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Uploaded:2017-07-18
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In which John talks about five memories of being stunned by happy news, on the tenth anniversary of Hank's song, Accio Deathly Hallows.
You can order a probably signed copy of my new book Turtles All the Way Down at http://probablysignedturtles.com


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Good morning, Hank, it's Tuesday. Signing update: I am just past 135,000 signatures.

Okay, so, uh, ten years ago today was one of the most important days of my life. Hank, a long time ago, you introduced me to the idea that bad news usually happens all at once, whereas good news usually happens slowly. Like, part of the reason we don't hear about the continuing decline in absolute poverty or childhood mortality or deaths by violence is that they aren't events, right? They're processes that occur over decades or centuries. But from earthquakes to shootings to car accidents, bad news is usually an event. Like we all know the experience of going about our daily lives and then, boom, out of nowhere, life-changingly bad news.

However, that noted, sometimes bad news happens slowly. Climate change comes to mind. And good news happens all at once, like, boom, out of nowhere, incredibly happy news. Maybe you get a surprise A on a test or an unexpected gift from a friend. Or maybe it's something bigger.

And when I think about this in my own life there are five memories of shocked joy that come to mind.

The first two are the births of my children, which I suppose is not, like, technically surprising because I did know it was coming. But both times the feeling was a complete suprise, this weird overwhelmedness with a mix of joy, and I guess, like awe.

The third was in 2003. Sarah and I had been friends for a couple years at that point, and we were hanging out one afternoon at her apartment and she mentioned that she and her boyfriend had broken up a couple of months earlier, and I was like, "Wait. What?"

Fourth, it's January of 2006. Sarah and I are living in New York. We're engaged and we're walking down the street on our way to go register for wedding presents. And my parents happen to be in town so they're with us and my dad happened to have a camera. And you have to remember this is before everyone has, like, a camera inside their phone, right? So I get a phone call from a weird number and I answer it, and I learn that my first novel, Looking for Alaska, has just won the Michael L. Prince Award, the biggest award in Young Adult books. And my dad takes this picture of us as we're finding out. [INSERT PHOTO OF JOHN AND SARAH]

And lastly, it's July of 2007. We've just moved from New York to Indianapolis for Sarah's job. And we've just bought our first house, which is really exciting but also really scary, because suddenly I have a mortgage and a lawn to maintain and gutters to clean and there are boxes everywhere. And also, I literally had no friends. [SUPERIMPOSED: In Indianapolis)

Work is going okay. My second book didn't sell very well, but I am doing this fun year-long project with my brother called "Brotherhood 2.0" where we make videos back-and-forth to each other every week day. A few hundred people watch every day and it's a really creatively fulfilling project, but it hasn't even occurred to me to keep going after the end of 2007. And then, ten years ago today, Hank, you upload a song about how excited you are for the publication of the last Harry Potter book. It's called "Ackio" -- "Assio? Ashio?" -- "Oshkosh B-gosheo Deathly Hallows" and it starts like this:

HANK SINGING:
I'm gettin' kind of tired of this
pre-publication media blitz.
You got all of muggle-kind under your spell.
Don't you know the whole world's already gone
and reserved a copy at Amazon?
How many more books could you sell?

JOHN:
When I first see that video I just think "Wow." And I am not alone. Lots of people like the song. It gets picked up on Harry Potter fan forums which leads to our project being discovered by a group of passionate people who know how to build Internet communities. And a couple days later the song is featured on the front page of YouTube and we go from around 200 YouTube subscribers to over 5,000. And suddenly our year-long project starts to feel like maybe it could last longer than a year. And here we are a decade later, so lucky to still be talking to each other and to still have people watching.

Hank, without "Accio Deathly Hallows" it's hard to know what our lives would look like. But they would look different. We wouldn't have met Esther or the people who power the Project for Awesome. You probably wouldn't have gotten to sing in front of thousands of people. And I highly doubt that I would be a position to sign 200,000 copies of my new book. So, Hank, thank you, for making that song and for giving me one of my favorite memories. And thanks to everyone who watched it then. And also everyone who watches us now.

Hank, I'll see you on Friday.