Category Archives: naming

Babies: Meet Bast, Auri, Elodin, and Kvothe

If you’ve been reading the blog for any amount of time, you probably realize that I love babies.

This wasn’t always the case. But over the last 8-9 years (mostly since I’ve become a dad) a whole world of coolness has opened up in my life. Kids are great, and I will talk parenting at the drop of a hat. If I’m out in public, I’m constantly having to restrain myself from asking people to let me play with their kids. (Because I look like a bear, or a hobo. Or a hobear.)

Another thing that’s happened over the last 8-9 years is that I’ve been constantly startled and amazed by the enthusiasm people have shown for the books. People write fanfiction, create beautiful art, they dress up, they tattoo their bodies with my words…

And where fan enthusiasm and babies intersect, we get babies named after characters in my books.

This has happened more than once. It’s startling and cool while at the same time being oddly terrifying. I got my first email about one all the way back in 2009, and I showed off little Andan in the blog. But I’ll be honest with you, even after all these years I cannot fully comprehend someone liking my book enough to name their kid out of it.

Then, the other day when I was at the park with my boys. A couple with a stroller walked up to me, told me they were big fans of the books, and mentioned that their baby’s name… was Auri.

(She obviously doesn’t really know what to think of me. Which means she’s smart.)

Then a couple weeks later, I met this little sweetheart who is also named Auri….

(I like how she seems to be saying: “Eh, you’re not that big a deal.”)

Meeting these Auris in person reminded me that I’d been compiling a blog full of baby pictures that people have sent in over the last couple years.

Keep in mind that some of these pictures are pretty old. I think the first draft of this blog might have been from back in 2014. So some of these kids are years older than what they look like here…

Anyway, allow me to introduce:

  • Baby Bast!

father's day

Letter from his dad:

“Our son (coming up on his first birthday) was named after your character Bast. We decided on the name Bast initially, but later, upon realizing with our middle name choice that would have left the poor bastard with three one-syllable names, we decided to modify it a bit to “Bastion”.  His Grandmother (on his mother”s side) calls him Bass (like the fish) which naturally drives me insane to no end. Some humans, eh?”

five months

recent

  • Baby Auri!

“Here’s a picture of our Baby Auri. Technically it’s ‘Aurielle,’ but we only call her by her full name when she’s being a dick . . . which occurs fairly frequently around mealtimes.

Just so there’s no ambiguity, I wanted you to know this is one hundred percent your name. I absolutely snagged that shit from you because Auri’s brokenly bad-assed, and that’s how we feel.”

IMG_6759 copyLooks to me like she is in the perfect place….

  • Baby Auri 2!

 

“Here is a picture of my daughter, born in April. I took her middle name from your books Auri. Her full name is Sutton Auri Prinz, I want to thank you for all that you have done and hope that my daughter will love reading as much as I do. I know that my family will have your books apart of the rest of our lives.

baby auri 2

  • Baby Kvothe!

This is Kvothe, who was originally introduced on the blog in 2013. A while back they sent some updated photos of the little guy, and I couldn’t be prouder.

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You’ll notice that little Kvothe has a badass-looking dragon foot. That’s because he was born missing one of his feet. His parents tell me that in cases like this, it’s easier for the kids to use a prosthetic later in life if they get used to it very early on…

And so, being forward-thinking parents, they got him fitted for a prosthetic. But also, because they’re awesome, one of the prosthetics is a badass dragon foot.

As a fellow geek parent, I salute you.

  • Baby Elodin!

I honestly never expected there to be an Elodin. But I was wrong….

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Best smile ever.

  • And One Final Auri…

“Some interesting facts:

1. ‘Auri’ means ‘shines like gold’ (apparently)

2. She was born with Auburn hair

3. The first track on the radio taking her home was ‘Gold on the Ceiling’ by the Black Keys (a band my wife and I saw on the first night of our honeymoon in Chicago)

So despite us having decided on the name before we even knew we were having a girl, it is a perfect fit – ☺”

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Because I’m as slow about writing blogs as I am with all other types of writing, Auri’s folks have sent some more pictures of her, now that she’s a little older….

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That smile though…

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There have been more. Many more. I’ve been introduced to Auris, Dennas, and Simmons at cons. And other parents have shared photos with me that they’d prefer to keep private, which I can totally understand.

For those of you who have stuck around to the very end of the blog, I have a special treat for you. A teaser of something that’s going to be happening soon.

