As you might have noticed, I have been plagued with writer’s block lately. Luckily, one of my best buds Caleb never runs out of things to say 🙂 He kindly volunteered to share one of his fondest memories on my blog, and, knowing the world needs something happy to read, I gladly took him up on his kind offer. I also really like the message he is sharing with the world in this post. So without further ado:
Meeting a Hero by Caleb Baccus
I believe everybody has someone they admire. Most of the people I admire I will never get to meet. Shakespeare, Dumas, Thomas Jefferson, Tolkien, and many more. However, one of these people I admire I did get to meet. At the time, it was a decision that I reluctant to make.
It all started on a random Monday in June, over two years ago. During this period in my life, I worked mostly nights, and not for much money. I was supposed to be working that night. However, through a weird scheduling screw up I had the night off, and I had no idea what to do with it. I kept calling friends seeing if anybody wanted to hang out. One was on a date, another was out of town, most of them were at work. So, it was just Caleb, Netflix and chilling by myself.
Bored out of my mind, I started to do what most of us do, I begin scrolling through Facebook. Among all the usual funny memes, pissed off people, and cat videos, I saw a post by my favorite living author, Patrick Rothfuss. He was asking the good people of Texas where the best place to eat barbecue was, because he was in Austin tonight at a reading and signing.
At reading this news, I was immediately filled with excitement, followed quickly by dread. You see, the job I had did not make me a lot of money. So, I had a decision to make. Was I to use the last of my money to meet one of my heroes? Or do the responsibility adult thing and stay at home? Naturally, I reached out to my best friends to get some much-needed advice.
The first friend I talked with was one of my two best friends, Jess. He was the one who introduced me to The Name of the Wind, Rothfuss’ first novel. Jess’s response was well thought out. He asked questions, got info, and in the end told me that I may never have this chance again. He was right, which is why he is my best friend.
The other friend I talk to was my roommate Carlos. I gave him the same info I gave Jess. Waited patiently for his response. Finally, he replied, “Yeah, sure… whatever.” And that is why he is my other best friend.
After all this I decided to go see my hero in Austin. I had $45 left to my name. I put $20 in my car and drove to the bookstore where the signing was to be held. I got there just in time to hear him read a kid’s book he had once read to his son. It was a Roald Dahl book called Esio Trot. Like most of Dahl’s books, it wasn’t very good. I won’t go into it. Rothfuss already gave a great review of it that you can read yourself:
However, what Rothfuss did was change the ending of the book for his son. His change that made the book much better. It amazes me what a small change can do to a story. The man blows me away.
Rothfuss then said he will begin his signing. It was one of those wrist band signings, and since I hadn’t gotten one yet I knew I was going to be there for a while. Also, I didn’t have anything for him to sign. I went downstairs to spend my last $25 to buy Name of the Wind.
Standing in the long line gave me time to observe the family in front of me. The little girl standing with her mother and father was the most adorable girl I’d seen in a long time. I wish I had the words to describe her. I do not. Suffice it to say I spent the better part of three hours watching this girl with a mountain of books, adorably fitting as many as possible in her tiny arms to re-stack every time the line moved, reading as much as she could, and discussing what she was reading with her mother.
The closer I got to the room where Rothfuss was signing, the more of the conversations with the author I could hear, and they were interesting. One of my favorites of the night occurred when one fan wanted him to sign a saxophone. Rothfuss said he would, but only if the fan played something for him.
It’s important to note that Rothfuss has a huge musical theme running through his Kingkiller Chronicles, the series in which Name of the Wind is the first novel, and so there are a lot of musicians who feel a strong connection to the books. The musical influence isn’t just from the main character being a bard, or all the talk of music in the book, but also from the way Rothfuss structures his sentences. There is a certain flow and beauty to his words that feel like music. Consider my favorite passage from his second book A Wise Man’s Fear:
“I hear what poets write about women. They rhyme and rhapsodize and lie. I have watched sailors on the shore stare mutely at the slow-rolling swell of the sea. I watched old soldiers with hearts like leather grow teary-eyed at their king’s colors stretched against the wind.
Listen to me: these men know nothing of love.
You will not find it in the words of poets or the longing eyes of sailors. If you want to know love, look to a trouper’s hands as he makes his music. A trouper knows.”
Another theme in these novels is names. The main character, Kvothe, has many names. At the beginning of the series he is going by Kote. Later, in a flashback, someone speaks in a foreign language. In the sentence he utters, he says the word ‘kote’. Working the sentence around I believe ‘kote’ means disaster. I became incredibly interested in finding out if my theory was correct. Standing in line, I knew this is what I wanted to ask him. As I got closer to him I nervously ran the question around in my mind over and over.
The family I had been behind the entire time finally reached Rothfuss. Just like I had been, the author was completely taken with the little girl. He took longer with them than any other person I’d seen. He even gave the little girl a children’s book he had written. It was so cool to watch the tired man become reinvigorated when conversing with this special girl.
Finally, it was my turn. I walked up and before I could say anything the author began to talk about the little girl. I knew that child had brightened his heart on a long hard day, and I lost my hope to ask the question I wanted to. It no longer felt right. Instead, I had him sign my book while we talked about the little girl, then I turned and left.
Even though I decided not to ask my question, the trip was absolutely worth it. To this day it is one of the happiest memories I cherish. I tell this story to advise, never let minute barriers get in the way of doing something like meeting a hero, or finishing a project, or any dreams you have. The biggest regrets we often have are the things we did not do, not how much money we saved at the end of the day by staying home.
Side note: Patrick Rothfuss also helps one of my favorite charities. They are raising money right now and you can check it out at: