Category Archives: the man behind the curtain

An Appropriate Dosage of Hope.

So I’m downstairs, making breakfast for me and the boys.

This is an elaborate and arcane process. It involves more wandering in and out of rooms than you might expect, and trying to remember what I meant to do there. Plus a fair amount of esoteric behavior like looking for a spoon that I’m sure I was just holding…. but it’s not here anymore. Was I holding it? Is this a Matrix thing? Was it some sort of fucking magical elf-spoon?

(It was not a magical elf-spoon. Alas.)

Some of the reason for this is because part of the breakfast I’m preparing is coffee (for me, not the boys). And that means I haven’t yet had my coffee. And that means that daddy needs his medicine. And by medicine I mean the literal drug that I literally take because I want all that ergogenic mojo all up in my headbrains and bodymeats. And by daddy I mean literally me. Because I am that.

(Who’s your parasocial daddy?)

I can’t blame it all on coffee though. Some of it is just me being groggy. And some of it is me thinking about everything at once, like I do. And part of it is probably some of the ADHD (though I still never know how much to point the finger at that, as I’m still knew to that diagnosis. And it seems unfair to lay *all* my disorganized bullshit at the feet of that particular acronym.)

Nevertheless, as I walk past the end-table, hunting elusive faerie cutlery, I see my little pill-box thing.

(Because this is my life now. This is who I am, apparently.) 

First I have to figure out what fucking day it is. And yeah. It’s Thursday. But if it’s Thursday, why are there still pills in the little Thursday pill home? But I’m pretty sure that I remember taking my meds this morning. That’s why the pill thing is here, right? Because I carried it downstairs when I was getting ready to take the pills….

But the pills are still in there.

So I look at this thing, and I say, “I don’t know if I took my meds already.”

I have to make something clear here, I’m not talking to myself. But at the same time, I’m not really asking my kids for advice on this, either. Because while I value their thoughts and feelings, they shouldn’t be making certain decisions. They’re 7 and 11 years old, respectively. They’re wise beyond their years and off-the-charts articulate, but *I’m* the one who needs to fucking figure out whether I’ve taken my meds.

But why am I saying this out loud then? I honestly don’t know. I do tend to process things out loud more often when the boys are around. Maybe that’s how we’re wired as primates, to talk around our children so we can model our decision making process.

Anyway, whatever the reason, I’m talking it through, saying, “Do I risk missing my meds entirely, or do I risk doubling up on my meds? If I double up, will that make me really scattered, or will I be Super Productive today…?”

Without missing a beat or breaking stride, Oot walks behind me and asks casually, “What’s the LD-50?”

I turn to look at him, not quite sure what I just heard. He’s doing something at the sink now. “Did you just ask me about the LD-50?” I ask.

He turns to look at me, nodding. He’s not above showboating. He likes being clever. And if there’s a pedantry gene, he has it (and he got it from me) but right now he’s not doing that. Or if he is doing it, he’s gone next level and has realized the value of the slow-play. Maybe he’s learning that less is more…

Either way, he’s just looking at me with vague curiosity in his big, serious eyes, as if he can’t understand why my tone would be incredulous. As if he doesn’t know why I would be impressed that he remembered the concept of LD-50. Something I didn’t learn about until my junior year of college. Something I’m pretty sure I only mentioned once to my boys a couple months ago, probably when I was dosing Cutie with antibiotics during a recent deeply shitty medial adventure.

“Yeah,” he says.

And I just start to laugh. I go over and hug him, laughing. And I keep laughing uncontrollably for at least a solid minute.

I know I’ve laughed in surprise before. (That’s one of the big theories about laughter, actually. Some folks believe true laughter, [Duchenne laughter] only erupts as a symptom. It’s the result of a sort cognitive fuse being blown when we experience something that goes contrary to our expectations. The cognitive and neurophysiological roots of laughter is one of the many odd rabbit holes of research I’ve gone down over the years, as I used to consider myself a bit of a humorist. But that, as they say, is a blog for a different day…)

Anyway. I’m laughing. And while part of this *is* surprise. It’s also just joy. I don’t remember laughing out of real joy before I became a dad. It’s been happening a fair amount this last year as these boys continue to startle me with their kindness and honesty. They startle me by actually remembering things I’ve told them. And not just remembering. They actually understand and internalize and make use of this stuff, too….

You might wonder why this surprises me. I mean, why on earth would I be dadding so hard if not to this exact purpose? Why would I be spending so much time and energy trying to teach them stuff, if not so they would learn it?

And… yeah. I mean. Of course. That’s the dream.

But if I’ve learned anything over the last decade, is that you can care a lot, and work really hard, and do your level best… and in the end all you get for your trouble is double therapy and trouble sleeping at night. So these days I fight to keep my expectations modest. It’s the whole Buddhist thing: Taṇhā leads to dukkha. Desire causes suffering. Hope is the highwire without which you need not fear a fall.

So I try not to hope too much for the boys. The world is hard enough, and life is heavy enough. They don’t need my expectations weighing them down. I just try to take them as they come and enjoy them for who they are.

But oh it’s hard. These boys, they’re pretty great.

It occurs to me that I sat down to tell a cute (if slightly braggy) story about my kids, and it’s turned into something else. I can’t be surprised at that, though. Most people think that writing is just expressing what you already think or feel. It’s transcription. It’s explanation. I used to think that, too, way back in the day. But not for decades. Now I know better. For me, writing is almost always a process of exploration and discovery. Not always, but often.

You want to know the *real* truth? I originally started to write this little story as a *tweet* and instead it turned into a thousand word maunder where the upshot is that I’m surprised my boys actually listen to me. In some ways that doesn’t seem like much. Hardly worth the work or words.

But on the other hand, what’s better than your kids listening to you and then turning around and reminding you of what you’ve shared? What more could I hope for?

And there we are gain. Back at hope. And hope, you see, is a hell of a drug, and while that doesn’t make hope bad, it does make it dangerous. Maybe it’s just that way for me though. Maybe I have hope sensitivity. Or whatever the hope-appropriate version of drug-intolerance is. Maybe it’s that when it comes to hope, the Effective Dose is way too close to the Lethal Dose for me.

But these boys. I tell you. They are such a wonder and a delight. And so, despite myself sometimes, I hope.

pat

Also posted in a few words you're probably going to have to look up, Because I Love, day in the life, musings, Oot, The Art of Letting Go, Uncategorized | By Pat84 Responses

The Tenuous Serenity of Not-Knowing

As I start writing this, it’s the morning of November 4th. The day after the election. It’s an event I’m guessing folks will eventually refer to in historical if not straight-up superlative terms: The French Revolution. The The War of 1812, The Tungusta event, the Election of 2020.

(Actual Footage)

This is, as they say, a big one. It feels melodramatic to say, “This is the election that will define America,” but it’s probably true. More than that, I hope this *isn’t* the election that shows what America has become.

Despite the fact that the election was yesterday, I don’t know the results. I did what I could leading up to the event. Donated money to places that fight voter suppression. I helped make arrangements so everyone who works for me or Worldbuilders had the day off so that they could vote or support other people who wanted to vote. I’d made sure friends were voting. Years ago, I started a newsletter with the hope of urging people to political awareness/activism, and it’s been trundling along quietly ever since.

Of course, this morning all I can think about is that I could have done more. That I should have done more. I always feel like I should be doing more.

Nevertheless, I don’t know how the election turned out because last night I focused on spending time with my boys. After I finished my afternoon meetings, we went for a walk. Then we made dinner plans. Then I read them a chapter of Slow Regard. (Something I started a while back on a lark, I wondered if they would enjoy hearing me read, and was startled at how into it they were. I could write an entire *other* blog post about what that’s been like all by itself.)

We read together and we cuddled. We brought the empty garbage cans back to the house. Did some chores. Had a feelings talk. Made and ate dinner together. Cleaned up and did the dishes and had our evening treat:

(Tim-Tams sent to me by the lovely folks at Ludo Cherry.)

Then we did our fun thing for the evening. We were going to watch Kipo and some Adventure Time. But when the time came, our mood had shifted, and instead we watched some Youtube videos: one about a guy called Rollerman, and another about people who do that thing where they jump off mountains and glide like flying squirrels.

After each video, I told the boys that I loved them. I told them I would always support them in whatever they chose to do in their lives. I told them their bodies belonged to them, and they were the only ones who got to decide what happened to them.

I also told them that I admired these people in the videos. And that flying down a mountain looked really cool, and part of me wishes I could do it. And that I was glad that there were people in the world who were willing to pursue amazing feats like that.

BUT I also told them that they could never do either of those things. Ever. They agreed.

We then watched some Minecraft videos. (We’re partial to the flavor of brilliant madness produced by Dream and his friends.) After that, the boys told me that while my choices were my own, and I was an adult and free to do as I liked, that I should never *ever* mine straight down. Especially when I was in the Never and wearing all our best equipment. I agreed.

We have a good relationship.

Then it was washing face and hands. Brushing teeth. And, because we managed to hit our bedtime, we got to read, so I read them the final two chapters of Slow Regard, and we talked about it until they fell asleep.

That was my evening. At no point did I poke my nose onto the internet to find out what was happening with the Election. There was nothing I could do at this point but worry, so I avoided it. This is a skill I’ve been trying to develop this last year: The Life-Changing Magic of Sometimes Just Not Thinking About It. (TM)

Today, I still don’t know what’s up. It’s the boy’s busiest school day, they each have three zoom classes. Breakfast and lunch. Tidy the house. A little e-mail. Setting up a video play date. There’s a lot to keep busy with…

(One of the things I’m keeping busy with is this blog. Pecking away at it here or there. Right now Oot is having his virtual Spanish class while Cutie is listening to the audiobook version of Agatha Heterodyne and the Clockwork Princess. (Yup, there are novel versions of the amazing comic. They’re both written by the Foglios, and if you buy it off that link you’re *also* supporting Worldbuilders.)

But here’s the thing, as the day progresses, I still don’t want to get into my e-mail or on social media for fear of seeing news about the election. Don’t want to message anyone for fear they’ll let something slip and shatter my fragile not-knowing.

Last night this was such a good strategy. I was proud of it. I was peaceful. I felt I’d made a healthy choice and enjoyed quality time with my boys rather than engage in pointless, self-destructive media engagement.

But today I’m walking on eggshells. The boys and I rake leaves and I think, “Surely if Trump was voted out, one of my friends would have pinged me with delighted crowing… so that must mean he’s still in.”

Then I think, “Surely if Trump was still in, one of my friends would have been unable to avoid howling in agony in my direction, so he must be out?” Plus I’m pretty sure it would be raining blood and the sky would be the color of burning tar.

But nothing is happening. It’s a really nice day out. We rake crispy bright-coloured leaves. We eat pickles and biscuits and soup for lunch. The boys practice their knitting.

I know something big must be happening, but right now it can’t touch me. I’m in an odd liminal state that reminds me nothing so much as when my mother died.

That’s a story I don’t know if I’ve ever told on the blog. Simply said: I got the call in the middle of the class I was teaching. I had a strict no-phone policy, but I’d told my students I had family stuff going on, and I might have to answer the phone if a doctor called. I stepped into the hallway, found out she was dead, then went back into the room and taught the rest of the class. Then I taught my next class too. Only they did I go home, get in my car, and head down to Madison to spend time with my Dad and Sister.

When I came back to Stevens Point two days later, I hung out with a friend. It’s so odd to think of now. I haven’t had local friends in ages, so the thought of just meeting someone casually for lunch seems so odd. Doubly odd now, as after the last 8 months, just the memory of eating in a restaurant feels surreal.

But back then it was odd for a different reason. This was back in 2007, two months before my book was published. Way back when I had local friends in town. All of them knew what was going on: that my mom had the sort of cancer you didn’t get better from.

I wasn’t on social media in a meaningful way. Social media didn’t really exist in the same way back then. The only reason I’d finally caved and bought a cell phone at all was because my mom was sick. As a result, my friend didn’t know my mom was dead.

When we got together to hang out, I didn’t tell them. Part of it was the fact that I couldn’t imagine how to bring it up. But the bigger part was that if I didn’t tell my friend the news, for the space of the meal I didn’t have to live in a place where my mom was gone. Down in Madison everyone knew. We were making funeral plans. Consoling each other. Offering support. I was soaked through with the incessant oppressive reality of her utter non-existence.

But my friend didn’t know. They weren’t sad about it. They didn’t mourn at me. Didn’t offer comfort. That meant that back in Point, for the space of a meal, things could just be normal a little while longer. Just for a while.

That’s what I feel like today.

As I finish writing this blog, it’s 3 AM on November 5th, two days after the election. I spent the day with my boys and despite my best efforts, I’ve become dimly, inexorably aware of the fact that it’s not just me that doesn’t know what’s up with the election. Apparently everyone’s in a liminal state. I still haven’t checked the news.

I’m not sure if I’ll post this. It certainly won’t be the first blog I’ve written and then left to lay fallow here.

If I do launch it. I hope y’all are doing as well as can be reasonably expected. I hope you’re experiencing a flavor of not-knowing you enjoy, or at least find pleasantly palliative. I hope for all of us, this isn’t merely the joyful bliss of an unseen iceberg. I hope for all of us, it’s more the tense uncertainty that comes before opening a gift you’ve been desperately desiring.

Or, if not that, a gift like the ones my grandfather gave me ages ago: a pair of soft pajama pants, wool socks, traction grips that fit my shoes for ease of winter walking….

Not gifts I wanted at that age. Gifts that were, quite frankly, annoying and irritating in the moment. But also the only gifts I used for decades afterwards. Gifts that improved my life in small, meaningful, persistent ways.

Here’s hoping,

pat

Also posted in a ganglion of irreconcilable antagonisms, Cutie Snoo, ethical conundra, mom, musings, Oot, things I shouldn't talk about | By Pat121 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, hubris, things I shouldn't talk about, trepidation, Worldbuilders | By Pat101 Responses

A blog, if only barely.

Hey there everyone,

You know that thing that happens sometimes, when you slowly drift out of contact with a friend? Something changes in your life, or maybe a few things, and you slowly start to see them less often. Call them less often. Talk less often.

And before you know it, it’s been *ages* since you’ve talked. And it just feels weird reaching out for no reason? And it feels weird reaching out when you *do* have a reason too, because then you worry that it seems like you only give them a call when you need help moving a couch or digging up an old friend’s address.

I don’t know if that makes any sense to you. I kinda hope it doesn’t. It’s a lousy feeling. It sucks to drift away from friends.

For those of you who do know how it feels, or can imagine it…. well…. that’s how I’ve been feeling about the blog lately.

Except it’s not that simple. I still think of stories that it would be fun to tell…. but the thought of putting them up here? It wearies me. I feel so tired all the time lately. And it’s not just that I’m too busy, underslept, and behind on everything. It’s not just that the world is very heavy on me lately, and I’ve been having trouble finding joy. It’s not just that my dad passed away last year….

Did you know I’m the oldest person in my family now? I have no grandparents left. No parents. There are four of the Rothfuss name left in Wisconsin. One is my little sister, and the others are my boys. I love my sister, and the boys are a delight. But it is strange to be eldest. And it is strange to be so alone.

This is the other reason I don’t write much in the blog lately: A lot of my thoughts are not cheerful. I am not full of cute kid stories and musings on the nature of love. Lately I think about the fact that I need glasses to read. Which may seem like a small thing to you, especially if you’ve always worn glasses. But for me? I’ve read a book or two a day for my entire life. I’ve spent more time in my life reading than… probably any other activity. I’ve always been able to pick up a book and just… go. Just leave for somewhere else. I’ve lived so many other lives in so many other worlds.

And now I can’t do it any more unless I wear glasses. It’s like I’ve spent my whole life being able to travel to Narnia and now someone put a lock on the wardrobe door….

See? That’s some bummer shit right there. Who wants to read a blog about that? And I don’t know if it’s good for me to spend  hours of my life writing down my grim maunderings about the shape of the world and my own impending mortality. It would be like a shittier version of The Love Song of Alfred J Prufrock where I replaced all the literary allusions with me shouting the word “fuck” all the time.

