~ Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind
Do you ever sit around all day working on a poem or a story — or even a creative nonfiction essay — in your head? You know, when you’re supposed to be working on other things or paying attention in class?
Coincidence! Me too!
And I always have my journals on me (at least one for fiction and one for poetry) no matter where I go. Some of my best writing happens when I’m not actually physically writing, but walking down the street to work, or waiting in line at the grocery store. You never know what’s inspiring, or why. I’ve been caught so many times just lost in this thought-writing that I always seem to be doing. But sometimes it’s not just my own writing that does this. I mean, who hasn’t read a book you couldn’t stop thinking of days later? Months later? Right now, though you haven’t read it in quite a while?
“A poet is a musician who can’t sing.” ~ Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind
For me, one of those books is The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, as the above quotes have probably already revealed. One of my dearest friends recommended the book to me once upon a time, and I don’t think there is a living fantasy-fiction author today whose work can compare to how amazing this book is. (As much as I love Wise Man’s Fear, and anticipate the next book, The Name of the Wind is my favorite of the two.) I read this book on the train to visit said friend, and in the mornings before anyone else woke up, and also on the train ride back. And probably when I ought to have been doing homework when I re-read it before diving into The Wise Man’s Fear a few weeks later. Said friend and I agree that Patrick Rothfuss is probably the patron deity of writing. The real deal. (Ha.) Maybe said friend has really good tastes.
I have moments where all I want to do is throw books across the room and yell. I want to be that kind of writer that makes a reader have to put the book down and take in what just happened in the story, like what happens to me when I read this book (and many others, but specifically this one.) I am always in this dilemma, wondering if I could ever write so well — it’s a goal, for sure. There’s a very long road to travel before my work could even dream of coming close, but still. Maybe I’m weird (actually I am, but I think that’s beside the point) to get so frustrated. I’ve been told not to compare my work to others’ work. But also, in some classes, we are asked to analyze the work of other fantastic authors and then write a poem to mimic their style in some noticeable way. So there’s always this feeling of being torn between two legitimate sets of advice and schools of thought. It’s not that I don’t believe in what I can do and what I have learned — I’m just not sure. That’s the exact answer. I’m not sure. And the truth? Every writer is their own worst critic ESPECIALLY when we’re sitting alone revising, and people are telling us that same advice. (And we hate them for it and wish they won’t say it.) (They always say it, though. Sigh.) A professor of mine said something along the lines of, “You have to be careful of the ones that believe their work is really good, and see no reason to revise.”
It’s all part of the process — you can’t instantly be a best selling fantasy fiction author — end of story. You can’t. It takes time, effort, revision, dedication — and an understanding that you (I) are (am) not [Insert Favorite Author Here]. You will never write like [Favorite Author.] You will only write like you. And maybe? As above-mentioned friend once said, you actually will be one of those authors to whom aspiring authors look up. And possibly endanger passersby with a thrown hardcover copy of your work.
“It’s like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.” ~ Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind