Category Archives: Achievement Unlocked!

A Guy Game

Today Oot came up to me and asked me if I’d like to play a game.

“What kind of a game?” I asked him.

“Oh you know,” he explains, sounding very matter-of-fact. “A guy game. Because we’re both guys.”

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I hear this, and I sigh a little inside. We’ve tried really hard to keep the gender stereotype stuff away from him. I don’t want him to think that trucks are for boys and dolls are for girls. That boys are tough and girls are delicate. When I tell him stories, the heroes win because they’re clever instead of being strong, and sometimes it’s the prince that needs rescuing, not the princess.

But I can’t watch every piece of media before he does. Or every book before he reads it. Besides, this stuff is insidious. It’s everywhere. And I know that despite my best intentions I sometimes tend to reinforce stereotypes without meaning to.

It’s like trying to keep dust out of your house. You can do a lot, but ultimately, *you* are one of the main reasons there’s dust. You track it in on your clothes without knowing it. And even if you somehow managed to avoid that, you’d still shed skin cells. Even if you don’t want to. This constant, low-grade sexism is everywhere. It sneaks in.

But they can’t all be learning experiences. Sometimes you just want to play a game with your kid. Sometimes you watch The Princess Bride because you love it, and it’s a really great movie even though there is only one woman in it, and Buttercup is pretty much the epitome of a useless trophy damsel.

Sometimes you’re going to lose a little. That’s the way of things. It stings, but all I can do is try my best and hope he grows up having internalized less of this cultural bullshit than me. Then he won’t have to work so hard to be a halfway decent human being.

Then, years from now when he has kids, he can help them be even better than he is. And so on. I might lose a battle here and there, but I’m taking the long view. I’m aiming to win the war.

So it’s okay. We’ll play a guy game.

“What sort of guy game would you like to play?” I ask him.

“Well,” he says. “Maybe me and you could play a game where we make a house.”

I’m okay with that. It’s a good game. I did a lot of construction projects with my dad when I was little. At least it’s not killing-things game. It’s a making-things game. I’ll take what I can get.

So we go into the room and he explains the game to me. We’re dragons, and we’re making a house. In the house we’re going to make a nest. And in the nest we have some eggs. Our job is to take care of the eggs, keep them warm and safe until they hatch.

After they hatch, we’ll take care of the baby dragons. We’ll bring them food to eat and toys and soft things to cuddle up with.

You know. A guy game. Because we’re both guys.

Some days you lose despite your best efforts. Some days you win without even trying.

Be good everyone,

pat

Also posted in Beautiful Games, Because I Love, Oot | By Pat84 Responses

Thirty years of D&D

This may come as an absolute lack of shock to most of you, but growing up, I was not very cool.

As proof, allow me to present exhibit A.

Cool-Pat-with-Shades-786164

That’s me on my birthday. And if the Aerobie, sunglasses, and sleeveless shirt weren’t enough of a clue for you, I’ll just mention that this was somewhere in the early 80’s.

So. Me: Not particularly cool. Really rather impressively not cool.

Now don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t miserable. I wasn’t one of the popular kids, but then again most people aren’t. I didn’t have a lot of friends, but I had a few. Besides, I lived out in the country, so it wasn’t like the neighborhood kids pelted me with stones or anything. There were no neighborhood kids for the most part. No neighbors. Just me and lots of books.

What’s more, I had the best pair of parents imaginable. Parents who, when I asked for a bullwhip for my birthday, actually bought me one.

And, as you can see if you embiggen the above picture, they also bought me a copy of the green D&D box set.

*     *     *

I first found out about D&D in the fifth grade. I saw some kids playing at school one day when it was crappy out and we were having recess inside.

I’d never heard of it before. It looked like a lot of fun. I asked the kids if I could play with them.

“No,” they said.

It wasn’t a hesitant no, either. It was a genuine, “No, we are certain we do not want you to play with us.” Whether or not they intended to, I was left with the distinct impression that I wasn’t cool enough to play D&D with.

Keep in mind that this was in the early 1980’s. Geek wasn’t chic back then. There was no internet. There weren’t huge comic conventions. There was no PAX.