In fact, it’s going to be launching on Tuesday (the 15th)…

Stay tuned,

pat

Also posted in Achievement Unlocked!, babies, Surreal enthusiasm | By Pat39 Responses

Podcasts, Musings, and the Importance of Names

So a while back, I was lucky enough to get to meet Max Temkin.

Odds are, even if you don’t know his name, you know his work. He’s one of the driving forces behind Cards Against Humanity.

A couple months back, he asked if I’d like to do a podcast with him, where we pretty much just talked about whatever we felt like at the moment. I said yes because I enjoy every conversation we have, and an excuse to have a new one every week is too good to pass up.

And if other folks want to listen to it… well… I’m fine with that, too.

So we did it.

The first episode of that podcast is up here: https://unattendedconsequences.simplecast.fm/

[Edit: Hey folks, Amanda here! The podcast is up on iTunes now, so you can subscribe to that here.]

Those of you who are capable of moving your eyes over text and decoding it may notice that the podcast is called Untitled Rothfuss.

This is partly because we don’t know what exactly this podcast is going to turn into. (If anything) Max and I are going to talk about things that interest us in the moment. We don’t have a theme, a narrative arc, an agenda, etc.

And it’s partly because I’m a little obsessive about names. It took me a month to name my first son (who y’all know as Oot). It took me two months to name my second boy (codename: Cutie.)

When I put a name on something, I don’t just want a good name. I don’t even want a great name. I want the Perfect name….

I asked the Worldbuilders Team if they had any ideas, and they were pretty useless (but hilarious):

  • Maximum Patitude
  • We both have three letter names
  • We’re Not Wearing Pants
  • Maxpat
  • Patmax
  • Pat to the Max
  • Pat and Max: The Musical
  • Grammatically Speaking
  • Procrastinators Inc.
  • Not Your Grandmother’s Podcast
  • Your Grandmother’s Podcast
  • Welcome to Valenight Eveningtown
  • Duskparty with Pat & Max
  • Rage Quit with Pat & Max
  • No Regard for Silence
  • Amanda Said We Can’t Use This Title.
  • Phteven, with a PH
  • Once Upon a Podcast
  • NO REGRETS–SERIOUSLY
  • Some Regrets

The terrible thing is that most of those suggestions are actually better than the ones that Max and I came up with on our own. Those include:

  • Two White Guys Talking
  • Literally Literally
  • Destroying Joy
  • Talking about Stuff
  • The End is Nigh
  • The Non-Eponymous Podcast

Okay. I’ll admit I’m a little proud of “Non-Eponymous” because it’s really fun to say.

Anyway, I’ve come to y’all for suggestions for names before, like when I did Storyboard. I’m proud of that name.

So. Here’s a link to our first episode.

What do you think we should call it?

pat

Also posted in podcasts | By Pat387 Responses

Love Redux

So last year I made a post on Valentines day that happened to be about love.

I wasn’t happy about that, as I’ve got a strong iconoclastic element in my personality. And writing about love on Valentines day is just… it just feels so fucking Hallmark.

But something happened a couple days ago, and it’s been spinning in my head ever since. When that happens, I have to tell a story about it, because that’s just how I’m wired.

So. I’m writing about love again, not because it’s Valentines day, but despite that.

I just want to make it clear this isn’t going to be a yearly thing. Okay? Okay.

*     *     *

A couple days ago, my baby boy smiled at me. A little crooked smile, a smirk.

Cutie - 8 weeks

(The onesie was a gift from a fan. Honest.)

A few days before that, I got my first smile. Today I got several. He also said, “goo” a couple times. I’m not even kidding. It’s amazingly cute.

Here’s the thing. He also smiled at the ceiling fan. He *really* likes the ceiling fan. Given the choice between the ceiling fan and me, the fan will win 3 times out of 4.

But you know what’s strange? I don’t mind. I really don’t.

I don’t mind that he smiles and coos at his mom more than me. It doesn’t make me sad that the ceiling fan takes second place, and that almost any window with a sunlight behind it is a close third.

I’m fine being fourth in line for smiles. I’m just happy to be on the list.

Standing there, holding my new baby, I had a strange sort of revelation. I was feeling a type of love that was in no way jealous.

I think this might be the purest type of love.

*     *     *

Here’s the thing, I’m not a fan of LOVE as a singular concept. It’s a ridiculously broad term that can be applied to pets, sex partners, or Oreos. When a word accretes that many definitions, it becomes virtually nonsensical.

If you’re hunting for more specific words for love, Greek is a good language to start with. They have Eros, Philos, and Agape. Those three do a pretty good job of breaking the great multifarious monolith of LOVE into slightly more manageable pieces.

I’m assuming you know about them, but just for reference:

  • Philos is friend love. Family love.
  • Eros is “I want to bone you” love.
  • Agape is… tricky. Some people call it “unconditional love.” I’ve heard it referred to as “True love” “God Love” or “That love which instils worth.”

There’s also lesser-known storge: “Kindness love.” Which is the sort of love you feel for something that’s dependent on you. Like an infant or a dog.

So. I’m standing there, looking at my sweet baby, and he’s smiling at the ceiling fan. And I realize I don’t mind. I’m just happy that he’s happy. I’m just happy that sometimes he smiles at me. I’m just happy he’s around.

This is a strange and wonderful sensation. This is, I feel, a different type of love.

Now it might seem like I’m talking about agape-style love here. Or storge. But I’m not. This is something different.

What I’m talking about here is love-without-expectation.

*     *     *

We need to stop for a moment and make a word.

If I’m going to spend some time trying to describe a largely unfamiliar concept, I need a name for it. Love-without-expectation-or-desire isn’t going to work. It’s not elegant. A newish concept needs a newish name. It needs its own space to grow. You grok?

Plus I just like making words. It’s kind of a thing that I do.

From what I gather the Hebrew concept of “חסד” is pretty close to what I’m looking for here. And it’s one of the Sephira, which gives it extra gravitas. Unfortunately, it’s not going to work because when you transliterate it, it’s spelled “chesed” and that looks too much like “cheesed” to me.

Fuck it. I know it’s not linguistically sound, but I’m going to call it Eleutheria.

*     *     *

Remember where we were? Me. My baby. Ceiling fan.

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(In his defense, it’s a really nice fan.)

I simply love him, and I expect nothing in return. This is strangely, delightfully freeing. I don’t feel bad that if he pays more attention to his mom. I don’t mind that he smiles at the fan or his big brother.

I don’t mind if he falls asleep. I don’t mind if he throws up on me.

Elutheria – Love which demands nothing. The love that expects nothing.

This is an odd concept for me. Because I am a creature composed almost entirely of expectations.

This isn’t entirely a bad thing. The ability to anticipate, desire, and plan is important. It gives us control of our lives. It gives us the ability to see forward in time a little. It gives us the ability to steer our destiny a little so we can avoid wrecking our lives against the rocks.

Not always, of course, sometimes your ship is going to wreck no matter your best efforts. Shit happens. But if you’re able to anticipate the future, you can at least brace for impact. That’s better than nothing.

Without the ability to predict and therefore exert control on the future, we are helpless. Subject to the constant random battering of a largely entropic universe.

The ability to predict and anticipate isn’t bad. The desire for control isn’t bad. If you put those things together with a love for language and a vague compulsion for storytelling, you get The Name of the Wind.

If you combine these characteristics with a love of charity and a desire to make the world a better place, you get Worldbuilders.

If you combine them with a relationship… it’s not so good.

Because trying to control the people you love isn’t good.

For one thing, people don’t like it. (For the most part.) But also because controlling someone means hanging expectations on them. And if people don’t live up to your expectations, you’re disappointed. And disappointment leads to frustration and anger. This spiral continues down to the dark side of the force.

How much nicer would it be to simply love someone? If you expected nothing from your beloved, you could never be disappointed. Nothing could jeopardize that love. It would be unassailable.

This would be Elutheria, the love that expects nothing.

*     *     *

What I’m talking about here, is the diametrical opposite of selfish love.

Selfish love demands things. It demands attention. Most of all, selfish love demands love in return. Typically it usually demands ALL the love in return. It demands primacy. Exclusivity. Ownership. Control.

What I’m talking about here is what’s commonly called “Romantic Love.”

Romantic love is championed as being awesome in our culture. It’s the sort of love you’ve seen a thousand times in movies and literature. You’ve seen it the lives of your friends and family members. You’ve probably experienced some version of it yourselves.

It’s the sort of love where you where you fall for someone, and they don’t love you back, and then you kill yourself. (Actual results may vary.)

It’s the sort of love where you see you girl talking to another guy and you feel jealous.

It’s the sort of love where you see your guy looking at another girl and you feel angry.

