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MLA Full: "Going Home with Alaska and Miles." YouTube, uploaded by vlogbrothers, 12 March 2019,
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APA Full: vlogbrothers. (2019, March 12). Going Home with Alaska and Miles [Video]. YouTube.
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In which John spends a weekend with Charlie Plummer and Kristine Froseth, who will play Miles and Alaska in the Hulu adaptation of the book Looking for Alaska. And also Sarah Adina Smith, the director of the first episode!

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Good morning Hank, it's Tuesday.

I spent the weekend with Charlie and Christine, or Miles and Alaska - and Sarah, their director. The 8-episode Hulu adaptation of my first novel, "Looking for Alaska," is supposed to begin shooting soon, and I wanted to show them around my old haunts.

The trip was supposed to be for them, so they could see the place I based Culver Creek on, but I realized that it was mostly for me. We walked around the campus of my old high school which looks vastly different from when I was a student there, but still somehow retained its old spirit. We visited the gym, including our academic decathlon banners, toured the school's incredible art studios and talked to some students.

And then, after a while, Charlie and Christine wandered off to look at the campus while I chatted with a couple of my old classmates. When you write a book, you have to let it go at some point. You stop fiddling with the text and the story is set in print.

And then, it isn't yours anymore - not really. It belongs to the people who read it, which is a wonderful and painful surrender. But Looking for Alaska was always different for me, partly because the book is about a kid from Florida who goes to a boarding school in Alabama and I was a kid from Florida who goes to a boarding school in Alabama.

The story is fictional, but I was only 23 when I started writing it and of course I saw myself in Miles and in the other characters too. Alaska's self-destructive impulses were mine. The Colonel's fit of rage were mine.

And since the story was published, I've often worried that I left too much exposed. The truth is, I wrote the book because I wanted to go home, which I mean the fall of 1993 - smoking cigarettes under this bridge with people I loved who loved me. I'd never loved peers like that before; ferociously without any self-consciousness or fear.

That couldn't have last of course and it didn't. As the graffitied Walt Whitman quote puts it so succinctly, " These are the days that must happen to you." And after, you can go back to the smoking hole and its beautiful graffiti, but you can't be home again. And so, I wrote the book to attempt time travel.

What if I could go to the past, imagine things differently, make different choices? Maybe through fiction, I would be allowed back into the home from which time and loss had expelled me. But even after years of working on the book, I still had no answer for why the center cannot hold.

What I learnt along the way is that novels do not solve problems or heal wounds to whatever. When the story works, it is because the story, as Emily Dickinson put it, "tells all the truth but tells its slant". Because I have failed so spectacularly at letting go of this book, I often felt that I have carried Miles and Alaska around with me these last 15 years - which has been lovely at times and at other times very difficult.

But as I watched Christine and Charlie walking away from me that afternoon, I felt that Miles and Alaska were also walking away, off to explore Culver Creek together. And I felt myself letting go at last. Charlie and Christine are both so passionate and generous and kind and, in many ways, they know Alaska and Miles better than I do.

With Sara and the rest of the people working on the show, they're building home together, and I don't feel envious and possessive. I just feel grateful. There go Miles and Alaska, off to experience the adventures I imagined for them - yes, but also many more adventures.

It's their story now and I can't wait to see how they tell it. Hank, I'll see you on Friday.