Anyway, I was just poking my head up on here to say… well… I guess I’m saying that I’m sorry we’ve been drifting apart, you and I. (And by you, I mean my blog, and the people who used to enjoy reading it.)

I hope we can figure out how to have fun together again at some point. I’m going to try posting up some little blogs soon. Just small things so that maybe  can remember what it was like when we just goofed off on here. I could show off presents people have sent me. Or talk about the time I got to hug Telly.

Poor telly. What a terrible expression of existential dread. I’m so sorry.

Anyway. That’s all I have for now, folks.

Take care of each other.

pat

 

P.S. Also, for those of you who are into games, stories, and/or The Name of the Wind, there’s a cool storytelling game happening on kickstarter right now. The folks from Brotherwise games reached out to me a while back, and I liked the game enough to let them develop a 75 card expansion for it based off my books.

There are only 3 days left in the kickstarter. So if you’re the sort of person who loves kickstarter exclusives, you might want to hop on over there and check it out. 

Sorry that I haven’t mentioned it before now, but like I said. The blogs… they haven’t been coming so easy lately.

Maybe I’ll try to do a little blog where I show off some off some of the cards they’re prototyping for the game tomorrow. That might be an easy one to do… Help me get back into the swing of talking about fun things.

Anyway. Yeah. If you’re curious, here’s your link.

Later Edit: I just left a comment on my blog for the first time in a while. That new Gapcha is…. interesting. I think it’s going to be irritating in the long run though. I’ll see if I can find something a little less time consuming….

Also posted in a ganglion of irreconcilable antagonisms, emo bullshit, gaming, musings | By Pat427 Responses

What We’re Doing & How We’re Coping

So it’s been pretty quiet here on the blog since the fundraiser ended. Partly that’s because I’ve been trying to focus my energy on laying in some infrastructure in my life so that I can be more productive (and that tends to be boring to blog about.)

But don’t assume that silence means inactivity. Home office here has been a whirlwind as my team has been working on fulfilling the Tak kickstarter, drawing prizes for the worldbuilders lottery, and shipping the everyday store orders in the Tinker’s packs.

(And because I know people will ask in the comments: if you missed the kickstarter, you can order Tak over here in the Tinker’s Packs and yours will ship as soon as the Kickstarter is fulfilled. Which will be super soon.)

WaitingUSPSBoxes

Does that sound like a lot of packaging? Because it is.

Mindy

(Seriously, you can barely move in HQ right now)

But while some of our quiet is due to things being busy, it’s not the entire reason for our silence over here. The truth is, pretty much everyone I know is pretty emotionally distraught over things happening in the world right now, Worldbuilders employees included.

I’ve collected a good team over the years. They’re intelligent, empathetic, good-smelling people. They’re socially aware, and politically active. They wouldn’t work here if they didn’t care about making the world a better place.

And… well… not to bullshit around. But we’re all kind of scared right now. There are things happening the the US and around the world that make us very worried for our country and our people.

But when everything seems awful, what do you do?

Well recently, someone sent me a link to this, telling me that it’s helped them recently.

Bilbo it up

It’s a part of a blog I wrote years ago. At the time I was talking about charity, but that particular quote rings even more true these days than it did then.

Because the simple truth is this: When things are bad, all you can do is what you can do.

Which is perfectly accurate but also kinda useless in terms of a strategy.

As I mentioned before, pretty much everyone I know is freaked out right now and feeling some version of, “I have to do something, but what?”

Part of what I’m doing to help is that I reach out to my friends to see how they’re doing. I try to console or comfort if I can. I give them someone to talk to. And if they’re looking for it, I give some advice….

But honestly? I’m calling because desperately looking for help myself. So if my friends have good strategies, I steal them or pass them along. I pick their brains because most of the people I know are smarter than me in at least two or three different ways.

So with the hope that it might be helpful to some of you out there, here’s what some of my crew is doing these days….

  • Brett – Do Research & Talk to People

Brett Monkey

One of the frustrating things about media today is that most people tend to filter their news through Facebook and Twitter, neither of which are ideal venues for nuanced discussion or information dissemination. It drives me nuts to see bad, lopsided, or blatantly spun “news” get shared and retweeted without a second thought. I know I can’t change minds, but at least I can try to get people thinking about the news they share.

I’ve been researching quotes, statistics, and claims put forth in memes and shared blog posts from both sides of the partisan divide since before the election, posting links to reliable sources that either support or refute the information. Snopes is a good, easy-to-digest source (yes, I know, “scandal” and all that, but it doesn’t affect the reliability of the data they compile), but links to the Associated Press and Reuters are solid, as is NPR. If there are several sources that have the same information, find and link to all of them. I usually have several browser tabs open on my phone, just in case I need to look something up.

People will argue with you. They’ll post their own sources and memes to persuade or deflect you, or just to assert their point of view. That’s great–you get to do more research, and you’ll have a better understanding of how they view the issue.

Stuff to watch out for:

1. Topic drift. Stay on target, address only the claims put forth in the original article or meme. If someone tries to argue with you by bringing up something that’s tangentially related or used to deflect (“Trump will release his taxes when Clinton releases her emails”), remind them that you are discussing only the original topic. Stick to your guns, but stay calm.

2. Be patient. Don’t devolve into name calling or one-upmanship. You are trying to give accurate information, not start an argument.

3. Ask for counter-arguments from other valid sources. This will start a dialogue and give others a chance to defend their beliefs with their own evidence. Encourage them to keep explaining their point. If it turns out they’re right about something, let them know.

