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Concerning Love

So I wasn’t going to do a Valentine’s Day post. Partly because I’m busy. And partly because I could really give a fuck. And partly because I’m a contrary person by my very nature.

But some things have happened today that have made me think about the nature of love. And that is something I’m interested in.

And if by odd coincidence this post happens to be timely…. Well, I suppose I can stand being timely once in my life.

*     *     *

Weeks ago, I was reading a book with Oot. At some point in the story, the characters go to the Doctor, and the doctor shows them what’s inside their bodies.

Oot’s curious about that stuff. It’s a cool teachable moment, so we take a break from the story to talk about our guts.

I point, “That’s a stomach. Do you know what that’s for?”

He knows. He tells me.

I point again, “Those are your lungs. Do you know what they do?”

He does.

Next I point at a picture of the circulatory system, “That’s a heart. Do know what that is for?”

He thinks about it for a long moment, then he lights up. “That’s where you keep all of your Love!”

*     *     *

Days ago I fell asleep with Oot on my lap.

Lately I’ve been keeping odd hours. I’m trying to get a lot of writing done and that means I don’t sleep as much as usual.

It also means I don’t spend as much time at home as I’d like. I write at the work house where there’s less distraction. Everyone working there knows if they bother me while I’m writing, I’ll fire them.

When I’m behind on writing, like I am now, it’s not uncommon for me to sleep at the workhouse too. I have a mattress there, I get food delivered. It’s not odd for me to spend several days there without leaving when I’m in the thick of it.

Still, I make a point of spending at least an hour or two every day with Oot. Sometimes Sarah brings him to visit me, sometimes I come home and visit him.

So a couple of days ago, I was sitting in the living room with Oot cuddled up in my lap. He’s not a particularly cuddly child, so these times are rare.

That said, I’ve stacked the deck a bit by offering to give him a massage. He loves having his back rubbed.

This is a sort of love, you realize. The negotiation of desires.

Oot desires the animal joy of having his back rubbed. I desire the animal joy of holding my warm child. These are not mutually exclusive. We can both get what we want here.

Would I prefer it if he would *just* cuddle me? Sure. That would be lovely. But we’re not living in a perfect world. He is a little boy, not a dog. He hasn’t been bred for 10,000 years to be a obsequious lap-sitter. So compromise is key. You have to give a little to get a little.

Our little arrangement reminds me of several of my college relationships. And some of my non-relationships too. Backrubs as currency. This is a skill I posses, and I have bartered it in the past. Sometimes just for the pleasure of touching another human in an intimate way.

The importance of touch should not be ignored. It shouldn’t be played down or viewed as something low or base. They joy of touching and being touched it is a big part of being human.

And while it is certainly not all of love, it is a type of love. It is a facet in the fractured glass of affection.

But as I’ve said, I haven’t been sleeping much lately. So, sitting there with my child in my lap, I started to nod.

Eyes closed, I hear Sarah come into the room and say, “Daddy is falling asleep. Do you want to help me put him to bed?”

“Oh, of course!” he says. Then he stands up and takes my hand to lead me.

This is an act of love.

Halfway through the living room he takes both my hands, which is probably meant to be twice as helpful, but it’s not. It means I have to bend down and take shuffling little steps.

So take little shuffling steps and bend down. I do this even though it hurts my back.

This too is love.

*     *     *

Hours Ago, I woke up.

My plan for today was to hurry over to the work house to get some writing in, then come back for my officially scheduled date with Sarah.

Our date is scheduled from noon to 2:00. It’s the only time we could arrange a sitter. The date is going to be short because Sarah is planning on making heart cookies for everyone she loves. She and Oot are going to bake them, put people’s names on them, and hand deliver them on Valentine’s Day.

She’s been planning it for weeks. It’s it an expression of her love.

My thought is that we should reschedule our date. Pick a day she isn’t so busy. Pick a day when we could do something at night. At night, you see, the workhouse is empty. At night there are many uninhabited surfaces at the workhouse, and little chance of being overheard by our young child.

But Sarah wants a date on Valentine’s Day. It’s important to her. So noon.

I wake up at 7:30 AM, but when I go upstairs to check my e-mail, I hear Sarah calling. I head into her bedroom and she gives me the news. Oot got sick last night. Puking sick.

I look at him, he’s sleeping. Sweet as anything. Between him and the bed is a carefully placed towel.

“No cookies today?” I say.

Sarah shakes her head. “I didn’t sleep much last night. We’re going to stay in and have a quiet day.”

“That’s as it should be,” I say.

“We’re out of Pedialite,”

For those of you who don’t have kids, Pedialite is like Gatorade if your sport of choice is shitting and puking all over. It’s easy on your stomach, and has all sorts of important electrolytes you need if you’re losing a lot of fluid. Every parent should have several jugs of it on the pantry shelf.