These days everyone plays WOW and reads Harry Potter and Watches X-Men movies. Geek is mainstream now.

Back then? Not so much. Back then, you were picked on for reading fantasy novels. Or reading comics. Or rolling dice and pretending to be a wizard. Geeks were really far down the social pecking order.

Those people, those geeks, were the folks that didn’t particularly want to hang out with me.

So I arranged to get the D&D red box. And I read it all. And I made a character. And I played D&D with myself.

(It occurs to me just now that this might have been one of the first steps toward being a writer. Being an author is kinda like playing D&D with yourself.)

Later I got the other boxes. Usually as Christmas presents….

BECMI_DnD_boxes2

(I never knew about the Immortal Rules until just now….)

My parents didn’t really know what it was all about. Despite that, they were understanding. My mom was a hippie, so when I asked her to make me a cloak, she didn’t think much of it. She’d made cloaks for people before. The main difference was that the people she made cloaks for back in the 60’s had at least a distant possibility of having sex.

Then I found this at the Madison public library.

DMG

It wasn’t this actual book. It didn’t have this cover, either. Because of damage, or perhaps as a nod to Christian sensibilities, the library had re-covered the book.

Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. This book was different. It was weighty. It was serious. It was full of  charts and tables. Let’s say you were adventuring in a swamp. And you wanted to know how likely you were to catch a disease. Well, there were rules for that.

I am all-the-way serious:

DMGDiseaseTable

There’s something to be learned from this table. Honestly, part of the reason I live in Wisconsin is because of the -1% modifier for cool weather.

Toward at the end of one of the books was Appendix N – Inspirational and Educational Reading. That was where Gygax listed books that had shaped his views on fantasy. Books he thought other people would benefit from reading.

I found a nice scan of it online:

Appendix-N

(Click to embiggen, if you’re curious.)

You’ve got some great names on there. Tolkien. Zelazny. Saberhagen. Norton. Looking it over now, I realize I still haven’t read half of these, and I feel like I should.

Back then, it was really interesting to see this list of books. But I was just a kid. I didn’t seek out books so much as I just devoured anything that was available at the library or the Waldenbooks at the mall.

Eventually I found some people to play D&D with. I played it all through high-school with several different people, most consistently with my two best friends, Steve and Ryan.

When I graduated from high-school, rather than have a graduation party, I asked my parents if I could go up to our cabin in the north woods with Steve and Ryan. They agreed, and for a week, we did very little but play D&D.

By that time, 2nd edition was out. That’s the edition I played the most of. The one I know inside and out.

I played in college too. That’s how I made my first friends here in Stevens Point. Most notably Endo, who introduced me to other friends. That was how I met my first girlfriend and other people I still know and love to this day. Though I don’t get to see them nearly as much as I’d like.

This year, as some of you might know, 5th edition came out.

PH

I got to know this edition pretty well because I had to make a new version of Viari that I could play with Acquisitions Incorporated.

The book is beautiful. The new system is flexible but easy to use. Elegant and smooth in a way I couldn’t have appreciated ten years ago. Using it, I was able to make a thief that could hold his own in combat and survive jumping off an airship onto a dragon.

But I’m not here to sing the praises of 5th edition. I’m here because of what shows up in the back of this 5th edition player’s handbook.

Appendix E: Inspirational Reading….

PHReadingPage

There’s more books than before, you’ll notice. That’s only appropriate. The genre’s grown a lot since Gygax wrote his list back in 1979.

There’s still some of the familiar names on here, as there should be. Zelazny is still brilliant. So is Tolkien. And what’s that? Oh my stars and garters, there’s more than one woman on the list! Which is good, because these days a list that misses LeGuin and McKillip isn’t worth shit in my opinion.

We’ve got some new folks on there too. My friends and colleagues. Jemisin and Sanderson. Lynch, and Bear and Saladin.

And this.

PHReadingPage 2

I’m there. I’m in the book. In a small way, I’m *part* of D&D.

It’s hard to get my head around that fact. Words fail me, and I honestly don’t know what to say. Except that it’s wonderful, and flattering and so, so strange. My life has become so strange these last few years.

I think this must be what it feels like to be cool.