4. Be open to the possibility that you might be wrong. If you’re wrong, it’s not a character flaw. You might not have the whole story. You might be too close to the argument to see it objectively. These are emotionally-charged times, and we’re all human. If someone you disagree with turns out to be right, admit it and thank them.

5. See things from their perspective. It’s very likely that you both agree on the big picture, but disagree on the source of the problem and the solution needed. The more you listen to someone explain their position, the better understanding you get of how they reached it.

6. Be cool. Be Zaphod Beeblebrox cool. Don’t resort to name calling. Don’t start your own topic drift. Don’t bring up old stuff. You’re better than that. You have access to facts and data the likes of which we’ve never had before this day, and you can use it to build your platform, argue your case, and–probably not change anyone’s mind, but get them thinking. And that’s what we want: we want people to start really thinking about stuff.

TL;DR: Fight “alternative truth” with solid facts from reputable sources. Stay cool about it. Understand that you probably won’t change anyone’s mind, but you might get them to start looking up facts for themselves before they click Like, Share, or Retweet.

  • Amanda – Write Letters to Your Representatives

Amanda Draccus

I’ve been feeling very helpless for the last few days, and most of my coping mechanisms haven’t been all that great.

But there’s a lot of productive things that can be done, and while I’m kind of exhausted these days, it’s important to funnel this destructive energy into the policies I disagree with, and not, you know, myself.

I remembered a video I watched from Hank Green this last summer, and I’m using it to have a system to write to my representatives.

This video was made shortly after the Pulse shootings this summer, so it’s focused on LGBT and gun control issues, but you can use this script to write about anything that’s important to you.

Representatives are much more likely to respond to a hand-written letter than an email or signature on an online petition. I actually got a letter back from one of my representatives, and while he didn’t change his vote, he thanked me for my honesty and he gave me a genuine and thoughtful response. He really read my letter (or a staffer did, but still, *someone* did), and it had an impact.

So imagine if he had been inundated with these letters. Maybe we can make a real difference. And making your voice heard is what democracy is about.

Though, honestly, a letter is great, but a call is better.

  • Nicole – Call Your Representatives

Nicole

It seems like there’s something new happening every day that needs our attention, and with the list of points to discuss with your representatives only growing longer, it’s getting harder to keep it all straight.

It’s overwhelming, to be sure, and while it’s got me feeling like this uphill battle may never be over, I realize now more than ever that giving up is not an option. The more issues that need to be discussed, the more important it is that we discuss them.

I’ve started using 5calls.org to help me stay organized in my effort. While their list of issues that need attention may not be 100% complete, it’s a great place to start, and a great resource for phone numbers and even provides talking points and scripts.

The best part of this site is that it prompts me to make another call immediately after I finish one, which helps me maintain my momentum once I get started.

  • Amanda Again – Take Care of Yourself

The hardest part of this whole thing, for me, has been the incredible desire to disengage. Bad news just keeps coming through, and we need to be constantly vigilant to stay on top of it.

But then my beloved Jenn tweeted something out that I really needed to hear.

Jenn saves my life

So I’ve had a game night or two where we’re not allowed to look at our phones. I’ve been reading a book and watching TV in the evenings rather than going on social media. I play Stardew Valley and revel in the simple living in that little town, flirting with every.damn.body.

I don’t take whole days off yet, but I’m considering it. One a week maybe.

And then, once I’m feeling a little bit better, I see what else needs doing. I look up phone numbers, I read multiple stories from a variety of sources, and I try to make sure I’m informed by more than the inflammatory stories that happen to line up with my beliefs.

***

My people are good people. I love them with big love.

But the fact remains, I don’t know what *I* should be doing.

Part of the problem is that I have a lot of resources, and that gives me a lot of options. I have money. I have a platform from which to speak to many people. (This blog, for example.) I admire the hell out of the folks who call and write letters. But I wonder if that’s the best thing for *me* to do with my time and energy.

I feel like there are a lot of people out there that want do do something. They want to make a difference, but don’t know the best way to do that. I feel like there are people out there who want to stay informed, but who are becoming emotionally exhausted by Twitter. People who want to want to be active, who want to help… But who aren’t sure how. They don’t know where to start. Or once they start, they don’t know where to go next….

For over a month now, I’ve been wanting to start a newsletter for people who want to be activists, but could use some help getting started. Or people who *are* activists but want to up their game. People who only have thirty minutes a week to spare, and want to use that time to the best effect. People who want help staying informed without burning out and being overwhelmed.

This idea keeps rolling around in my head. A mailing list that gives people tools and tricks for effective activism.

I have a list of people I’ve already been reaching out to, just exploring. Just seeing if they might be interested in helping me put this together. Folks who are smarter, more informed, and more organized than I am. People with good brains and kind hearts. Experienced activists of many stripes.

And yeah. I don’t need another project. Believe me. Nobody knows that better than I do. I’m too busy. I’ve got too many irons in too many fires.

But what’s happening right now is really important. And besides, I wouldn’t do this myself, I’d bring someone in to orchestrate it, because I suck at organization.

So. Here’s the question. Is this something y’all might be interested in?

If so, enter your e-mail into the form below. If only 8 people sign up, I’ll breathe a sigh of relief, send everyone a polite thank-you, and walk away from the idea.

But if 500 people are interested… well then I might start putting my team together. A 1000 people? Well, that means there’s a pressing need for activism advice out there. And I could help make that available to people…

So… yeah. If you’d be interested in a mailing list about political activism and things going on in the world, drop your e-mail here. Rest assured that if this moves forward, you’ll be able to choose your level of engagement. I can’t imagine sending out more than one email a week at the most…

So… yeah. There’s that. If you’re interested.