But we’ve burned through our supply, so I get dressed and go brush snow off the car.

At the store I pick up some Campbell’s chicken and stars soup, because that’s what my mom fed me when I had an upset tummy as a kid. I pick up some string cheese, because Oot likes it. And I pick up some olives stuffed with garlic because if this is a flu bug, having some garlic in my system will help me fight it off.

Then I go get the Pedialite. One orange and one purple, so that he has a choice.

In the kid isle at the grocery store, I see that they don’t stock baby formula on the shelves anymore. Now they have little cards there. You have to take the card to the service desk to get the formula.

To me, this means people must have been stealing baby formula. And standing there at 8:00 in the morning, the fact that people have to steal formula for their babies just breaks my heart. That shows that something is fucked up in our society. Food for your babies should be a given, and if some people are having to steal it, it means that something has gone wrong in my little town. I’ll have to talk to some people and see what we can do about this.

This, you have to realize, is also love. Love is a small thing only if we force it to be small. It isn’t some commodity we hoard and dole out sparingly for family and friends.

No. When you see a broken car by the side of the road and stop to help the person. That’s love. When you watch the news and hear about kids being exposed to lead in playgrounds and frac mining fucking up the environment, the anger you feel actually comes from love. It means you care about people even though you don’t know them.

It’s a hard way to live your life. It means you’ll be feel helpless a lot, and you’ll be hurt a lot, and you’ll be angry at the state of things so constantly that it will rub you raw. But it’s the best way to be. It’s the only way civilization can function properly. It’s the only way we can make things better.

On my way out of the store I walk past the floral department. I ignored it on my way into the store because I was on a mission. But now I remember that it is Valentine’s Day. And while I could give a damn about flowers, Sarah likes them.

So I pick out some roses. And the very act of it makes me grit my teeth. Roses on Valentine’s Day. It’s such a cliche.

There’s a line, a half dozen men. This just reinforces the fact that I’m being a culture zombie and it raises my irritation exponentially. Plus this is thirty dollars that’s going to end up in the compost in two weeks. I could do a hundred more practical things with this money. Formula for kids. A hive of honeybees for Heifer International….

Then I see an old guy in line ahead of me. He’s gotta be 85 if he’s a day, and he looks like what I imagine when Garrison Keillor describes the old Norwegian bachelor farmers in lake Woebegone. He’s beautiful in his own way.

He’s got a dozen roses, and seeing him there warms my bitter old heart.

One of the guys in front of me (a guy in a red flannel, probably in his sixties) motions the older man ahead of him in the line. He says, “You go ahead, Ed. I’ve got plenty of time.”

The guy in the red flannel drops back and smiles at me. He says, “Ed there comes by here every week. Buys flowers for his wife.”

“That’s great,” I say, smiling like the idiot I am.

And it is great. This is someone who has made a habit out of love. There is something to be learned here.

So I pick up more roses. One of each color. Because this isn’t about me. For Sarah, love is a song. Love is words. Love is gifts.

That is not my way. For me, love is doing. Love is service. Love is caring for someone and tending to their well being.

This is a problem we have been struggling with for a long time: how the two of us show our love in different ways. It has led to many problems. Many fights. It is a terrible thing to be unloved. But in many ways it is worse to be loved and feel unloved.

Love is actually easy. We are all of us wired for it. We are full of love, even though sometimes we are barely aware of it.

Showing love is the hard part. Our culture poisons us constantly, telling us what we *should* love. Religions spout off about who we *can* love. Media lies to us, telling us *how* to love. For when you care enough to send the very best. Say it with flowers. Every kiss begins with Kay.

It’s hard to break away from that cultural conditioning. But it’s even harder for me to realize that sometimes, Sarah doesn’t want me to take care of her. She doesn’t need tending. Sometimes she just wants me to say that I love her and tell her she’s pretty.

So I bring home roses and soup. I scrap my plans to hole up and write today so I can be near my family and tend to them. Because that is what’s important to me. Whether or not they realize it, this is how I love.

Oot picks the purple Pedialite. He’s listless and just wants to stay in bed. He’s snuggled up with Sarah. She gets more cuddling than me, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t jealous.

But when I lay down he snuggles me too. No bribery needed.

When Sarah comes downstairs she sees the flowers and laughs and smiles. It’s a response that I would never have to flowers. We talk a little. I tell her I love her. I tell her she’s pretty.

Later, if Oot is feeling up to it, I will read him a chapter of the Hobbit. It’s the one where the goblins catch them in the mountains.

And through all of this, in bits and pieces, I write down these musings for you. Because I cannot help but tell stories. Because these things are important to me.

Because…

pat

Posted in Because I Love, holding forth, How to be a Worthwhile Human Being, love, Oot | By Pat134 Responses

Concerning Hobbits, Love, and Movie Adaptations

So the other day a friend forwarded me a link to the very first-ever film adaptation of the Hobbit.

It’s only about 10 minutes long, and worth your time. I’m embedding it here as an example of why I’m extremely leery of anyone ever making a movie out of The Name of the Wind.

Isn’t that an absolute trip? They added a princess to the story and everything.

Now it turns out there are good reasons for why this adaptation was bizarrely short and startlingly off-script. But rather than summarize them, I’ll just link over to a post where the guy that made the film explained why it turned out as it did. It’s actually a really interesting story.

After watching it on youtube, I saw a link and followed it over to watch the trailer for the Hobbit movie.

I won’t deny that I got a bit of a tingle watching it. But honestly, my response was half-tingle, half anticipatory dread.

A dread-tingle. Or dringle, if you prefer.

You see, the first video I posted up there was bad enough to be good in a funny train-wreck sort of way.

But the trailer makes me think that the Hobbit movie is going to be good enough that big pieces of it will make me want to vomit pure bile.

“But Pat,” I hear you say, “Why the concern? The Lord of the Rings Movies were good!”

Yeah. They were good movies. I won’t argue that. They were also moderately okay adaptation of the books.

And yes, I’m aware that referring to something as ‘moderately okay’ is the very definition of damming with faint praise.

Without going into it in any detail, (that would be a whole separate blog’s worth of post) my main problem with the Jackson adaptations is that they lose the subtlety of the original stories.

It’s like this: Tolkien’s books were full of subtle tension, drama, action, good characters, and a world of startling and immersive richness.

Jackson’s adaptations had some brilliant action scenes, great special effects, some pointless action scenes, drama, melodrama, a lot of panoramic cinematography, good casting, and an inexplicably Scottish dwarf with all the character depth of a Disney animal sidekick.

So I’ll say it again. Good movies. Ah hell. I’ll even admit that they were great movies just for that fight scene with the rock troll in Moria.  But only moderately okay adaptations.

In the Hobbit trailer, I see the same thing happening. The Hobbit was a lighthearted story about a slightly bumbling average-Joe who goes off on an adventure and discovers hidden resources inside himself. (Spoiler alert.) It was fun. If the book came out today, it publishers would probably market it as YA.

While it had action and drama, it was not an action-packed Hollywood-style dramapalooza where Gandalf and Galadriel have emo makeouts.

I can tell in my bones that the movie is going to be chock full of scenes that were never in the original story. I’m not talking about a little extra dialogue here and there. I’m talking about completely invented cutaway scenes that stuff more action in, and subplots that were only barely alluded to in the book. My off-the-cuff prediction? At least 20 minutes worth.

It will be a good movie. Maybe even a great movie. But it will also be, at best, a moderately okay adaptation of the subtle, sweet book that I grew up loving.

You know that it’s going to be like? It’s going to be like wandering onto an internet porn site and seeing a video of a girl I had a crush on in high school. You probably knew someone like her. The smart girl. The shy girl. The one who wore glasses and was a little socially awkward. The one who screwed up the curve in chemistry so you got an A- instead of an A.

She was a geek girl before anybody knew what a geek girl was. And that was kinda awesome, because you were a geek boy before being a geek was culturally acceptable.

You liked her because she was funny. And she was smart. And you could actually talk to her. And she read books.

And sure, she was girl-shaped, and that was cool. And she was cute, in an understated, freckly way. And sometimes you’d stare at her breasts when you were supposed to be paying attention in biology. But you were 16. You stared at everyone’s breasts back then.

And yeah, you had some fantasies about her, because, again, you were 16. But they were fairly modest fantasies about making out in the back of a car. Maybe you’d get to second base. Maybe you could steal third if you were lucky.

And maybe, just maybe, something delightful and terrifying might  happen. And yeah, it would probably be awkward and fumbling at times, but that’s okay because she’d be doing half the fumbling too. Because the only experience either one of you had was from books. And afterwards, if you make a Star Wars joke, you know she’ll get it, and she’ll laugh….

That’s the girl you fell in love with in high school. You didn’t have a crush on her because she was some simmering pool of molten sex. You loved her because she was subtle and sweet and smart and special.

So you stroll onto this porn site, and there she is. Except now she’s wearing a thong and a black leather halter top. She’s wearing fuck-me red lipstick and a lot of dark eye makeup. Her breasts are amazing now, proud and perfectly round.

Someone’s taught her to dance, and she does it well. She’s flexible and tan. She has a flat midriff and walks like a high-class Vegas stripper. Her eyes are dark and smouldering. She has a riding crop, and she likes to be tied up, and her too-red mouth forms a perfect circle as she sighs and moans, and tosses her head in a performance designed to win any number of academy awards….

And what’s the problem with this? Well… in some ways, nothing. What you’ve found is perfectly good porn. Maybe even great porn.

But in other ways the problem is blindingly obvious. This girl has nothing in common with your high-school crush except for her social security number. Everything you loved about her is gone.

We loved the sweet, shy, freckly girl. We still remember her name, and after all these years she lives close to our heart. Seeing her in lipstick and stiletto heels dancing on a pole is like watching Winnie the Pooh do heroin and then glass someone in a bar fight.

It just isn’t something that I look forward to seeing….

And that’s how I’m going to feel when I watch the Hobbit.

I’ll be one part entertained, two parts nostalgic, two parts irritated, three parts outraged, and one part oddly titillated.

And I’ll watch it, and I’ll enjoy it, and afterwards I’ll go home and feel more than slightly sad….

pat

Posted in Being a Curmudgeon, boding, Consistent Verb Tense Is For Bitches, movie talk, My High Horse, things I shouldn't talk about | By Pat172 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

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 Pat97 Responses

Concerning Cake, Bilbo Baggins, and Charity

So a couple days ago I did an AMA on Reddit.

It was fun. I enjoy goofing off, interacting with my readers, and answering questions. So this sort of thing is a good fit for me.

Kvothe pants

The day after the AMA, I went back in to see if I’d missed any particularly important/interesting/clever questions.

And I found one. A really good question.

I started to answer it. Then I kept answering it. Then I realized I’d written about 400 words and stopped myself from going any further.…

So rather than post my answer there, buried deep in a thread at the bottom of a dead AMA. I’m answering it here with the author’s permission.

*     *     *

This is going to sound pretty awful, but why all the charity work?

I’ve always been… well, financially challenged (at young Kvothe-like levels at times), and from what I’ve read, you were in a similar state for a long time. I can’t imagine doing so much for strangers even if that changed, and sometimes…

Well, it kind of bugs me. There are loads of things that you do that I would love to give you money for, but when you do them for charity, I feel like I wouldn’t be supporting you, my favorite writer, by supporting those charities.

This sounds intensely selfish, I know, but it comes from ignorance, not malice.

Thanks for being honest here Jason. This is an interesting question for me to see. And I think it’s an important question to answer.

The simple truth is, Jason, at this point in my life, I have enough money to live comfortably. And in my opinion, if you have enough money to live comfortably and you keep trying to get more and more and more money… well… it’s kind of an asshole thing to do.

It’s like this: if you have one piece of cake, and you eat it, that’s fine.

If you have two pieces of cake, you should probably share some with a friend. But maybe not. Occasionally we could all use two pieces of cake.

But if you have a whole cake, and you eat *all* of it, that’s not very cool. It’s not just selfish, it’s kinda sick and unhealthy.

portal(No lie.)

And if you have *two* cakes, and you keep trying to get more cakes so you can eat ALL the cake? Well… that’s really fucking mental. And awful. And about as close to real evil as actually exists in the world.

Right now, I have… well… probably somewhere between 2-4 cakes, financially speaking.

But some people out there don’t have any cake at all. Some people don’t even have dinner, let alone desert.

That’s why I run Worldbuilders. Because some people out there have no cake at all. There are kids out there that are hungry all the time. There are kids out there with no books at all to read. There are kids out there with no beds to sleep in. No homes to come home to. No safe places. No sweet dreams.

That’s why I do all the charity work. Because the world isn’t as good as I want it to be.

We all feel this way sometimes. Because honestly, the world is a fucking mess. It’s full of dragons, and none of us are as powerful or cool as we’d like to be. And that sucks.

But when you’re confronted with that fact, you can either crawl into a hole and quit, or you can get out there, take off your shoes, and Bilbo it up.

Rankin and Bass Bilbo it up(So What’s It Going to Be?)

The work I do with various charities is my attempt to Bilbo the fuck up.

Now it’s true that I could just devote myself to making a ton of money, then donate however much I liked to charity. A lot of people have suggested this to me. Smart people. People who care about me.

And y’know. It’s not terrible advice. That’s what Carnegie did…

But honestly, that’s not for me. I don’t like the thought of spending my whole life being utterly rapacious, getting *all* the cake it is humanly possible to acquire. And then, ten years before I die, giving a chunk of it back to the world.

One reason I don’t like this philosophy is that it means you have an excuse to act like a total bastard until you’re 60 years old. And y’know, Carnegie did a lot of ethically dubious things back in the day. There’s a reason they called him a robber baron.

My other problem with this is that after 60 years of being a bastard, most people aren’t going to make a sudden transformation into being kind-hearted humanitarians.

But the main reason I don’t like this way of thinking is that it’s predicated on the thought that you, my readers, are selfish, self-centered individuals. Carnegie’s philosophy implies that I should take as much money off you as I possibly can. Then, eventually, I should do something good with it, preferably getting my name on a building the the process. Because *obviously* the lot of you are not smart enough to make the world a better place on your own.

