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Terminal

I’ve done so much flying in this last month that all the airport terminals have blurred together in my memory.

So while I can’t remember exactly where this happened, I know it was down by the baggage claim, relaxing and participating in my second favorite sport: watching people.

It was a slightly out-of-the-way corner of the terminal with a light scattering of folks who were waiting for their luggage too. Standing off to the side was a young mom with a couple little kids in tow.

She was obviously tired, and was doing her best to keep an eye on her kids while at the same time making sure that her luggage wasn’t molested by terrorists, gypsies, communists, or whatever flavor of bad guy homeland security is trying to frighten us with this week.

The kids were having a great time. The little girl was just wandering, staying close to mom and looking at stuff. But the little boy had invented a game. He would build up to a run, then flop down and slide across the smooth floor on his belly.

It was obviously a lot of fun, and adding to his enjoyment was the fact that his mom didn’t want him to do it. She stopped him once, but then he got out of arm’s reach and she couldn’t catch him without leaving her daughter and the luggage behind.

I should make it clear that the baggage claim area was far from bustling. It was quiet, and the kid wasn’t getting in anyone’s way. Neither was he wandering very far afield. He stayed in mom’s line of vision. He wasn’t being naughty, he was just being a kid.

Mom wasn’t being needlessly strident about it, either. She didn’t get all huffy or shriek qt him. And while she wasn’t happy that he wasn’t listening, she didn’t view this as a major challenge to her authority. She was just trying to do her job, which is to say she wanted to keep him from hurting himself, being a nuisance, and getting his clothes dirty.

She tried to corral him as best she could, but he ignored and avoided her, run-flopping all over the place. I was tempted to try it myself. It looked like a good time. However, the square-cube ratio is harsh on adults, and I worried that if I flopped onto the ground, I would rupture something vital in my guts. Plus I expect airport security would have tazered me for being a deviant.

So, because I was living vicariously through his exploits, I was watching him when he flopped harder than he meant to. It wasn’t a bad fall, but he bumped his head a little and lay there for half a second, hurt, angry, and confused. Then started to cry, picked himself up, and ran over to his mom.

Now this is the fulcrum of the story. The point at which it could pivot one way or another. The young mom could have cussed him out. But she didn’t. She didn’t shout or say, “I told you so,” or try to turn it into some sort of moral lesson. She picked him up, hugged him, and nuzzled her face against his head to make him feel better. And it worked.

That’s what moms are for. They give us good advice and we ignore it, running around like tiny Visigoths. Then we fuck up, hurt ourselves, and come running back so that they can make everything okay again.

It was a sweet thing to see. And honestly, it broke my heart.

Some of you know that my mom died not too long ago. I don’t talk about it very much, but the fact is, I think about her all the time.

Whenever I think too hard about it, I become uncertain about what I should or shouldn’t post here on the blog. Generally speaking, when I think something might be of interest to my readers (like an interview, or an appearance at a convention) I post it up. The same is true when I think of a funny story or a good piece of advice.

Part of the reason I haven’t written much about my mom is because I worry it will come across as maudlin, and I assume that people come to the blog to be entertained, not depressed.

On the other hand, if this blog is supposed to be a little window into my life, not writing about her at all feels dishonest. If the things I write here are supposed to reflect my real thoughts and emotions, how can I not mention her?

I get the feeling that I’m going to spend the rest of my life thinking of questions that only she could answer. Like how she kept the rabbits from destroying her garden even though she didn’t use a fence. The truth is, when she died it was like someone burned down a library, cut off one of my legs, and took away half of my laughing. Some days are okay. But other days I don’t know if I’ll ever be smart, or steady, or happy in the same way again.

But the thing I really miss is that she loved me like nobody else ever could. I grew up my whole life surrounded by that constant, unobtrusive, unquestioning affection. It has a lot to do with the sort of person I am today. That doesn’t mean she didn’t call me on my bullshit, or make fun of me, or point out when I was being a dick. But the love was always there, indifferent to my Visigoth behavior. Unconditional.

When you grow up surrounded by something like that, you don’t notice it consciously. It’s like the humidity in the air. You don’t even notice when it’s gone, either, except that something is different. Something isn’t right. Then you start realizing that you’re thirsty all the time, and you can’t figure out why you’re constantly tired, or getting nosebleeds.

Then, eventually, you realize the problem is that the air is too dry. Only then can you take some steps to try and get some moisture back into your life. Only then can you start trying to make adjustments so things can feel, at least a little bit, like they used to.

I think that’s the point I’ve finally reached. I’ve discovered that my life is drier than I’d like, and I’m trying to figure out what I can do about it.