I hope y’all are doing okay. Take care of yourselves….

pat

Also posted in a billion links, How to be a Worthwhile Human Being, things I shouldn't talk about | By Pat81 Responses

Hollywood News

As many of you know, a few days before San Deigo Comic-Con this year, the option on my books expired.

What this means is that ages ago, I sold some people the rights (the option) to make a TV show based off The Kingkiller Chronicles. They tried to make it happen, but it didn’t work out. Then, when the option period expired, all the rights reverted back to me.

Just so you know, this sort of thing happens all the time. The vast majority of things that get optioned never get made. The same way that most people that think about writing a book never get it published. Shit happens. People lose interest. Things get complicated. Projects lose momentum.

I don’t have handy statistics at my fingertips, but I’d be willing to bet a dollar that more than 98% of all book options end this way, with no TV show or movie or anything happening.

Anyway, my rights reverted. It didn’t come as a huge shock to me.

This, on the other hand, was a surprise:

BiddingWar

(Click on the headline if you want to read the article.)

Because everyone was suddenly interested in the books,  I spent most of my Comic-Con having meetings with representatives from every major Hollywood power. At least that’s what it felt like to me. It was a strange experience, and I talked about it in some detail on the episode of Untitled Rothfuss podcast that Max and I recorded out at the convention.

To say that I didn’t know what I was doing in those meetings is a bit of an understatement. In fact, I remember starting several of the meetings by saying, “I have no idea what I’m supposed to do in this meeting.” I also dimly remember explaining to someone that there was no way you could turn The Name of the Wind into a movie. I explained it rather, well… emphatically for, like, 20 minutes. I’m pretty sure that’s fairly high on the list of things you’re not supposed to do in a meeting with someone who wants to turn your book into a movie.

I had fun though. It’s nice to be desired. For that brief moment in time I was the prettiest girl at the party, and everyone wanted to dance with me. (Only frequent readers of the blog can appreciate how clean I kept that little analogy.)

Princess Pat

The meetings weren’t stressful for this simple reason: I wasn’t that interested in turning my books into a movie. I know for a lot of authors, a movie deal is like the holy grail. It’s kinda free money. And if a movie gets made? Well, then, you get a truckload of cash, a bucket of fame, and your books get to hang out on the bestseller lists for a while. Usually a long, LONG while.

But honestly? Money’s never been a huge motivator for me. And my books already sell well. And I’m already more celebritous than I’m entirely comfortable with.

Most importantly though, I’ve never been that interested in a straight-up movie deal. Pretty much every fantasy movie created so far has been an action movie, or plot centered, or both. And my books aren’t like that. My books are about the characters. They’re about secrets and mysteries and the hidden turnings of the world. My books are all about antici-

 

-pation. And a movie, even a long movie, simply doesn’t have enough time to fit all of that stuff in. That’s why my original option was for a TV show. I wanted space for the story to breathe.

So when I met with these people from movie studios, I told them that I wasn’t terribly interested in a movie deal. Not to be a dick, but because I prefer to be honest with folks. I’m happy to have meetings, talk about stories, listen to a pitch…  As I said, it’s fun to be desired. It’s nice that you think my books are pretty. Let’s have a dance. But I wanted them to know that I wasn’t really planning on jumping into bed with anyone. (Damn. I knew the analogy was going to end up there eventually.)

KvotheDress

There was one exception. When I met with Lionsgate, I said, “If you come at me with a movie offer, it’s going to be a hard sell. I’m not that excited about movies by themselves. But you guys are different from a lot of other studios. Those guys are huge. Monolithic. But you’re more agile and innovative. Your movie people and your TV people actually know each other. They could work together. Share resources.

I continued: “If you came at me with a pitch that involved a television show AND a movie, I’d listen to that. I’d listen really hard, because something like that would let us be big-budget while still giving my story room to breathe. It would give people the ability to spend more time in my world. I can’t think of anyone who has really done that, but it seems like we could have the best of both worlds that way. And it seems to me that you guys are one of the only places that could realistically pull something like that off.”

Yeah. I’m from small-town Wisconsin. But I’m not stupid. And it’s impossible to have 15 hours of meeting with Hollywood people without learning something about who’s who and how that world fits together.

But ultimately, I was just shooting my mouth off and I knew it. I was running on too much caffeine and too little sleep, but I still realized what I was saying was something along the lines of, “I see you guys are offering me the moon, but I’d really like the moon AND a chocolate cake with solid gold frosting. And you need to make the cake from scratch.”

So comic-con finished up. I went home. My coach turned back into a pumpkin and my pretty dress turned back into a geeky-tshirt and kinda grubby pair of cargo shorts. Which is probably for the best. As I’m not very good at important meetings or dancing. I’m way too beardy to be a princess.

PumpkinPat

The End.

*     *     *

Then Lionsgate got in touch. “About that whole TV-show-and-a-movie thing you mentioned,” they said. “If we’re going to do some sort of big narratively intertwined multi-platform development deal based on your books, wouldn’t it make more sense to do a video game along with the TV show and movies? Because seriously, why wouldn’t we want to do a video game too?” (I’m paraphrasing a little here you understand.)

I said, “What?”

*     *     *

Since then, I’ve been talking with Lionsgate kind of a lot. Going over particulars. Talking serious talks.