It’s the sort of love that makes you think it’s okay to consider someone “your girl” or “your guy.” As if you owned them. As if they were under your control. As if your affection made them somehow beholden to you.

And as I stand there, smiling at my baby, (who is smiling at our ceiling fan) I am perfectly happy. And I wonder to my self, “At what point did loving someone become an excuse to be a greedy asshole?”

*     *     *

I bounced my idea off a couple people over the last week or so. Love without expectation. I explained about my baby and the ceiling fan. I talked about the chains of desire….

“Well,” someone said. “It sounds nice, but I don’t think that’s something that could exist in an adult relationship.”

Several people said this, or something very close to it. These comments came up almost compulsively, in a knee-jerk way.

I think people have this automatic response for two reasons.

First, I think they feel attacked. As if I’m telling them they’re loving wrong.

I’m not. That’s not what this is about. When I talk about how much I’d like a Tesla, it doesn’t mean I think you’re a dick for driving a Prius. I’m not trying to start a fight here. I’m looking to discuss an idea.

Second, I think people react badly because Elutheria a profoundly unfamiliar concept. We all grew up reading stories about Lancelot and Guenevere (or permutations thereof.)

The Arthurian legend is one of our mythic cornerstones. It echoes through the last 1000 years of our art and literature. Well… 800 years, if we’re talking about Lancelot. You see, he wasn’t in the original story. The French added him in the 1200’s.

dicksee-belle-dame

(Yeah. I know that’s not Lance and Gwen. I just really love Waterhouse.)

And you know what? It’s a better story with Lancelot in it. More drama. More tension. More universal appeal.

The downside? Lancelot and Guenevere are generally held up to be the villains of the whole Arthurian schtick. They ruined Camelot. Their dirty, dirty lust wrecked the golden age.

But the truth is, if Arthur hadn’t been such a douche about the whole thing, there wouldn’t have been any problem. If Arthur had just gotten over himself and admitted that Lance was pretty hunky, it could have been cool. If he’d just wanted Gwen to be happy, he should have just stepped aside. Or at least turned a blind eye.

Either that or jumped into the sack with both of them. Because… y’know… hunky.

Imagine the glorious world we’d be living in if *that* was one of our mythic cornerstones, folks. Imagine a world where slash fiction didn’t exist because we were, all of us, constantly living the dream.

Okay, back on track here.

Generally speaking, everyone agrees that Arthur overreacted. But Lance and Gwen? They’re traitors. It’s their *fault*. Traitors deserve the lowest, darkest circle of hell.

Arthur was a little hot headed, sure. But it was justified, right? Lance and Gwen, their actions were a betrayal.

What were they betraying?

Expectations.

*     *     *

Those of you who have studied any Buddhism are probably nodding along by this point. Believe me, I’m very aware that the more I roll the concept of Elutheria around, the more similar it seems to the four noble truths that lead to the eightfold path.

For those of you who haven’t studied Buddhism, here it is in a nutshell:

  1. There is suffering.
  2. Suffering comes from thwarted desire.
  3. Therefore, if you eliminate desire, you eliminate suffering.
  4. Profit. Moksha.

There is an unassailable simplicity here. There’s a reason I’m fond of Buddhism.

*     *     *

I wish I had a strong closer for you, but I’m not really making an argument here. I’m not heading for a conclusion. I’m merely working out my thoughts in text. Writing things down helps me understand them better. It helps me knock the rough corners off my new ideas. (It’s my attempt at “Right Understanding,” the first step of the eightfold path.)

But is Elutheria something a person can realistically achieve?

With my baby, the answer seems to be yes.

But then things become more complicated. You see, I have responsibilities.

My older son is four. And while it would be pleasant to simply love him and let the chips fall where they may, if I were to do that, I would be failing him as a parent. I need to provide guidance and discipline. I need to control his base monkey instincts with the hope that he may eventually rise above them and become a fully-formed human being.

There’s that word again: Control. It’s my job to control him. It’s my job to have expectations.

Still, I think discarding Elutheria entirely would be like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. There are certain expectations that are essential. I expect him to be polite. I expect him to be honest. I expect him to be mindful and kind.

Those are the requirements for being a good human being. It’s my job to guide and coach him until he gets there.

Any expectations beyond that, I should be wary of. I shouldn’t expect him to be all those things *all* the time. I shouldn’t expect him to be tidy. Or quiet when I’m trying to work.