I don’t believe that. My philosophy is that people are inherently good. I believe when given the chance, people will happily line up to make the world a better place.

I think this is doubly true of fantasy readers, and trebly true of my readers in particular.

As evidence, I give you Worldbuilders. Over the last five years the geek community has given over two million dollars to Heifer International.

This year, I hope to raise another half-million. (Though I wouldn’t cry if we managed more.)

The truth is, you don’t have to be a billionaire to change the world. You don’t have to build a library. The truth is, if you donate 30 bucks to Worldbuilders, it will change someone’s life. Forever.

chicken 2

And sure, when you donate you get the chance to win a bunch of cool books, too. But that’s just a perk.

I know the truth. I know why you’re all *really* here. I know why you’ve read all the way to the bottom of this post. It’s because you’re good. It’s because you want to make the world a better place.

The truth is, Jason. I don’t think you’re selfish. You want to support an author whose work you enjoy. That’s not a selfish thing.

But here’s the thing. I don’t need twenty bucks from you. That’s not the support I want. That’s not the support I need.

I need you to help me make the world a better place.

You can do that by donating to Heifer International over on the Worldbuilders team page.

If you can’t because you’re broke, that’s fine. Believe me, I’ve been there. But you could still lend your support by spreading the word about Worldbuilders on facebook or twitter. You could write a blog. You could make a video. You could tell a friend.

Thanks for helping everyone,

pat

  • 12:30 – Since posting three hours ago, we’ve raised $3,000.

That’s enough to provide 150 families with flocks of chickens.

Chickens require little space and can thrive on readily available scraps; this allows families to make money from the birds without spending much. A good hen can lay up to 200 eggs a year, so a flock of chickens provides a steady source of nutrition and income.

  • 2:30 pm – Five hours after posting, we’ve raised $6,000.

That’s enough to purchase biogas stoves for 6 villages.

“For most families in the places where Heifer International works, cooking usually means gathering firewood by hand, which often depletes the soil and robs the environment of its trees. In addition, smoke inhalation in poorly ventilated homes often leads to chronic lung and eye diseases.

A biogas stove is a better option. It runs off methane gas captured from animal waste, and burns cleanly, reliably and efficiently. This is not only better for the environment, it is more sustainable and healthier for families feeding their children.”

  • 7:30 pm – $10,000. 

That’s enough to train and equip 50 Community Animal Health Workers.

In many countries, access to veterinary care is limited. So Heifer International trains Animal Health Workers. Participants receive training in animal health, husbandry, breeding, and nutrition as well as tools such as thermometers, stethoscopes, hoof trimmers, gloves, disinfectants, medicine for animals, and more.

This training and equipment gives someone the ability to support themselves in a lifelong career. What’s more, the presence of an animal health worker improves an entire community with healthier animals, more successful farms, and better education about sanitation and disease.

  • 6:30 am – $15,000. 

That’s enough to supply clean water to 50 communities.

In many communities where Heifer works, most homes lack running water, and some families do not even have a well nearby. Instead, they spend a huge portion of each day fetching water. This is often a chore left to children — especially girls — leaving them no time for school. Without a good education, those children have little hope for good jobs in the future.

Heifer helps families and communities install irrigation pumps, usually muscle-powered treadle pumps that are easy to maintain and repair. Heifer also provides education in terms of water conservation and sanitation, improving community health and making local farms and gardens more productive.

  • 24 hours after making this post… 

…lovely people have donated an additional 18K to Worldbuilders, bringing our total at this moment to more than 317,000 dollars.

That’s enough to start 850 small businesses.

Enough for 2600 goats and the training to care for them.

Enough for 10,000 hives of honeybees that will improve crop yields.

Enough for 17,000 trees that give fruit, provide income, and prevent soil erosion.

I won’t be updating our total on this blog any more. Instead I’m going to put in our donation thermometer so you can watch it climb yourself.

If you want to be a part of this, it’s easy. Click here to make it happen.

(P.S. For every $10 you kick in, you get a chance to win books.)

ShelfJanuary

 (A LOT of books.)

Posted in calling on the legions, FAQ, musings, Worldbuilders | By Pat141 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

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

Concerning Games, Torment, and a Sense of Play

Let me tell you a story.

Well, actually, let me tell you a story that consists of several stories. And it’s *about* stories.

This should not surprise anyone, really. This is what I do.

*     *     *

Back in 2009 I attended Gen Con as author Guest of Honor. It was one of my first GOH gigs, and at a convention I’ve been attending off and on for most of my adult life.

That said, I was still a pretty new author in 2009. I only had one book out, and had only been published for two years. People came to my signings and panels. I had fun. But honestly, I wasn’t a very big deal.