And when I say, “I’ve been talking with Lionsgate” I mean “Me and my team of skilled movie-smart people who do this for a living and some of them are powerful, hard-eyed lawyers.” Because like I said, I’m from small-town Wisconsin, but I’m not stupid.

And I’ll be honest, from the first moment I sat down at the table, I was ready to walk away. I liked the way Lionsgate was willing to dream big with me about adapting my books. They were willing to think outside the box. They were willing to make a whole new box just so we could go outside of it.

But… well… Hollywood is scary. The contracts are, to be quite honest, horrifying. And the power differential is immense. Even the smallest of studios is more powerful than some countries. And the biggest author ever is kinda not a very big deal at all.

So yeah. Silly as it might sound, from the very beginning of this process, I was willing to walk away from the deal. I was almost looking for an excuse to do it, because life is too short. I didn’t want to get a sack of money and pat on the head, then spend the next three years watching helplessly as they molested my books.

LolliPat

So we started to negotiate, and that’s where I received my biggest surprise of all.

You see, I never expected a studio would treat me like a human being. But through this whole process, Lionsgate has treated me with amazing respect. I’ve made what to me seem like reasonable requests, and they responded to them… reasonably. And I’m not just talking about pretty words here, they’re making contractual agreements granting me control of things. They haven’t just been reasonable, they’ve been kind, and understanding.

WandPat

To be perfectly honest, it’s a bit disconcerting. I never anticipated that a Hollywood studio would treat me like a human being. Let alone want to work with me as a creative partner and respect the fact that I do, in fact, know a lot about how stories work. This story in particular.

So… yeah. That’s the news. Me and them, we’re gonna do a thing.

Lionsgate is making its own press release today and there will be stories in all manner of Hollywood news outlets pretty soon. It’s not a coincidence that my blog is launching up on the very same day as their big announcement. In the same hour, even. Lionsgate coordinated with me so I could share this news on my blog at the same time they’re launching their story.

This was important to me because if you read my blog or follow me on social media…  well… you’re a part of the reason my books are a big deal. A lot of you have been a part of my team for years, and I wanted the chance to tell you about this piece of news myself rather than have you hear it on the street.

The fact that Lionsgate was willing to go to some lengths to let me launch this blog simultaneously with their press release is another good sign, in my opinion. It shows they respect me, and it shows they respect you guys, too.

Now I know some of you will be reading this news with fear in your hearts. You’ll worry about them screwing it up. I understand. I know you love these books.

But hear me when I say this: You cannot love these books more than I do. You can’t care about them more than I do. I’ve put twenty years of my life into them. They ride next to my heart. They are my tangible soul.

And I’m not stupid. I hope by this point you know me well enough that you can trust me not to rush into… well… anything. If I cut a deal like this, it’s only because I really think there’s a chance for us to make something beautiful.

I’ll talk about this more on the blog later. I’ll answer questions and explain things and give more details.

Later. We’ll do that all later.

For now. Just for the next couple of days. How about we just let ourselves be a little excited about this? There will be plenty of time to fuss and fidget in the days to come. But right now, I’m not going to worry. Right now I’m just going to spend some time being a happy geek, excited at the thought of getting to see the Eolian or the Fishery. There are some scenes I’d love to see somewhere other than inside my own head.

I’m guessing there’s some scenes y’all would like to see, too….

See you later Space Cowboys,

pat

Also posted in a few words you're probably going to have to look up, BJ Hiorns Art, cool news, movie talk, the longest fucking blog ever, trepidation | By Pat289 Responses

Thoughts on Pratchett – [Part 1]

Earlier this year, when I was in Germany on tour, Terry Pratchett died.

It didn’t come as a complete shock. We’ve known for ages that he was sick. We’ve had years to brace for the inevitable impact.

Even so, it hit me surprisingly hard. I hadn’t expected that.

Odds are, if you know much anything about me, you know I’ve been a fan of Pratchett for years. If you follow me on goodreads you’ve seen me write reviews so gushy that they border on the inarticulate.

Terry Pratchett – Facing Extinction

I didn’t know him. Honestly, I didn’t even know too much about him. I saw him speak once at a convention in Madison, and got to meet him very briefly. I wrote about it on the blog.

The fact remains that his work (and a few of the things I knew about him) had a huge impact on me.

So… yeah. It hit me kinda hard.

If you’re in your 20’s and 30’s and reading this blog on the interweb, it may be hard for you to understand that our opinions about authors used to come almost entirely from reading their books. Even after the internet crawled gasping onto the devonian shore of the 1990’s things like social media and author blogs simply didn’t exist in any meaningful way.

As a result, one of my first exposures to Terry Pratchett as a person was in an interview in the Onion back in 1995. Just to give you an idea of the time frame. That was back when you could pick up a copy of The Onion printed on paper. What’s more, it available *only* on paper, and even then, you could only get it in my home town of Madison, WI.

What Pratchett said in that interview had a big effect on me, as I’d been working on my own novel for a couple years at that point.

It took some digging (as I said, this was published pre-internet) but here’s the interview:

O: What’s with the big-ass hat?

Pratchett: Ah… That’s the hat I wear. I don’t know, it… It… That hat, or types like it, I’ve worn for years and years. Because I bought one, and I liked it. And then people started taking photographs of me in it, and now, certainly in the UK, it’s almost a case of if I don’t turn up in my hat people don’t know who I am. So maybe I could just send this hat to signings. I just like hats. I like Australian book tours, because Australians are really, I mean that is the big hat country, Australia.