I shouldn’t expect him to be straight, or a democrat, or a painter. I shouldn’t expect him to love books.

Oot and book

Expectation is a trap, you see. There’s nothing to be gained from it. I don’t feel *more* joy seeing him read because I hoped for it. I only leave myself open to disappointment if he doesn’t.

Similarly, my relationship with Sarah consists of more than simple love. We are engaged in the partnership. We maintain a household and the purpose of that household is to raise children that are physically and emotionally healthy.

Her cooperation in these things is essential. I expect it.

But other things? Should I expect her never ogle the pretty college boys on the track team who jog around town every spring? No. Foolishness. Should I expect her to want to organize the kitchen the way I would? To want the same color paint in the dining room? To have dinner cooked and ready for me when I come home from work?

Should I expect her to always love me best, and most, and only?

No. I think not. I think that would be selfish and self-centered.

The more of these expectations I can let go of, the happier I will be.

But it’s hard. Oh it’s hard. It goes against a lifetime full of training. It goes against my obsessive desire to control. It goes against my meticulous nature. It goes against what so many stories told me was true.

Inconclusively yours,

pat

Also posted in a few words you're probably going to have to look up, Cutie Snoo, love, musings, the longest fucking blog ever | By Pat97 Responses

Introducing….

Everyone, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce someone to you….

Meet young master Kvothe:

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(You may have heard of him.)

You can click to embiggen if you like, but he’s pretty tiny. There’s only so much embiggening that can be done….

Here’s the story, and forgive me if I’m a little vague on the details, but I’ve promised his parents I’ll keep quiet about specifics for the most part.

I was contacted by a relative of little Kvothe a couple weeks ago. He mentioned that there had been a baby born in his family named Kvothe, as far as he could tell, my character was the only Kvothe out there.

(This is true. Somewhere in my files, I have a screen capture of a pre-publication google search that showed no hits on “Kvothe.” As far as I can tell, I was the first.)

My reaction to his e-mail was pretty much along the lines of “pull the other one, it’s got bells on.”

I wasn’t quite so British about it. (I’m reading some Pratchett right now, and it’s seeped into me.)

In fact, I think my whole response to his e-mail was, “Seriously?”

I honestly didn’t believe him.

I knew it might happen eventually. Statistically, it was probably going to happen sooner or later. I’ve already had one baby named out of the book a couple years back. But that was “Andan.” His name just comes up a couple times in the book, and if you wanted, you could always claim that you pulled the name from the Swedish word for “Breath” or something like that.

I’m pretty sure there’s a little girl with the middle name “Auri” out there too. Though I lost some e-mails a while back, and I can’t find record of it right now….

But yeah. They were serious. His name is Kvothe. They even sent me a picture of the birth certificate.

So there’s a little Kvothe out there in the world. It boggles the mind a little bit.

I feel an attachment to the little guy. I feel like a godfather or something, though I’m not. I feel like I’m responsible for him in a way.

All of which is crazy, of course. I’m aware of that. But I have a problem in this regard. It’s hard for me not to feel responsible for things.

Ah well, crazy or not, all I can really do is wish him the best….

Hello little Kvothe, 

It will probably be a long time before you read this, if ever. I just wanted to give you my best wishes and fond hopes for the future. 

I hope you grow up sweet and loving. I hope you grow up clever and strong. I hope you are happy.

I hope your life is hard, but not too hard. I hope you are careful, but not too careful. I hope you make beautiful mistakes and learn things. 

I hope you always have ten good friends who are close to you. I hope you know that you are loved. I hope you make the world a better place.

Thanks for making me smile, 

pat

Also posted in babies, Surreal enthusiasm | By Pat67 Responses

A rose by any other name….

So I just read all the comments on the last blog. All of them. Over a thousand comments. It turns out that doing such a thing takes slightly more than three hours.

The good news is that my faith in the cleverness of my readership was definitely justified. Y’all came up with some really good names.

I’m going to share some of them with you here, partly because they deserve attention, and partly because I just spent three hours reading them, so you’re going to share this experience with me whether you want to or not….

Some of my favorites. Clear and Clever.

  • Novelty
  • Storytellers
  • Authority
  • Musings

Strong second-stringers:

  • Drafted
  • Fireside
  • Fabula Rasa
  • Penultimate (We could do a cool logo with this.)

