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In which John gives advice to young, aspiring writers. He also discusses Tiffany with no last name (who, if you were to somehow find her, John would repay you handsomely). No scavenger hunt clue today, Nerdfighters (too much paper towns!), but--not to sound like a broken record--you can feel free to devote your scavenger-hunting energies to Tiffany the surnameless horse lover.


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A Bunny

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John: Good morning Hank, it's Monday, November 26th. As you can tell, puff levels are a little bit high today. I have to turn in the final revision of Paper Towns tomorrow evening, and I'm a little stressed. Hank, in other news when Mom and Dad were here for Thanksgiving, they brought three boxes full of my childhood stuff.

Hank, perhaps most exciting is this Eagle's Nest Camp t-shirt from 1987. Hank, it was at Eagle's Nest Camp in 1987 that I dated, and got dumped by, my very first girlfriend who kissed me. I mean we were ten so it was just like [makes pecking kiss sound], but still. I am referring of course to Tiffany with no last name who also holds the distinction of being the only one of my ex-girlfriends whose last name I don't know and who, therefore, I cannot look up on facebook.

God, Hank, I can't tell you how much I would love to know Tiffany with no last name's last name, but unfortunately I have very few clues to go on. Because I was ten when Tiffany with no last name and I dated and I don't remember a lot of the details of our relationship. For instance, I don't remember where she was from and I don't remember anything about what she looked like.

In fact Hank, in the search for Tiffany with no last name I can only provide two sure clues. First, we know that when she was ten she had excellent penmanship. And second, we know that she likes horses. Tiffany's horse says "Everybody's special." Now Hank, I don't know how many 30 year old women there are in America named Tiffany who liked horses when they were ten, but I swear to God if any nerdfighters successfully track her down, there will be a very handsome reward.

Hank, last week, our Secret Brother Alex posted a video in which he asked if I had any advice for young, aspiring writers. Hank, I was thinking about how to address that question when mom and dad showed up with all my childhood stuff, and I found two new books that I wrote in elementary school.

The first is called, "My Great Mini Book: It's Wonderful Amazing". I was a humble child. [clears throat] I'd like to read this book to you.

My friend the fox is a very ugly animal. I don't like foxes. (And then you can see there the little boy is saying, "What is it?") My friend the rabbit is my favorite animal. I like its fur. The tree groaned: "Don't pick my apples. Quit!" "O.K." What's inside the box? I think it's a turtle. Why is he alone? They don't want to play with him. The end.

Now Hank, that book lacked what I like to call narrative consistency. You know, it starts out with me hating a fox and it ends up with me being lonely because no one likes me. Does no one like me because I hate foxes? So, I guess, the first thing I would say is that you need to write a story that, unlike my story, it has a beginning and a middle and an end. Also, the beginning shouldn't involve hating foxes and the end shouldn't involve no one liking you.

Hank, the other book I want to share with you is a book of short stories I wrote called, "John's Stories". What can I say, I like rainbows. Hank, this book contains two stories, I'd like to read them both to you in their entirety. The first one is called, "My Elf".

One day, when I was buttoning my shirt, a small elf popped out of my button. I went to tell my mother. She did not believe in elves. "But there was," I said, "It popped out of my button!" But my mom said, "No."

The second story is untitled. If I could, if I could be a noisy bunny, well, I guess I'd just hop and skip along.

The thing about me as an elementary school writer is that I hadn't read a lot of books yet. I really think that reading is just as important as writing when you're trying to be a writer because it's the only apprenticeship we have, it's the only way of learning how to write a story.

The second thing I would say is that, when you're writing a story and you hope that one day it'll get published, you should write it for other people instead of just for yourself. Like in that elf story I just read, the most interesting thing about that story, by far, is the elf who gets almost no time on the page. Because I'm too busy making a big to-do about how mom never believes me when I tell outrageous lies.

Now obviously Hank, when I was an eight year old pathological liar, it really bothered me, personally, that mom didn't believe my lies. But Hank, from the perspective of a reader of that story, I mean, I'm interested in the interactions between the mom and the kid, that's cool and everything, but give me more elf!

So those are my two pieces of advice. Read a lot and more elf! I'll see you tomorrow.

Thanks to everyone who helped me get my Euros over the weekend. I think I'll give you guys a raise.