Category Archives: hubris

The Literary Tarot: Being Foolish Together

So here’s the thing, I got a little rambly while writing this post. Even for me.

The crux of the issue, is that I was invited to help design a tarot card for the Literary Tarot project that’s running right now.

Not only that, but I got to do the Fool, which is a particularly meaningful card to me. Even better, I got to pair the fool with Don Quixote, a *character* that is very close to my heart.

(Click to Embiggen.)

Did I mention that the kickstarter is raising money for a charity? Which is absolutely my jam. Except when it’s a charity that’s focused on improving global literacy, which is *double* my jam.

And if that weren’t enough, the person who is running the charity (and the kickstarter) has agreed to add a tier so that people can back at that level and support both Brink (their charity) and Worldbuilders (my charity).

Here’s the catch: as I type this, there’s only about 36 hours left in the kickstarter.

That’s why the new tier is named “Foolish Together” because doing something like this at the last minute at the end of a successful kickstarter is pure madness. (Right now they’ve got almost 10,000 backers, and are poised to tear past 700,000 dollars.)

That’s why I’m doing this little summary here, so if you’re interested, you can just hop over there go over there and take a quick look. Even if you’re not interested in backing it, you should really go look at the art and the different authors invovled. It’s really cool.

But if you want the whole story, maunder and all, here it is….

*     *     *

For years now, a big part of my job is saying no to cool new projects.

And believe it or not, I’ve gotten pretty good at it. It might not seem like it to the casual observer, or to any observer at all, really. The problem with non-action, of course, is that it is non-visible. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to write a blog or tweet,  “I said no to being in a writer’s room!” Or “I passed on the opportunity to be a keynote speaker today!”

But the truth is, I nope out of the vast majority of things I’m invited to do. Maybe, like… 97% of them.

Sometimes it’s easy. But some of the missed opportunities I still think about years later. I’ve passed up several chances to do narrative design for video games. And twice I’ve said no actually holding the reins and helping assemble and lead teams for parts of video game design: once for Worldbuilding, once for narrative. Those really stung to walk away from.

I’ve given a regretful no to writing an opinion piece for the New York Times, to being involved in writer’s rooms for *very* cool properties, and writing stories comic book characters that I’ve loved since I was a kid…

And those are just the ones that spring to mind. Not to mention the hundreds of conventions, dozens of licensing deals, and many anthology invitations I’ve politely declined.

Almost all of these things I would have loved to do to some degree, but I know I need to focus more. Working on too many projects at once is foolish…

But several weeks ago, some friends introduced me to Dani Hedlund, who was putting together a Literary Tarot Deck for a charity fundraiser. Authors were pairing up cards with literary characters. A bunch of authors. Cool authors.

These are just the ones that were announced TODAY. Seriously.

And yes, that’s Steven Fry.

Anyway, I got the invite. It sounded fun and easy, and I like charity, and I’ve been dabbling with Tarot for about 30 years now. Plus, just picking a card and pairing it with a literary figure should probably take what? Ten minutes? Fifteen?

Fast forward two weeks to where I’m on a call with the CEO of the other charity doing art direction, talking about Sancho Panza, and excitedly bubbling over about the fact that what’s on his head is not, in fact, a helmet. It’s a shaving basin.

Also, there might have been singing.

Then this:

Fast forward another two weeks, where I’m talking with Dani again, asking if there’s anything I or Worldbuilders can do to help.

She mentions what I already know, that the biggest challenge is always getting the word out.

I tell her what *she* already knows, that my charity is currently doing its own fundraiser right now. Worse yet, both our fundraisers end almost exactly at the same time. We both know it would be deeply foolish for me to change directions and to promote hers at the same time.

I mention that if Brink and Worldbuilders could somehow work together in some way, we could hit it from that angle. Use the Worldbuilders mailing list. Do a livestream. Pitch it as a superhero team-up. But we both know that it would be deeply foolish for her to make a sudden addition or change to what is already a *super* successful project right at the end.

Fast forward to this:

Yup. She added an entire new tier to her kickstarter out of the goodness of her heart. Just so our charities could work together. It’s got a special postcard based off the card that we designed together that’s full of delightful little flourishes like this:

And I took a chunck of time on Sunday and we had an *amazingly* fun talk about Tarot cards, books we love, the madness of running a charity. I explain why I picked Don Quixote, and we talk about the art direction we did. It’s honestly one of my favorite streams I’ve done in ages.

Also, I was in fine form. I’m not saying I was so witty at one point that I made Dani snort. But I’m not *not* saying that either.

You should check out the video just for the joy of getting to meet Dani, honestly. She’s charming AF. Straight-up one of the most delightful people I’ve ever met. (And I’m saying this as a person who once hugged Felicia Day and Neil Gaiman on the same day.)

So… yeah. You’ve got about 36 hours to jump on that kickstarter if you’re interested.

Here’s the link.

You know what to do.

pat

Also posted in Arts and Crafts, calling on the legions, cool news, cool things, geeking out, Me Interviewing Other Folks, meeting famous people, My Iconoclastic Tendencies | By Pat19 Responses

The Coming Storm

So. Tomorrow we launch our yearly fundraiser. It’s our 10th anniversary. A big milestone.

Worldbuilders is my pride and joy. It has changed my life, and I’m as proud of it as I am of my own sweet children, and I love it as much as I love my children. It is a force for good in this weary world, and I’m so proud of the fact that over the years beautiful geeks of all nations have come together, raised nearly 8.5 million dollars, and made the world a better place.

We’re going a lot of new things to mark our 10-year anniversary. We’re pulling the trigger on a plan I’ve been slowly assembling for years. (It has to do with D&D) I’ve been mulling it over for ages, and I’ve finally figured out how to make it work…

On top of that, I think this is the year I’m going to pull an arrow out of my quiver that I’ve been keeping in reserve for a *long* time.