Superlatives:

  • The Craft
  • The Literal Truth
  • The Story Board

Those are my front runners right now. (I’ve gotta start thinking about some sort of logo, too…. Anyone out there good at graphic design?)

A lot of the other names would have been perfect… if I wanted to name a show about writing after my beard. (Though “Dr. Beard’s Sing-Along Vlog” did make me laugh a bit.)

My favorite baffling name: Sagajuice.

My favorite self-deprecating one: Prosers.

Others were clever and cool, but just wouldn’t work for one reason or another. For example, “Fabletop” was a great suggestion, but I don’t want to bite on Wheaton’s style.

Some were clever, but too focused on my books:

  • Unlikely Maths
  • Not Writing Like a Stupid Jackass.
  • Sympathetic Words

Too suggestive:

  • Full Frontal Novelty

Too referential/punny:

  • Breaking Bard
  • Tome Raider
  • New Inklings
  • Browncoats

Too foreign:

  • Hwæt! (I do like this one)
  • In Media Res
  • Literati

Too misleading in their implication:

  • Epic
  • Meta
  • Mythic
  • Re: Writing

There were many good ones in there, but these are the ones that caught my eye or made me chuckle enough to jot them down.

I’ve got some good options now, but they’re all blurring together for me at this unseasonable hour of night.

I’m hoping the choice will be clearer to me tomorrow, after I’ve had some sleep.

Sweet dreams, everyone…

pat

Posted in naming | By Pat172 Responses

Fanmail Q&A: Why does it take so long to translate the book?

Greatings Mr. Rothfuss,

My name is Daniella, and I´m a big fan of yours although i´ve only read The name of the wind wich brings me to my question, why does it takes so long that the wise man”s fear is published in spanish?

you see, I´m from México, and my english is not all that well, so, I can´t read it in english, besides, I think a book is more enjoyable in your own native language, anyway, all I want is to be able to read it I hope it comes out soon please Mr. Rothfuss do not forget your Spanish-speaking fans.

Daniella, I’m sorry to say that I don’t know when my book will be out in Mexico.

I know it sounds silly to say, but I don’t know the exact dates my books are published in a lot of countries. The Wise Man’s Fear is being translated into about 30 languages, and I don’t keep track of them all very closely. I only know it’s coming out in Spain on November 3rd because it says so at the end of the trailer I posted up last week.

But I’ll tell you what. I’ll look into it, and I’ll see if I can get an estimated time of publication for book two in all the different countries, then I’ll post it up here in the blog, link it in the FAQ, and update it whenever I get news from some of my publishers.

Sound fair?

In the meantime, Mondadori, my Spanish publisher, has set up a page for the book in… well… Spanish. It could be the information you’re looking for is over there.

As for your second question… well, you’re not the only one who is curious about that.

Pat,

I am one of your many fans in Spain and I am perishing out of waiting for your book. I love the first one! Can you please say when the second does come out in my country?

I would read your English copy but my English is not enough to read your book. Why must the translating be so long?

I know it is a big book. But it is months now. I know, it is not so long. But I am 17, and it seems a long time for me.

Would you please answer me back? Please?

Maria,

Maria and Daniella and dozens of others have e-mailed me, asking this question.

So here we go.

There are several reasons it’s taking a long time to The Wise Man’s Fear.

  • Translating things is really hard.

I’ve talked about this in a previous blog, but it really bears repeating.

So I repeat. Translating things is really hard.

  • The Wise Man’s Fear is very, very long.

Obscenely long. Almost 400,000 words long.

How long is 400,000 words?

Well, if you mashed together the first three Harry Potter books, then threw in The Hunger Games, too. It still would still be less than 400,000 words long.

Yeah. The Wise Man’s Fear is long. Really, really, long.

  • My books are a pain in the ass to translate.

Why? Well….

1. My names.

Names are important things. And real names, names that actually exist in the world, don’t make a lot of literal sense. This is because real names tend to accrete and evolve over time.

I work hard to create real-seeming names for things in my world. Names that give a strong impression without actually saying anything. Names like Mincet lane, and Cricklet, and Downings.

These real-seeming (but in reality made-up) names sound really good in English, but they’re a huge pain to translate.

2. I have an odd turn of phrase.

If you haven’t noticed, I tend to make a lot of anormal word usements.

Take, for example, the very first page of the book when I say, “It was the patient, cut-flower sound of a man who is waiting to die.”

How do you translate that?

