Tag Archives: Japan

The Art of Letting Go….

Today, as I sat at my computer answering e-mail and worrying about the election, a lovely person in Japan sent me this photo….

(The Great Buddha in Kamakura, reading my book.)

Seeing this picture made me realize that somewhere along the line, I have lost my way.

I used to be very Buddhist in my thinking. Well… perhaps not *very* Buddhist. But somewhat Buddhist, especially for a westerner. My philosophical beliefs are an eclectic hodgepodge at best, but there’s some good stuff in Buddhism. Stuff that makes a lot of sense.

One of the foundation stones of Buddhist philosophy is especially appealing to me. Namely, that desire leads to suffering.

For example: You see a kid at the grocery store. He wants a candy bar. His mom says no. Result? Suffering. He pitches a fit. Similarly, when I was in my early twenties, I spent a long time desiring various types of romance, and because none was forthcoming, suffering ensued. Much suffering.

It’s simple. The more things you desire, the greater your potential for suffering. It’s basic math. And when you stop to think about it, the solution is obvious. If you want less suffering in your life, you simply have to reduce your desires. You need to let go of things.

This particular truth fits in well with other parts of my personal philosophy: my love for simplicity, my appreciation for the cynicism of Diogenes, and my basic bumish laziness.

I used to be good at letting go. I kept my life simple and had few desires. That was what made it possible for me to work on my book for more than a decade without wanting to kill myself. I told myself the truth: that it would probably never be published. I did my best to avoid that desire (sometimes with only moderate success) and therefore saved myself a lot of disappointment over a great many years.

But lately, I’ve fallen from that path. I worry endlessly about all manner of things. I feel responsible for so much. I want to make sure book two is really good. I want to to be pleasing for my fans and successful for my publisher. I want to lose some weight. I want my country to get back on track, to take care of its citizens and stop shitting on the rest of the world. I want, I want, I want….

And for a year now, I’ve been wondering why, for the most part, I’m not really happy. It sounds really horrible to say, but it’s true. By the numbers, I’m way ahead of the game. But emotionally….

Here’s the deal. It’s one thing to be unhappy when your dog gets hit by a car and your house burns down. You should be unhappy then. Everyone can understand that. That’s a sensible response to your situation.

But when your book gets published, becomes a bestseller, and gets translated into a billion languages you’re supposed to feel good. You’re supposed to feel super-amazing-good. But a lot of times I don’t. That’s not sensible. I don’t understand it, and it frustrates me. Not only that, but it seems downright perverse at times. Then on top of it all, I feel like a real shit for not constantly feeling like the universe is giving me a hummer.

So why, I constantly ask myself, was I so perfectly content as a poor teacher with an unpublished book and 20,000 dollars of credit card debt? Now I own a goddamn riding lawnmower, and I worry about my lawn. For over a year now I’ve had a solid knot of tension nestled between my shoulderblades like a lump of hot lead. I worry about the next translation of my book. I worry about my carbon footprint. I worry that in writing this blog, I’m going to come off as an utterly self-absorbed frothing emo titmonkey.

But writing about it helps. That’s what I do, you see. I write about things. That’s my deal.

People who don’t write usually assume that writing is a process of communication. They think I have something in my head, and I’m just transcribing it onto the page.

But that really isn’t the truth. Writing is a process of discovery. I think about things, but then when I start to write about them, I learn things while I write. I figure things out *because* I write. This happens in poems. In those silly satire columns I write, in the novel, and today, it’s been happening here in the blog.

Right now in fact. I think I’ve finally put my finger on something important. Desire. I have been too much with the world lately, getting and spending. I think I need to start letting go.

I realize that might sound ominous, but it isn’t. I feel good. Better than I have in months. Letting go shouldn’t be seen as giving up, either. In Buddhist philosophy, once the problem of suffering is realized, there is still right thought and right action.

So now I’m going to go vote, largely without desire. It feels good letting go of that. Later I will work on the book without desire.

In between those two, I think I will go the Kebab House for lunch. Sometimes they serve a great soup called “Fire and Rice.” That, I think, I will desire just a little. Because it is really good soup, and no matter what else I might be, I’m still only human.

Later everyone,

pat

Posted in Diogenes, foreign happenings, hodgelany | By Pat61 Responses

Japanese Covers

So just a couple days ago, guess what came out?

(Click to Embiggen)

That’s right – It’s the Japanese version of the book.

I really like this interpretation of Kvothe. He’s young. He’s got some attitude going on. His hair is more manga than I typically picture it, but it’s totally appropriate for the Japanese market. Plus, Kvothe himself says, “When left to its own devices it tends to make me look as if I’ve been set afire.” So there you go.

This translation of the book was different in a lot of ways. For one thing, bringing the book into Japanese is much more difficult than, say, Dutch, or German. Not that every language doesn’t pose its own problems. But there’s just a lot of different cultural things going on, and the languages aren’t really similar at all.

I’m guessing it’s partly because of this that instead of one, I had a team of three Japanese translators working on the book. They were really great. They asked a lot of good questions, and included me in the decision making process. I like it when the translators ask questions or press me for clarification.

You see, when I wrote the book, I made a point not to over-describe everything. I also tried to make the book very full… of stuff.

Yeah. That’s great. My book is full of stuff. They should put that on the cover: “The Name of the Wind – It’s full of stuff.”

What I mean is that I didn’t want to club the reader over the head with everything. My strategy was to make sure that every page had enough cool things in it than if you missed half of them, you’d still have a good time. That means there’s stuff for you to enjoy the second time around. That means you can like the book in a different way than your friend. And it means if you’re a careful reader, you’ll get more out of the book.

So I’m fine if the average reader doesn’t get everything I put into the book. I expect that. I planned on it.

But if a translator doesn’t notice something that I’ve put into the book very subtly, that’s different. If they don’t catch it, it can’t be brought into the new version. And that’s a problem, obviously. But these translators were really on the ball, and I’m guessing that not a lot slipped through the cracks with them.

There’s another big difference in the Japanese edition. Apparently big, thick books aren’t really the norm over there. So they broke this first book into three separate volumes. That means three separate covers for the first book….

Nice hands. Can you tell what scene this is?

And number three. Check out the draccus in the background. I would not want to fuck around with that thing.

I’ve been reading the comments and suggestions for future contests, and my gears are slowly turning. But more on that later. For now, I’m off to write.

pat

Posted in book covers, cool things, foreign happenings, the craft of writing | By Pat52 Responses
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