Wandering around the dealer’s hall, at one point someone came up to me and said, “What makes you so honorable?” When I gave him a baffled look, he pointed down at the ribbon on my badge that said. “Guest of Honor.”

“Oh,” I said. “I write books.”

“Oh,” he said. And walked away.

*     *     *

After taking a break from Gen Con for a couple years, I headed back in 2012. I wasn’t GOH or anything, and was mostly going to play some games and hang out with friends, including my new bestie Robert Gifford of Geek Chic.

But in 2012 I’d been published for *five* years. And I had *two* books out. I’ve hit #1 on the New York Times. I’ve been hugged by Felicia Day. I’m not really a big deal, but I’m certainly a bigger deal than I ever was before….

The difference was most notable when I walked around the dealer’s room. People would stop and say, “Are you Patrick Rothfuss?” And we’d stop and chat a little bit. One particularly memorable couple came up to me and said, “That’s the best Pat Rothfuss cosplay we’ve ever seen! The beard looks so real!” and asked to get a picture with me.

I won’t lie, it’s kinda fun. One of the main reasons I go to conventions is to meet up with my readers. My readers are lovely people.

Still, I was surprised at how *many* people recognized me. Artists, dealers running their booths. Catgirls.

On Sunday, a tall dark stranger came up to me and said, “You’re Pat Rothfuss, aren’t you?”

“Yup,” I said. We shook hands and I read his badge. “Nice to meet you Colin,” I gestured to the vast panoply of geekery around us. “How do you fit into all of this?”

“I write games,” he said.

“Role Playing stuff? Computer games?”

“Both,” he said. “I worked on Planescape back in the day…”

“The computer game?” I asked.

He nodded.

“Planescape Torment?” I asked.

He nodded again.

“You are fucking kidding me,” I said. “I was just talking to someone about Torment. That was one of the best games I’ve ever played.”

He looked at little surprised at this, “Wow,” he said. “I….”

“The narrative was brilliant,” I said. “It’s been ten years, and I haven’t known a game to come close to it.”

“Well…”

“I mean you had honest-to-god open-ended character development that was an integral part of the main narrative,” I said. “Nobody else has ever pulled that off as well. It was amazing.”

“It…”

“I still remember the interaction you could have with some of the NPC’s,” I said. “You actually had to be clever talking to them. You could offend them and piss them off. The writing was solid and smart. You had a branching narrative that still felt cohesive and engaging. I’ve never seen that handled so well except for maybe in the early Fallout games.”

“…”

“And the dialogue,” I said. “It was great. How the hell do you manage to write things like that? To keep track of all the different ways a conversation can go…?”

Eventually I shut up long enough for him to tell me he liked my books. We traded e-mail addresses, and he offered to show me what the dialogue trees looked like when you’re writing a computer game.

I was happy as a kid at Christmas.

*     *     *

A couple months later, in November, Colin and I chatted a bit.

“We’re going to be writing a game that will follow in Torment’s footsteps,” he said. “Good character. Good story.”

“I’m tingly at the very thought,” I said.

“Want to help write some of it?” he asked.

“Oh shit,” I said. “Yes. I’ve always wanted to take a poke a writing a computer game.”

“Cool,” Colin said.

“No,” I said. “I want to, but I can’t. I have to work on Book Three.”

“We don’t want you to write *all* of game,” Colin said. “Maybe just a side area. Subplot. A piece.”

I made a miserable noise. “I can’t.” I said. “My editor would be pissed. My readers would be pissed. I’m already behind schedule.”

“That sucks,” he said.

“Yeah,” I said.

I’m paraphrasing a bit, you realize. But the sentiment is dead-on. When I said “no” I felt like a kid who had to stay inside and practice the piano while all his friends got to go eat ice cream and have awesome sex on the moon.

Nate's illo

*     *     *

January 2013.

Colin: You sure?

Me: I really can’t. Revision is going slow. I should keep grinding away.

Colin: Fair enough. I understand.

*     *     *

March 5th

I bring in Colin McComb, Jerry Holkins (From Penny Arcade), and Veronica Belmont (From Sword and Laser) to talk about videogames and storytelling on Storyboard.

It ends up being one of my favorite episodes so far, probably because everyone is passionate and outspoken. Colin, Jerry, and Veronica all know so much more than I do on the subject, and that’s great.

(Sorry. It’s embedding ugly. Just click over to Youtube.)

Colin mentions the upcoming Torment game. They’re going to launch the kickstarter tomorrow. They’ve got a lot of great creative people on the project.

During the panel, I get a little crotchety about modern games. I make some noises along the lines of, “Video games are pissing away the storytelling opportunities available to them. There’s bad writing. Foolish mistakes. When I was a kid….”