It’s the sort of thing that, if taken literally, makes absolutely no sense at all. Flowers, with rare exception, do not make sound. Sounds are not sentient, so they can’t be patient.

Stuff like this is a bitch to translate.

3. I rely heavily on implication in my writing.

Or, to put it another way, I try to imply more than I explain.

I do this intentionally, as I believe it makes for a more engaging reading experience. While he’s narrating, Kvothe rarely says something clear-cut and expository like, “Wilem obviously thought I was a fucking idiot.”

Instead, Kvothe describes what Wilem says and does. Maybe Wil makes a sarcastic comment. Maybe he looks disproving. Maybe he raises an eyebrow.

If I do my job right, it should be abundantly clear what Wil thinks of Kvothe. Best of all, it has more of an effect on the reader because you see it and know it for yourself, rather than having it poked down your throat by a narrator.

But it’s a delicate thing. And it’s hard to translate.

Because  I’m aware that my book is a pain in the ass. I try to make myself available to the translators. Since I have over thirty, I’ve set up a forum where they can all come, ask questions, and read the answers that I’ve posted up in the past.

Last night, for example, I answered about 20 new question on there. So far, there’s about 300 question-and-answer threads. The FAQ we’ve compiled is more than 60 pages long.

Here’s an example of the sort of thing that comes up fairly regularly in the forum:
[Fair warning: What follows involves a discussion of some minor events very early on in book two. There’s really nothing spoilerish in there. Nothing is given away. But still, if you haven’t read it yet, and you’re an absolute non-spoiler purist, I thought I’d warn you.]

*     *     *

Dear Pat:

In the middle of page 47, during the exchange between Kvothe and Kellin, it reads:

“Outside his field of vision, Denna rolled her eyes at me.”

Just a few lines below, you can find:

“You’re too kind,” I said, and gave her a much more earnest bow than the one I had given to Kellin. She rolled her eyes at me this time.”

That made me wonder if, in the first sentence, maybe it was meant to be “Denna rolled her eyes at him” instead.

Thanks,

Gab

_____________________

Gab,

Ah. This is just an issue of ambiguity in the language.

In the first line, the “at me” means that she rolled her eyes with the intention of Kvothe seeing her do it.

In the second line, “at me” means “because of me” AND that she had the intention of Kvothe seeing her do it.

I didn’t abbreviate the first use to “Outside his field of vision, Denna rolled her eyes.” Because the implication there is that Denna is just being bitchy at Kellin and Kvothe sees it accidentally. That implies that Denna really doesn’t like Kellin and she’s hiding it from Kellin.

But “Outside his field of vision, Denna rolled her eyes at me.” makes it clear that Denna is doing this for Kvothe’s benefit. The interaction is between Kvothe and Denna. She’s effectively engaging in clandestine communication with Kvothe, saying, in effect, “Yeah, he’s full of himself. But what are you going to do?”

Technically, she’s rolling her eyes *at* Kellin *to* Kvothe. But that reads so poorly that it almost doesn’t make any sense.

Does that help?

pat

_____________________

Yes, it does, thank you.

I’ll try to use two different prepositions or to reword one of the sentences a bit to reflect this.

Thanks,

Gab

*     *     *

Now on the surface, this might seem like a small thing. But it has fairly big implications.

It’s just a small piece of body language. And it can be clarified with a different preposition or two. Just a couple words.

(A couple words out of the 400,000 you need to translate the whole book, mind you.)

But if it’s done wrong, the whole scene takes on a different feel.

Written one way, Denna is sharing a private joke with Kvothe. It shows a connection between them.

What’s more, it shows that Denna knows the guy is a bit of an ass, but it’s not that big a deal. Since she’s making fun of it, it’s obviously nothing too serious. It shows that Denna has her eyes open, and, ultimately, that she’s in control of the situation.

Lastly, it shows her relationship with Kvothe is much more intimate than with this other guy. First, because she’s engaging in some clandestine communication with Kvothe. But more importantly, when Kvothe is a bit of an ass and she rolls her eyes at him, she lets Kvothe see it. That shows that she trusts Kvothe more than she trusts Kellin. She’s teasing him, and it shows that she considers Kvothe a friend.

(Did I mention the whole implication thing? That I kinda do a lot of it? Yeah.)

If the scene is written the other way: if Denna rolls her eyes at Kellin and Kvothe just happens to see it, that’s an entirely different type of interaction.

That implies that Denna really doesn’t like Kellin. It shows Denna being passive-aggressive and implies that she’s two-faced and spiteful.

