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Hi, IF YOU LIVE IN THE US OR CANADA you can preorder a signed copy of The Anthropocene Reviewed book, out May 18th here: or at

If you don't live in the U.S. or Canada, preorders will not be signed. I'm sorry about this; it's a function of the weirdness of international copyright law.

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 (00:00) to (02:00)

Hello. Welcome to my box fort. Uh, I've, I've built this box fort because today I will be signing for, like, I don't know four-and-a-half straight hours on YouTube.

There's no Vlogbrothers video today. I'm sorry about that, but this has reached a point where I can't, I can't make a Vlogbrothers video. It's not, it's nothing personal — I don't have time. Um, it's a, it's a tense situation to be quite honest with you and, and, I'm happy to answer your questions over the next several hours, uh, but, and, and to chat and all of that stuff. It's going to be, it's going to be a thrilling, it's going to be as fun as a signing live stream can possibly be, which is admittedly not super fun.

I've put on my most comfortable clothes. I have plenty of ice to ice my hand. I've got lots of Sharpies, including my new two favorite colors, Navy and Intergalactic Indigo. Right now I'm signing with Navy but, uh, later, later today, just to, just to keep the excitement level high, I'm going to be switching over to Intergalactic Indigo because, you know, that's the kind of thing that really bolsters the spirits.

So, uh, two things have happened in the last five days that meant that I couldn't make a Vlogbrothers video today because instead I had to sign — I mean, essentially, all, all day for the next four days.

First, the, um, the very last edits to the book, which is called "first pass". So after a book is line edited and copy edited and, and you've, you know, you've, you've got the book, basically the book that you want, it goes to a proofreader, or in this case, two proofreaders, and also the author reads it for the final time.

 (02:00) to (04:00)

And, you know, makes any changes that, that they want to make and, that took a little longer, uh, than I had anticipated for me? Partly because I ended up making, wanting to make more changes than I thought I was gonna want to make — which happens pretty much every time I write a book actually. I, I think that, I kind of think that I'm done, and then when this last opportunity comes up to make changes, I end up wanting to make, um — I mean not like huge changes, like swapping out old reviews for new reviews — but little things make a big difference to me when I'm writing a book, and so in this case, I decided that I did want to make those changes, and I did want to take the time over the weekend and on, and on Friday and Thursday and Monday to really go as deep into the book as I could to, you know, make it.

Yeah. I mean it's my last, the other thing is that it's your last chance with the story. It's your last time with it and that's a complex emotionally fraught time because you're saying goodbye to, in this case I'm saying goodbye to something that I've been, you know, working on in one form or another for the last three, three and a half years and that has really been my, I guess, creative professional anchor in a very strange and difficult and frankly kind of terrible year.

And so yeah. I wanted to make sure that I was happy with the book and that meant less signing over the weekend than I anticipated.

The other thing that happened was that my signing deadline moved because of shipping?

 (04:00) to (06:00)

So all these, so here's what I, I guess I should back up and tell you what I'm doing — by the way this pen is crap — I'm completely done with it I just threw it into the graveyard of pens, where there's 330 other pens that are in the graveyard of pens. So, is this Navy or Intergalactic Indigo? It's Intergalactic Indigo. Things are about to take a turn for the better.

I mean, I love Navy, but I just love the words "Intergalactic Indigo" as a description of a Sharpie color. By the way, like when you look at Intergalactic Indigo, you know what you don't think? Like, I'll show you the color — this is, this is Intergalactic Indigo. It's a beautiful color and I love it very, very much — it's it's probably my favorite or second favorite Sharpie color of all time — but you don't look at it and think like, "oh that looks like Intergalactic Indigo."

So my signing deadline moved a little bit just because we've got to get, the day that I thought was my signing deadline — and this is on me, not on the printer or anything — the day that I thought was my signing deadline was actually the day that it needs to be at the printer in Virginia, and it takes a little while to get from Indianapolis to Virginia. So that means that I've gotta sign, I have 25,000, almost exactly 25,000 sheets left to sign, um, and I basically have five, five, five, five days.

So that's a challenging, uh, that's, that's challenging. If you count up all the boxing and moving and adding address labels and everything, it takes me about just under two hours to sign a thousand sheets, so that's about, you know, 10 hours a day. So, but then there's also other stuff happening because, you know, like the book's going to press, so there's all kinds of other things that go along with that. It's going to be a little bit of a stressful time, but signing is in a way a break from the other forms of stress and I'm trying to remember that. 

 (06:00) to (08:00)

So for some of you who may be new to the live stream — and by the way I'll talk about my box fort in a second — but for some of you who may not know, I have written a book it's called The Anthropocene Reviewed. It's based on a podcast that I made over the last three years, uh, partly, not entirely, but largely with WNYC Studios, and it's my first book of nonfiction. It's a book of essays, that, uh, is sort of secretly a memoir, I would say.

So the book is structured, um — this is not something that you would know from listening to the podcast — but the book is structured like a broadly like a memoir, in the sense that the first essays are about things that interested me in childhood, or facets of, of, you know, ways that my life connected to my childhood, connected to the kind of what I see as the big forces of the current geologic age.

And then as the book goes on, I get older. My concerns change, but also like, the world changes. History, history changes.

So this these essays like take the form of a, uh, of like, extremely in-depth Yelp reviews of, I don't know, Halley's Comet or the song 'Ald Lang Syne' or, uh, the weather phenomenon known as "wintry mix," and, uh, but they're also like, they're also sort of exercises in memoir. It's me trying to find the places where my little life runs up against the big forces of the anthropocene.

And then of course in the, you know, about a year ago, uh, my life and, and most other human lives ran up against a very big force that I, I did not foresee when I started the book but that became certainly became part of the book as I wrote it.

 (08:00) to (10:00)

So you can get a signed copy, uh, at the links in the dooblydoo — I hope that they're in the dooblydoo anyway — if you live in the US or Canada. If you don't live in the US or Canada, I wish I could tell you that you were going to get a signed book, but you are very likely not. The reasons for this are not because I am not signing enough sheets. I am signing enough sheets. It's because of the weirdness of international copyright law. You have to release a different international edition and it's not possible to bind, uh, signatures into the international edition.

Super annoying. I'm really sorry. I wish it were not the case, but I have investigated this over the last 11 years since I tried to do this for The Fault in Our Stars and this is what I have come to realize.

So, um, at any rate if you live in the US or Canada you can get a signed copy at the link in the dooblydoo or wherever, wherever you get your books. Support your local independent bookstore. There's a — link in the dooblydoo — where you can go and that'll support your independent bookstore, but, um, also just call them they're happy to talk. They're probably open and, uh, and they welcome your order. So how this works is that I sign these sheets — 250,000 of them — and then there's a machine at the printer in Virginia that takes these sheets, and then, as the book is being printed, it shoots the sheet into the front of the book, um, right, right after the end papers and before the half title page. One of my — or, before the title page, I guess.

So one of the fun things about this book is that because it contains a lot of reviews, I get to review things — these pages are terrible, this is better, okay — I get to review things that are, um, that are inside the, the book, like, for instance, I can, I can have a review of autographs, uh, so I did that. So on the, on the end papers, like opposite where the autograph is there's a little review of autographs, which I thought, that was fun for me.

 (10:00) to (12:00)

And there's a couple other things like that. I'm going to review the font. I might have to write that tonight. I like the font. I'm very happy with it. It's a font that's based on a font from 1495, which is really interesting because it was this time in, uh, in European history where there was this explosion of printing in, mostly in Venice, and this font was designed by, or like, the font that it's based on, was designed by a Venetian printer during this explosion of, you know, this, this, this fraught, wonderful, terrible moment where, uh, printing became available — which, I think, kind of like, mirrors our current historical moment in some ways, that we're having this, this other big revolution in how we distribute, uh, information, and in some ways it's made information distribution far more efficient, and in other ways, it's made it, in other ways, you know, it's really, uh, made, challenged some of the big systems that we rely upon to understand the world around us.

So I think it's cool that we're using one of those fonts. Okay, um, I have signed about 225,000 sheets so far and I have about 25,000 to go. Um, but I signed those 225,000 sheets over like six months, and I have to do these last 25,000 in, in like five days.

This is the last time — so I did this for The Fault in Our Stars which came out almost 10 years ago, and I signed, back then, I signed the whole first printing of The Fault in Our Stars, which was 150,000 copies.

 (12:00) to (14:00)

And, you know, it was, it was fun. It was challenging. I think it definitely gave the book a, a different life than it otherwise prob— maybe would have had, although, I don't know, a lot of things happened that were nice for The Fault in Our Stars. It's hard to pick out, uh, which one was really transformative.

By the way, apologies to whoever got a little bit of spittle in the, um, the sheet I just signed, but, uh, and then for Turtles All the Way Down, I signed 200,000, and that was challenging, but I had a really long time to do it, because I knew that Turtles All the Way Down was going to come out for like, two years, before it came out, so I was able to space out the signing. It was still a little tense at the end, but not not anything like this.

And then this time around, you know, for a variety of reasons, like I agreed to sign the whole first printing when I thought it was going to be 150,000 copies and then — this is a very nice thing, um, more people pre-ordered it, I guess, than we expected, and bookstores wanted more copies than we expected, so I had to sign a 100,000 more, and I didn't know about that until relatively late in the process, which is why it's a little bit tense, trying to get to the end here.

I made this box fort though, which I figured, like, when else am I gonna have 80 boxes in my basement? Probably never again. And so I should take advantage of this opportunity by making myself a box fort. In general I've always felt, um, comfortable in spaces that are like, pretty closed in but have one way out, like, three, three-walled spaces — I just like, the I don't know why, but I do — and this isn't quite a three-walled space, it's sort of a two-walled space, because over there, there's more couch that you can't see, but, you know, it's still pretty, it's still pretty good.

What else is going on? That's really it. 

 (14:00) to (16:00)

Um, I, yeah, so the reason I don't think I'll do this anymore, is not that I don't love signing, or that I, I don't like, the, you know, opportunity to, you know, send, send people a signed book and hopefully bring them a little bit of joy. It's because my, my hand hurts, you know? Like when I first did this, I was 33, and now I'm 43, and my hand hurts more.

It's harder to do repetitive tasks, and also it turns out there's a huge difference between 150,000 and 250,000. Like one of the weird, you know, one of the weird insufficiencies of human life is that you, you don't, um, we're not very good at large numbers. We're not very good at knowing the difference between a million and a billion, or a billion and a trillion, and it's really hard for us to, it's just, it just, it's notoriously hard for us to really comprehend what big numbers mean.

And, even though I know that, I still kind of thought like, "well if you can do 150,000, like, you can, you can do 250,000. You could do 500,000. You can do a million. It doesn't really matter." But it does, it does, it turns out. It does matter. The difference between 150,000 and 250,000 is is 100,000 it's two— almost 200 hours of signing.

Uh, and so my, my, my hand really hurts, um, I'm having to ice it a lot more than I did 10 years ago and, um, yeah. So, it's just gonna, this is the last time I'll do it at this scale. I do I do still enjoy signing, and I, you know, I, I like feeling like I'm, I don't know, make it, making something for people?

 (16:00) to (18:00)

It also helps me get my head around the, you know, what, what the print run is really going to look like, and all that stuff. So it's not that it's bad; it's just that my hand hurts, and, uh, it's, it's hard to like work on anything else when you have to sign 8 or 10 or 12 hours a day.

So yeah. I think the next time I write a book — if there is a next time, which I hope there will be — that, um, there will be lots of unsigned copies available, which, when it comes to first editions of my books, are, are more rare than signed copies at this point so, uh, hopefully that's an introduction to what I'm doing and why I'm doing it.

I'm gonna do a live stream for a very long time today. Feel free to hop in and hop out. I might listen to music for part of it. I might just zone out to a podcast. I might answer some questions. I might do all the above, because when you have four and a half hours to do something, you can, uh, you can do it. You can do a lot of different things.

There will definitely be some Lectrojogger. I know some people are interested in that. I have this machine that was given to me in Asheville, North Carolina, um, by a wonderful person named Jared. I've got this machine and it, um, Lectrojogs. I don't know what else to say about it. It's, it's a Lectrojogger. It does Lectrojogging.

It takes these papers — you see how these papers are all like, all wrong, they're not like, lined up properly, even like these big stacks over here are not lined up properly — it takes those and it turns them into beautiful, magnificently lined up pages. It's the most wonderful piece of machinery I've ever encountered. I'm going to try to Lectrojog like, once an hour, just to kind of keep my body moving, so that's another thing that I've noticed, is that if I hold a position for too long it starts to be a problem, so I'm just going to try to like get up every hour and move around and hopefully Lectrojog like, uh, I don't know a box full of sheets or something. 

 (18:00) to (20:00)

And we'll see, we'll, we'll see how it goes. But right now I want to answer some of your questions. Last time I did one of these live streams, somebody suggested that instead of like — because I can't read the comments, I can't, it's nothing personal, I just can't, I don't, my vision isn't good enough to see what you're saying, like, I can sort of see your emojis, like I see a red heart, but that's all I can really see is emojis — but I have my phone here, um, which will allow me to see your questions, so you can ask your questions.

 "Will your new book be available in India?" (18:29)

"Will your new book be available in India?"

Yes, um, but not signed copies. Again, this is a function of the weirdness of international copyright law and how publishing deals get made? But, that's the reality. There will be some, hopefully — I can't promise this — but there will hopefully be some, um, signed copies available in the the UK and Australia and India, but I, I don't know, like, where they will be or how frequent they will be. Anyway, I would recommend ordering an unsigned copy, because those are more rare and cool anyway, so.

Oh, now, now everybody's using the emojis. Nice. Great, great emoji use, everybody.

 "How many new essays are there that were not in previous podcasts?" (19:14)

"How many new essays are there that were not in previously, in previous podcasts?"

So there are six, um, totally new essays in the book — well, except that a lot of them aren't totally new, but they've never been on the podcast — so for instance I wrote a, uh, I wrote an essay about this August Saunders photograph I love called, um, it's, it's sometimes — like Saunders's original title for it was "Young Farmers 1914", and then he and many other people started calling it by a different name later on. They started calling it "Three Farmers on Their Way to a Dance", and I wrote an Art Assignment as an essay about that for the Art Assignment that I repurposed and expanded and changed into an essay for The Anthropocene Reviewed book.

 (20:00) to (22:00)

Um, and then there are a couple others like I often, I often take Vlogbrothers videos as starting points for my other work, so I'll find something while researching or writing a Vlogbrothers video that I'll want to expand into something else, and so some of the new essays are expansions of Vlogbrothers videos, some of the some of them are just completely new, some of them, um, are things that I started writing years ago that I, I never found my way into before now.