O: You’re quite a writer. You’ve a gift for language, you’re a deft hand at plotting, and your books seem to have an enormous amount of attention to detail put into them. You’re so good you could write anything. Why write fantasy?

Pratchett: I had a decent lunch, and I’m feeling quite amiable. That’s why you’re still alive. I think you’d have to explain to me why you’ve asked that question.

O: It’s a rather ghettoized genre.

P: This is true. I cannot speak for the US, where I merely sort of sell okay. But in the UK I think every book— I think I’ve done twenty in the series— since the fourth book, every one has been one the top ten national bestsellers, either as hardcover or paperback, and quite often as both. Twelve or thirteen have been number one. I’ve done six juveniles, all of those have nevertheless crossed over to the adult bestseller list. On one occasion I had the adult best seller, the paperback best-seller in a different title, and a third book on the juvenile bestseller list. Now tell me again that this is a ghettoized genre.

O: It’s certainly regarded as less than serious fiction.

P:  (Sighs) Without a shadow of a doubt, the first fiction ever recounted was fantasy. Guys sitting around the campfire— Was it you who wrote the review? I thought I recognized it— Guys sitting around the campfire telling each other stories about the gods who made lightning, and stuff like that. They did not tell one another literary stories. They did not complain about difficulties of male menopause while being a junior lecturer on some midwestern college campus. Fantasy is without a shadow of a doubt the ur-literature, the spring from which all other literature has flown. Up to a few hundred years ago no one would have disagreed with this, because most stories were, in some sense, fantasy. Back in the middle ages, people wouldn’t have thought twice about bringing in Death as a character who would have a role to play in the story. Echoes of this can be seen in Pilgrim’s Progress, for example, which hark back to a much earlier type of storytelling. The epic of Gilgamesh is one of the earliest works of literature, and by the standard we would apply now— a big muscular guys with swords and certain godlike connections— That’s fantasy. The national literature of Finland, the Kalevala. Beowulf in England. I cannot pronounce Bahaghvad-Gita but the Indian one, you know what I mean. The national literature, the one that underpins everything else, is by the standards that we apply now, a work of fantasy.

Now I don’t know what you’d consider the national literature of America, but if the words Moby Dick are inching their way towards this conversation, whatever else it was, it was also a work of fantasy. Fantasy is kind of a plasma in which other things can be carried. I don’t think this is a ghetto. This is, fantasy is, almost a sea in which other genres swim. Now it may be that there has developed in the last couple of hundred years a subset of fantasy which merely uses a different icongraphy, and that is, if you like, the serious literature, the Booker Prize contender. Fantasy can be serious literature. Fantasy has often been serious literature. You have to fairly dense to think that Gulliver’s Travels is only a story about a guy having a real fun time among big people and little people and horses and stuff like that. What the book was about was something else. Fantasy can carry quite a serious burden, and so can humor. So what you’re saying is, strip away the trolls and the dwarves and things and put everyone into modern dress, get them to agonize a bit, mention Virginia Woolf a few times, and there! Hey! I’ve got a serious novel. But you don’t actually have to do that.

(Pauses) That was a bloody good answer, though I say it myself.

I’m looking forward to buying myself a cheese hat.

O: Back to the hat.

P: Let’s go back to the hat… Everybody needs an edge, and if the hat gives you an edge, why not wear a hat? When you get started writing, you’re one of the crowd. If the hat helps, I’ll wear a hat— I’ll wear two hats! In fact, I’m definitely going to buy a cheese hat before I leave here. We’ve never heard of them in the UK, and I can see it as being the latest thing in fashion.

Okay, you can turn the tape back off again.

I actually remember where I was when I read that. Right now, twenty years later, I remember where I was sitting as I held the paper and read it.

I’m not going to be cliche and say it changed my life.

You know what? I am. I’m going to say it. It changed my life.

Remember what year this was. It was 1995. This was before Harry Potter was written. Before Neil Gaiman wrote Neverwhere.

Pixar has just released its first movie. There was no Matrix. No Sixth Sense. No Lord of The Rings movies. Pan’s Labyrinth and Hellboy were a decade away.

There was no Game of Thrones on HBO. Hell, there wasn’t even Legend of the Seeker. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was 2 years away, and even more years from being recognized as brilliant television, rather than silly fluff with vampires.

I had been writing my fantasy novel for about two years, and while I loved fantasy, I knew deep down, it was something I should feel ashamed of. Fantasy novels were the books I read as a kid, and people picked on me for it. There were no classes on the subject at the University. I knew deep down in my bones that no matter how much I happened to love fantasy, it was all silly bullshit.

Even these days, people look down on fantasy. They think of it as kid stuff. They dismiss it as worthless. They say not real literature. People say that *NOW* despite the fact that Game of Thrones and The Hobbit and Avengers and Harry Potter are bigger than The Beatles.

That’s NOW. If you weren’t around back then, you really can’t begin to understand how much worse it was. When I told people I was working on a fantasy novel, a lot of people wouldn’t even really know what I was talking about.

I would say, “I’m writing a fantasy novel” and people would look at me with earnest confusion and concern in their eyes, and they would say, “Why?”

Then I read that article, and it filled me with hope. With pride.

*     *     *

I’ve got more to say on this, but this blog is already really long. And I’m leaving for PAX in the morning, so I’ll save the rest for next week

Be good to each other everyone,

pat

Also posted in emo bullshit, European Adventures, Fantasy, Stories about stories., the longest fucking blog ever, travel abroad | By Pat103 Responses
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