DnD_recommended2Be good to each other everyone,

pat

Also posted in gaming, musings, My checkered past | By Pat82 Responses

Slow Regard of Silent Things – The Narrationing.

Over the last couple of months, I’ve talked about the upcoming Auri book quite a bit.

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(Everyone’s favorite moon fae. Art from GungGoGrimm)

When I do interviews or events, people ask me questions about the story, and I do my best to answer them without giving anything away. But the end result is that sometimes I have trouble remembering what I’ve officially announced, and what I’ve just kinda talked in one interivew. Or at one particular event at a bookstore.

(My official announcement of the book and the explanation of how it came to be is over here on the blog, if you happened to miss it.)

So. There’s been some news about the book I’ve known for a while. Something that I’ve mentioned a couple of times in various places in various ways. But I’ve never make an official announcement:

I’m narrating the audiobook.

Achievement unlocked - audio_book 2

I’ve always had a great admiration for the people who are able to read their own material. When an author reads their own work, it can add so much to a story. Over the years, I think I’ve probably spent a thousand hours listening to some of the best of the best tell their own stories in their own voices: Neil Gaiman, David Sedaris, and Garrison Keillor.

I’m not at that level. But I enjoy reading my work in front of an audience. I’ve done work with Wisconsin Public Radio. What’s more, I have been told I have a good voice….

Mountainous

(This might be one of my favorite complements ever.)

So I decided to throw my hat into the ring. This is a much shorter book than my usual. A perfect chance to give it a try. Besides, how different could it be, reading in front of an audience vs. reading in a studio?

Well…. quite a bit different, as it turns out.

Luckily, the folks at Random House/Penguin Audio brought in a great producer to work with me. Someone with a ton of experience who has more than a thousand audiobooks under his belt (figuratively.)

His name was Rick Harris, and he worked wonders, setting me at my ease and teaching me the ropes.

I won’t go into the details of what I learned. That should probably be a blog all by itself. Suffice to say now I have a *lot* more respect for people that do this for a living. There’s so much going on. So much craft and artistry. I look forward to working on it and getting better in the future.

Without further ado, let me present to you a brief teaser of the audiobook that the folks at my publisher have made available for you.

I hope you like it. I myself managed to listen to an entire 8 words of it before I turned it off again. For as much as I joke about loving the sound of my own voice, the truth is, I hate the sound of my own voice when I hear it recorded. I just can’t bring myself to listen to it.

Anyway, here it is. All fancy and embedded:

If that doesn’t work, here’s a straight-up link.

I hope you like it. Honestly? I’m nervous as hell about how it turned out, and not being able to listen to it at all, let alone with an objective ear, is not helping with that anxiety.

Be gentle with me, it’s my first time.

pat

Also posted in audiobooks | By Pat100 Responses

“What Ho!”- A Belated Conclusion to an Adventure.

So I was at C2E2 last weekend, walking around the main hall with a friend, nodding and occationally fist-bumping readers who recognised me. (Too much hand-shaking leads to contagion at a convention.)

Eventually my friend asked, “What’s this Acquisiations Incorporated video people keep talking about?”

“I did a D&D thing with the guys from Penny Arcade and PVP last year,” I said. “We played a game at PAX Prime on stage. They taped it and put it online.”

“Why didn’t you put it up on your blog?” she said.

“I did,” I said.

“I’m pretty sure you didn’t,” she said.

I started to insist that I had, because I *remembered* doing it. I had a blast playing with them, and I even got Nate to do up some art for that blog post:

whatHo

But then I closed my mouth because over the last two years I’ve come to realize that I *intend* to write about a lot of stuff on the blog. But in reality, I don’t actually get around to finishing about 80% of the blogs I mean to.

Right now, for example, I have over 200 blogs that are in their “Draft” form here on WordPress. I am the king of broken promises.

When I got home, I looked online and saw I *had* posted a blog announcing my attendance at PAX, then another blog with more details about Acquisitions Inc….

But no blog with a follow-up link to the video itself.

So, for those of you who are reluctant to go clicking around all higgledy piggledy, here’s the 8-part audio podcast that leads up to the on-stage event.

Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5 / Part 6 / Part 7 / Part 8

In my opinion, a lot of these are even better than what happens later in the video. The video is about 2 hours, but the podcasts all together are 4-5 hours of solid geeky fun. I’ve been role playing for more than 25 years at this point, and Mike, Jerry, and Scott are the best sort of folks to tabletop with. So funny and quick on their feet. And Chris Perkins as DM is absolutely brilliant….

For those of you who aren’t into the whole podcast thing, here’s a vastly abridged, somewhat bowdlerized animated version of the podcast.

And here’s the video of the PAX game itself.

[Warning: I sing.]

If you want to see *all* the delightful, shiny geekery, you can head over to the D&D website. Acquisitions Inc has been going strong for several seasons, and it’s all archived over there. So there’s plenty to keep you busy until May 15th when the next episode of Nightvale comes out….

pat

Also posted in Beautiful Games, gaming, geeking out, Tales from the Con, videos | By Pat26 Responses

Twitter Contest – The Reveal

Well folks, the votes are in on the twitter conetest.

And the Winner is… Pat Rothfuss.

Or rather, the winner is @Pat_Rothfuss

Which is to say that the winner was *not* Pat Rothfuss.

By which I mean that the winner was not me. And it wasn’t even a close thing.

With a crushing 42% of the electorate, the winner is.

MaryRobinetteKowal

Mary Robinette Kowal is the author of Shades of Milk and HoneyGlamour in Glass, and Without a Summer. In 2008 she received the Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and in 2011, her short story “For Want of a Nail” won the Hugo Award for Short Story. Her work has been nominated for the Hugo, Nebula and Locus awards. Her stories appear in Asimov’s, Clarkesworld, and several Year’s Best anthologies. She is also a cast member of the Hugo-award winning podcast Writing Excuses. Mary, a professional puppeteer, performs as a voice actor, recording fiction for authors such as Elizabeth Bear, Cory Doctorow and John Scalzi. She lives in Chicago with her husband Rob and over a dozen manual typewriters.

Everyone played a good game, but simply said, Mary crushed this contest. Not only did she get nearly three times the votes anyone else did, but she managed to convince twitter itself that she was me.

It was a little disheartening, in all honesty.

Who were the rest of the players?

AmberBenson

Amber Benson is a writer, director, actor, and maker of things.  She wrote the five-book CALLIOPE REAPER-JONES urban fantasy series and the middle grade book, AMONG THE GHOSTS. She co-directed the Slamdance feature, DRONES and (co-wrote) and directed the BBC animated series, THE GHOSTS OF ALBION.  She also spent three years as Tara Maclay on the television series BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER. She doesn’t own a television.

KialaKazebee

Kiala Kazebee is a writer on the internet and co-host of Felicia Day’s web show/book club “Vaginal Fantasy” on Geek and Sundry. She apologizes in advance for making you google that.

You can find her on Twitter. Forever.

VeronicaBelmont

In the world of SFF, Veronica is the co-host of the science fiction and fantasy book club, podcast and video show The Sword and Laser. She is also a member of the monthly Google Hangout show, Vaginal Fantasy, where she drinks too much and waxes intellectual on paranormal romance and erotic scifi and fantasy.

Otherwise, you can find her weekly on the tech-help and how-to show Tekzilla, or as the technology contributor to PopSugar Girls’ Guide show, The Sync Up.
  • @PatRothfuss was my assistant, Amanda, with 14.05% of the vote

AmandaHoerter

Amanda and I have known each other for years now, and she’s been reading the blog for even longer. Not only is she my personal assistant (aka Pat-herder) but she’s also developed a creepy knack for impersonating my phraseology. She’s good enough at mimicing me that shes’ managed to fool Sarah once or twice, so it’s not really surprising that she also tricked 14 percent of you….

She tells me she’s considering getting her own Twitter account now, though she worries she’ll feel significantly less cool than while she was pretending to be me.

PatrickRothfuss

I am the actual bonafide Pat Rothfuss. Or at least I thought I was until I lost my own fucking contest.

