Category Archives: Achievement Unlocked!

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

Tabletop

As some of you have already seen, I was a guest on Wil Wheaton’s Tabletop a while back.

We played Lords of Waterdeep, and I had a great time.

To be completely honest with you, I wasn’t planning on watching the episode. After all, I was there. I know how the game played out. I bought the proverbial t-shirt.

But I wanted to hear Wil’s introduction to the game, so I started watching it.

And then I started laughing.

And then I kept watching it, and I kept laughing.

The truth is, I’d forgotten a lot of what had happened in the game. What’s more, they did an *amazing* job of editing it together.

And most importantly, Wil, Felicia, and Brandon were a fun group to play with. I love hanging out with quick-witted sharp-tongued people.

I ended up watching the whole thing eventually.

Here’s the episode if you’re interested….

My very favorite part was at the end when I screw up my cue….

Alternately, if watching cool, awesome, funny things isn’t really your bag. Here’s a little interview I did after the show. I talk about how I feel about board games and tell a cute story about my little boy, Oot.

Share and Enjoy,

pat

Also posted in Felicia Day, gaming, Geek and Sundry, videos, Wil Wheaton | By Pat39 Responses

My Rambling Thanks (And a Song)

Sorry for the Radio Silence here folks. In addition to the pleasant madness of the end of the Kickstarter, I also had a bunch of other things fall on me at the same time.

They included (but are not limited to) sickness, a car crash (everyone is fine), flight delays, cancellations, Worldbuilders running its first-ever serious booth at Origins, (blog to follow), seduction, piracy, storm, shipwreck….

I’m not going to dwell on any of that now. Suffice to say that in the end, it took me sixteen days to make it to Severen….

No. Wait. What was I talking about again?

Oh. Yeah. Radio Silence.

Today, I mostly wanted to thank all of you that stomped out and made the Kickstarter such a huge success.

I appreciate it. The folks at Albino Dragon appreciate it. Worldbuilders appreciates it.

And though they’ll never know the particulars, all the families that Heifer International will help with the money appreciate it too.

And it goes without saying that the success of this project will lead to more cool stuff in the future. He said tantalizingly…

There were a few things that I offered up as stretch goals in the Kickstarter. One was a video of me singing “I Crush Everything.”

The other was a video of me reading The Princess Book to Oot.

That second one will take a while, but I launched the I Crush Everything video on facebook a couple days before the end of the Kickstarter.

For those of you who missed it. I offer up to you…. this. A thing that I did.

Honestly, I haven’t listened to it, because I prefer to live firm in the illusion that the voice I hear in the shower is the same voice everyone else hears when I sing.

If it doesn’t…. well…. I would like to state that for the record, Shane kept cracking me up through the first several takes by doodling things. So my voice was pretty tired by this final take.

And also, I was sick as a dog when we recorded this. I was drinking tea with lemon and doing drugs just so I could perform.

And by drugs, I mean just regular drugs. Ibuprofen and pseudoephedrine.

And by perform, I mean sing. Perverts.

Okay. Enough equivocating.

Here it is:

Later all,

pat

Also posted in my dumbness, Surreal enthusiasm, videos | By Pat24 Responses

A Spathic Convention

Every year there are a few conventions I make a point of attending.

I go to Worldcon because the paneling is really top notch. I go to World Fantasy because it gives me the chance to hang out with other authors I’d never get a chance to see.

And, of course, I go to San Diego ComicCon for many, many reasons.

But I also make a point of going to a few other conventions every year. The main reason I do this is so I can get to different parts of the country and meet readers I might not get a chance to see otherwise.

Which is why, just a couple months ago, I was Guest of Honor at a little convention called Stellarcon.

Whenever I’m GOH at a con, interesting things happen. So for those of you who don’t get to attend, here’s the highlight reel from this year’s Stellarcon.

I’ll admit to having a terrible green-eyed envy of artists. (And by artists I mean people who do art. (And by art, I mean taking something out of your head and making a picture out of it.))

That said, the modern artists I can name off the top of my head I can probably fit on two hands. Mark Poole is one of those artists, because he was doing art for Magic Cards back at the beginning. Back when I used to play it. Back before it was cool.

Yeah. Okay. I’m just kidding. Playing magic is never cool.

So I was surprising when we sat next to each other at the opening ceremonies and Mark turned to me, introduced himself, and said he was a big fan.

I was a little shocked. I still think of myself as the new kid on the scene, publishing-wise. It  knocks me for a bit of a loop when other professionals know who I am.

For the record, Mark is a really nice guy.

I’ve known about John even longer than I’ve known about Mark, because I grew up reading his comic in his the Wisconsin State Journal. We share Madison, Wisconsin as our home town, so it seemed a little odd that I’d end up traveling to North Carolina before I finally got to meet him….

And you know what? I didn’t get to meet him. We sat two seats away from each other at opening ceremonies, and that’s the closest we got to each other over the space of the whole convention.

The Moral of the story? I end up being really busy at cons most of the time. I used to try make plans to meet with my friends and hang out, but these days I know better. Between readings, signings, panels, and occationally running a tabletop game, I just don’t have a lot of free time left over.

But this story had a happy ending. John and I ran into each other in the Madison airport and got to chat there. Small world.

  • I had an… intimate signing experience.

When I got home from Stellarcon, Sarah was in the kitchen, feeding Oot some dinner.

“How was the convention?” she shouted to me.

“I got to sign a boob!” I said.

“A naked boob?” she asked.

“A gentleman doesn’t speak of such things,” I said.

Which is a total lie, of course, because I wouldn’t shut up about it for a week. Someone asking you to sign their boob  is one of those mythical things that everyone jokes about, but it never really happens.

Except it did. It totally did.

Now just to be clear. The boob wasn’t naked. And she asked me. Without any instigation on my end.

To say I was surprised is a bit of an understatement.

But you know what? It was cool. Because for a brief moment, I got to feel like a rockstar.

(Note that Pikachu has turned his back on me, ashamed.)

Truthfully, I wasn’t very suave about the whole thing. I couldn’t stop laughing.  And as you can see in the above picture, I was more than a little blushy and flustered by the end of it.

Luckily, the young lady in question was very forgiving when I explained it was my first time. (It was her first time too.) Who knew that signing a boob would actually prove to be pretty tricky?

By the end of the experience, the two of us were good friends. What’s more, Pikachu stopped judging me so harshly, and Sarah really didn’t mind at all.

Honestly though, I think Oot was a little jealous.

Later all,

pat

Also posted in a few words you're probably going to have to look up, Tales from the Con, things I shouldn't talk about | By Pat37 Responses

Consolation Prize: Kvothe vs. Aslan

As those of you who were following the cage match already know, Bast couldn’t pull off the win against Rake.

What can I say? Dude can eat a *ton* of pie.

And before you ask, no, I won’t be writing up the Bast vs. Zaphod fight anyway. I was surprised at someone’s post on Wednesday’s blog when they said something along the lines of, “After he mentioned something like this, how can Pat not write the scene?”

The answer is this: “Quite easily.”

You see, *not* writing things is really, really easy. Believe it or not, there are an infinite number of stories that I don’t write every day. Adding one more to that list won’t appreciably increase the not-burden of that not-writing.

What I did find oddly galling were some of the comments along the lines of, “Bast could never win against X. X has a power level of 9000!!1!”

This bothered me for two reasons:

First, you have to realize that any time something like this is an open vote, it’s ultimately a popularity contest.

Here’s a mnemonic to help you remember: “When the internet votes on who will die, it comes down to Vox Populi.”

But vastly more irritating to me is the odd opinion that strength/power is the key factor when two people come into conflict.

The truth is, I find that sentiment more than irritating, I find it troubling. It means a lot of you haven’t been paying attention to the books I know you must have read.

If power is the only important thing, then Frodo loses against Sauron. Hell, if power’s the only important thing then Gandalf loses against Sauron. If magic is the deciding factor of a fight, then four plucky kids from England get their asses turned to stone by the White Which.

So yeah, Rake can turn into a dragon, but the point of fairy tales is that they teach us that dragons can be beaten.

I see too much fatalism these days, folks. The truth is that the world is 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.

Man. I don’t know if this is going to make any sense to anyone. I meant this to be a lighthearted blog. A quick lead-in to the story below.

But the truth is,  folks, tonight wasn’t a good night for me. It was one of those nights where I wake up and can’t go back to sleep because I’m worried about things. I worry about so many things. The environment. The concealed carry law. Kids not having food to eat. Parents who have to work so much that they don’t have time to be good parents. The fact that people vote based on television ads. The fact that some guys out there want to kiss other guys, and some girls want to kiss girls, and other people really have a huge fucking problem with this, to the point where people get killed over it.

There’s just so much shit that is really wrong in the world. And it’s so big.

But that’s the point, isn’t it? Yeah. It’s big. What are you going to do? You can lie in bed, staring at the dark. Or you can get up and do something. Even if that something is as small as writing a blog that might make people smile.

Or, in this particular case, you write a blog that ends up as a great rambly mess that makes you look like a homeless guy preaching on a street corner. I should probably just erase this and start over. But fuck it. If I can’t write what I want in my own blog, then what’s the point of writing anything at all?

Okay. Back onto topic.

Simply said, I’m not going to write up the Bast vs. Zaphod fight. But when I wrote Wednesday’s blog, I dug out the scene I wrote for the Kvothe vs. Aslan match. What’s more, I was surprised at how well it held up. I wrote it two years ago sitting in a hotel lobby when I woke up in the middle of the night and, coincidentally enough, couldn’t get back to sleep.

I’m pretty sure it’s okay for me to post this up. While I am using a character that is Lewis’ intellectual property, I think it falls under fair use, as I’m not making any money off it.

Anyway folks, for those of you who wanted to see it, here it is:

*     *     *

There wasn’t any snow on the ground, but the early morning air was chill as the cloaked and hooded figure moved through the forest, brushing aside the fir branches as he went. Eventually the trees thinned and the figure stepped from the pale blue of early morning into a warmer, richer, light.

The cloaked figure smiled fondly and ran one hand over the iron lamppost. Then sighed and walked past it, moving deeper into the forest. After the better part of an hour he found a clearing where a small stream cut through the thick grass, making a gentle sound as it rolled over the stones.

Still wearing his hood, the figure looked around for a long moment. Then he spoke: “Aslan,” he said, and though he did not speak loudly, his voice was strangely resonant, striking the air like a bell. “Aslan.” He looked around, drew a breath, and squared his shoulders. “Asl–.”

“You cannot bid me come,” came a deep, sweet voice from the edge of the clearing. It was like distant thunder laced with honey. “Neither can you bid me go.”

“Of course not,” the cloaked man said. “You’re not a tame lion.”

There was a low, throbbing sound that almost sounded like a purr, and a lion padded softly out of the trees, his huge feet making no noise in the grass. The sun came out from behind a cloud, warming the air, and when it struck the huge animal he shone as if made from molten gold.

“Nice entrance,” Kvothe said pushing back his hood. His hair caught the sun as well, shining like copper and fire. He looked younger than his voice sounded, a boy just on the verge of becoming a man.

“I will admit,” Aslan said. “I did not expect you to come here.”

Kvothe unclasped his cloak and lay it carefully on a nearby tree and looked back up at the lion. His clothes were threadbare, only a half step away from being truly ragged. “I thought we should talk.”

“We are to fight,” Aslan said. “It strikes me as odd that you should come here and give me the advantage of the home ground. It seems your best hope would be hold your ground, force me to come to you, so you might catch me with some trick or trap.”

Kvothe smiled. “That reminds me of a joke,” he said. “How do you catch a unique lion?”

The lion cocked his head.

“You neek up on it,” Kvothe said with a straight face.

Aslan’s tail stopped its restless motion. He turned his head slightly to look behind himself.

Kvothe continued, “How do you catch a tame lion?”

The lion turned back to look at him, but said nothing.

Kvothe gave a slightly embarrassed smile. “Tame way.”

There was a moment of silence, and then the clearing was filled with a low thrumming noise that could conceivably be the sound of a lion chuckling.

“It’s been a long time since anyone told me a joke,” Aslan said, then shook out his great golden mane. “But we still have to fight.”

“We do,” Kvothe agreed. “Though it might be more accurate to say that we are forced to come into conflict.”

“And you know you cannot win, especially here,” Aslan continued. “The only question is how much you might hurt me before the end.”

Kvothe shook his head seriously. “No, the real question is how much will winning cost?” The young man smiled a small, sad smile. “Believe me, this is something I have some personal experience with.”

“I… I don’t know if I follow you,” the lion said.

“If we fight, you’ll kill me,” Kvothe said matter-of-factly. “You’ll win, but there will be a cost.”

“You would bring your death curse upon me?” Aslan said.

“That’s Harry Dresden,” Kvothe said, obviously irritated. “Come on now. Except for point of view and a respect for thermodynamics we really don’t have much in common.”

“Oh,” Aslan cleared his throat. “Right. Sorry.”

“There’s nothing I could do to you if I lost,” Kvothe said. “And honestly, I’m not sure I’d want to. I’m not really one of those ‘from hell’s heart I stab at thee’ types.'”

