It’s no secret around here that I absolutely love Patrick Rothfuss. Why, though? How the heck did this crafty nerd end up so ridiculously obsessed with some bearded dude from Wisconsin? Why does she toss so much money at the wonderful folks at The Tinker’s Packs for merchandise focusing on a bunch of books?
It hit me that I’ve never exactly told the whole story of how I ended up being a borderline rabid Rothfuss fangirl on the blog. And as I was trying to come up with a blog post for this week, I thought to myself, “why not make it this week’s blog post? You need to write something, and that Sailor Moon quilt has done absolutely nothing since last week, so ramble about Pat!”
And so here we are. So come, sit, and listen to me ramble about the long and winding road that brought me to being the huge fan of Pat Rothfuss that I am, and the wonderful stuff that’s happened along the way that wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t picked up a copy of The Name of the Wind on one chilly March afternoon, back in 2013.
March of 2013 was a particularly rough month for me. I’d been struggling with bad depression and anxiety for quite some time, and I was dealing with a fair bit of drama from my social circles. I suppose I was in pretty bad shape, given the fact that I hadn’t read a book in an entire year.
Yes, that’s right, folks. I hadn’t read a single book over the course of an entire year. I typically read voraciously. I’ve been reading since before I can remember, if my mother is to be believed. So, for me to not read at all… that’s a sign that I’m in really bad shape.
Anyway, a friend had suggested that if I was interested in something new to read, I should try reading The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. They said it was really good, and so I figured that I’d give it a shot, see if it could help pull me out of the horrible funk I was in. And oh boy, it did. I tore through the book in five days. And then picked up Wise Man’s Fear immediately after finishing The Name of the Wind. And I do mean immediately – I was reading NotW while proctoring a Microsoft Office Specialist exam, and when I finished it, I immediately went to the iBooks store on my little old iPad and bought Wise Man’s Fear, and jumped right into reading that. And I tore through that in five days as well. When I hit the end of Wise Man’s Fear, I sat for a moment, and took all that I’d just read in, and realized that these two books actually had me feeling things other than despair and anxiety. I felt like I was right there with Kvothe, the main character, experiencing everything he did. I was pulled into the world of Temerant so very deeply that I didn’t want to leave. I think I actually started The Name of the Wind a second time after finishing WMF. That’s how much I loved the story, that’s how much it tugged at me. The world Pat created, and the characters in it, helped pull me out of one of the worst depressive episodes I’ve dealt with in my adult life.
During Gen Con 2013, I actually got the chance to meet Pat. I was so terribly shy about going up to him at the Worldbuilders booth, but I did, and told him I really liked his books. I wanted to say more, much more, but I couldn’t get the words out, and so I wandered off, getting my phone camera ready to sneak a quick picture of him from a distance. Bryan told me I should ask to take his picture, and I told him I was way too shy to ask – so Bryan went and asked instead. And Pat ushered me over, and wrapped his arms around me in a bear hug, and all my brain could process at that moment was that Patrick Rothfuss was hugging me oh my god OH MY GOD OH MY GOOOOOD
You can see it in my face there – this single moment made my entire Gen Con. (Well, that and meeting Ross, but you all knew that already.) I’d not only gotten to meet the man who wrote the books that helped pull me out of one of the worst depressive periods in my life, but he hugged me. I could have gone home right then and there and been completely satisfied with my Gen Con experience – and this was only midway through the first day of the convention!
The more I wandered into the Kingkiller Chronicles fandom, the more I found out about Pat – how he started Worldbuilders, how he wrote two children’s books that are definitely not for children. I read NoTW and WMF over and over again, picking up new things as I went. I spent a LOT of money on things from The Tinker’s Packs. This world that Pat had created had reached out to all parts of my life in unexpected ways. I introduced friends to Pat’s books, and they ended up loving them as much as I did. I found places online to talk with others about the books, and discovered new theories regarding events happening in NoTW and WMF that made me want to go back and read the books again.
What’s most wonderful about the community that’s grown around these books is the people – anytime I encounter someone who’s also read the books, there’s a shared excitement about finding one more person to share this world with. I’ve actually made friends due to a mutual love for the Kingkiller Chronicles – and the talent pipe necklace I have has helped a lot with that. I’ve spent plenty of time at my office’s cafe, flailing excitedly with the cafe workers about the books after one of them recognized my talent pipe necklace. I met my dear friend J at a conference, and could barely get two words out due to my excitement when he caught sight of my necklace and said “oh, hey, those are talent pipes, aren’t they?” (I also caused his presentation to start a few minutes late, oops!) And I made a crowd of friends at the SIGUCCS conference I went to in October when one of the people I was eating dinner with noticed my pipes, said “hey, those are talent pipes!” and the rest of the table got really excited over our mutual love of Pat’s books. I was even able to jump right into conversation with the other people waiting in line with me at a Patrick Rothfuss book signing at Gen Con this year, although I think my Denna costume kind of helped with that.
And while I got more entrenched in the KKC fandom, I got the opportunity to talk to Pat two more times, and get my picture taken with him as well – and he was always pleasant and patient, even if he was in the middle of rushing somewhere. I almost literally ran into him during Gen Con 2015, in the middle of the dealer’s hall, and even though he was rushing somewhere, he still paused to take a photo with me – and when the first one didn’t turn out well, he stopped again to make sure I got some good photos.
There’s a sillier one lurking in the blog archives, but this one looks so very typically Pat that I felt it needed sharing too. When I was able to get this picture taken, I thought “hey, maybe I can make this a thing, getting my picture taken with Pat every year we’re both at Gen Con!” But when Gen Con 2017 rolled around, and given how incredibly popular Pat’s become over the years, I began to doubt that I’d actually be able to get my picture taken with him again this year. With the event An Evening with Patrick Rothfuss running out of tickets with a space that held 1200 people, and with the ticketed book signings essentially selling out too, I ended up figuring that if I could at least get a picture of him signing my book, that’d be enough.
But I underestimated the power of my Denna costume, hah.
When I finally made it up to Pat’s table at the book signing, I said to him “so, do you like my costume?” and did a little gesture at my nametag, full of Denna’s names. He stared at it for a moment, and then his entire face lit up and he laughed. I asked if he wouldn’t mind if I got my picture taken with him, and he said “Only if I can get a picture of you first!”
So yeah, Pat Rothfuss took a picture of me. You can see me blushing ridiculously while he’s taking my picture, because I’m all “OH MY GOD OH MY GOD PAT IS TAKING MY PICTURE” and I was so stupidly nervous, haha.
And then I got my picture taken with him, instead of a picture of him taking my picture, haha.
Yes, folks, Pat leaned on my shoulder and I had to contain myself from letting out a ridiculously excited squeak. I think at that point I just stopped being able to form thoughts at all. I wanted to tell him that The Slow Regard of Silent Things was my favorite of his books so far, how very much I identify with Auri, and how I cried at the end of the afterword, but all I could do was smile and say “thank you so much for writing” or something equally as ridiculous as that. J, who was taking all these photos, managed to at least say “you know, you’re the reason we met and became friends,” so that’s something. (I swear, words failed me even worse at that moment than the time I got to meet John DeLancie, hahah.)
Just like us
I think the thing that strikes me so much about Pat is that he’s not this mythical author creature, keeping to himself until he pops out for a book signing and then disappearing again mysteriously. He’s human – and he doesn’t shy away from being human. Whenever I’ve attended An Evening with Patrick Rothfuss at Gen Con, it feels like he’s just one of us – experiencing life like we all are. He deals with the same things we deal with, like depression, and nerding out over something we all enjoy (for him, it’s babies and parenting), and trying to do our best at what we enjoy doing – in his case, what he enjoys doing earns him a heck of a lot more money than it does me, but it doesn’t seem like that’s turned him into a person who sees himself as above his fans, as distant from them, like it feels like with most authors. He’s just like us.
I bumped into him randomly on the third day of Gen Con in 2017 – he’d mentioned that this was the last few days he’d be spending with his kids before going off to another convention, and so when I saw him, I just squeaked out a little “hey!” and a wave – and he smiled and waved back. And that was it. Even that little interaction just reinforced how very much like the rest of us nerds he is – and how nice of a person he is. I mean, yeah, my interactions with him have been limited to tiny spurts at Gen Con and following his social media, but still – I think he’s an awesome human being.
I honestly wish, like lots of fans of his probably do, that I could just sit down and talk to him for five minutes. I have so much to say to him, about how his books pulled me out of depression, how much I identify with the characters he’s brought to life. I’d tell him that I have been Denna, wandering from bad situation to bad situation, yet still keeping a brave face; I have been Auri, delighting in her safe space in The Underthing, and struggling with making her world make sense; and I have been Kvothe, lost and alone, without family, without anything except the drive and desire to learn. I’d ask him if there’s a little bit of himself in those characters, too.
I’d tell him how I burst into tears at the end of the afterword of The Slow Regard of Silent Things, where he says the following:
This story is for all the slightly broken people out there.
I am one of you. You are not alone. You are all beautiful to me.
I’ve struggled so much with feeling like a broken person, and reading those lines just hit me in the feels so hard. (Heck, I’m tearing up now as I’m writing this – it’s been a rough few months emotionally in Crafty Nerd land.) I want to thank him for those lines, for helping me feel less alone, for helping me feel less undesirable. And I’d tell him that another quote of his ended up becoming one of my wedding vows, and it’s something Ross says to me when I’m feeling very down and hard on myself:
Anyone can love a thing because. That’s as easy as putting a penny in your pocket. But to love something despite. To know the flaws and love them too. That is rare and pure and perfect.
I’d probably ramble about how much those two quotes have helped me, and I’d probably start crying a lot, to be honest. But it’s the truth – these words have helped me so much, and his books in general have brightened my world.
I admit, this got rambly at the end, but what it all boils down to is this: Patrick Rothfuss and his stories have had a big impact on my life – and that’s why I ramble about how much I enjoy his books to anyone who’ll listen.