YouTube: https://youtube.com/watch?v=MiX7fVkTbzM
Previous: Let's Talk about Failure
Next: How do YouTubers Make Money?

Categories

Statistics

View count:667,467
Likes:32,390
Dislikes:267
Comments:3,942
Duration:03:21
Uploaded:2016-09-20
Last sync:2019-06-13 19:50
In which John Green discusses the years since the publication of his novel The Fault in Our Stars, why there hasn't been a new book yet, and why he has returned to writing after some time away. Thanks to Hank for beginning this discussion with his great video last week: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TKySzbA-lUs



----
Subscribe to our newsletter! http://nerdfighteria.com/newsletter/
And join the community at http://nerdfighteria.com http://effyeahnerdfighters.com
Help transcribe videos - http://nerdfighteria.info
John's twitter - http://twitter.com/johngreen
John's tumblr - http://fishingboatproceeds.tumblr.com
Hank's twitter - http://twitter.com/hankgreen
Hank's tumblr - http://edwardspoonhands.tumblr.com

Good morning, Hank. It's Tuesday.

I really liked your video on Friday and I thought maybe today we could continue our discussion of failure by turning to the question of my new book.

So, it's been almost 5 years since my most recent novel, The Fault in Our Stars, was published. Why nothing new since then? Well, in my case, because a very public success happened to coincide with a series of very private failures.

The Fault in Our Stars was my fourth novel, but the experience of publishing it was vastly different from everything that came before. Like, for context, in the week after it was published, The Fault in Our Stars sold more hardcovers than my 3 three previous novels had ever sold, combined, which, to be clear, was wonderful news. But at the same time I was hard at work on this new book about teenage identity thieves because, y'know, that's what I did after publishing a book: I wrote a new one. But it wasn't working. Now apparently the concept itself was flawed. I've always wanted to write a proper thriller but I'm no good at writing any of the proper thriller stuff. Y'know, like, I'm not great at action scenes, or knowing how guns work, or plot. But also I'd started to feel this intense pressure, like people were watching over my shoulder as I was writing.

By April of 2012 I ditched most of the identity thieves story and reimagined it as a story about two boys who find something terrible while exploring storm drains in their little hometown. I wrote about 100 pages of that over the next few months, but none of it was ever very good, though. Meanwhile, The Fault in Our Stars continued to sell, and in May of that year I read an amazing screenplay adaptation of the book, at which point I realized it might actually become a movie, and somewhere in that period my job stopped being "Person Who Writes Books" (which is a present-tense job title) and became "Person Who Wrote That One Book" (which is a past-tense job title). Like, I remember one night my best friend Chris saying to me, "It must be weird getting all this money for something you did at Starbucks a couple years ago."

And it was weird! I was elated and grateful that The Fault in Our Stars was reaching so many readers, but at the same time, I was terrified because I felt like I could never follow it up.

By the time the movie started shooting in the fall of 2013, I was failing to write a new book. This one about teenage con artists. I spent almost a year on that one before eventually giving up. I remember being in a hotel room right after the movie came out, looking at these hundreds of pages as I realized they would never be a book and just sobbing.

Now I want to be clear here that these are high class problems I am very grateful to have. But I also want to be honest with the fact that they are problems. Writing had always been a safe and sane way for me to pour out my obsessiveness and recursive thinking. But then suddenly it just didn't provide that release anymore and I realized y'know that I, I could stop. Writing had become kind of miserable and as I devoted more of my time to Crash Course and the Art Assignment, I realized I have amazing work that I am so lucky to do. I missed writing but in the way you miss someone you used to love. And then about a year ago I went back to it. I started writing something just for fun. I kept saying that to Sarah, "I'm just writing this for fun. I'm just writing this because I think you'll like it"

But of course those turn out to be pretty good reasons to write. Still though this is all kind of hard to talk about because the usual arc of these narratives is I had some failure but then I plowed through and found greater success than ever. And I'm not at all sure that's how this story will end. I don't know if I'll ever publish another book. And if I do I don't know whether people are will like it. I know they probably won't like it as much as they liked The Fault in Our Stars. I hope I finish the book I'm working on, I hope you like it but I don't know.

I think what changed is I got okay with not knowing. I used to be so certain. I used to have all these unshakable beliefs about books and writing and how to be a writer. Now my beliefs aren't just shakable, they're shaken. That feels uncomfortable but also productive... I think.

Hank, I gotta get back to writing. I'll see you on Friday.