But there are six new essays, six new reviews, and then also the the post script is is new. So there's like a, there's like a concluding essay at the end about, uh, how, how it, how we are finding the anthropocene so far and what the opportunities, risks, challenges are, so. But, but also, like the, the essays that aren't new, some of them are pretty, pretty similar to what was in the podcast, but a lot of them have been pretty extensively rewritten — which is just a weird thing like I, I, I do sometimes worry that people are going to like compare the podcast version to the book version, just in their heads, because that's, that's, I think, a natural thing to do when you're reading, like, be like, "oh I don't remember this" or "I do remember this", but I wanted the book to work as a book, and I think to do that, it had, some of the essays had to change.

And I also think that a lot of, um, and then, and then some of the essays that I thought that I really loved — or, you know, I don't really, I don't really love anything that I write — but some of the essays that I, that I liked the most in the podcast, like just didn't work in the book for a variety of reasons.

 (22:00) to (24:00)

Sometimes they weren't personal enough, um, sometimes they just didn't fit in the context of other things that I was, other points I was trying to make about the anthropocene, or about my life, or about both.

Um, so, you know, it's a pretty, the podcast is definitely different from the book and there's about I, I mean, I think there's about 20,000 new words in the book versus what's taken from the podcast — but out of 80,000 words in the book total — but that's just an estimate. It's hard to know exactly and, you know, sometimes, also sometimes, like, stuff, I would change stuff from the podcast into the book, and then I would change it back into its podcast form because I would be, I would like it better. In fact, on some I did that a couple times over the weekend when I was making the final changes. I was like, "I feel like the way that I had this was... better." So yeah.

It will very much depend on the essay, you know, like the one about, um, the one about plague for instance, um, now includes lots of stuff about cholera, because I wanted to write about cholera. I'd written about cholera for The Anthropocene Reviewed and I wanted to kind of position the history of infectious disease a little differently than I did initially in the plague episode of the, the podcast, so that essay changed a lot. The essay about humanity's temporal range changed a lot.

But it varies. Some of them like, didn't change that much, like Halley's Comet, for instance. That changed a fair amount just because I learned more about Edmund Haley, and also because I started thinking differently about how, um, how discovery actually happens.

Uh, there will also be a new series — a little, like, mini series of the podcast — oh there's lots of turtles in the comments.

 (24:00) to (26:00)

  "How many paper cuts have you gotten so far?" (24:05)

Um, "how many paper cuts have you gotten so far?"

More, more, more than I am accustomed to, um, you know, like, when I did this for The Fault in Our Stars, I think I got no paper cuts. This time around, I have like, maybe, right now, I have like three, but they're all in weird places, so like the catastrophic place to have a paper cut is not actually on my signing hand; it's on my [non-dominant hand], there's actually more movement in this hand than there is in the, in this hand.

So, this, this motion is hard. It's hard on my, my wrist and my shoulder just because it's so repetitive. This motion actually has like, slight different variations, like, that, that make it so that it's less like repetitive strain, but it's more, it's actually more muscle movement. So the catastrophic place to get a paper cut is on the tip of this finger, because I rely so much on this finger to feel to make sure that I'm only signing one piece of paper.

So one of the nightmare scenarios is that, when you're doing this, you actually grab two pieces of paper, and then in Virginia, when the printer prints it, they shoot in an unsigned page. I mean that's going to happen a couple times in 250,000 times probably, but I want to minimize the amount of times that it happens, because I don't want to disappoint anybody.

So that would be the really bad place to get a paper cut, and I haven't, I haven't gotten one yet. I don't really know why. But I do I get paper cuts on the outside of my palms, because like my, my hand's here. My hand's here.

So I've gotten, I don't know, I, right now, I think I have three, but I've probably gotten 10 during the process. They are uncomfortable. I mean it's such a weird, it's such a weird thing, this, but, it's not, it's act—, it's, it, it's, it's not even remotely the most painful part of the process.

 (26:00) to (28:00)

So, the most painful part of the process — by a very wide margin — is that my, this ligament, that connects this bone to this bone is, is frayed or strained, and frickin' hurts. So like, that finger hurts, um, it hurts. It doesn't hurt all the time, but it hurts. It basically hurts every time I do the little signing motion. Just a little, just a little jolt to remind me that I'm not as young as I used to be.

  "You're holding your neck weird." (26:31)

Someone says, "You're holding your neck weird."

I know. I don't know how to fix it though. Like, if I try to change my position, I still end up holding my neck weird. I think, I think part of it's trying to, I think part of it is — oh no, this happens, where the pages get, freaking freak, where the pages get misaligned, and then it becomes really a pain — so I think I'm trying to like, partially rearrange my neck to, because when I'm signing, I'm signing at an angle, but I want to make sure that I'm signing in, in relationship to the bottom of the page, straight, if that makes sense.

Like, oh that's a really bad signature; I'm not even going to show you guys that one.

Like this, you know, like I want this line to be approximately parallel to this line and this line. And so in that process sometimes, um, I end up, I think, straining my neck, because I'm trying to like see around the pen to make sure that it's straight — which is hilarious, because, I know, I've done this 225,000 times in the last few months, like, it's going to be a straight line. It's always, it always is. It's going to be parallel because I've had a lot of practice, you know, so I need to just let that go.

Okay. I gotta stack these pages. You know, when I'm, when I'm signing not on a live stream I do a much better job of keeping the pages together. Okay. 

 (28:00) to (30:00)

And then the other thing is that they, they've got this helpful blue line at the bottom — I don't know if you can see that — but, that blue line is really good. Because that's, that's where, you know, you have to have, the bottom of the page has to be where the blue line is, and then when they, when they do, send it into the machine, there's a little, there's another little machine that cuts, it cuts off the edges of the paper to make it fit the right trim size, but also just because like, that's where the problems usually are.

This is not, this is way too inside baseball (?).

 "Scott has a meeting." (28:33)

Um, Scott has a meeting. Okay, go to your meeting, Scott. This is far, far, more, less important than your meaning, than your meeting.

 "Is the book happy or sad?" (28:41)

Bridgette says, "Is the book happy and — happy or sad?" um, well...

This is, by the way, this is, what I gotta sign today. That's like, I don't know, five thousand.

Um, is the book happy or sad? It is both. I have tried to write a book that is funny, but it is also about the, you know, this weird, strange, historical, geological moment that we are in. And so it has a lot of sad parts, because it's also about, it's about loss and grief and, um, losing people I, I love and, and not being able to get back to the past, but it's also about the big moments of of light-soaked joy that are a huge part of contemporary human life. And so I tried to make it... both, I guess. There are some essays, especially some of the new ones in the book, that are merely happy. There are some that are quite contemplative. And then there are some that are sad.

Like, what are we to make it?

 (30:00) to (32:00)

I mean, putting aside the personal stuff that's in the book and, you know, I mean for a book that's like ostensibly about, you know, the Bonneville Salt Flats, and Hallley's comet and whatever else, it, it, it is very, it is very personal. It's about, it's my first time really writing about myself, and trying to understand in, in text form, what I think of the world, instead of, you know, trying to imagine what other people might think of it.

But it's so, it, it is we, we are very strange like we are, we are a very strange species, and in some ways, that's, in some ways, it's, it's wondrous, and in some ways, it's absolutely, gut-wrenchingly horrible. Consciousness is like that, I think, like consciousness is so, it's so strange. It's, it's so magnificent that we're able to deeply empathize with one another, but it's also, but we also have this astonishing capacity for ignoring suffering, and, and for not, not doing nearly enough to minimize it, especially when that suffering doesn't feel proximal to us.

So yeah, I've tried, I guess, I've tried to write about it as I find it and I find it, um, both encouraging and discouraging, both joyful and hugely sad. For me, it's, for me, it's more of both-and proposition than either-or proposition.

Like, it's so hard, I mean, it, it's so hard to get my head around how much human beings have become the dominant species on earth in the last 200 years. But, I mean, you can think about it purely in terms — I talk about this in the, in the book — but you can think about it purely in terms of mass.

 (32:00) to (34:00)

Like the combined weight of all living human beings is around 300 million tons, and the combined weight of all other mammals that are not livestock — like all the mammals that we do not, we, we do not grow and maintain for our benefit — elephants, blue whales, giraffes, squirrels, chipmunks, deer, all wild mammals combined — weigh less than 100 million pounds (sic). Like, we weigh as a species, three times what all other wild mammals weigh. Our livestock weighs seven times what all other wild mammals weigh.

That's nuts.

But at the same time, we're a hugely insignificant species. Like, we can be, we can be brought to our knees by a single strand of RNA. Like the, the world can, can be shut down by a single strand of RNA. Like what we think of as natural and normal can be completely upended by a strand of RNA, and so that's, that, that's this weird human, uh, frailty and strength of this, this historical moment — that we are, at once, ridiculously powerful, far too powerful in a lot of ways, like too, too powerful, in the sense that I don't think that we should control which animals live and which die, but we largely do, but we are also not nearly powerful enough. Like, we are not powerful enough to stop those we love from suffering. We are not powerful enough to choose how we reshape the biodiversity of the planet.

 (34:00) to (36:00)

Like I think if you ask most people, like, "Do you want there to be a, you know, massive loss of species diversity on planet earth?" most people would be like "No!" but we are, we are causing that with our choices, and that, that, that's, I guess, like, that's what I've, I, I'm trying to find, or one of the things I'm trying to find a lot of ways into writing about this weird mix of being more, more powerful than any, you know, any species has been in a very long time.

Like I don't think that you can really say that we're unprecedented in, in our power, because there have been moments in the distant past when individual species or kinds of organisms also radically reshaped the the geology of, of the planet, but, but it's been a while, um, since the species was as dominant as we are. And yet we are also powerless. We're also incredibly frail and vulnerable and temporary.

So, I think, what I, yeah, I mean, ultimately, like, I'm trying to chart that, I guess, or trying to understand it, or reconcile myself to it, or whatever.

I was, I, I'm suddenly on a string of really good signatures. I, I'm happy with all of these. Ah, it's gone. It's no good. It's no good. You can see the distinct difference. Really good. Not good. But, it was fun while it lasted. All right. I'm gonna stack again. Look at some questions.

This is actually good for me to stack a little more often because I use my back muscles and my core muscles a little bit. I think that's good. I did this full, I did a workout this morning, like a full body workout, and then like a big long stretch to try to get, to try to get ready —

 "Are you getting the vaccine soon?" (35:55)

"Are you getting the vaccine soon?"

 (36:00) to (38:00)

"Are you getting your vaccine soon?"

Thank you for your question, um, yeah. Yeah, I mean, nobody can ever see the difference in my, between good signatures and bad signatures, and that's, that's, that's part, that's okay I've accepted this as reality. Like, I used to, I mean very, very rarely, you know, like once every 10,000 signatures or something I will make one that I'm super happy with. I have this idea in my mind of what my signature looks like, and I will like, finally make this image. I'll like, bring it upstairs to Sarah, and I'll say "Look, look at the perfection of the line!" and Sarah will be like, "Buddy, it looks like all the others." But I can tell. That's all that matters.

Um, we have gotten our first shot, both Sarah and me, um, we have gotten our first shot. So here in Indiana, we're pretty far down the the line of of adults, um, at least having an opportunity to get vaccinated and so we, uh, we got, we got, yeah, so we have our first shots, and we got our first shots, um, and then we have our second shots in like, I think, like, two and a half weeks, so, or three weeks? Maybe? Which is very exciting, um, and I am really hopeful that this will mark a turning point but it's, you know, it's, it's worrisome and discouraging to, to see the lack of vaccine equity play out globally and, you know, that's, that's, that's a problem.

Obviously, it, you know, it's a problem in communities that are being directly affected by it that don't have adequate vaccine, uh, supplies. 

 (38:00) to (40:00)

It's also a problem for the global response to Covid, because, the more we let Covid spread uncontrolled, the more opportunities covet has to figure out ways to stay highly infective. So I'm, I'm, I'm definitely, I'm still concerned, I'm very conscious of the privileged position that I'm in, and, yeah. And I'm sorry to all the people who haven't been able to get vaccinated yet. But we, yeah, so we, we, um, but, but yeah. We're, I'm really grate— I'm really grateful to live in Indiana right now. I think that the Indiana Department of Health has done a good job of getting out essentially 100% of their vaccine supply really quickly, and they were really ready for this and I don't, I don't compliment, uh, I don't compliment the state of Indiana very much, but I think that they have done a, done an admirable job with vaccine roll out, um, and so that's, that's why we're, that's why we're lucky to be in the position that we're in.

So yeah. It felt, it was a big relief, uh, but obviously the, you know, I think, I think the relief comes in stages. I do, I do really encourage you to get vaccinated when it's your, when it's your time, um, when you have the chance? I realize I'm probably 99% preaching to the choir here I, I, I don't think there's a ton of vaccine hesitancy in Nerdfighteria, but I, I understand it, you know, I for Life's Library, we read a wonderful book called On Immunity by Eula Biss, and it helped me understand a lot of what happens in my own mind when I experience vaccine hesitancy, which I have, which I have experienced.

 (40:00) to (42:00)

Not around the Covid vaccine admittedly, because, partly, because I have a much better understanding now of how vaccines work, but also partly because, man, I'm just, just not, I'm not loving the pandemic. Um, it's, you know, it's been really hard, and there's been a lot of suffering, and there's been a lot of, a lot of loss but I, I, I understand it, and I, and I, I think, like, frankly, I think, like, shaming people about it or making people feel, um, uh, guilty or whatever, is, is counterproductive.

But the, you know, the, the vaccines — there have been no, no shortcuts in the safety protocols — the vaccines are safe. They're effective and, um, I'm, I'm really, really grateful to have gotten it. To have gotten the first shot anyway, um, because we, we have one of the ones that, that's two doses so so we've got to get two shots. But yeah. I really encourage you to, uh, to, to get, to sign up as soon as you're able to in in your community.

I did get a little, uh, sick I got sick enough I guess to know that it was working. Um, I just got like, my my arm was really sore, uh, and a little bit of a little bit of fatigue, uh, a little bit of night sweats, but nothing, nothing big, and just, psyched to get that second shot. Really, really, really excited. I don't know, I don't, I don't know how much my daily life will change in the short run, but it's, it's also not something that you're doing just for yourself, like, this is about the community, and trying to make the community safer, trying to make it safer for people to be at their jobs and everything else, so, um, I'm thinking about that as well.

 (42:00) to (44:00)

Um, I got Moderna. So, yeah. Um, yeah. I did. Which was, which, yeah, it was great, I would have, uh, I did not have a, I, I did not have a preference. I would have taken whatever was offered to me and whatever was available but that was what was, uh, that was what was available on the wait list that we were on. So I took it with great excitement, um, yeah. Okay. So, I, yeah. In terms of like, uh, I, I, yeah.

So, this is my box fort. I have 80 boxes. I actually could have built a bigger box fort but I decided not to because, you know, I didn't want to, um, I didn't want to brag, you know [laughter].

 "Do you feel more vulnerable in the release of a non-fiction or a fiction book?" (42:59)

Um, somebody — Adam asks, uh, "Do you feel more vulnerable in the release of a non-fiction or a fiction book?"