But the biggest news of all is that we’re changing the format of the fundraiser itself. Worldbuilders isn’t going to be a four weeks long (plus a little) this year. This year we’re doing the whole fundraiser in two weeks. Less than half the time we normally use to let it all play out.

It’s big stuff. And we’re making all these changes for good reasons. And they’re good choices. I have high hopes for this year. I think it’s going to be our best year ever.

So now, tonight, I should be writing a blog where I rile y’all up. I should do some cheerleading. Get you excited about what’s coming….

And that’s the blog I sat down to write tonight. But I’m not feeling it.

So instead, tonight, at 2:17 am, I’m going to tell you the truth. I’m not excited. I’m stressed.

No. That isn’t even the real truth.

The truth is, I’m scared.

It should come as no surprise to any of you who have read this blog over the years that I hate and fear change. There’s a reason I still live here in Stevens Point. There’s a reason I still wear the same coat I bought in college. There’s a reason I still use my beloved, 30-year-old Model M keyboard.

(This keyboard has seen some shit, y’all.)

We’re changing the fundraiser this year. And I know it’s for the best. But… I don’t like changing things that work. And the truth is, Worldbuilders has worked amazingly well for almost a decade now… We’ve raised over 8 million dollars to help people all over the world. We’ve helped tens of thousands of families. We have saved lives. We have given families hope and peace. There are children out there who are fat and happy because of us.

And still, tonight, the evening before the fundraiser, I’m scared.

I’m scared people won’t like the changes we’ve made. I’m scared people will be confused. I’m scared we won’t be able to get the word out to new people. I’m scared donors from previous years won’t come back….

I’m worried people won’t realize the fundraiser is *so* much shorter this year until it’s too late. I’m worried that they’ll show up on December 13th, when we’re normally still going strong, and realize they’ve missed out on everything.

I’m worried I haven’t done enough to prepare, and this year will be a failure, and it will be my fault.

Aaand that’s it. I don’t have a sudden reversal to end with. No big closer. No ray of light.

I was kinda hoping if I started this blog I could write my way out of this feeling, but it’s still here. I’m worried that it’s all going to be a trainwreck, and thousands of kids will go to bed hungry because I screwed up.

I just literally sat here for five minutes (It’s 3:05 now) wondering what I can possibly say to pull this blog up into something inspirational.

And I got nothing.

But what else can I do but put my head down and bull forward? My little boy has been filling up jars with change so that he can have enough money to buy a cow for Worldbuilders this year. So we’re going to do that. (I feel a little better thinking about that.)

(He’s so much older than this now, but I love this picture.)

Also, y’know what? Here’s a picture of him with a fake mustache because it’s my blog and I an post pictures like this if I want.

Also, here’s my littler baby dressed up as a bug.

(Cutie AF)

Oh. Wow. When I was scrolling through the files in my media library, guess what I just found.

This:

Hell. Every once in a while I can really put some words together, can’t I?

I guess I’ve got to take my own advice, don’t I? I’m not as good at this as I’d like to be. I’m not as organized or as clever or connected as I wish I were. I’m scared all of this is going to fall apart around me and that the fundraiser will fail.

But what can I do? I guess I’m going to Bilbo it up.

So when I wake up tomorrow (Monday) I’m going to e-mail people and call in favors and do interviews and pull strings and contrive every of trick I can think of to get eyes on the fundraiser this year. Because we’re giving away some *cool* stuff, and I want the geeks of the world to come donate money, make the world a better place, and win some cool shit while they’re at it.

I hope you’re ready, everyone.

I hope I’m ready too.

Either way, I’ll see you soon.

pat

Also posted in boding, Heifer International, the man behind the curtain, things I shouldn't talk about, trepidation, Worldbuilders | By Pat101 Responses

Ice Bucket Challenge

I’m assuming at this point that you’ve heard about the Ice Bucket Challenge.

I’d heard about it. And it struck me as something fun and silly. But I didn’t have much desire to participate.

For one thing, I already do a bunch of charity work with Worldbuilders.

For another thing, I live in Wisconsin. That means for about 3 months out of every year just walking outside is like getting a bucket of ice dumped over your head.

I figured I’d be tagged eventually. But my intention was to smile, nod, make a donation, and move on with my life. I’m kinda busy these days….

Then this happened:

If it had been anyone other than Jim Butcher….

But that doesn’t matter, I guess. It was Jim. So I figured it was time to cowboy up.

I know, I know, I only called out two people. Sue me. I had dry ice bubbling around my precious nethers, so I wasn’t operating at 100%. And it wasn’t like we could go back and do a second take.

Who would I call out for my third if I had a chance to go back and change it? Joss Whedon? Felicia Day? Tina Fey? Max Temkin? Molly Lewis? Tad Williams? The Oatmeal?

The problem is I don’t know who’s already done it. I kinda live under a rock, and I’ve been sick these last couple days (I have no idea why.) So we’ll just leave that third one hanging. If you’ve been looking for an excuse to do the challenge, this is it.

So. There you go. Share the videos. Donate. Spread the word….

pat

P.S. I would just like it to be known that I wasn’t responsible for editing together the video. My semi-loyal crew did that. You’d think it would be enough to let them douse me with buckets of ice and water. But no, they had to tuck in that little bit at the end, too….

P.P.S. Don’t goof around with dry ice if you don’t know what you’re doing. It’s really easy to burn yourself. Or so I hear….

Also posted in dicking around, Jim Butcher, my dumbness, Oot | By Pat40 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, Achievement Unlocked!, My Iconoclastic Tendencies, Nathan Taylor Art, small adventures, the craft of writing | By Pat65 Responses
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