So I think I’m going to start mentioning my mom on here from time to time. Not a lot, probably, but some. It’s a shame you can’t meet her, but I suppose the next best thing is you getting to know her through some stories.

I’ve turned the comments off for today, because I’m not looking for sympathy or consolation. Similarly, if you know me, don’t feel obliged to send me an e-mail, trying to cheer me up and gently dancing around the question of how I’m doing. How am I? I’m fine. Sad? Yes. Melancholy? Sure. But also fine.

I mean it. Few things are as irritating to me as someone trying to cheer me up when I’m in a perfectly good bad mood.

Stay tuned for next week, when I’ll continue spilling out the convention stories that I’ve built up over the last month. Hint: catgirls will be featured prominently.

Fondly,

pat

Posted in day in the life, emo bullshit, mom, the man behind the curtain | By PatLeave a comment

My Readers Are the Best Readers Ever….

… and I will engage in manly fisticuffs with anyone who says otherwise.

When I posted up last Thursday’s blog, I was nervous about what sort of reaction there would be. While news of the book’s delay was hardly secret, I was still worried that people would be pissed.

Anyway, whatever my best hopes were, y’all exceeded them. After reading your kind comments and messages, I’m filled with warm, tingly feelings that I usually reserve for fluffy kittens and Alyson Hannigan.

If you haven’t already, I recommend taking a peek at the comments. A lot of them cracked me up, especially the ones making a case for a Pat Rothfuss action figure.

My love for you is such that were I able, I would give all of you backrubs and cake, no lie.

However, as that is problematical, I will settle for writing you the best goddamn book possible. Seriously. It’s going to be so good the ALA will have to put a label on it warning people of the dangerous levels of awesome contained therin. It’s going to be so good that you will read it and then die.

Well… I might want to scale it back a little from that. But still, when it comes out it would probably be safest to read it with one eye closed, just to be safe.

That’s all for now, but make sure to stop back tomorrow for more news…. In fact, you might want to stay tuned for the rest of the week, I’ll be making more posts than as is my usual.
I’ve got a lot of other announcements to catch up on (happy ones this time) and stories to tell from the convention I just got back from.

Later all,

pat

Posted in book two, fan coolness | By Pat39 Responses

…. and I’m back.

Hello there everyone. Sorry I’ve been away for so long.

One of the problems with doing a blog like this….

You know, only after typing that sentence did I realize something. I don’t really consider this a blog. Rather, I know this is a blog. This entity that you show up and read is a blog. But I don’t think of myself as *writing* blogs. I think of myself as writing something else. Something nameless. Something somewhere between a news post, an editorial column, and an open letter to the world.

Anyway, as I was saying, one of the problems with writing something like this. (Something that I update according to my whimsy, but that a fair number of people show up and read.) Is that if I don’t post anything for a while, it actually starts getting harder to post. After two weeks of silence, I start to feel like like I should have something *Really Cool* so say when I come back.

But I don’t. I don’t even really have any especially exciting reason for not posting for a while. Truth is, Me Being Busy Playing Catch-Up After A Convention + End of The Semester Grading + Thanksgiving + Two Signings = Radio Silence on My End.

I’ve been so busy lately that I haven’t even checked my Amazon Ranking for, like, two or three days…. an unprecedented event.

(470, by the way.)

Let’s see, what news do I have? The Name of the Wind has been nominated for Borders’ Original Voices award for 2007. Point of interest, I’m the only person in my category whose title does not have a colon in it. For some reason that fills me with pride.

It just snowed here in Wisconsin. About 10 inches. My first snowfall as a homeowner. I shoveled for a solid hour tonight, great exercise that has reminded me how truly out of shape I’ve become. Take it from me, kids, being a writer has certain perks, but physique isn’t one of them.

Other news…. Hmmmm… it seems like after almost three weeks of being gone, I should have more to report….

Oh, right, my meeting with Gaiman.

In brief, it was pretty cool. About four hours before Gaiman was scheduled to do his reading, I went from being nervous about meeting him, to a different sort of nervous. Suddenly I was worried that Gaiman wasn’t going to be cool enough to live up to my expectations.

I know it’s silly to idolize authors. I know this because I *am* an author, and it’s silly for people to idolize me. Over these last couple months I’ve had people get nervous about meeting me and/or have various degrees of anxiety-related endearing geekiness when we talk. When people e-mail me and tell me that they’re nervous about meeting me a signing or a reading, I laugh and say, “Believe me, I’m really not that impressive.”

Anyone who has actually met me will back me up on this…

So I know firsthand that it’s silly. Authors are just people. But the fact remains that when we love a book, we want to love the person who wrote the book. We want them to be as cool as the stories they write, and Gaiman writes one hell of a story…

So as Gaiman’s reading approached, I grew increasingly nervous. What if he wasn’t cool enough?

I needn’t have worried. He was very relaxed and laid back. Very witty and articulate. He’s a marvelous public speaker. He gave us a early taste of his upcoming “The Graveyard Book.” He’s a great reader, too. Though I wasn’t surprised by that, as I really enjoyed the audio book story collection, “Fragile Things” which he read himself.

My reading was a half-hour after his, a hard act to follow. But I muddled through as best I could, reading a bit of my novel, a bit of poetry, and an essay I once wrote on the slow vs. fast zombies debate. It was a pretty good time.

I had about five minutes left in my time slot, and was trying to decide how to fill it, when one of the people organizing the conference came in and said, “Mr Gaiman wants to make sure he has a chance to talk to Pat before he leaves. I’m afraid I’m going to have to steal him…”

I gave the audience a look that said, “Are y’all cool with me heading out a little early?” They looked back, “Are you kidding? It’s Neil Gaiman! Run you fool, run!”

So I went over to meet him. I tried my best to not be a total spaz when we met. I didn’t want to be all gushy and fanboy. Personally, I enjoy it when people get a little geeky over my writing, but I figure he has to get that sort of thing all the time, and it has to be wearying after the first ten years or so.

So we hung out and chatted for a bit. Me and Neil. I have a picture somewhere, but I can’t find it right now…

He was, as they say, “a hell of a regular guy.” He told me that he’d had the chance to read the first few chapters of my book, because his publisher in England had given him a copy. He said something very flattering about my writing, but unfortunately, the book was too big to fit it into his carry-on luggage for his flight home. (The UK book is even bigger than the US version.) After that his life got a little busy, what with two movies coming out, books, signings, and generally being Neil Gaiman. So he kinda lost track of it. I can understand that. I’m overwhelmed right now and I can’t be a fraction of as busy as he is…

So yeah. The whole experience was lovely. We chatted and I asked him some comic-book questions, as I have some people sniffing around about doing the graphic novel adaptations of the book. It was lovely, and he gave some good advice.

Now here’s the crux of the story. Gaiman got ready to leave, but before he could head out, one of the con-goers caught him. The guy asked if he could send Gaiman a copy of his brother’s novel to read, so that Gaiman could give him some feedback. Gaiman politely refused, explaining that he wished he could, but he really didn’t have the time.

But they guy wouldn’t take the gracious refusal. He asked if Gaiman would maybe just look at a few chapters instead. Gaiman explained, again, that there just weren’t enough hours in the day, and besides, his brother would probably get better, more in-depth advice from a local writer’s group….

But the guy really wouldn’t take no for an answer. He tried a few more times from different angles. And here’s the thing: Gaiman stayed cool through the whole thing. He didn’t get bitchy or snippy or exasperated. Considering that he must get hit like that all the time, I was truly impressed.

The end. Moral: Gaiman is awesome.

I think that’s all I’ve got for now….

Oh… one other thing. I’ve been invited by writer/author John Scalzi to offer up one of my already written blogs for promotional re-post on his site: Whatever.

Any advice? Of the blogs you’ve read on here, which one do you think would be best for amusing/entertaining/hooking in new readers?

I’d appreciate it if you let me know what you think in the comments below.

Later all,

pat

Posted in awards, hodgelany, meeting famous people, Neil Gaiman | By Pat31 Responses

They are not all good days….

When I stop to think about it, I realize how odd blog-writing is….

These last several months of posting haven’t been that strange for me. I’ve had years of practice writing a weekly humor column in the local paper. For nearly a decade I’ve told stories, given bad advice, and generally tried to make people laugh.

This blog is kind of like those columns.

Also, when I was growing up, I always loved it when the books had author’s notes in the back. Not just a little one-paragraph blurb. But a real message from the author to the reader. I thought that was the coolest thing, getting a little glimpse into their lives.

I like to think that this blog is kind of like those notes, too.

The blog is other things too: It’s a way for me to spread book-related news to those of you who give a care. It’s an easy, if rather unscientific, way to gather information. It also allows me to give some writing advice to people who are interested, though I’ll admit, I haven’t had much time for an “ask the author” blog lately. I should do one of those soon.

But recently, I’ve been wondering about the blog. What troubles me is this:

Though I am a liar by profession, I like to think of myself as a fundamentally honest person. Painfully honest, some people have said. But recently I’ve come to realize that the picture I’ve painted here is a somewhat dishonest portrayal of myself and my life.