Even worse, it could imply that Denna is afraid of Kellin. That, in turn, implies a whole lot. If Denna is on the arm of a rich man that she hates and fears, that paints a really horrible picture of her life.

Witness the double edged sword of implication. When it works, it’s great. But it can go dangerously astray at times.

And, of course, all of this is made ten times more important because this is Denna’s first scene in the book. The impression she makes on the reader now will carry forward through the whole book.

And you know what I just realized? Now that I think of it. All of the important things Denna communicates in that first scene are done non-verbally.

So what’s your point, Rothfuss?

I said it before, and I’ll say it again.

Translation is tricky.

pat

P.S. Signings in MI, this weekend. Just in case you hadn’t heard.

Also posted in the craft of writing, The difference between 'slim' and 'slender', the man behind the curtain, translation | By Pat85 Responses

Cool Doodles and Name Raffle News

So we’re a handful of days away from the end of the name raffle, and for the last couple weeks it’s like every day is my birthday. By which I mean I get a lot of letters with money inside. Today when I open the mail I think I’m going to wear a festive hat and eat some cake too. I’ve been in the mood for cake lately.

Wait, what was I talking about? I’m not used to being up this early in the morning, and I find myself a little confusticated.

Oh, right. The name raffle.

In a nutshell, it’s going really well. Paypal continues to be friendly, donations are generous, the names are cool, and I’m having a lot of fun opening the mail.

Admittedly, some mail is more fun than others.

For example, here’s a set of notecards that just got sent in with someone’s poor-boy entry:
(You can embiggen any of the images by clicking them.)


Thanks so much, Carly. This really made my day.

And you’re right. Trowbridge is a great name…. Even if I don’t draw it in the raffle, it might end up in the book.

That’s actually the case with a lot of the names that have been sent in. I find myself thinking, “Hmmm…. Seth could be a good name for a farmer. Mellisa doesn’t quite work, but Melias would make for a good noble surname in Vintas.”

Personally, I’m really interested to see what names get drawn….

And now some FAQ:

You said the contest ends on November 15th. Did you know that’s a Sunday? I can’t mail you anything on a Sunday…

True, but people can still paypal in their donations on a Sunday. If you want to mail in your entry, you should send it earlier in the week.

Pat! I screwed up and forgot to enter my phone number and suggested name into the Paypal form! What should I do?

You should weep bitter tears. Did I not put instructions on the blog? Clearly worded instructions? In red?

Seriously though. Don’t worry about it. You’re not alone. This happened to a bunch of people.

If you donated online, I have a record of your e-mail address. I’ll write that on the card and use it to keep track of your entry. Then, if you win, I’ll contact you and get the other information I need.

How much have we raised so far?

Checks and donations are still coming in every day, so I don’t have a final tally yet. But right now I think we’re at a little more than 16,000 dollars. Which is awesome.

That means if you buy one ticket you’ve got (roughly) a 1 in 800 chance of winning. If you buy six tickets for 50 bucks, you’ve got about a 1 in 260 chance of winning.

I’m hoping we can have a strong finish. So how about this? To encourage people to donate and spread the word during the final days of the fundraiser, I’ll draw a third name if we hit 20,000. That means the odds will actually get better for everyone if more people donate.

Is this the only Heifer fundraiser you’re doing this year?

Oh no. Not at all. This is just a warm-up for the people who are specifically interested in my book.

As I’ve mentioned before here on the blog, we’ll be doing something very similar to last year’s fundraiser. Except this year we’re going to have even more prizes, and some cool auctions too. Stay tuned for details.


I live far away, and I know my letter won’t make it to you in time. Can I just e-mail you the name for my poor-boy entry?

I’ve had a few of these e-mails from foreign countries or from people in the army.

While I sympathize, I really don’t want to change the rules that I laid down at the beginning of the contest. Changing the rules partway through is kinda unfair to all the people who would have liked to e-mail in their free entries, but went online and bought a ticket instead.

Maybe the next time we do this I’ll have an online option, but for now, I think the only fair thing is to stick by the original rules.

Once the drawing is over, do we get to know what names you’ve picked?

I’m going to leave that up to the winners. If they’re cool with me mentioning it on the blog, then I might. Otherwise, I’ll respect their privacy.

That’s all for now, folks.

pat

Also posted in fan coolness, Heifer International | By Pat45 Responses
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