“Actually,” Aslan said, “From what I’ve heard, you’ve…”

“Don’t believe everything you hear,” Kvothe interrupted, his eyes narrowing. “My point is this: if you kill me, there will never be a second book.”

Aslan was silent for a moment. “So you’re threatening me with reprisal from your fans?”

Kvothe shook his head again. “You’re missing my whole point. I’m not threatening you at all. I’m just saying that if you kill me now, people will never get the chance to read the rest of my story.”

Aslan looked thoughtful. “And the result is…”

“Despair,” Kvothe said. “Terrible despair in the hearts and minds of thousands.” He gave the lion a frank look. “You’ve always struck me as the sort of person…”

“Lion.”

“Sorry… You’ve always struck me as the sort of lion that was trying to make people happy in the long run. Not the sort that would actively cause despair.”

Aslan lifted one huge paw from the ground and then pressed it down again. He cleared his throat. “Tricky.”

Kvothe nodded. “Your books are all finished. You’re immortal in ways more important than the obvious. I’m not quite there yet.” He sighed. “That’s why I figured we should talk.”

After a long moment, the lion looked up. “So what’s the other option?” his voice was low and uncertain.

“Forfeit,” Kvothe said. “Just walk away.”

“*You* could forfeit,” Aslan pointed out.

Kvothe shook his head. “It’s not in my nature to give up or walk away. I’m psychologically unable to back down from something like this. Hell, I’m a short step from feral.” He ran his hands over his ragged clothes, half embarrassed.

Then he made a sweeping gesture to the huge lion. “You, on the other hand, are a noble creature. You have a precedent for martyrdom. It’s consistent with your character. You better than anyone know that sometimes the only way to win is to concede.”

Another pause, then Aslan spoke. “You’ve thought about this a lot, haven’t you?”

Kvothe smiled again, and for a moment his face was almost boyish. “It’s all stories,” he said. “That’s what I do.”

Aslan looked up and swished his tail. He drew an impossibly long, deep breath. “Fine. Fair enough. I concede.”

Kvothe sagged with relief. “Thank God.”

“You’re welcome,” the lion said as he turned his massive head and began to walk from the clearing.

“Um…” Kvothe said. And for the first time since he came into the clearing he looked unsure of himself. “Before you go…. I was wondering…. Could I?”

Aslan gave a great gusty sigh that was more amused than exasperated. “Very well.”

Kvothe stepped closer to the lion, moving hesitantly. Then he raised his hands slowly and sank them deep in the thick golden mane. He leaned forward and gave the huge lion a hug, burying his face in the lion’s fur.

After the space of a deep breath, Kvothe pulled his face away, but left his hands where they were. “I’ve wanted to do that forever,” he said softly, his voice a little choked. “My mom used to tell me your stories.”

“I would lick your face,” Aslan said gently. “But it looks like it’s been a while since you’ve washed it.”

Kvothe laughed and stepped back from the lion.

“When is the second book coming out, by the way?” Aslan asked. “I’ve been waiting frikking forever.”

“Soon,” Kvothe said.

“What does that mean?” Aslan said. “In a couple months? Sometime this year?”

“I call all times ‘soon'” Kvothe said.

Another deep, thundering chuckle. “I suppose I deserve that,” Aslan said, and turned to pad silently out of the clearing, where he was quickly lost to mortal sight.

*     *     *

That’s all for now, folks. Be good to each other.

pat

P.S. I’m going to be on WPR this morning with Veronica Rueckert from 10-11. I‘ll be chatting with her and Laura Miller about heroines in literature.

I think I’m going to need some serious coffee before I sit down to that….

Also posted in a few words you're probably going to have to look up, Stories about stories., things I shouldn't talk about | By Pat89 Responses

Suvudu Cage Match….

Two years ago, Suvudu hosted a sci-fi fantasy cage match, where they pitted fictional characters against each other in a tournament style series of one-on-one fights.

It was a cool concept, and it led to interesting match ups like Cthulhu vs Lyra. Cthulhu being an omnipotent elder god from the outer darkness, and Lyra being a plucky 13 year-old girl from Oxford.

Simply said, good times were had.

Kvothe was one of the characters they chose that first year, which was flattering, as back then I only had the one book out, and I was very new to the scene.

Even more surprising was the fact that Kvothe won his first match. Then his second. He made it all the way to the semi-finals after beating  Dumbledore, Garret Jax, and Aslan.

Y’know. Now that I’m thinking of it, I’m going to retroactively award myself an achievement for that. Because it was awesome.