Jerry steps in and says, “We’re at the helm now. If we see these things we don’t like, it’s our fault. […] We can’t just point at it and expect the universe to fill it.”

It’s startling to hear. But he’s right, of course. I know he’s right.

*     *     *

March 6th

InXile launches their kickstarter for Torment: Tides of Numenera.

ca7e8489a13f74aa7858d6675437b0f8_large

They raise over $2,000,000 in less than a day. It seems like I’m not the only one who remembers those old games fondly.

*     *     *

March 7th

I realize the story I’m trying to write for an anthology isn’t working out. It’s my second attempt to write a story to fill this obligation I agreed to more than a year ago. I’m months overdue, and I feel like an asshole.

I need to get this story done and out of the way so I can get back to working on book three.

Though honestly, those revisions aren’t going that well either. It feels like a grind. It’s going slow.

*     *     *

March 10th

I’m at the Tucson Festival of Books, eating Pizza with Sam Sykes, Kevin Hearne, and Diana Gabaldon.

Sam Sykes says, “We’re at our most creative when we’re at play.” Then he tells a story about a famous director who would send people home for the day if they were taking their job too seriously.

And he’s right, of course. I know he’s right.

*     *     *

March 11th

Coming home from Tucson, I think to myself, “Fuck it. When I get home, I’m going to start a new story for that anthology. Something fun.”

*     *     *

March 12th

I decide I’m going to write a story about Bast.

I have no idea what the story will be about. I have no plan. I have no plot in my head. Honestly nothing.

When I teach, I stress that writing is not merely a communicative process. People think writers are effectively engaging in transcription. We have something in our heads, and we just write it down. That’s how people think stories happen.

But that’s not how it works. Writing can be communication. But most of the time, writing is a generative process. The story comes into being as it’s being written. It’s about discovery. Assuming you have to know what happens before you sit down to write is a rookie mistake.

So I sit my ass down. I decide I’m going to take my own advice. I’m going to write even though I have no plan. I’m going to write and see where it takes me.

I’m going to be irresponsible. I’m going to play.

At the end of the day, I’ve written 4,500 words.

*    *     *

March 12-16th

I write 16,000 words. Good solid words. That’s not even counting the crap I trimmed out and threw away. I finish the Bast story except for one or two small scenes. It will be a great fit for the anthology.

I feel great. I’m excited about writing again. I think about revising book three and it sounds fun. I want to get back to it.

If you don’t know how much 16,000 words is. Let me put it in perspective for you.

If I wrote 16,000 words every week. By the end of the year I would have produced over 800,000 words of text.

That’s twice as long as The Wise Man’s Fear.

If I can maintain my sense of play. I could easily write a book a year.

A book a year *plus* all the other things. Fun little stories. Poems and songs. Maps.

Games…

*     *    *

March 17th

I call Betsy, my editor. She’s glad to hear the writing’s going well again.

She’s not surprised that a fun side project has helped refresh me. She’s knows how writers’ brains work. She knows more about it than I do, actually. That’s her job.

She’s a great editor.

*     *     *

March 18th

I send Colin an e-mail. Then I decide to call him, instead because I know we’re getting down to the wire.

“Do you still want me?” I ask. “I know it’s kinda late.”

“We’d love to have you,” he said. “We can add you as a stretch goal.”

“How much writing are we talking about here?” I ask.

“Maybe 10,000 words,” Colin says. “More if you like. Less if you need it to be less.”

“Could I maybe help with some of the character arcs too?” I ask. “I’m pretty good with character. You could use me as a sounding board if nothing else, and ignore me if you think I’m being an idiot.”

“Um…. let me think,” Colin says sarcastically. I can hear the smile in his voice. “A chance to chat with you about stories and character development. I think the answer to that is…. yes. “

I want to for so many reasons. But still, I hesitate.

“We’ll pay you of course,” he says. He names a number. “I could get you more, if you need it.

“That seems fair,” I say. “I don’t want to put the squeeze on you.”

Then a knee-jerk instinct kicks in. “However…” I say in my best used-car salesman voice. “I do run a charity….”

“You mean Worldbuilders?” he says.

“Oh,” I say, pleasantly surprised. “You’ve heard of it.”

“Of course I’ve heard of it,” he says.

“Well,” I say slowly. “This year we started accepting corporate sponsorships….”

“I can make that happen,” Colin says. “I’ll talk to the boss, and one way or another, we’ll make it happen.”

“Okay,” I say. “You’ve got me.”

 *     *     *

So there you go. Pretty soon, within just a couple of hours, they’re going to be announcing my involvement in the project.

You can go and check out the Kickstarter over here.

I’m not going to lie. I think it’s going to be an awesome game, and I’m not just saying that because I’m writing a piece of it.

If you’re on the fence, here are a couple reasons to consider jumping into the kickstarter.