*     *     *

First and foremost, big kudos to Mary Robinette Kowal, who was above-and-beyond cunning and devious. Her charity, Con Or Bust, will receive $1,000 from DAW Books, and bragging rights for all of eternity.

She already did a bit of strutting, walking around parts of World Fantasy con looking like this:

MRK as Patrick Rothfuss
I expect I will never live this down…

Secondly, I’d like to thank all of you for a lovely game. Even with a few hiccups, I’m very pleased. Once again, you’ve proven that my readers are some of the brightest, wittiest, snarkiest folks a writer could hope to have.

And thank you to Mary, Amber, Kiala, Veronica and Amanda for spending a couple weeks being me.  I can’t stress enough how much I appreciate y’all taking time to goof about with me. You should really check out their work if you haven’t already. Because while they’re quite good at being me, they’re much better at being themselves.

In the next couple weeks, I’m hoping we might be able to schedule a Google hangout together and talk about the contest. But that will probably have to wait until I’m back in the US….

Tonight, (Monday night) I’m going to be doing my reading and signing in Oxford. I hope to see some of you there….

Fondly,

pat

p.s. I wrote  goodly portion of this blog using stolen wifi on a moving train. If you ignore my minor typos up here, I’ll ignore yours in the comments below. Sound fair?

Also posted in Beautiful Games | By Pat81 Responses

Twitter – A Beautiful Game

So for a couple of years now, I’ve been a bit of a laughing stock in the geek community because I’m a luddite.

You see, I did not posses a smartphone. Neither did I have a twitter account.

This might not seem like a crippling social affliction, and most of the time it’s not. Most of the time I’m at home in Wisconsin, writing and hanging out with my little boy.

But then I go to a convention, like Origins, and while I’m there, I hang out with John Scalzi, Felicia Day, and Wil Wheaton. And while we’re playing games, someone snaps a picture. And then, when they’re posting it up online, someone looks at me and says “I’ll tag you here, What’s your twitter handle?”

And I say, “I’m not on twitter.”

Keep in mind who I’m hanging with here. Wil, John, and Felicia. If you added some sort of animal sidekick to this mix, I’m guessing they could join together and form a giant robot that would somehow defend the internet. The looks they give me are the worst sort of mingled pity and scorn….

Ah hell. I just realized *I’m* probably the animal sidekick in that group. I’m Lubar, the great shambling bear-man from the frozen tundra who is charmingly baffled by the subtle magic of the interweb.

Anyway, the point is that I’ve finally, *finally* taken the leap.

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But that’s only the beginning. The phone itself isn’t enough. To really wire myself in, I know I need to get on twitter.

*     *     *

Part of the reason I want to get on twitter is because it will save me time. I tend to be… um…. wordy. Verbose even. Sometimes a blog that starts out as a simple announcement turns into a 500 word screed.

Twitter will help me reign that impulse in a bit. I’ll be able to mention things to y’all without feeling the obligation to make a meaty blog about them.

The other reason I need to get on twitter is to stay in better touch with my readers.

You see, I’m not a total technological schmendrick. I’ve been on facebook since before it was cool, and I’ve slowly built my army over there. For years I’ve used facebook to clue-in readers when I’m doing events, running contests, or going to conventions….

But these days Facebook deliberately throttles back the reach of most pages. These days I’m encouraged to “boost” my posts by giving facebook money. If I don’t boost the posts (and I never do) the things I write there only show up on *half* my reader’s news feeds.

It happens all the time. I schedule a signing in Boston. I post on facebook letting people know about my signing in Boston. I go to Boston. I get home and later that day I see someone howling on my wall “You Were In BOSTON!!??!?”

Twitter doesn’t have this problem. If you follow me on twitter, and I post something on twitter, you’ll be able to decide for yourself if it’s worth reading.

But here’s the problem. I don’t want to spend ages slowly building up my twitter following.

Also, you only get to lose your twitter virginity once.

My thought is, why not have a little fun with this?

My thought is, why don’t we play a little game?

*     *     *

So here’s what I’ve done.

I’ve created six twitter accounts, all versions of the name “Pat Rothfuss.”

I’ve recruited 5 members of the geek glitterati. Friends who are good with words. They’re witty, wired-in, and social media savvy.

Starting today, each of them will claim one of those accounts at random and do their best to convince the world they’re the *real* Pat Rothfuss.

They’ll connive and scheme. They’ll share links, twitter at you, and generally attempt to exude an aura of Rothfuss-y-ness.

I will take the sixth profile and attempt to do the same.

The contest will run for two weeks and finish on Halloween at midnight.  Then everyone will vote on who they think the real Pat Rothfuss is.

CSG_WhatDoILookLike_Reveal-smaller

The winner gets that most valuable commodity of all: Bragging Rights.

Even better, the winner will have 1,000 dollars donated to the charity of their choice. The prize money being provided by DAW Books, my lovely publisher.

I might also see if I can find a trophy of some sort.

  • The Rules:

It should be blindingly obvious to everyone that I could win this game pretty easily. I could post up a selfie with today’s newspaper and that would be the end of it.

But what would be the fun in that?

The five other people who are playing are going to have to win through sheer cleverness, trickery, and guile. I plan on winning the same way.

What I’m getting at here, is that I’m looking to play a beautiful game. Why would I want to win anything other than a beautiful game?

Aside from my self-imposed handicap, there are only two rules:

1. Players can change anything on their twitter profiles except for their pictures. Those will remain the same throughout the contest. Otherwise things would just be too confusing.

2. Stories about Oot are out of bounds.

You see, I love telling stories about my little boy: (Codename Oot.)

A lot of the stories I tell are funny, silly, or irreverent. For example, on facebook I recently shared how Oot spent 20 minutes running around shouting “Gangnam Style!” and dancing naked.

I shared the story because it’s funny, and because he has no sense of shame at this point in his life.

But the thought of someone *else* making up a story along those lines…. It creeps me out a little bit.

So. No Oot stories. He’s out of bounds.

That’s it though. Everything else is fair game.

  • The Charities:

The charities are people are backing:  WorldbuildersArchitecture for HumanityTeach for America826LACon or Bust or Project Nightlight.

(Here’s a hint. I’m playing for my home team, Worldbuilders.)

If you want to know more about these charities, you can read some brief summaries over on the page where you can see all six twitter feeds at once.

TheRealRothfuss

Fair warning: We kinda threw this page together. If it gets hammered with 100,000 visitors in the next two days, it might crash.

So if you want to follow the contest, you might consider following all six of these accounts right now. That way you can watch the entire beautiful game without fear of tech glitches getting in the way.

As of right now, each profile is virtually identical except for its name and the profile picture. While the pictures will remain the same, (as per rule #1 above) the profiles will doubtless change as soon as the players take charge.

A careful observer will notice that each of the profiles has one tweet from Oct 14th saying, “I am the real Pat Rothfuss.”

A *very* careful observer will notice that that post is actually from Oct 14th 2012. That’s how long I’ve been planning to do this contest, but I’ve never managed to get around to it until now.

Because the profiles have been sitting around for a while, some of them have collected different numbers of followers.

I’m guessing that in the next couple days they’re going to get a few more….

In case you’d like it again, here’s a link to the page where you can see and follow all of the accounts.

Game on,

pat

P.S. Just now, minutes before we launch this blog, it has occurred to me that we should have some sort of official hashtag associated with it.

I consulted with my staff, and my twitter-smart assistant Amanda has confirmed that yes, this is a good idea.

What’s more, she has implied to me that this tag could even be used to ask a question of all the different accounts at the same time. Something along the lines of “If you’re the *real* Pat Rothfuss, what’s your favorite flavor skittle?”

And then you’d somehow… um… hash things. Together. I guess that’s another thing I’m going to have to figure out…

Anyway, how about we use #TheRealRothfuss. Using it all the time would would probably be cumbersome and cluttery. But now it’s there for people if they want it. (Sorry to make y’all use caps, but otherwise it looks too much like “There Al Rothfuss.” Which would be some other, entirely lamer game.)

Also posted in Beautiful Games, contests, My brilliant ideas | By Pat93 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

Also posted in a few words you're probably going to have to look up, fanmail, Surreal enthusiasm, Things I didn't know about publishing, things I shouldn't talk about | By Pat94 Responses
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