In my opinion, the best part of the cage matches was the fact that Suvudu posted write-ups describing how they thought the fights would settle out.

Even better, they invited the authors to submit their own write-ups, so WE could describe how we thought the fights would go.

I did a write up for Kvothe vs. Aslan, then later did another for Kvothe vs. Jamie. It was the most fun I’d had writing in a long time. At that point in my life, trapped under the crushing weight of book two, it reminded me that writing could actually be fun….

*     *     *

Fast forward to today. Suvudu is running another tournament, and this time Bast is one of the players….

The Suvudu Cage Matches have been going for a couple weeks. I’ve been meaning to mention them here on the blog for a while, but I’ve been busier than usual lately, so I’m only now getting around to it.

Bast’s first opponent was Seregil, from Lynn Flewelling’s Nightrunner series.

I read the first two books of Lynn’s series and liked them. But in addition to being busy, I really wasn’t able to come up with a good idea for a scene between the two of them. I briefly entertained the thought of writing it up as a kissing contest between Bast and Seregil, but that seemed kind of… inappropriate.

Lynn, of course, is a better person than me, and did a delightfully playful write-up of the bout between them that you can see over on Suvudu’s site. It was a good scene, and I expected her to win because of it. But Bast squeaked by….

Bast’s second fight was against Richard Rahl. And again, I found myself at a loss for an idea for a scene. My only idea there was something involving bondage. And since I’m still fuzzy on the parody-as-fair-use laws, I decided to focus on a few interviews I was late on and the questions in my translator questions instead. Luckily, Bast won through that one without my help, too.

Now it’s the third week, and Bast is going head to head with Anomander Rake from Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen series.

I feel like a bit of a slacker by this point, like I should really do a write up for this one.

So here goes….

“So, Rake,” Bast said. “At last we meet again for the first time.”

“Indeed,” said Anomander Rake, tossing his flowing white hair over his shoulder.

Bast looked over his opponent calmly. “I’ve heard tell that you are old as ages.”

Rake nodded, his face giving nothing away.

“I’ve also heard that you are well versed in the arcane arts, you have a floating fortress, and that you..” Bast snuck a quick look at a piece of paper he held cupped in the palm of his hand, “…can turn into a dragon.” Bast looked up, his expression a little disgusted. “Seriously? You can turn into a dragon, too?”

Rake had the decency to look slightly abashed, if only very slightly. “Yeah,” he said. “All that and a bag of chips, too.”

“And you’re also nigh-invulnerable,” Bast said.

“That’s The Tick, actually,” Rake said grudgingly. “But yeah. I’m pretty much nigh.”

Bast nodded at this, seemingly unsurprised. “I see,” he said gravely. Taking a deep breath, he looked up, meeting the tall man’s eyes. “All that aside, do you seriously think you can eat more pie than me?”

Okay. I’ll admit it. I haven’t read Erikson’s series. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it, and it’s on my list. It’s even a complete series, which is a huge selling point in my opinion. (*ahem*) But it’s also ten books long. I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

Given that I don’t know anything about Rake (And I don’t care to, thank you very much. So no spoilers, please.) I’m going to have pass on writing a full scene for this match too.

Right now, Bast is taking a bit of a drubbing, and perhaps rightly so. If he loses this round, I’ll still be proud he made it this far.

But I’ll also be a little sad. Because if Bast wins this round against Rake, and Zaphod Beeblebrox wins his match against Saphira…

…then the next round would be Bast vs. Zaphod.

So I’m not saying anyone *should* go and vote. I’m just saying that if the Bast vs. Zaphod match ends up happening, I would write the hell out of that scene.

That’s all I’m saying.

pat

Also posted in fanfic, I mock because I love, Nathan Taylor Art | By Pat66 Responses

NaNoWriMo – Epilogue

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

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

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

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

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

Well, there are two answers to that.

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

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

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

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

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

(Woo! NaNoWriMo Losers Unite!)

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

  • I had fun.

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

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

(Click to Embiggen)

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

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

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

By comparison, let’s look at my graph:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • I got a lot of writing done.

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

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

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

  • I learned a lot.

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

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

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

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

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

What about the questions I answered on my translator forum?

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

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

No. Shut up. Shut up and write.

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

Other stuff I learned:

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • I can write 1000 words in an hour.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And you want to know the funny part?

You want to know the final wordcount on the story?

1667 words.

No kidding.

Also posted in a few words you're probably going to have to look up, hubris, My Iconoclastic Tendencies, Nathan Taylor Art, small adventures, the craft of writing | By Pat63 Responses
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