1. If you’re planning on buying the game eventually, it’s cheaper to buy it now.

2. If you know you’re going to want to try it later, chipping in early means they’ll be able to make it an even better game. More development money means more content.

3. If a healthy number of my readers rush over and jump onboard, I get to look kinda cool to the developers. They’ll think things like, “Oh, maybe we didn’t make a horrible mistake bringing that Rothfuss guy in.”

4. You have to give these guys credit for supporting Worldbuilders. That’s mighty damn nice of them.

5. This is the first step in my extended master plan. If this goes well, it means we’re *much* more likely to see a Kingkiller game. More importantly, a Kingkiller game I’ll be able to have a direct hand in. Personally, I think that would about a thousand flavors of awesome.

Later Space Cowboys, I’m off to sleep. I’ve got a story to finish tomorrow….

pat

Posted in concerning storytelling, cool news, side projects, Stories about stories., Tales from the Con, The Story Board, video games, videos | By Pat151 Responses

Concerning Anime

Pat,

After taking note that you’ve repeatedly referenced Cowboy Bebop, I’d like if you could include in a blog any favorite/recommended anime. I understand that you are busy or may not have enough interest in writing such a blog. Or may be hesitant to receive the potential fan outlash because you didn’t mention “insert anime name here” or haven’t seen “insert more different anime name here”.

But I would just like your opinion, as that is one of the primary reasons I read the blog – to learn more about the author. I’d like to think I’m not alone.

Until next time, fellow space cowboy!

Ben (Twin Cities, MN)

First off, Ben. I have to say I love the term “outlash.” It fills a good linguistic niche. It’s different from backlash. Outlash is less of a reaction, more of an upwelling of directionless vitriol. It’s less justified than backlash.

Off the top of my head, I’d say that roughly 27% of the internet is composed of outlash.

Here’s my utterly off-the-cuff top five Anime recommendations.

1. Last Airbender.

First off. We’re not talking about the movie. We’re talking about the animated series. I hear the movie sucked to such a degree that words cannot fully encompass it.

This series was absolutely brilliant. I could easily hold forth for an hour on the clever storytelling techniques they use. I’m looking forward to the day that little Oot is old enough so that I can watch it with him.

2. Princess Mononoke.

Out of fairness to all other anime, we’ll only include one Miyazaki title in this list. Though it’s hard to narrow it down, this one has to be my favorite. Probably because the translation and dub is absolutely first rate.

Normally I’m a subtitle guy. 99% of the time, I go for subtitle. But this is one of the rare cases where I really do like the dub more. It made me feel better when I learned that Neil Gaiman was in charge of anglicizing the screenplay for the English version.

3. Cowboy Bebop.

A true rarity. A brilliant Japanese Anime series that doesn’t turn to total bullshit at the end.

4. Trigun.

Piece and Love!

5. Akira.

Okay. You know that crack I made up there in #3 about anime turning into total bullshit at the end of the series/movie? This is the perfect example of that. The last 10 minutes of the movie are like a bad acid flashback.

But you know what? This still makes the top five despite the fact that the movie as a whole makes no goddamn sense. The music and cinematography are enough make up for the largely nonsensical story/plot/character conflict.

And believe me, that’s probably nothing you’ll ever hear me say again, that the cinematography alone makes something worth watching.

But in this one case it’s really true. Despite the fact that this is largely an action movie, I consider it a brilliant study in silence and stillness. If you’ve watched it closely, I’m sure you know what I mean.

*      *     *

Now before y’all start your anguished screeling that I didn’t include Inuyasha or Witchunter Robin or  whatever your favoritiest BFF anime of forever is. Keep in mind that I might not have seen it. If you look at the dates of the above titles, you’ll see that I’m not really on the cutting edge here. I haven’t watched hardly any TV at all in two years. I’ve heard of Bleach but never watched it. Same thing with Death Note. (I read it.)

Then again, it’s quite possible your favorite show simply didn’t flip my switch. I watched Full Metal Alchemist, and while parts of it were cool, as a whole it felt draggy and slow. Though it came highly recommended, Monster just bored me, and I quit watching halfway through.

So much of this is a matter of taste, you realize.

Honorable mentions:

  • Ninja Scroll. Subtitled. (I once watched it three times in a row.)
  • Anything by Miyazaki.
  • Lupin the Third.
  • All Purpose Cultural Cat-Girl Nuku Nuku. (Seriously. It was great.)
  • Cutey Honey. (Because you have to respect the concept.)
  • Paprika.
  • Millenium Actress. (A story about stories.)
  • Ghost in the Shell.

If any of y’all have some particular favorites, I’d love to hear about them. Not that I have much time for watching TV these days. But someday I hope to be able to veg out in front of the tube again….

pat

Posted in Fanmail Q + A, recommendations, Things I Like | By Pat183 Responses
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