That's a great question, um, you know, I think, I think a lot of it depends on the book, and this is a very personal book. It's about me, and the way that I look at the world, and I've never written a book like that before, and so it is very intimidating to do it. Like, it's intimidating to publish it. It's, it's just a whole, it's a whole new world. It's also like different relationships, because the people who work on, I mean, I'm, the, my editor is the same person, uh, who's edited all of my books, Julie Strauss Gable, and, oh, some, a lot of the core relationships are, are still there, like my relationship with my long time publicist, who if you've ever been to a, like, if you ever went to Turtles All the Way Down or, um, Fault in Our Stars tour, you probably met Elise, or if you, you know, went to anything related to the movies. 

 (44:00) to (46:00)

But, um, Elise and, and Julie are still, uh, a big part of publishing this book, but, you know, in terms of like the sales people and the, the marketing people and the, uh, a lot of the other people, it's all, it's all, it's different relationships. It's a different way of publishing. You're in a different part of the bookstore. There's different reviewers, you know, all that, all of that is different, and so that's, that's one element of why it's intimidating, but also it's, you know, it's, it is vulnerable to talk about yourself, and it does feel like I'm turning my soft belly to the world.

I really wanted this book to be a soft space in a hard world, as somebody put it recently, and that means being vulnerable. That means allowing yourself to be vulnerable and opening yourself up to, to that, uh, you know, not, not wearing the, the, the defensive armor of cynicism and irony, and I am definitely conscious of, I, I'm, that's, I'm definitely scared, if I'm, if I'm being honest. Uh, I definitely that's not, it's not easy for me to do. Uh, now, there are a lot of hard, there are a lot of harder things than writing a book, um, and I, I don't want to lose sight of that, but yeah. It is, this is the most, um, I guess vulnerable and intimidated I have felt.

The only other time that was, that was anything like this was Turtles All the Way Down, and, and that was, it was different because I wasn't, you know, I wasn't writing about myself, but I knew I was going to be asked about my mental illness a lot because the, you know, I, I was writing, you know, not from within my experience but adjacent to my experience. You know, I know what obsessive thought spirals are like.

 (46:00) to (48:00)

I know, I know what panic attacks are like. I know what the, um, I know how the, you know, compulsive behavior cycles work, because that's something I've lived with, you know, my, my whole life basically, and so I knew I was going to be asked about that, and then the other reason that was intimidating was because I knew I was going to be, I knew it was going to be constantly compared to The Fault in Our Stars, and that I was going to be, um, asked about why it took me five and a half years to write another book after The Fault in Our Stars and I just, I didn't really want to, I didn't really want to, I didn't want to deal with that, I guess.

Uh, and the other, the other thing that made it, made Turtles All the Way Down hard was that nobody had read it, like, it was so locked down I, I think five or six people had read it the day before it came out, and so I had no idea what anyone was going to think of it, and that was tough.

Like at least this time around, you know, like the book is very different from the podcast, but people have heard the podcast. They know about what the, you know, they have an idea what the book is going to be, they've, a lot of people have heard parts of the book, which also means I've had an opportunity to fix errors, or fix things that, um, you know, that, that people had questions about, or responded negatively to. I mean, some of those things I, I've kept, because I still think them, but, but, you know, like, I, I've had an opportunity in a lot of cases to have a dialogue with readers, um, that, that precedes and informs and enriches the book, and I didn't have that with Turtles, so, yeah. I, I think that those have been the two hardest.

And then, the other thing, to be honest, is that those are the two where there was a lot of attention. 

 (48:00) to (50:00)

Like, it's a different kind of attention than, I mean, you know, when, when Look– when Looking for Alaska was published in 2005, I think the book sold 100 copies its first week out, or 200, maybe. Katherines, my second novel, An Abundance of Katherines, sold like, 75 copies the first week it came out. Uh, Paper Towns in 2008 was the first time that, you know, a book of mine reached a, a relatively large audience and even then, it was, you know, much more of a slow process.

So, you know, that, that has changed, just the amount of attention. Although I, uh, it is, it is going back in the, toward, I mean, what you really want to be — I don't know, I don't know if I should get into this — but, like, what you really want, you want to be able to make stuff for your audience, for the audience that's going to like your work, without having to deal with the broader public and all that comes with that, and having to deal with the vitriol of people who really don't like your work, or who, who define themselves in opposition to the kind of stuff you make or whatever.

Like, that, that, you know, it's not the worst thing that can happen to a person certainly, but it's not also not fun. And so one of the things that's been so lovely — and I talked about this in the kind of meta episode of The Anthropocene Reviewed, where I talked about making the podcast and why I made it — but one of the things that was so lovely about making the podcast or that has been so lovely about making it is that, um, I think, partly, just because of the way podcasts work, like, people don't really hate listen to podcasts, and so it was this magical feeling of getting to make stuff for an audience I really liked who responded with so much attention and care and thoughtfulness to the, to the podcast, and, I'm hopeful that that will carry over into the book, but you never know.

 (50:00) to (52:00)

Like, it's, you know, it's just a very different format; it's a different thing. People think about books differently from how they think about podcasts, I think. So, all that is certainly on my mind, and it's, it's, it's hard not to get it, it's hard to get it out of your mind. But ultimately, you make the stuff you make because you want to, or, for me, like, I, you know, I want to find ways to talk about stuff I find interesting with people I find interesting. And, you know, I, I want to try to make books or podcasts or vlogbrothers videos or whatever, as gifts for the people who will like them, and, and, you know, who might, who might care about them.

That's what I feel like the, the books that I love have been for me, and that's what I feel like even the YouTube channels I love and the podcasts I love have been for me. It does, it does feel like, you know, Planet Money or the McElroy Brothers or whoever is making a gift for me, and that's, that, that's how it ought to work.

When it's working, I think that's how, that's how creative exchange works. But there's also lots of other stuff in it and it's complicated and I don't think that there's any such thing as like, "pure" motives. I think that it's always complex and multitudinous and many layered and so on.

Okay. I'm going to stack these sheets. Oh, this stacking is going all bad. This is, that was a pretty good session there. That was maybe like 250. My hand feels okay.

 (52:00) to (54:00)

The stretches that I did this morning that were recommended to me by my physical therapist have actually really helped. It's so far, so good. Like, this is, I don't know if you can see that that's two separate stacks, but this is probably, 1500 or so that I've already done today.

All right. Let's see what people are saying in the comments.

  "Lectrojogger!" (52:23)

Um, oh. "Lectrojogger!"

Is it time? It's not time yet ten minutes, um.

  "How do you only pick up one paper at a time?" (52:30)

"How do you only pick up one paper at a time?"

Drew, it is not easy. It requires a ton of focus. Hooof, um.

  "Can John actually get out of the box fort, or does Sarah just fling sandwiches over the top?" (52:38)

Dave and Gina asks, "Can John actually get out of the box fort, or does Sarah just fling sandwiches over the top?"

Um, that reminds me of this great, uh, this great, uh, Kingston Trio song, about the, a guy who gets stuck inside of the Boston, uh, railroad system because he doesn't have an extra nickel to pay the the fare hike, uh, that I listened to a lot when I was a child. But yes, I can get out of the box fort. It's actually relatively straightforward. It's not even hard to get out of the box fort.

Um, yeah. It's the MTA song. I can't remember what it's called.

 "Should I get back to work?" (53:15)

Allison asks, "Should I get back to work?" Probably. Lots of people love Charlie and the MTA. I'm not the only person who's a fan of this.

  Do you ever listen to 'All Star' while signing?" (53:22)

"Do you ever listen to 'All Star' while signing?"

No. I don't really listen to music while signing. Uh, sometimes, I listen to podcasts or or books, um, but I find listening to music, uh, just kind of slows me down a little bit, to be honest. That was a bad signature. Man, oh man, it's, gonna put a DFTBA there to try to make that person not resent me.

Uh, sometimes, yeah, so, but often, I just like, often, I just sit here and do nothing, you know, just think thoughts.

 (54:00) to (56:00)

I mean, the great, like, when signing works, which it kind of can't work, kind of can't do all of its work when it's like this and there's a lot of pressure on hitting a deadline? But, when signing works, it's just like a flow state that you go into. It's essentially like a form of meditation, but it's like a form of meditation where I can make little gifts for people, um, in a way that also makes me happy so it's ideal the, the thing that I would compare it to is like, knitting, or doing like repetitive, unchallenging, uh, painting, you know, where you're making something for people, but at the same time it's mostly, it's also just like, you entering into a happy flow state. The other thing I sometimes compare it to is like playing level seven on Tetris, where it's hard enough that it requires a little bit of focus, but it's not so hard that it, um, you know, taxes your mental wherewithal.

Okay, so now, I'm gonna do the Lectrojogger in like another like, 35 signatures, and then, that'll just be a good opportunity to get up drink a little bit of water, stretch my legs, maybe even ice my hand for a second, and then, I'll get back to it. So we'll do one box of Lectrojogging. If you've never seen the Lectrojogger, by the way, I mean, stop everything, you know, I, I imagine that, that people are watching on a, like, are doing something on a different tab while they're listening to this in the background — come back to the box fort and get ready for them. Oh, that's hideous. I put a spiral there to try to apologize to that person. Get ready for the majesty of the box fort coming in just 17 signatures. 

 (56:00) to (58:00)

The other thing I do when I sign all the time is count, like, I count,  I count constantly. I've always been a counter. Like, I remember finding out when I was in college that not everybody knew the exact number of steps between certain dorms, and like, you know, a dorm and one building of classrooms or another building of classrooms or whatever. I always do that stuff. I've always been always been very good at counting my steps. I do not need a pedometer. Okay, three. Although, hilariously, I think I counted that, I counted to 50 wrong there, but whatever. It doesn't matter. That's the other thing, is that I don't necessarily count accurately, but I do count. Okay. Let's stack these up.

We're gonna use, we're gonna, I'm gonna show you the Lectrojogger now. So what I do is, I have to take these these sheets — that's a lot of them — take these sheets, carry them over to the Lectrojogger — hello everybody, by the way — all right, everybody, get excited. It's as good as you think. I'm gonna turn the light around because the Lectrojogger deserves its own spotlight. That's, that's just beautiful, okay.

So now I'm going to turn you around so you're going to get to see that not the whole room is box fort. See. There's no box fort over there. Then, there is like a miniature box fort over there, along with a painting by the Cuban art collective Carpenteros(?) and then here we are. So, okay. So, this is the way I have it set up right now. There's multiple ways you can do this, but this way is working for me at the moment.

Um, so this here is the Lectrojogger. It's very heavy, and it's, it's just as you can see, it's just a beautiful piece of machinery.

 (58:00) to (1:00:00)

There's like a wooden cabinet in here, and basically the way the Lectrojogger works is — you see how it has that little action, has that little movement, I don't know what's going on in there, but this thing is like 70 years old and it works as well as it ever did.

So you take the sheets. You put them in the Lectrojogger. I'll bring you closer to the Lectrojogger so you can really see it. You can really see it in all of its magnificence. There, there it is. It says "Lectrojog — paper jogger. To change jogging action, see the instruction plate inside the cabinet." I've never known what the instruction plate is inside the cabinet. I've looked inside the cabinet and there is no instruction plate?

So, but I've also never needed to change the jogging action. The jogging action is perfect and ideal.


Oh, there we go okay. And so it comes out, just perfect, perfect, just perfectly aligned, and you put the sheets into here. I'm gonna go get some more sheets. This is like just enough standing to convince my Apple Watch that I'm standing, you know, it's not like really enough for health. It's just enough to trick the, trick the hardware.

Okay, back to Lectrojogging. Look at that thing. Look at it go.

I mean the truth is, it doesn't even really need me doing the, the little motion that I do and then it's just perfect. It's perfect. You put it in the box. Grab some more. So, I'll show you, like, I don't actually have to do the thing that I do. It just makes it go a little faster, but you can just put it in here and you can just, let me even bring you a little closer. There we go.

 (1:00:00) to (1:02:00)

You can just, you can just Lectrojog. It'll do all the work. It does it all for you if you wait, but I like to do it a little bit faster because, you know, it's not, oh no, so the only thing that can go wrong is if I don't do a good job of putting the sheets — oh no I messed up — if I don't do a good job — and this is on me, it's not on the Lectrojogger — if I do a bad job of putting the sheets into the box — like I've got to put them in very flat and very, it used — oh my goodness — it used to be — not to like complain about the good old days of signing your name over and over again — but it used to be that they would give you slightly larger boxes, you know, which were like, a little bit less efficient, but way more fun from a, um, filling the box perspective.

Whereas this time, you really have to get the box, you have to get the sheets all right. Oh no, I lost a sheet there, but, you know, that's, that's part of the part of the deal. Okay. So I'm going to grab this sheet. I'm going to make sure that everything's lined up. Okay.


And it's just so fun. It feels so good. All right. This is the last, this is going to be the last one first box.

 (1:02:00) to (1:04:00)

Look at that thing go! Oh, it's great. Just, love it so much. Really does bring me joy. I mean, the thing that I, the only thing that I will miss about, uh, no longer signing my name over and over again, is no longer having an excuse to, um, bring out the Lectrojogger on a regular basis, but maybe I'll like, write a zine. Thinking like, maybe I'll just, so then, I mean, in a perfect world, you leave a little bit of extra space, and you put a piece of styrofoam on top of it, which I guess I'll do here because I know it makes the printer folks happy. And then you just, um, boop, boop, boop boop.

Take it over to the box fort! Oh goodness gracious. It's very heavy. Hold on. I realize that I've left you stranded over there. I am gonna come, I'm gonna come grab you. Don't worry. I just gotta finish heightening the box fort. Look at that. It's an even better box fort. Okay. It's kind of beautiful, just to leave you over there with the Lectrojogger, but I guess we can come back to the actual signing to get everything in the right place, though, so, oh gosh, I'm not very good at lighting. Not really. So then that's arguably better lighting than with the light.

I think I might just leave it like that. Okay, here I'm gonna bring you back. I'm bringing you back though to the box fort.

Hello. It's me again. Okay. I like it when it's just below those lights. Like that.

 (1:04:00) to (1:06:00)

Okay. I'm going to switch pens. This is going into the graveyard of dead pens — oh, I missed the graveyard — and then I'm going to do, I'm going to do Intergalactic Indigo again, because I found that very enjoyable.

So this afternoon I have to make some decisions about the annoying layout — not annoying, fun — layout stuff in the book, you know, like what the chapter headings look like, all that kind of business, which is, uh, it'll be fun. And I've got to write the review of the font, so, which will be short. But, also, I think I know everything I want to say about the font, so that's good.

 "Your authority is not recognized in Fort Kickass." (1:04:49)

"Your authority is not recognized in Fort Kickass."

That's great. We should call it Fort Kickass.

 "Will you ever return to your unfinished writing projects?" (1:04:55)

Um, "Will you ever return to your unfinished writing projects?" asks Josh. Maybe, maybe, maybe. I mean, like — I'm gonna, I'm gonna slightly change positions if that's okay — so, ah, what's, what's gonna feel good, what's gonna be right, that? I don't know if I like this. It's a weird look. It's kind of comfortable though. It's good for the signing. That was a good, pretty good first signature.

Um, yeah, so I mean, like, The Fault in Our Stars was an unfinished, often abandoned, story of mine for like 10 years. Like I started writing about, um, kids in a children's hospital when I worked as a, I worked in a children's hospital, and then never, you know, just kept, it kept not working, and then eventually, I did find a way into it.

 (1:06:00) to (1:08:00)

And, you know, I was, I was able to write it. A lot of things had to happen in, yeah, so, so that's always possible. There are only a few abandoned writing projects that I find at all interesting though? Like most of the things I've abandoned, I've abandoned for good reason, and it's a bummer, because, you know, you can feel like you wasted that time, but you didn't really waste it. You just, you just had to do that in order to do, in order to to keep writing.

Like sometimes you write stuff that ends up being published, and sometimes you don't. And I think that's the case for all writers, probably. I mean, maybe there's some people who are able to be super, super consistent, but I'm not.

So the, the thing that, you know, the one that I, the one that I do miss sometimes, and think about sometimes, is the sequel which was, uh, about a character who survives a novel. Like, she's inside of a novel, and then the novel ends, and everyone in the novel ceases to exist, but then she's alive in our world, which is very disorienting for her.

And, that, I still, I there are aspects of it that I still like, of what I've written, but I don't know. It'll probably never happen, um. You know, the vast majority of what I, of what I write never ends up getting, um, you know, ends up, ends up in front of readers, which is, which is okay, and that's just, that's part of how I write, and now, now I'm, I used to really lament that, and feel like that was part of why I sucked, and why I was a big, you know, failure and being the kind of writer I wanted to be or whatever.

 (1:08:00) to (1:10:00)

But now I just think that's, that's how it is for me, you know, I'm probably... that's, yeah. That's just the reality of, of what, what writing is for me, and I still, you know, I have lots of friends who who find it, um, harder than I do, and, and who struggle more — that's like barely even legible as my signature, I think I gotta, I think I gotta move back to the old position because look at that, that's no good, and even, even you guys can tell that that's bad. And this one is not good, I think this one might even need a spiral because it looks nervous somehow. Oh, now the spiral wasn't good either so I'm going to put a "DFTBA". Now I'm, now I'm stuck. Now I'm spending too much time on that signature, but that's not a very good spiral. I mean, let's face it — that looks like a, it just, it looks like a, like a, like a, like a really epically bad dot.

We're going with Intergalactic Indigo by the way... um, yeah.

 "Can you sign one as Ernest Hemingway to make it more rare?" (1:09:14)

"Can you sign one as Ernest Hemingway to make it more rare?"

No. No. I can't.

"What do you do when you don't feel creative?"

Uh, somebody asked, "What, what do I do when I don't feel creative". Uh, I mean a lot of times I don't create. Like there's other stuff to do in this world, you know, like there's, there's other, I'm lucky to have other kinds of, other kinds of work, um, to do, and like that's fine. I try not to I try not to judge myself or get too hard on myself.

I will say like, the most helpful thing to me, in terms of creativity, is making a vlogbrothers video every Tuesday, because when — except for this Tuesday —

 (1:10:00) to (1:12:00)

— when you're making a video every Tuesday, even like, putting aside the joy of having an audience and really liking, you know, the community that has that has built up around the videos, which is the core of what vlogbrothers is for me, there's a real value in just the act of making something every week because then you, you may learn something in that process that fuels your creativity moving forward.

Like maybe if I'm making a video especially on weeks when I don't know what to make a video about, um, a lot of times, I'll be reading or I'll be writing and I'll be deleting and writing and deleting and frustrated and trying to find a way to say something, but in that process I'll discover, uh, something that I find interesting or, or a way of thinking about something that I find interesting.

Like I was talking earlier about the biomass of humanity being larger than the biomass of all wild mammals. And I only know that because I was like, researching, I was reading about something else for a vlogbrothers video, and I became curious about how much all the sheep in the world combined weigh — which did not end up in the vlogbrothers video. Like, actually the whole subject of the vlogbrothers video ended up being different.

But in this process of learning about how much sheep combined all weigh together, uh, I learned, I learned other stuff about biomass of different species and how much it says about species health and stuff like that, and that was really interesting to me and so I kind of kept following that research path, and that ended up being a little  — it's not a huge part of The Anthropocene Reviewed book — but it's like a little, a little tidbit.

 (1:12:00) to (1:14:00)

And this is how I think about creativity in general. Like, when we think about idea generation, we tend to focus on really big ideas, like the moment of, like the eureka moment of, you're like, on a train in Scotland, and you think like "Oh, wizard school!" and you have this idea and then this idea becomes this billion dollar franchise.

Or you're, you have a dream and you wake up and your dream was about, you know, vampires in an American high school, and you write, you start to write this big idea.

But really, I think that like, the vast majority of, like — and those things are real and they are incredibly exciting, um, for the, for the people who have them and, and I understand why we love those stories and are drawn to those stories and retell those stories and and talk about creativity a lot of times in that context — but a lot of, a lot of the actual ideas that one has when doing creative work or when trying to make something, are very small ideas they are little tiny ideas that get knitted together into a larger hole.

So, you have a little idea about understanding the biomass of humanity being one way, of, you know, trying to contextualize or reckon with our power, our size, et cetera. And that makes you have a different idea about what humanity's temporal range might be — like how long we might be a species, how long other dominant species have been a species, and so on.

And then that, that leads to another little idea and it leads to another little idea and a bunch of those little ideas end up getting deleted, or they end up not being, not working in the context of the larger essay, but then there are enough little ideas stitched together that you have a thing that you want to make and share with people. 

 (1:14:00) to (1:16:00)

And that, like, that is most of creativity for me. It's mostly about tiny ideas — not big ideas. It's mostly about the little moments of particularity, the little moments when you feel the texture, the reality of something, um, when you're, when you're reading or watching or listening. That's really what, that, that's really where the magic of creative exchange happens — where as a reader, you feel like the words are alive inside of your head, and as a writer, I feel the magic of escaping myself or expressing myself in a way that, um, you know, can hopefully be clear to someone else.

Like I, I, you know, the magic for me is like, making scratches on a page that end up being ideas inside of someone else's mind.

So when I'm feeling uncreative I guess the short answer is that I read. I try to write. I try to keep making stuff anyway. And then through the discipline of making stuff every week, I, I — not every week certainly, but some weeks — I find that I learn something or accomplish, you know, or understand something or I'm able to articulate something that I haven't been able to articulate before, that I haven't had the same understanding of before, and that's what creativity amounts to for me.

But I also think that's one of those things where lots of different people do it lots of different ways, and, you know, when you have your way of doing it, you naturally think that it's good, but there are there are lots of different ways.

So! I like to make stuff regularly.

 (1:16:00) to (1:18:00)

I'm getting a phone call from Florence, Kentucky. That seems hopefully non-critical.

Uh, yeah. But that's, that's just me. Okay.

I'm gonna stack these papers and look at the comments.

I feel like it's a nice rhythm though I feel like I'm in a good, pretty good headspace about it. I do wish I knew where my water was. That's my big, uh, it's my only complaint right now. My hand feels pretty good — actually, you know, what — no, it's good. Feels good. Feels good. Feels, feels sustainable to me right now anyway. Did it kick me off of my own [livestream]? Uh, there we go. Oh look! I'm looking at myself from three seconds ago!


 "What's on your shirt?" and "What it like for Hank to be TikTok famous?" (1:16:53)

"What's it like to be —"

"What's on your shirt?"

"What's it like for Hank to be TikTok famous?"

Those are both, those are both good questions.

Um, so, way back in 2007, Hank, Hank and I — I'm wearing my most comfortable clothes, by the way, like even down to my socks — way back in 2007, Hank and I were like, nominated for the Bloggers Choice Awards? This was when people were really trying to make awards happen for online media, you know, like people looked at the Oscars and the Golden Globes and the Emmys and the Grammys and the Tonys — and they thought, "Man, all of these arts awards in popular media make a crap ton of money." I think that's pretty much what they were thinking. There may have been something else to it but in general, right, like, private corporations only exist to do one thing, which is to maximize their profits.

Uh, and one of these things was called the Bloggers Choice Award. We were nominated for it, and like, we actively campaigned for it.

 (1:18:00) to (1:20:00)

I don't want to make it seem like we didn't want it. We wanted it. We campaigned for it, and we won it, and they sent us, uh, like a glass award which I no longer have, but they also sent us this t-shirt, which I love. It's the best t-shirt I've ever received. It's like an American Apparel, shirt but they don't make American Apparel shirts like this anymore? Like, they don't make them with this exact fit? And this exact fit is the fit for me? So sometimes, I think to myself, like, "Could I Google 2008 long sleeve American Apparel shirts, and like, find them on Ebay or something?" and buy a bunch of them, but, uh, but mostly I'm just happy with this shirt.

I don't think, I don't know that I need another one, so this is like, the most comfortable shirt that I own, when I want to really just, you know, uh, lay around, but have my, my forearms covered. So I love, I love this shirt, and I'm very grateful to the people at the Bloggers Choice Awards for sending it to me. I have no idea what this logo is on the front nor in fact do I know what the business name is on the back of it; all I know is that it's incredibly comfortable.

I was thinking about this because, you know, like, uh, ready-made clothes are so, uh, are so new. Um, this is something that I would write about for The Anthropocene Reviewed if I had a better handle on the history of fashion, because I think it's completely fascinating that ready-made clothes are so new and that, with the newness of ready-made clothes, um, comes all kinds of downstream effects around, uh, the idealization of certain body sizes around the, uh, uh, the, the, the, the kinds of clothes that are available to different kinds of people —

 (1:20:00) to (1:22:00)

— and you see there's a little glimpse of this in the August Sander photograph, "Three Young Farmers on Their Way to a Dance", because the clothes that those boys are wearing in that photograph would not have been available to them even 25 years before, because they're what, you know, to, to have a, a suit, uh, tailor-made for you, would have been, uh, far too expensive for young farmers — although as it happens, the boys are not actually, were not actually farmers. They were, they were worked in an iron ore mine, but even so, um, those, those kinds of clothes would not have been available to them.

But like making ready-made clothes available to certain kinds of people and not other kinds of people has had all kinds of big effects on the social order that I think are really interesting, and in many cases, um, have, have, have worsened forms of of injustice.

I used to think that fashion was like, uh, boring? And not important? And like, everything that I used to like, like everything that I think is boring or unimportant, it is actually almost entirely about how you look at it and how carefully you pay attention to it, and the more you pay attention the more it rewards your attention, just like sports, just like video games, just like YouTube, just like anything. Just like signing your name over and over again.

Um, so much of life that we like, think like, "Oh, this is objectively cool", or "This is objectively the kind of thing I'm into", or the kind of thing that smart people are into or the kind of thing that, you know, yahoos are into, or whatever, like, so much of that is really about the kind of attention you pay and not actually about whatever it is that you're into.

Uh, so yeah.

 (1:22:00) to (1:24:00)

 The other question was about Hank being TikTok famous.

It's great I, I love it! I mean, I'm super, I, it's, it's great to see. He, I think he's really, really good at it. I think he really, um, he has a deep understanding of what, what kind of socially productive role he can play in that space, and I think he's doing a really good job of of, you know, of doing that.

And, I, yeah. I'm like, an unambiguous fan. It's also, I'm also glad it's him and not me, to be honest, because it's hard. It's, um, and it's stressful; like, it's it's stressful to be in that position and to have a lot of attention on, on you and, uh, and on your work, and I think he's, like, Hank's sort of like better positioned, just psychologically to handle that than than I was? But he also is, he's really savvy. He's, in a way that like, I usually interact with the internet unconsciously, and then am surprised by whatever emotional reaction I have to that experience, like Hank is much more conscious and self-aware of what he's doing. Um, which, I think, also saves him a lot of heartbreak and trouble.

You can feel that in Hank's novels, which are so carefully observed, and so, uh, deeply aware of what internet fame is, how it functions, how it is both, um, you know, how it can, how it, you know, how it can lift people up, and how it can tear them down.

 (1:24:00) to (1:26:00)

And I, I, certainly like when, um, you know, like my book started to become successful and I started to have attention outside of Nerdfighteria, I did not understand any of that with any clarity, and I think, I think it showed. Like I made a lot of, uh, I made a lot of missteps and, um, I think Hank is really handling it super well so far, and I also just think he's awesome on TikTok. Like, he's my favorite person to follow on TikTok, and I like, I like TikTok. I don't go there every day, but when I do go there, it's, you know, I, I always enjoy my time, and I often find like one or two TikToks that I really want to share with friends and family.

And even being, uh, like, as a TikTok user, I think if I wasn't Hank's brother, he would still be my favorite TikToker, so yeah. I'm a fan in general. I mean I'm a huge fan of Hank and the way that he, uh, the work that he does, the way that he goes about it, is, the, see, you know, I, I don't think anybody, um, lives in accordance with their values all the time, but I think, Hank tries hard, thinks hard, is a careful, uh, critical, um, observer of, of his, you know, the spaces that he's in, and yeah.

I'm a fan.

All right. I'm gonna answer a couple more questions, then I'm gonna probably transition to like, the livestream getting really, really boring. So, just bear, bear, full disclosure, fair warning, the live stream will, will soon get very boring. Where is — I have to find my water. Like, I can't, I don't know — where, where could it be? There's only so much, there's only so much space in the box fort where the water could be, and, and yet I don't see it, but I know I brought it down here.

 (1:26:00) to (1:28:00)

It's, this is like, one of the greatest mysteries of the 21st century. What — I'm going to go upstairs and get some more water, but I want to state for the record — oh! Here it is! It's behind a chair. Oh, it's so good. Still so cold. Okay. I'm gonna look at the chat.

Hi everybody.


Everybody's worried about the water bottle. A lot of water jokes.

 Fast Q&A (1:26:50)

"Are those cloud socks?"

They're argyle socks.

[Probably a question asking about his Diet Dr. Pepper.]

I have not had my Diet Dr. Pepper yet. I'm waiting. I'm waiting. I'm waiting.

"Where did you obtain your Lectrojogger? asks Kate.

It was given to me by a very kind person in North Carolina, um. It was given, it was a gift. But you can get them on, you can get them on the whatchamacallit

Uh, Dope Fish asks, "Having OCD, do you sometimes feel like the world as it is right now actually accommodates that better?"

It's a great, very, very interesting question.

Um, okay.

Um, okay.

I've signed about 227,000 so far, I think. 226,500, maybe? So I have, I still have a ways to go, if we're being, if we're being honest. I've got a ways to go but, you know, I can do it. I, and in fact, I have to. So I can do it.

 (1:28:00) to (1:30:00)

It's just, you know, this is, just this is, what I, this is, this is, just, what I do now for now, uh... So I know what you mean like, "Do I feel like the world as it is now actually accommodates OCD better?"

I mean one of the one of the challenging things about, about anxiety, and I know OCD isn't, isn't classified as an anxiety disorder, but like, you know, it, I, I think there's, I think the Venn diagram has a fair amount of overlap, and I also have, um, anxiety problems but, you know, one of the challenges is that you, um, you can get pulled into an increasingly small circle.

Uh, so if you experience anxiety when you go outside, uh, it can get harder to go outside, which makes you experience more anxiety about the prospect of going outside, which makes it harder to go outside, which makes you experience more anxiety, and pretty soon it's impossible to get outside.

And... the way, you know, there are a lot of, there are a lot of different strategies for treating that cycle, or for breaking that cycle, and for trying to reverse it. Medication is one, you know, therapy is another. Exposure, exposure therapy, uh, works really well for a lot of people with OCD, so like, in that situation, you might — and I, I should say I'm not a psychologist. If you're concerned about your mental health, please talk to a psychologist and if you, or, or a professional, and if you are afraid to do that, call a friend or a parent or an uncle or somebody you trust and say, "Hey, can you help me through this process of starting to find help?"

 (1:30:00) to (1:32:00)

Because I'm not I, I, I can't, I can't treat other people's mental health disorders. I don't have that expertise. But, I know for a lot of people, exposure therapy works. It has certainly worked for me with some of my obsessive thought problems where, slowly, over time, you're exposed to that, you know, the thing that makes you anxious, and by experiencing that anxiety and getting through it and surviving it, you're able to reverse the cycle, and — where, where, where getting outside became harder and harder and harder over time, it becomes easier and easier and easier.

it can take a long time. Exposure therapy doesn't work for everyone, but it works for a lot of people. And there are also other CBT techniques that work for lots of people, that can decrease anxiety over time, that can help people live with anxiety better. I, in some ways, right, like people don't, um, uh, people don't look at you — so, I know what you mean, like, people, everyone is a germaphobe now, and so being a, being, there's an element of being a germaphobe where you feel like, um, where I feel like, "I told you. I've been telling you for 30 years and nobody would listen to me. I, I told you. Wash your hands."

But the problem is not like, actually, that I am, I wash my hands a lot. The problem is that I have this obsessive thinking disorder and I, I don't, I don't wash my hands, like, or, or whatever, or whatever compulsive behaviors I engage in, like, I'm not doing that stuff to, in, in, in a way that actually makes me healthier. I'm doing it in a way that makes me less healthy.

 (1:32:00) to (1:34:00)

And I, in that sense, I, I don't, I don't think this has, I — I can't speak for other people — but like, this hasn't been great for me, because it's harder to know, for me, it's harder to know where the line is, between appropriate worry, appropriate precautions, appropriate protective measures, and... disordered ones.

Because a lot of the things, or, some of the things, that were disordered for me pre-pandemic, are now not. But! It's very easy for me to respond to that by, then retreating more into those behaviors which can become, um, disordered, and then there's also like fewer availabilities for, um, for treatment for some people. There's, um, and then there's just the, the I, I think, in my experience anyway, like isolation can can worsen some of these symptoms for me, and, you know, I'm fortunate to, to not live alone, and to be safe in the place where I live, but it has still been quite isolating for me, as I think it has been for most people.

And... so that that hasn't been great for me, so.

I, especially at the beginning, there was an element of, uh, finally, everybody understands that the world is crawling with microorganisms that are a constant, ceaseless threat to our existence, but that didn't actually lead to me, um, having better mental health.

 (1:34:00) to (1:36:00)

Like, like a lot of times when you're in a "I told you so" position, the "I told you so", it doesn't actually make your life or anyone else's better. [laughs] It's just, um, you know, it's just like a feeling that you can't get rid of. So, yeah.

It hasn't been good for me but, um, but I don't know what it's been like for other people, you know, I only know what it's been like in my household and and for those who are really close to me. But it's been, yeah, I mean I, I think that I, I think that we have hopefully all seen that, um, human connection is really hard work. It's like, it really is; it's a lot of work, and one of the things that the internet I think has tried to do is to say, like, "You don't need to do all that hard work", like, "We're going to make this a little easier for you".

But, um, the kind of connection that, that it provides for that, for that less work is, for me anyway, like often, not always, but often less impactful. Like, I could still feel quite isolated, even if I, even if I, you know, drink from the the fire hose of Twitter and see what thousands of people are are saying all the time, it still doesn't feel like a deep, connected conversation.

That's not to say that online experience can't provide those deep connections. I think it totally can, and I think, over 15 years, I've seen that, I've seen it happen in our community over and over again and in lots of other communities where people form deep meaningful important connections, interpersonal connections in their lives, with people they, uh, don't know well in real life or even don't know all in real life.

But, I think a lot of times the easiest connections, um, that the internet offers, the, the sort of the, the most superficial ones, don't replace the hard work of being in deep community.

 (1:36:00) to (1:38:00)

And I think being I mean, I, I think being in deep community has been... pretty consistently undervalued throughout the rise of extractive capitalism? But it is especially undervalued right now, at sort of, this, this weird peak of extractive capitalism, where so much of our information feeds are built around the importance of achieving well-being through consumption, rather than through connection, because — or at least, not through forms of connection that cannot be effectively or quickly monetized — and, and so I think that, you know, this is, this has happened at this, in some ways it, the, in some ways that, you know, like, it, I'm glad, I'm really glad that we have the tools, we've had the tools of the internet to connect us during this time, um — I, I don't know what, what I would have done otherwise — but at the same time, this, you know, this, this huge rise in, um, all the messages that we receive from advertising and, and from lots of other places, being around "the key to happiness" is either monetizable connection like, uh, the kinds that the social internet trades on like, the kind that's being traded on right now in some ways, right, like, because of whether you're a YouTube Premium member or not, like, your, um, your attention right now is like being monetized.

Um, it's not being monetized, uh, by, by me, but it is indirectly being monetized by me, right? Like, there's a link in the dooblydoo to order The Anthropocene Reviewed book.

 (1:38:00) to (1:40:00)

Anyway, so I'm not, I'm, I'm not like, trying to present myself as being, um, somehow like, uh, uh, pure as the driven snow in this in this conversation, but like so much of the emphasis around how you achieve happiness and well-being is, is focused on consumption, or forms of connection that are monetizable.

Because the forms of connection that aren't monetizable are not really very valuable to our economic system, even if they are really, really valuable to us as individuals.

And so, in some ways, I think that's made the, the experience that's made the isolation of it even more complicated, at least for me.

I was scared that I was signing these upside down, but it's fine.

So yeah.

I feel, um, I, I have mixed feelings about almost everything in 2021 and I definitely have mixed feelings about the internet, um, but there's actually a review of the internet in the book. That's one of the new reviews, is, it sort of like, goes back to my first years on the internet in the early 1990s and, um, it's also, it also got its start in a vlogbrothers video. Um... yeah.

It depends on the kind of engagement and the people you engage with, just like everything else. Um, that's very true.

And, but! I think we need to focus on the idea that like, um, consumption and things that can be monetized, are things to be suspicious of and aware of, um, and to interrogate carefully, uh, whereas like the kinds of connection that cannot be easily monetized, are places to pay a lot of attention. I think.

Um, I might be wrong. I've been wrong before.

 "How does the haircut feel?" (1:39:52)

"How does the haircut feel?" 

Freaking amazing. Game-changing. Um, just amazing. Really really wonderful.

 (1:40:00) to (1:42:00)

Uh, okay.

I used to hate the sound of sharpie on paper but now I find it comforting. I cannot afford to find it terri- I cannot afford to dislike it. I have strong opinions about this stuff. Was the monochrome outfit on purpose? No. Um, okay. Do you ever want to tour again someday?

This couch is from, I think, from Restoration Hardware. It's nice and deep, that's what I like about it, is its depth, um, it's really good for signing and then it's nice it's, yeah it's nice - so like, Chris and Marina, our best friends, got this couch, and I just - I loved its depth. It's really good for, like, watching soccer. You can lie down on it, you can sleep on it if you need to. Like, the heat went out here, um, in January and we all, so we all have to, like, sleep down here because it was warmer and, uh, um, and it was super comfortable, even like, with, yeah. So, I don't know, I love this couch.

One of the nice things about adulthood, for me, is that I never really I, I, I never I never was very comf- I never really had a couch that I loved. Like, when I was in my 20s I remember when I was living with Shannon and Katie and Hassan I, I, uh, we, we had, like, a total of like three different couches and we just- they never- it's never quite right. And, but then like if you get to adulthood like, you know, like the older you get the longer you have to find a couch that you love

 (1:42:00) to (1:44:00)

And then, once you have one that you love, you can just keep it for, for good, until, until you're gone, you know? Like, occasionally, maybe you need to like, I don't know, like, re-fluff the pillows a little bit, but they pretty much, they're pretty good. They last. This couch has been around for a long time. Um, I think we got this couch in like, 2009. It's just been great. I give it an A+.

It does not turn into a bed. That's the only downside. I love a, uh, I love a, I love a convertible. Our first couch, the first couch Sarah and I got was from Jennifer Convertibles, and I had no idea how much couches have, how much couches cost, because like, you know, like, I'd always gotten my couches secondhand, or, um, at garage sales, or, and stuff.

And I could, I mean, I would, I still like, have a vivid memory of like wanting to walk out of Jennifer Convertibles in New York City because I just could not, just could not get my head around how much couches cost.

Uh, but... yeah. But we ended up getting a couch there that I hated. I think I can comfortably say that now that, I think, Jennifer's Convertibles is closed. I think it's called "Restoration Hardware", but I'm not totally sure. Um...

  "I'm shocked a man who has owned a dog is saying 'couches last forever'." (1:43:20)

"I'm shocked a man who has owned a dog is saying 'couches last forever'."

Well, you know, Willie was never really like an anti-couch kind of dog? Um, he was, uh, he was always, he was just, he would just lie on the couch with me.

 What book is that under the papers? (1:43:38)

"What book is that under the papers?"

It's called, um, Street Sketchbook. It's "inside the journals of international street and graffiti artists", by Tristan Manco. It's one of Sarah's books. Sarah, um, you know, she has a lot of art books because she's a curator.

 (1:44:00) to (1:46:00)

And the great thing about art books — aside from them being really fun to look at — is that they are just the right shape for, um, putting on your lap when you're signing. So thank goodness for Sarah.

I do think that I'm gonna have my Diet Dr. Pepper soon. Sorry. So I'm gonna, I'm gonna try to like, so after the next Lectrojog which is in 14 minutes — oh, that's a bad signature... Can you tell that that one's bad? Like, do you look at that and think like, 'that's fundamentally different from that'? Like do those look different to you? And you think like, 'well, one of those is of high quality and one of those is of low quality'?

I'm not, I'm not asking in a leading or judging way. It's a genuine, it's a genuine question. I, I'm curious about your actual answer. I cannot tell. "Well, no." "John, they look the same." "They're both fine." Okay. That's helpful to me. Thank you.


Well, to me, they look very different. Uh, like last night, I was having a really hard time with the second mark — my signature has two marks, and the second mark is sort of, uh, I like to think of it as a mountain with a steep uphill and then a relatively slow downhill, you know, like, uh, that's how I think of it, and last night I was really struggling with it, but today it feels fine, so... I don't know what happened. Maybe some sleep. Maybe the exercises that I did this morning. But in general, I feel like my signature has been okay today.

And especially if you guys think that that bad signature looked fine, then I think they're all going to be fine, so I'm going to do the Lectrojog. I'm going to do another box of papers for the Lectrojogger...

 (1:46:00) to (1:48:00)

...and then I'm gonna just, just sign, and this is gonna become the kind of live stream where people in the comments talk to each other, and the person who's actually doing the live streaming is sort of a prop... that can be a site of observation and conversation, but really it just becomes like a third thing in the room, and y'all can just, y'all can just chat.

That's, that's, we're gonna, that's the transition that we're gonna make in 14 minutes. So before then, I'm gonna, you know, what I really want right now — which I'm not gonna have is, um, Hank has been talking a lot about Arby's on TikTok, and even though I don't really like Arby's, like, they were — nothing personal — like I used to work at Steak 'n Shake, and when people would say bad things about Steak 'n Shake, I would always take it a little personally, even though like, I, myself didn't have a particularly high opinion of Steak 'n Shake, so I always think about that — but anyway.

I'm not like a huge fan of Arby's in general, but I do find myself kind of wanting some Arby's now that Hank talks about it all the time.

But do I really want an Arby's, or is it just like, something that Hank talks about. I myself don't. That, you guys probably think that's a fine signature, but I don't like it.

I think, so like, this one is bad though, you know, because you can see the, it just isn't as good. Okay.

 "Dude don't let Hank sell ads for Arby's." (1:47:38)

"Dude don't let Hank sell ads for Arby's."

Um, I don't — is Hank gonna sell ads for Arby's? That would, I, I wouldn't love that. I wouldn't love that.

 "Should I start watching vlogbrothers from the first video?" (1:47:50)

"Should I start watching vlogbrothers from the first video?"

Maybe. Um, "when they're more different, it makes them more human."

 (1:48:00) to (1:50:00)

Yeah. Uh, okay.

 "Why go to Steak 'n Shake if you don't like it?" (1:48:03)

"Why go to Steak 'n Shake if you don't like it?"

Well, I mean I went there for work, so [laughs], uh, yeah.

I mean, I did, I, I don't know, I like, I'll still go to Steak 'n Shake, like I've worked at restaurants I've worked at. I worked at like, probably, I guess four different restaurants, and I've definitely worked at restaurants that I would not go to. Um, I won't name them, but like, I've worked at a, I've worked at a fast food restaurant that I do not, um, I do not patronize, so as a person, um, but I, I'll, I'll eat at Steak 'n Shake. I don't I don't mind eating at Steak 'n Shake.

And then like I worked at two independently owned restaurants, and one of those still exists. And I, I, I go back there every time I'm in Alabama. I go and eat there and enjoy, enjoy my meal, um, but there's something about knowing how the sausage gets made, uh, metaphorically, that makes, um, makes those eating experiences a little a little less fun for me, I guess.

But I liked Steak 'n Shake. The food always seemed like, um, the food safety always seemed really good and, um, you know, the ingredients are fine. It's fast food, you know, so it's not, uh, you know, it's burger, burgers and fries and shakes. It was, it was good.

Maybe I want Steak 'n Shake. Now they were talking about it... maybe I want Steak 'n— no I can't. It's not like me. Never. I don't think I've ever had Steak 'n Shake, um, unless it was like one o'clock in the morning on a Saturday. Even when I worked at Steak 'n Shake because I worked the overnight shift, I always ate it at one o'clock in the morning.

So, okay.

 (1:50:00) to (1:52:00)

I've got, so I think in this next nine minutes I can sign like — oh that was bad — I can sign like 150 sheets, and then I'm gonna — I'm starting to get, so like, what happens is that I lose that range of motion, so I'm gonna, I'm gonna ice it. I'm gonna ice it. It's gonna be great.

And then I'm gonna, yeah.

 "How many Sharpies so far?" (1:50:14)

"How many Sharpies so far?"

A lot. Like, an astonishing, astonishing, num-number.

  "It's 1am somewhere." (1:50:23)

Muskan says, "It's 1am somewhere."

Which is true.

 "Um, is there a way to access the unlisted video?" (1:50:26)

What unlisted video? I don't — somebody will have a link to any unlisted video. Audio error. Audio error. Oh no. Is it still happening? Audio, audio. Okay. I don't know what's happening.

Is it still happening?

If I turn it off, if I turn it off and on again, it's poppy. It's it's crunchy. It's fine. This is, uh, I, I find this, um, uh, "yes, it's good." Okay. I thought, obviously different people are having different experiences of the audio.

Um, but I don't know how to fix it. "It's still crackly when you talk." Great! I'll just stop talking then. All right. "It's crackly only if you talk more."

I don't, I don't know why that would be. [sigh] Okay.

 (1:52:00) to (1:54:00)

Abort. Yeah. I mean, I think I'll just mute myself then, and, uh, I'll just, I'll just, you know, we'll, we'll move on to the Lectrojogger and then we'll, uh, yeah, um, and then, and then I'm not gonna be talking anyway.

Okay. All right. We're gonna move to the Lectrojogger, then, then I'm not gonna be talking, so it won't matter. Okay. I gotta take these pages... take these pages... I'm not gonna light the Lectrojogger separately now, because I've decided I kind of like the, the spotlight.

Welcome to my Lectrojogger.

Okay. All right.

So these are left over from the last one.

All right, here we go. Lectrojog time.


Make sure they're all the same direction. Look at that. Just perfect.

 (1:54:00) to (1:56:00)

So, oh they're very heavy.

So okay. A few more. Okay. All right. So, we've got two more. I think we're like, half full on this box so we've got... maybe three more. All right. Let's progress.

 (1:56:00) to (1:58:00)

Oh wait. Just look at that. Just look at that perfection. Just, just magnificent. Okay. Yes. A couple days ago, I was signing with this color — which I don't know about, I don't know, I, I, it was sort of fun while I was doing it, but then now I'm not so sure that it was good — all right. Okay.

I just need like, maybe 30 more to go, into this top right corner. The great thing about the Lectrojogger is that it works just as well when it's like 30 sheets, that's when it's, um, yeah, as when it's like 500 sheets.

So, I just what a, what, what a machine. Okay then.

I think, I think this doesn't need, I guess I could put a piece of styrofoam there. I really don't like touching the styrofoam, but it's part of the process.

Okay. To the box fort.

 (1:58:00) to (2:00:00)

That's heavy. It's real heavy. Okay. Oh boy. Okay. All right. I'm gonna spin you back around. Then I'm gonna, I'm gonna have a drink of water. I'm gonna ice my hand. Okay. Sorry if that was nauseating. I realized that might have been a problem

So I've got this cool thing that lets me ice my hand really easily.

I don't know how to fix the audio, unfortunately. Let me, let me look. I think I'm going to mute it and then, um, it's nice and cold.

Okay I'm just gonna, um, I'm just gonna leave the audio on, I guess. That seems to be what the majority of people want, but I'm just going to listen to the book that I'm listening to, which is about, like, uh, the history of, uh, diet culture, and people's changing relationship with food over the last 500 years.

It's really interesting and also a little discouraging to be honest.

Oh, feels so good.

 (2:00:00) to (2:02:00)

Ah, feels great.

I wish for you something as joyful as an ice pack on a sore hand.

All right. Here we go. Okay.

Did I just change the audio output to my headphones? How do I—? This is more work than I thought it was going to be y'all. All right. I gotta go to settings. Okay, um, somebody says don't ice before you sign, but it's okay. It's okay to, it's okay. My physical therapist said I could, so, uh, I think, it's okay, you know.

I can't hear my book, which is a little weird.

 (2:02:00) to (2:04:00)

Ah, it doesn't really matter. I don't really... I don't really need to listen to anything. I'm going to throw away this Sharpie though.

I know that landed right in the garden of dead Sharpies. Okay, uh, let me see if I can... I'm not really smart enough to figure this out.

This is the kind of thing that I don't, that I'm not, that I've never been good at. So I'm just gonna, uh, I'm just gonna sign. I'm not gonna worry about it.

I, I don't wanna say the title of the book, because I don't know if I want to recommend it yet. I'm only like two hours into a nine hour book. What if it's terrible and everybody's like, "oh my god, I can't believe he likes that book"?

I gotta, I gotta wait and find out whether the book is any good.

Okay, we'll just do, what's the proper positioning... like this. I think.

All right.

 (2:04:00) to (2:06:00)

(silence, only the sound of Sharpie on paper)

 (2:06:00) to (2:08:00)

So, um, I got a new idea, which is to switch to a different set of headphones and see if that works. That worked okay. I think I'm actually going to listen to a podcast. That's kind of, that's kind of, that, that's, that's the energy I'm looking for right now, is like, uh, some kind of podcast. There we go. Okay. I'll see you guys in like, 30, 30 minutes.

 (2:08:00) to (2:10:00)


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 (2:28:00) to (2:30:00)


 (2:30:00) to (2:32:00)

Well it's, uh, it's definitely getting a little sore here, uh, about two, two hours. How long has it been? 10:35, 11:30, 12:30. Two and a half hours in. Got a long way to go y'all.

Um, but, uh, that's okay. This is, uh, it's good work, if you can get it. Uh, I'm, I thought I would like take a break and answer some questions.

 "Why is he doing this to himself?" (2:31:47)

"Why is he doing this to himself?"

Great question. Great question. Great question.

 (2:32:00) to (2:34:00)

 So, I'm a big believer in um, uh, doing what you say, trying, trying to live up to your commitments, even when they're stupid, um, or even when they, uh, they don't make sense. Look, like, so, but also like people, you know, lots of people like the, the, it's not like, I worry sometimes I actually discourage people from pre-ordering because they think, like, "oh I don't want him to hurt his hand more", but like, the number is baked in whether you pre-order it or not, so, so, so please do.

But, um, yeah. The, uh, it's just, this is, this is the deal I made. Um, I wanted to sign the whole first printing because I find the navigation of the signed ISBN versus the unsigned ISBN to be like, arcane and difficult for a lot of people to navigate, uh, and so I, I asked the folks, well, first off, I asked my publisher Julie Strauss-Gabel, "Can I sign the whole first printing of this book?" and she said, "Maybe, but probably not because of the way printing works."

And then we talked to some people at the warehouse who actually, the people who actually distribute the books, much of which is done quite near me, as it happens, in Crawfordsville, Indiana, and we talked to the people who print the books in Virginia, and the conclusion was that it is possible to sign a whole first print run — only of the US and Canadian edition. You can't do it for an international edition. But it is possible, it just, um, you, it's just when you make that commitment...

 (2:34:00) to (2:36:00) are making the commitment to sign however much the print run ends up being, and you don't know how much that's going to be, and I decided that that's what I wanted to do, so I knew that this was, I, I definitely knew what could happen.

Um, and obviously, like, I want people to order the book, and I want people to read the book and like the book and share the book with their friends, and I want there to be, I want everybody who pre-orders it, you know, who can get a signed copy, to get a signed copy. But now, like, once you've made that commitment, um, regret can't really enter the picture, because regret is just like, it's unhelpful. It's like, uh, it's not a good use of, uh, of your time, because it's gotta happen, so I'm just gonna sign until I'm done, and then like I'm not gonna sign for a long time — maybe, maybe ever again.

So there's also things to enjoy about it, and things to be grateful for within it, and I'm trying to focus on that stuff, even though it's definitely intimidating to think about needing to do, you know, 22,000 more signatures in the next five days.

But I've done things that were harder — quitting smoking was harder, honestly, like the last five days of The Fault in Our Stars signing might have been harder because that was, those were some long days, but I was younger. Hands a little more flexible.

All right. I'm gonna go back to, uh, to listening to stuff, but I, I wanted to, to say hello. Um, yeah.

Hi, Aaron. Aaron's here.

Hello everybody!

Heather says that, that, "I like your socks", which, thank you, I'm very grateful.

And Cheryl says, "I'm so very excited to read this book!"

Me too! Me too.

 (2:36:00) to (2:38:00)

And Elizabeth says, "UK people: Water Stones(?) had signed pre-orders."

Yeah I am signing some for the UK and all the places that the UK distributes, but I can't sign the whole print run because I don't know what it's going to be, and the way that the UK does this stuff is different from the way they do it in the US, so, um, I wish I could make a promise on that front, but I can't. I don't, I don't really know how UK publishers handle it, so you gotta, I don't know, if you wait till it comes out or what, but, but that's the deal.

But with the US or Canada, if you pre-order, it should be signed. I'm sure there will be a few where there is a problem, but it should be signed.

Uh, don't accidentally order the international paperback edition because that would be bad. Order the regular hardcover. But it should be signed. Yeah. Okay, um, all right. I'm gonna get back to, um, hold on. And that's a good stopping point. I'm gonna go back to listening to stuff.

Talk amongst yourselves. Nobody. It's all good, okay.

 "John, do you have a Guinness World Record for signing?" (2:37:25)

"John, do you have a Guinness World Record for signing?"

I think, I definitely could have one — like, I don't think anybody's ahead of me  — but I don't have one, and it's not, for whatever reason, it's never been super important to me. Um, I don't know of anybody who signed more than me, but maybe somebody has, and if they have, good, good job. It's not easy.

All right.

I'm going to go to the, gonna zone out and just sign for a while.

 (2:38:00) to (2:40:00)


 (2:40:00) to (2:42:00)


 (2:42:00) to (2:44:00)


 (2:44:00) to (2:46:00)


 (2:46:00) to (2:48:00)

I missed it (the shot).

My hip hurts.

 (2:48:00) to (2:50:00)


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 (2:54:00) to (2:56:00)


All right. So I'm gonna get some, uh, Diet Dr. Pepper.

What time is it? Oh. I gotta do the Lectrojogger. Okay. All right. We're gonna Lectrojog. I've, I'm, I'm back in it. I don't know if my audio is still, is still crackly, but if it is, I'm sorry. Okay. Okay. Let's do the Lectrojog and then I'm gonna, um, grab some Diet Dr. Pepper, just to re-energize a little bit.

It's, oh my god, I still have so far to go. Just takes, it just takes a long time. There's no, um, there's no shortcuts in this, in this business. It takes as long as it takes.

Welcome to the Lectrojogger. Sorry about the bounciness. Here we go.

What is the smallest box? Like, this one? This one maybe. I'm gonna try to use this box. We'll see how this goes.

Here we go!

Look at this beauty! Just, I mean, just magnificent.

 (2:56:00) to (2:58:00)

All right. There we go.

This definitely requires some styrofoam unfortunately. It's got a little bit of styrofoam between the stacks, but that's okay.

There's just so little in this world, that, where you can, like, decrease disorder, and you can decrease entropy, you can make things that are falling apart come together — gotta put these styrofoam spacers in — okay.

I'm gonna grab some of the ones I just did. I'm not gonna grab all of them because I actually found it unhelpful, not to have anything, any kind of snack at all — so this is Intergalactic Indigo, by the way — that's that color. Isn't it beautiful? I think it is.

And just look at the quality of that stack. It's astonishing.

Okay. All right.

 (2:58:00) to (3:00:00)

Just a few, maybe two more of these.

That's too big. That's too much. Not even the Lectrojogger could handle that level. Okay. All right. Let me see. We're just gonna do like, maybe this many more. Maybe that's even, that could even be too many, but we'll see. Okay. So, let's see how this fits. It's pretty perfect, actually. All right. I'm gonna grab a couple more styrofoam spacers. Okay. Then I'm gonna take you back to the box fort and I'm going to go pee and grab some Diet Dr. Pepper.

 (3:00:00) to (3:02:00)

Okay so now oh, you know, we need one more styrofoam spacer to go on top here like this, just to protect the top signatures. Take that over to the box fort. Oh, it's heavy. Great. Now I'm going to bring you back to the box fort and I'll be back in a minute.

Oh no. The chair, this is broken. Oh gosh. How does the situation resolve itself? The, okay. I don't know what to do. I've never had this problem before. Hold on a second... Okay. I got, I fixed it.

All right, you know, the other thing that I had done that, that is potentially catastrophic is I had unplugged you, but now I think I can plug you back in maybe.

Yes okay oh gotta get the gotta get the shot right even if I'm not in it, you know, okay I'll be back.

 (3:02:00) to (3:04:00)


 (3:04:00) to (3:06:00)

Okay. And I'm back. I'm back, I'm back, I'm back. Hello. Time to sign some more, but now with Diet Dr. Pepper. Oh my gosh. I forgot, oh, hold on a second. I'm not back. That was premature. Hold on.

I'm back. I have this medication I'm supposed to take at noon every day, and I take it, I already took it late, so I didn't want to take it too late. Okay.

I mean, I prefer cans because, uh, they're slightly less energy intensive and slightly more recyclable, but they're both pretty horrible, so both very hard to justify, which is why I'm trying to, uh, yeah.

 (3:06:00) to (3:08:00)

 Thank you, to, it's on Untapped Inkwell who was reminding me to, uh, take my medication, but I see Phoebe's here, noted AFC Wimbledon supporter, um, nice to see you —

 "If your signature took just one second longer to write, this whole process would take 70 hours longer." (3:06:18)

"If your signature took just one second longer to write this whole process would take 70 hours longer."

Wow. Is that true? Oh my god. Does that mean that, if I, no, that can't be right. Can I, can I make it faster? then my main thought, is does that mean that I could make it hours and hours and hours faster just by speeding it up by one second? I feel like it might, I feel like I might be able to find one second of efficiency. Never thought about it in those terms.

I'm almost done though — I mean, well, almost. Am I, am I almost done if I have 45 hours left? I guess I'm not almost done. But I'm almost done in the sense that I've done over 90% of the total signatures, and, um, I don't know if y'all have heard me mention this but I'm not doing this again.


I am, I have been cured of the bug. I mean I could see myself like signing 10,000 or 20,000 or something like Hank does, you know, but never, never like this again. Never, never like this again.

Um, I mean, the truth is, like, if you sign 10,000 or 20,000, like, most of the people who really, really want a signed copy, and who are like, you know, super involved, will get one anyway because like they'll, you know, they'll order right when it becomes available.

 (3:08:00) to (3:10:00)

But this isn't just about them — it's also about the, you know, the people who work at bookstores, and who, um, are ordering the book and gonna be hand selling it, and all the other, um, yeah, I don't know I,, I I still think there's a little bit of joy in getting a signed book, at least for me.

These pages have a weird indentation on them. I don't think you can see it. It's like, down here, but I always think, like, I mean, I don't think it's going to matter. I don't think anybody's gonna see that there's like a slight debossing effect in the bottom corner of the page and be like, "no, now my autograph book experience is ruined".

Um, I actually wrote an essay in the book that's about my obsessive signing. It's about the artwork of Hiroyuki Doi, but it's really about my, my repetitive actions and, um, so that's the other reason I felt like I had to sign the whole first printing, was that I felt like it would make that essay a lot better.

But now I'm thinking, like, "Well, could I have just made that essay a lot better by spending 70 more hours on it?"

Okay. Yeah. Yeah.

So the reason there is no vlogbrothers video today is because I just didn't have, uh, the time or energy over the weekend or on Monday to make one, so I, I usually make my vlogbrothers videos on Tuesdays. Like I film them on Tuesdays, but they have to be, I have to know what I'm talking about before then, and usually I have a script.

 (3:10:00) to (3:12:00)

I don't like stick to the script necessarily, but usually I have a script that I write out so I know what I'm going to be talking about, and I just did not have time to do that.

I actually have a video I want to make that's about this goalkeeper named Jimmy Glass and how I think about Jimmy Glass whenever I'm discouraged, but in general, like, I, yeah. This has just been, this has probably been the most stressful, um, it's not been the most stressful period of my life, because I've had some pretty stressful periods, but it's definitely been the most like, the like, the most stressful period of my adult life, um, in terms of like, work stress, I guess, was, uh, right right around when the Paper Towns movie came out and then I had this like big psychological, uh, collapse, I guess you would term it, um, but the, this has been the most stressful time since then, and there's a lot of factors in it.

Like Covid is a huge factor, um, and then, you know, we, we announced, we sort of, usually when I've written books in the past, we work forward toward a publishing date. Like once we have a finished book, we figure out the publishing date, but this time we announced the date probably too early, which has been part of it, but honestly the biggest thing has been Covid, like Covid made, has made writing this book much harder and there was, uh, a level of Covid, uh, coming home, that we did not anticipate, obviously.

And just the, you know, stress of family members and loved ones getting sick and having to deal with all that stuff...

 (3:12:00) to (3:14:00)

...while also trying to like meet deadlines, has been pretty challenging for about the last like two months, and when this is over, I just, um, when this is over, I, uh, which, really, like, weirdly, the book doesn't come out till May 18th, but my relationship with the book changes pretty dramatically in about 10 days, because right now, like I can still change stuff, and, and if mistakes are found, we can deal with those mistakes, and there are still, you know, final questions around the design and everything, but then in like, 10 days or so — and then there's the signing, which is not an insignificant thing — but in 10 days, like, the book ceases to be mine.

So it's this weird mix of I've never really had work, uh, days like this before where, you know, I go so many days without a weekend and don't have time, the time I want to devote to things I really love, like vlogbrothers or Dear Hank and John, and my family [laughs], um, but at the same time knowing that like, 10 days from now, I'm, I'm not going to have the opportunities that I have now to change the book — like, right now I have an opportunity to make the book better, and, you know, I've had that opportunity for like, three years, really, and then I'm going to lose that, and there's going to be this transition movement that happens with every book where it stops being mine and it belongs to the people who will read it, and I want to make it the best book that I can make it for them.

 (3:14:00) to (3:16:00)

I want to do all the little things right so that it's the best reading experience it can be, and also so that I won't have any regrets, because I, I understand now in a way that I didn't understand, you know, when my first couple books came out that like, you live with these things.

You live with the, the weird thing about a book is, uh, you wrote it in your past but people read it in their present, and so you, I live with the text of Looking for Alaska every day, even though I'm vastly different from the person who wrote that book. Like the person who wrote that book had, in some ways, like, very little in common with me, you know; he wasn't a father. He wasn't married. He wasn't, um, he didn't live in Indianapolis, you know, and on and on and on and on.

And, but like, I live with the text of that book sealed forever as it was in 2005, and it can never, it can never change. I suppose it's possible for authors to let go and revise their published work. I really dislike it when writers do that, except in extreme situations, because, like, I think, I think that — well, for one thing, I think authors often make their worst, their work worse by revisiting it many years later — but also because it sort of, like, takes the, I don't know. It's just, it, it unsettles me and I don't know that I've totally figured out why, so maybe I shouldn't pontificate about having strong feelings about something when I don't fully understand why I have strong feelings.

But for whatever reason I've always felt like I can't go back to those books, at least not to do anything other than like, try to change typos. Maybe partly because I know that if I go back to the, if I went back to them, I would, I, I would never stop.

 (3:16:00) to (3:18:00)

Like I, I would, I don't know I, I don't know, I don't know, if I'd be able to find where the line is, um, and, and, and regardless, you can't so, so, so, the book, you know, the book stops being yours at some point and, uh, and until that point, I think, I, I, I'm trying to do whatever I can to make it good, basically.

I know that I'm now only like, a few days away from that point, um... and it, you know, like it's... I don't know. For better or worse, like, it's a book about now, and I think that means it will age weirdly, because it really is a book about like April of, it's a book about like, you know, March to 2020 to April of 2021, and I don't know. I don't know how that mean, I don't know how that means it's going to age, but I definitely, I definitely wrote it for people who are reading right now, whereas like, when I write a novel I feel like I'm writing, I don't, I don't know exactly who I'm writing for, but I'm definitely not writing for, uh, that moment. I'm not like trying to respond to a historical moment, um, but this time I was, partly because of the size of the historical moment, and partly because it's non-fiction.

All right, I'm going to answer a couple questions.

Wait, Stan just texted me. Okay, um, all right.

No, I think the, I think the, uh, I think the audio always changes for people.

Princess Shorty has made their finger nails Intergalactic Indigo —

 (3:18:00) to (3:20:00)

— which is very cool.


 "How is writing non-fiction now different than when you wrote for BookList?" "How similar is it to the podcast?" (3:18:06)

"How is non, writing non-fiction now different than when you wrote for BookList?"

Um, yeah, I mean, and Nicole says, "How similar is it to the podcast?"

Well some of the essays are very similar. Like, some of the essays are basically just what the, uh, some of the essays are basically just what they were, um, you know, they're like the Auld Lang Syne essay for instance hasn't changed much between the podcast and the book. But, others have changed a lot, and then there are a bunch of new ones, um.

So sometimes I change things because like, things are different in print than they are when you're speaking aloud, and because especially once Hannis Brown started composing music for The Anthropocene Reviewed, I knew I could count on the music to do certain things, you know, like I, like, Hannis's scoring is so good that I could I could lean on it. I could, you know, I, I knew I could use it as transition material as, um, as a way of, uh, bridging different emotional experiences.

So that, that's, that's different.

But then also, like, I wanted to change, like, for instance, there's a review in the book of the Indianapolis 500, and when you're writ—, you know, which is largely about like all these traditions that surround my experience of this huge event, and that didn't happen this year.

 (3:20:00) to (3:22:00)

So I ne— I had to write about that, like, it'd be weird if i didn't write about it. And so, there's a lot of new stuff around what happens when traditions and the sense of continuity that one has—what happens when that gets ruptured. What are the consequences of the this uh sense of ongoingness being challenged. So in some ways like, the review is similar to the one in the book except that it's about a completely different thing. I mean the review is similar to the one in the podcast except it's about a completely different thing.  And then there are, you know, several that are all new, which, and a couple of those I couldn't have really done without the book. Like the essay on 3 farmers on their way to a dance that closes the book. I couldn't have written that for the podcast because I need you to see the pictures of these boys for the— for it to make sense. So, yeah, it’s a little hard to say. My estimate is that like twenty thousand of the eighty thousand words in the book are "new" in the sense that they weren’t in the podcast. But it’s very hard to say. Also because it’s been a slow year and a half long process of revising. And in that process, a lot of the ones that I thought were going to be in the book ended up not in the book. Like, I thought pineapple pizza was going to be in the book because you know it’s a great story, and it’s this great, strange, heartbreaking tale of globalism. But then the more I worked on it, the more I was like, I don’t really, I don’t, this just isn’t. This is like a pod—  

 (3:22:00) to (3:24:00)

It's like a podcast to me. It doesn't work as an essay on paper. Whereas others that I thought weren't gonna work in the book ended up there. Like I, for instance, I used to do these, or i guess I’m doing one now. I’ve done these live streams for like the last year. I’ve pretty much tried to do it starting at the beginning of lockdown. When — where either in unlisted videos or in videos that are hidden behind some clues I either read stuff from the book or else just do these signings or answer questions or whatever. And doing that has been super helpful for the book. It’s just a chance to read out loud for an audience that’s, you know, generally quite supportive and understanding and interested to see things in flux. And I read a couple ones that I wasn’t — that were NOT in the book, but in reading them to an audience, I was like, oh, yeah, I think i can make this work in the book. Like the Jerzy Dudek — this Polish goalkeeper who played for Liverpool in the mid 2000’s — and I wrote an essay about Jerzy Dudek and how you don’t know, you don’t… you can’t see the future coming. You can’t see, of course you can’t see the terrible things that await and the hard things that are coming, but you also can’t see the joy that’s coming. And that essay — which wasn’t even going to be in the book is really at the heart of it because I, in the process of reading it out loud

 (3:24:00) to (3:26:00)

I realized that oh like this can work in the book and it is making a point that isn’t made elsewhere and that I really want to make. And now it’s weird because one of the last lines in that — one of the last lines in that essay is “the light-soaked days are coming”. Which is something that now people in Nerdfighteria quote all the time, and so I’m like hoo boy I’m glad that essay is gonna be in the book. Otherwise, the line most associated with the podcast wouldn’t be in the book.

Ok. Just doing that. Close. Still not total full range of movement, but pretty big. The reader's guilt says I´m not big on non-fiction but I´m getting more and more convinced to buy this book. All right well I´m doing that I´m doing my job, I´m doing my job as a as an expert marketer, um I do think I mean you know I don´t know is it the best way to spend 21 dollars and 80 cents I don´t know, but but I´m gonna try to provide some value for you I´ll say that, that said don´t buy the book if you can´t afford it just just listen to the podcast it´s got most of it um it´s yeah it´s got most everything you need, okay the podcast is free but you do have to listen to ads about consuming uh goods and services because it´s very it´s hard to make things without having some way to, some way to pay for it, um to pay your collaborators at least

 (3:26:00) to (3:28:00)

uh is Dave Green going to read your audiobook, um it´s Jersey Dudek's birthday apparently. If you could set one of your books as a musical, which one would it be? oh I wouldn´t i wouldn´t I wouldn´t do that  [Laughs] um I mean I don't know probably the fault in our stars but i thought I thought dear Evan Hansen um made a really good vid-um made a really good um... musical about mental illness and trauma and so I don´t know i don't know I I I I don't think I would I- to be honest like I don´t think i would want that mostly because I just I know how um I know how stressful that that whole musical theater experience can be, business-wise and uh just seems kind of, it just seems sort of stressful, I do I mean I I have had really good experiences with people adapting my work, like I´ve been very lucky like i i like both the fault in our stars and the paper towns movie adaptations, like of course there are things about both of them that um you know I would have done differently but but that´s like that´s why the book exists, and so and I´ve I´ve really enjoyed greatly enjoyed both of those processes and I would I and I loved the I I really liked the looking for alaska um limited series that Stephanie Savage and Josh Schwartz made i thought they did a great job 

 (3:28:00) to (3:30:00)

And, if they make a movie of Turtles All The Way Down  I will be really excited about that, and I think it has a good chance of happening and
if it got made Ithink it would be great. I think it could be a really good movie, the people who wrote the screenplay did a great job and
it's the same kind of like, core producer team that
made The Fault in our Stars and Paper Towns so I would be really happy about that.

So like I said I've had amazing experiences with adaptations but it's also like, you know it's inherently stressful because that stuff has to reach a much much broader audience to succeed than books do. Like
if you think about like The Anthropocene Reviewed book has a huge
first print run, I'm incredibly, incredibly lucky to have the book going out to this many book stores, and going out to this many people's homes, from people who've pre-ordered and everything. And the first print run is 250 000 copies.

And if 250 000 people see a movie when it comes out, the movie is like a huge failure. Aretty much universally. Like a million, two million people  saw Paper Towns the weekend that it came out in movie theaters and it was not considered to be a hugely  commercially successful movie. 

So the the scale of everything is just so different and I don't really know that much about how musical theater works but my understanding is that it's the same sort of like blockbuster model where you just need a long run with a lot of people being very

 (3:30:00) to (3:32:00)

It's just a different, it's just different from the, the way that I like , the way that I tend to make stuff.  Like I tend to make stuff that can succeed at that, at a scale of like you know 1,000 to 100,000 people like, like the The Anthropocene Reviewed as a podcast was very like, I, I don't know, I thought it was successful.

Like, and I was really, really, I loved the, I was very happy with the audience numbers and the size of the audience and everything, um.  But again, like if you put that up against what a movie has to do to succeed, and that's, it's even true for like Netflix and Hulu and um movies. That they just, they just need to attract such a huge audience that it's such a, it's like a significant percentage of people in America, like have to wanna see your thing, have to wanna like, you know, give their attention to your thing.

And like I, it's a, it's a stressful. I just, I don't know that, I don't know that it's for me.  I really like um, like I, I think that the current Vlogbrothers audience size is just perfect of like 150,000 to 200,000 people to me that's just like, that's getting to make stuff for a big audience that's really, that can be, you know, broad and um but can still have a depth of connection to the material. Like like I think about this a lot in terms of uh NCIS which is a television show that's consistently among like the highest rated TV shows in the United States.

And I've never, I, I'm able to think about it this way because I've never seen an episode of NCIS so I can't have any sort of, I can't have a, I can't have an opinion about it

 (3:32:00) to (3:34:00)

Because I don't, I haven't seen the program, but what I, what I do know is that even though NCIS has a massive audience, it actually like doesn't have the same level of cultural or, or social impact as much smaller communities that have a deeper sense of connection to the material.

Like I'm sure there are some people with NCIS tattoos but I think there are more people with McElroy brother related tattoos or Akilah Hughes related tattoos or,or,or,or whatever. Like I think, I think if you have a deep sense of community around the thing that you like. That's so much more powerful like.

Right? Like what's interesting about Nerdfighteria is not how many people watch our videos on Tuesday, what's interesting about Nerdfighteria is that despite a relatively small audience we could organise a capital campaign to raise 25million dollars to help build a maternal and child health hospital in the Kono district in Sierra Leone.

Like I'm not, I- I'm not totally sure NCIS could do that. Despite having way, you know, having orders of magnitude more people who engage with it every week.

So I guess that's where my, like that's where my personal interest lies like, not in like maximising the size of audience um, but in you know like, doing something for like, yeah I don't know.

 (3:34:00) to (3:36:00)

Not sure, I'm not sure how I got there from answering your question about musical theatre which was a completely reasonable question that I answered in a totally unreasonable way.

Um, so yeah, hopefully we're not a cult.

 NewSection (3:34:17)

(Reading chat question) Isn't John on NCIS?

I don't think so, um, I don't think so. I don't, I'm not positive, but I don't think so.

 NewSection (3:34:30)

(Reading chat) Is he still going?

Yeah, I going to have to do this until like 6 o'clock ya'll, this is like a 12 hour thing. I'm not, yeah, I'm not gonna film the whole thing but yeah this is , this takes, I gotta do all the ones behind me. Um, it just takes a long time, it just takes a long time. Actually I have to do more than that today actually I-I mean, I or at least I should if I'm gonna stay on, stay on schedule.

Because the,the current schedule has like a 14 hour day on,on Saturday that I would love to, uh. Every hour that I can take away from that is gonna make, is gonna make Saturday better, so we'll see.

But I can do it! I can see the end now, I'm 90% of the way there, 90, maybe even 91% of the way there.

Alright, I was supposed to look at questions

(John muttering)

 NewSection (3:35:50)

(Reading from chat) I was just coming back from school and you're still streaming.

You're telling me!

Ok um.

 (3:36:00) to (3:38:00)

 NewSection (3:36:10)

(Reading from chat) Do you have a favorite real life signing moment? I remember you seeing my ragged copy of Looking for Alaska and saying "Well this book was read!"

Ahh Tom I always say something! I-I'm so bad in signing lines like I'm so nervous and like I know everyone is else nervous too and it just like, I can sort of feel everyone's anxiety. I always end up saying something silly like "Well I can tell this book has been read!"

But actually like that is my favorite thing to be honest with you, when I'm in a signing line and somebody brings a copy of a book that's obviously been read more than once, you can just tell. 

And it is really special because it, its special to think that somebody would care enough about your work to wanna spend that level of time with it.

And also like, when you're writing, you know, you do try to write.. I can't speak for you.

When I'm writing I do try to write in a way that um, I wanna, you know in a, in a perfect world I wanna, and like I don't always achieve this,  but this is the goal I wanna write a book that is fun to read, not just fun but like, is a good read, is emotionally engaging, and that, and that also if the more attention you paid to it, the more rewarding it is.

Like,like I wanna write books that you can read purely for fun or purely for um, purely for a reading experience, but that also do reward a close reading and do reward rereading. Um, so when I see a book like that I do always feel pretty emotional.

 (3:38:00) to (3:40:00)

Because I think about the, it just it feels like somebody has you been, been kind to your work. And kind to the, you know, this, this thing that you made.

It's like an act of love almost and I think about the books that when I was younger I had um I had that were like that, you know.

Like my, my beat-up copies of, of various books that I had, you know, when I was in my teens or twenties. And it's really nice and um, rewarding to think that for someone else you might be, you know, your book might be that book.

Uh, I have a lot of great memories from signing lines. But to be honest I tend to focus on the times when I've said something stupid. Or the times when I've misspoken.

Or, um, all the times, like a lot of times if somebody comes up with a book that I've already signed like, like a copy, say a copy of The Fault in Our Stars that they've pre-ordered, and so it came signed, but they're asking me to sign it again.

A lot of times I'll open the book and I'll get entranced by the signature. And so I'll look at the signature and then I'll comment on the signature.

As if the person who is handing me the book, who's having this like, brief 20-second experience meeting me. As if like what they want to hear is my review of my own signature.

But because I've spent like so many hundreds of hours doing this, like I do (laughs) it's all I'm thinking about! So like, do I, do I say what I'm thinking or do I like, I don't know.

I, I have a lot of regrets about all the times when I've been like " Oh, well that's a pretty, yeah, that's a, that's a, well I, I wish I'd done a little," like shut up! Just let the person say what they want to say to you. Um. But yeah

 (3:40:00) to (3:42:00)

There've been - you know, there've been some really emotional times in signing lines where, where people uh you know said, said stuff to me that made me cry, or, or said stuff that, you know, was difficult for them to share... and that, that has meant a lot to me their - you know, yeah. I - it's, it's such a strange, fraught moment because it is just a moment. And, but, but it's a moment because of its intensity, that you remember

And so, like I - I'll give you an example, like I met, um...  I had the uh,  the author - I -I don't know how to say this person's name, so I apologize - I've always said his name is Jeffrey Eugenides, who wrote the Marriage Plot - I had him - I asked him to sign a book.

A better example is Zadie Smith. I met Zadie Smith um at a conference once, and uh my publicist, Elise, knew I was a huge fan of Zadie Smith, and was like, would you like to meet her? And I said yes, and so uh, I met Zadie Smith, and she signed a book for me. And it was -it was very nice and it was just a very brief interaction, but like, I remember everything about it! Because it was it was a heightened thing for me, because i was, you know, meeting an author whose work I really admire, and I was, um, uncomfortable, and I remember everything that I like, didn't say, and the things I sort of like, and I remember stumbling on my words, and. You know. And so I have this like vivid memory, whereas I'm sure for her it was just, like, part of the day (laughs) you know. Because, you know like, she had by that time like, done that like several hundred times that day. 

 (3:42:00) to (3:44:00)

And so I - it's such a weird fraught moment and also like it's a moment that like everybody involved knows is likely to be remembered. So yeah it's just - it's hard to navigate. Um. I've always, to be honest, I've always felt like I'm bad at it.
Uh, like I cut this story out of the Anthropocene reviewed book and I - some of you've heard me tell it before probably but I met the author Michael Connelly, he's one of my favourite, uh, novelists and my mom, maybe my mom's very favourite writer. I met him at a party in 2006 for the LA times book festival and he was very very nice to me even though he had no reason to be. Um, you know like he didn't know me from anybody else and um any...
So, the next day, I had a book signing and back then like your book signings were um. Yeah I mean you know for the first like five, four, four, four and a half. I would say the first four years after my first book came out, so like the first four years I was doing book events and book signings and everything, I never had more than five people um come to an event or stand in line for a signing or whatever. It's just not the kind of books that I wrote and like and they built an audience very slowly like you know looking for Alaska sold better every year for the first like 10 years it was out it's just like the way that my books worked. Um, but anyway the uh, I had this signing the next day, it's an hour-long and I knew that there were gonna be like 3 people at the signing and then I was gonna spend the remaining like 57 minutes of the signing you know like staring into the middle distance at this book festival

 (3:44:00) to (3:46:00)

Uh, sort of like trying to not make eye contact with people as they walked by because I didn't want to make them uncomfortable and make them feel like I was asking them to come over and buy my book. And I... by this time I'd done versions of that at book festivals dozens and dozens of times and it's always like, you know it's a nice three minutes while you're signing for the three people who want their book signed and then it's 57 long minutes of being vaguely uncomfortable and so I did not go through the line quickly.
When I arrived there was like a line of three people for my, for my one hour signing and of course I did not go through the line quickly because I was not in a hurry because I knew that once I got through those three people there was not going to be anyone else over the course of the entire hour and I was going to spend the entire time staring into the middle distance trying not to make eye contact with people so as not to make them uncomfortable or to make them feel like I was, um, pleading with them to come buy my book even though secretly I was pleading with them to come buy my book and so I signed for the first 2 people and I go very slowly because again I'm not in a hurry and then I look up and the third person is Michael Connolly one of the world's best-selling novelist who went out of his way to stand in the line at my book signing for an abundance of Catherine's in 2006 and I looked up at him and I saw Michael Connolly and he asked me to sign the book for his daughter and I said I'd be happy to and then he said kid, you've got to learn how to manage a line and I've thought about that every single time I've done a book signing for the last you know however many years and I still don't know how to manage a line all this time later. It's uh, the uh, nature of the line has changed, everything about publishing has changed in the years since 2006 but that one thing has stayed the same: I do not know how to manage a line even after 15 years,

 (3:46:00) to (3:48:00)

So if I said something like... yeah if I just usually... Yeah, I so I... Anyway if you came to a signing I hope it went okay um and if it didn't I'm sorry that I never know what to say. Like you would think that I would have it figured out by now but I don't so yeah. You should go to a Michael Connolly event though. Those things they run on rails. He's great. Oh, he's great in front of an audience. Okay um yeah I think I think the big takeaway is that I don't know how to manage a line and to be fair like he didn't like uh he didn't like leave me with a 272-page guidebook or anything that was it that was the extent of the advice. Oh man and then like many years later Michael Connolly uh put The Fault in our Stars in one of his books which was so generous of him. I've met him a few times over the years and he's just he's great. I mean always been so so kind to me but um I know I know he only put The Fault in our Stars in one of his books because he knew it would make my mom happy and it made my mom so happy. Like my mom was so proud of me. Uh my mom, it was weird because like by then like The Fault in our Stars was like you know a successful book and everything but my mom was like 'oh you finally you did it you're in a Michael Connolly book'. So he had his like daughter, he had like Harry Bosh's daughter read it and uh uh yeah. Daniel says I did okay at the Indy public library once which is good to hear, good to hear. Uh, how do you work out when it's cold outside? I work out inside Dean. I work out inside even when it's pretty nice inside a lot of times, to be honest, um uh.

 (3:48:00) to (3:50:00)

Brooke asks a great question: what is it like to be an expert on something that very few other people are experts on like sharpie colours? Great question. This is something like, that many of us have different versions of. Like in chat I'd be interested to maybe you could share something that you have an unusual amount of expertise in because the thing is, like, when sharpies come up in conversations which admittedly I haven't had a conversation with someone outside of my family in like 13 months so, but I remember like over the last 10 years when sharpies would come up in conversation I would like, be like what what now what I uh I've got some opinions. And people like you know it's you've got to balance it because you don't want to come across as like preachy or as like the all-knowing person right like you want to be able to have a conversation with somebody. But frankly like when I'm having a conversation with somebody about sharpies they're not gonna say anything. I don't, I don't know like I know a ton about the history of sharpies like, I know, I know about the chemical composition of them and how they were what the team that designed the first sharpie was tasked with doing and how they went about accomplishing it and why sharpie fine tip markers hold their point better than other fine tip markers because of the density of the, you know of the fabric and everything that's used in the tip and then I know and then I have like weird - I missed the table - I have like weird sharpie conspiracy theories like if you if you've ever hung out with me for an extended period of time like you've heard some of my weird sharpie conspiracy theories which I think are true. Like, I don't think that I'm wrong about this so is it a conspiracy theory if it's true? Some sharpie colours last longer than other sharpies colours like it's just true.

 (3:50:00) to (3:52:00)

And I think it's because, I don't know exactly what it is. I think it has to do probably must have to do with the chemical composition of the ink having to be slightly different for different colours but like some sharpie colours do last like hold their line longer than other colours. it's just true. Green does not hold as long as red does, um black holds longer than either of them. So like that's the other thing is that sometimes I'll bring up like things that are true but like not relevant to 99% of sharpie users like you know like nobody who buys a sharpie ever thinks like oh I really I need this to, I need this to hold the thinness of its line for as long as possible. I know this because like when I go to other people's houses which again haven't done in a long time but like sometimes I would go to other people's houses and they'd be like hey do you can you sign a book for me and id be like of course yeah and then they'd like trot out a sharpie for me to sign with I'd uncap it and look at the tip of the sharpie that they've asked me to sign with and I'm like frankly like disgusted. Like I'm disgusted that they think that that level of worn down marker is capable of making anything approaching a clean and consistent line and like I can barely do it, to be honest like I can barely do it. I, yeah, I find it like physically uncomfortable to try to like sign with those sharpies cuz you gotta press so hard but then also like you have to sign so slowly because you know like

 (3:52:00) to (3:54:00)

There's just not that much ink left it's such a weird experience um so like I know that most people don't use sharpies the way that I use them. I also know this because like in the past and we're doing it again this year like we like sell the used sharpies at the uh during the Project for Awesome um and uh, like for charity just to be clear so that people don't think that I'm trying to like sell my used sharpies on eBay, although it's not like I'm above it. But um but when people will get the sharpie you know they bought it during the Project for Awesome they'll be like this still writes and I'm like yeah I mean it yeah in the sense that it still produces ink but like you can't sign until all traces of ink are gone because then like 95% of the signatures are legible and there's just like a little uh fraction of legibility. And then the other thing is that I like I do have very strong opinions about sharpie colour. Like, I'm signing with navy now which I think is beautiful, I think intergalactic indigo is beautiful, I think green, the regular green sharpie, is a really good colour. I think they're sort of like between red and pink, I can't remember what they call it it's something a little silly, but I think that's really beautiful um and I like the black sharpie. Like I like blue, I like red, but I really don't like yellow, like I really, like the way that it bleeds into the page makes it seem almost like the signature was like pressed in by a hot iron or something it's just really grosses me out um. I don't like to sign with orange. I just, I feel like

 (3:54:00) to (3:56:00)

With orange, I feel like orange is an anxious colour and I don't want people to look at their autographed book and feel nervous you know. Yeah so I definitely, I think, I think everybody's like this when they have an expertise that's hyper-specific and then you're trying to uh you end up trying to like rework your - I gotta go - you end up trying to rework you um your level of expertise so that you don't seem so weird right like so that it doesn't seem so weird. It's a little bit like how everybody was saying that I was weird earlier for saying that I thought there's a big difference between good signatures and bad signatures and to people on the outside it looks like all my signatures look the same. Well yeah, I mean it looks like that to you because you don't like, uh spend all day looking at very slight variations um so you've got to try to find a way to be comfortable in your expertise without being overbearing about it while also not seeming like a weird, you know like somebody who's just become gripped by an obsessed uh obsessed, obsession with sharpies. But the thing is, like I am sort of someone who's become gripped with an obsession with sharpies so maybe you just gotta pretend, maybe you just gotta pretend the truth. Be who you are. I don't know, I don't know. Alright, I gotta end the live stream because I have to go have a meeting about the Anthropocene reviewed book so I'm gonna have to do that but it has been a real joy to sign here for the last 4 hours instead of signing alone.

 (3:56:00) to (3:58:00)

Thank you for keeping me company, for your excellent questions, for the kindnesses that you've shown each other in chat and everything else. Let's do one last electro jog. I don't want to leave you without one last electro jog so we'll do that and then we'll say goodbye. Okay, I got so carried away talking about Michael Connolly and sharpies I almost like rolled right through this meeting time. Alright, it took so long to sign that many it's just a time-consuming process, there's no two ways about it. There's really not anything else to say except that it takes a long time. Okay, here come say hi to my electro-jogger. Sorry for the spin, there, I know that was uncomfortable. I've experienced vertigo before. Okay, there's the electro jogger and all of its gorf glory and magnificence. For the last time today, for you guys, I'm still doing some later, electro-jog. Oh, it's so nice. Look at that ridiculously satisfying perfectly organised sheets of paper, just magnificent. Alright, let's do one more so we have two stacks in the box. Oh yeah.

 (3:58:00) to (3:59:07)

Alright okay, we're off to a good start, just like I don't know maybe 2000 to go so it's gonna happen, it's gonna happen. I'm closing in. I will likely do another one of these live streams on Thursday, hopefully at which point I'll hopefully be significantly closer to being finished but between... and I don't know maybe I'll do one tomorrow because it's not like I'm getting... like usually, I try to spread them out so that I don't step on the toes of Vlogbrothers videos and like you know depress their views but they're... I didn't make a Vlogbrothers video today so maybe I can, so uh yeah maybe I'll if you want to hang out and do this again uh I will try to do it on Wednesday or Thursday but in the meantime, thank you for being here I hope you enjoyed hanging out at my box fort and don't forget to be awesome.