The last couple of days has hit me with a couple of instances of coolness regarding a writer I like… whom I’ve not actually read yet! Patrick Rothfuss, author of the fantasy bestseller, The Name of the Wind, and its sequel, The Wise Man’s Fear. These are his only two published novels so far, and I’ve not actually read either yet — although, The Name of the Wind happens to be sitting atop my stack of books-to-read. (Link to my other blog I’m still migrating posts over from.)
If I haven’t read any of his fiction, how can I like him? Well, for nearly two years now, I’ve been reading about him, and especially lately, have been hearing him on a lot of podcasts and reading his interviews. I like the guy. I’m looking forward to liking his writing, as well, soon.
Anyway, one of those podcasts, I listened to this last week: Adventures in SciFi Publishing, number 118. As the interview guest, he spoke a lot about various topics, about writing and getting published, and his trials and tribulations with editing — very inspiring. But one thing he said that really got my attention, was his revelation that he didn’t know a simile from a metaphor, and has to think about the difference between an adjective and an adverb. This was shocking to me because, well, personally, I love grammar. 🙂 But apart from that, it seems to me that every writer I’m familiar with appears to know more about grammar than I do. How is it this acclaimed, best-selling, beloved writer by intelligent and educated fantasy readers, could possibly not know 5th-grade grammar concepts? Me knee-jerk reaction was of shock and disappointment.
But, after a moment, I realized: Who flippin’ cares if he doesn’t know the mechanics. He can obviously write extremely well from instinct, from natural talent, from the experience of reading other peoples’ writing, from (as he described) listening to his own words and how they feel, if they simply sound well put together. In a way, I envy that.
Though, he also teaches creative writing. And I have to wonder, surely he has to know basic “stuff” in order to at least help teach basic skills and what to avoid. I mean, how can you teach new writers to avoid adverbs, especially “-ly” adverbs, if you have a hard time remembering what an adverb is? For example. And I wonder, was he being intentionality overly self-deprecating in the interview? Oh well, not really important.
The second piece of interesting coolness was his latest blog posting describing his experience trying to book a last-minute book signing in Iowa City. It’s an amusing tale just in general. But what amused me more, was that the store that finally booked him, and quite happily, was The Haunted Bookshop — a primarily used book store. I lived in Iowa City for a year, about a decade ago, and I used to shop at that store all the time. I remember going in there right before each of my twice-a-month 8-hour drives to Missouri to pick up a new audiobook.
Really, it’s kind of silly, but the fact that he talked about this store, and posted a very familiar picture of the place, made me smile and chuckle for a couple of days. Ah, nostalgia-from-serendipity!