It started months ago when I had a bad day and I thought about writing about it in the blog. Then I thought to myself, “Pat, people don’t come to your blog to listen to you bitch and moan about your sad life.”

“But I tell them about other stuff,” I protested. “Why shouldn’t I mention this?”

“Because they come here for news or for laughs, not so you can get all weepy on them.”

I realized I had a pretty good point, so I decided to keep quiet. Once I made that decision, it was fairly easy to abide by it. And lord knows there’s certainly been enough cool news lately so that I haven’t been scraping for stuff to post.

But over the last several weeks I’ve come to realize the other side of this. Sure I’m keeping it light and entertaining. But by only posting when I have cool news or a joke to make, it looks like my life is some sort of happily-ever-after, candy mountain place constructed entirely of rainbows and orgasmic bliss.

But this just isn’t the case. Things are not all sunshine and roses in Patland. I have bad days too.

Don’t get me wrong, life is pretty good. Hell, after all these years, my book is in print and people like it. That’s the top of the mountain, things don’t get any better than that.

But shit still happens. Today I bounced a check for the first time in ten years. Cost me fifty bucks and make me feel like an idiot incapable of performing simple math. Instead of leaving my credit union with money in my pocket, I left knowing my account balance was -2.56 even after depositing the whole check I’d gone in to cash. I didn’t even have enough to bring my balance up to zero.

Later on, I went to the coffee place and after I’ve ordered, I see the sign that says they don’t take credit cards. And of course I don’t have any money. So I have to explain that I can’t actually pay….

Then I come home and I see that on Amazon someone posted a one-star review of NOTW. That means my average dropped just enough for me to lose my perfect 5-star status, which I was unreasonably proud of. Then I feel like a dink for even caring about something like that. But I go on being irritated even though I know it’s silly, and that makes me even more irritated….

That’s the reality of things. I have money troubles. I make bad choices. I get pissed off for no good reason. It’s stupid how a few relatively small things can just wear you down.

It used to be that when I had a day like this I’d call my mom. I’d tell her about the one-star review and she’d be pissed. She’d go online and read it and just seethe about how the person was a total ass, and probably a half wit too. She’d be furious on my behalf, and I’d explain that it wasn’t really that big a deal (which it isn’t) and it would be off my chest and over with. It was enough to know that she was looking out for me, even if only to protect me from one-star reviewers.

You see, that’s the main thing that I’ve avoided talking about on here for months now. Months and Months. Normally if something big happens to me, I tell stories about it. It’s how I’m built. But I’ve been keeping that particular piece of story under wraps for a while now. Not only has it made me feel dishonest, but it really goes against my nature.

The thing is, my mom died a little while back, just a few weeks before the book came out.

She was great. I wish you all could have met her, and I’m sure most of you would have if she were still around. She’d be on here reading your posts, calling me on my bullshit, and telling stories. She would have gotten such a kick out of all the attention the book has been getting lately. The movie talk. All the foreign deals….

The Quill award. Oh man, she would have been unstoppable with a piece of news like that. She’d be telling strangers on the street. Moms don’t have to be modest so she would have been bragging all over the place. I’d be embarrassed about it, of course, but knowing that she was being excited on my behalf would mean that I’d feel better about just being calm and happy about the news. Sometimes it’s not that much fun being excited about your own stuff.

She didn’t miss all of it. She got to have some fun with NOTW. She read the galley and saw the printed versions before she went. She was around for some of the initial cool news: the first few foreign sales, some of the movie talk. She was so proud of it even then, before it even hit the shelves, even before it ever had an agent or a publisher. She referred to it as her “grandbook.”

I tell you though. I’d set these books on fire if I could have her back healthy and happy for one good week. Fuck. Some days I’d trade it for a good fifteen minutes.

What’s my point? Hell. I have no idea. If I had a point when I started writing this, I’ve long since forgotten it. I certainly didn’t sit down tonight with the intention of writing about my mom….

I think I mostly just wanted to let the cat out of the bag. I generally live my life with policy of full disclosure, and it was feeling increasingly weird keeping mentions of such a big part of my life out of these blog posts. I prefer to keep my lies and editing for my books. My life I just like to live and share.

Tell you what though. Let’s not have a big sympathy fest in the comments section. I’m not looking for a pity party. Aside from the occasional bad day where I can’t seem to do anything but miss her, I’m doing pretty good. I’m doing pretty good right now, actually. I feel better than when I started writing this. Which might be the moral of the story.

You be happy too, okay? As for me, I’m going to go eat a cookie and go to bed.

Maybe two cookies.

Fondly,

pat

Posted in day in the life, the man behind the curtain | By Pat43 Responses
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