007 at 5:46 PM | Permalink

    Darn. And I thought <>I<> was a professional procrastinator!

  16. Steven Ford
    Posted June 11, 2007 at 4:27 PM | Permalink

    I was just pleasantly surprised the other day to find that Microsoft does apparently recognized the extremely useful and abundantly technical term: “squirrelly”. Do you feel safe knowing that aerospace engineers describe less than perfectly functioning things things as squirrely?

  17. Anonymous
    Posted June 18, 2007 at 1:07 AM | Permalink

    Wikipedia is always good for some Dicking around actually…long hours of it…

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