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In which John Green talks about writing books. And not writing books. And writing in new places.

You can find Turtles All the Way Down, The Fault in Our Stars, and my other books at your local library, or if you're inclined to buy them, at your local bookstore. You can find The Anthropocene Reviewed wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks for listening.

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Good morning, Hank. It's Tuesday.

I recently learned it's been 510 days since my fifth novel, Turtles All the Way Down, was published, and if I'd written just like a paragraph or two each of those 510 days, I would have at least finished a draft of a sixth novel. But, I haven't and today I want to talk about why.

This came to my attention, by the way, because the paperback edition of Turtles All the Way Down is being published today in the United States. It's like the hardcover except less expensive and also the cover is softer and there's a Q&A at the back and we fixed a couple typos.

But, yeah, I haven't written a novel in the last 510 day. Partly because I have been working on other stuff, Crash Course European History, our project with Partners in Health, TV and movie adaptations. But, then again, I've had some kind of day job for most of my writing life. The truth is a little more complicated.

Turtles All the Way Down has been very generously received, both by critics and by readers. And, I want to emphasize how grateful I am to have a large audience and even to have my books reviewed in places like The New York Times and The Guardian, let alone positively.

But, the process of publishing the book was very difficult for me. I realize this is the pinnacle of champagne problems, but I was really overwhelmed with fear about whether people would like it and whether it was a good and useful thing to put into the world and whether it was the best book it could be, and so on.

Also, and this is the champagne-y-est problem of them all, when you have a lot of success, it can start to feel like everyone has to develop and opinion of your work, even if they aren't particularly familiar with it or particularly interested in it. Like, I haven't seen 50 Shades of Gray, but I still feel like I have to have an opinion about 50 Shades of Gray. And, I kind of do have an opinion. Although, maybe the opinion is wrong. Maybe the movie's amazing. But, when that happens, when you make a thing that people like, or, in some cases, dislike so much they define themselves in opposition to it, it can be pretty destabilizing.

Writing stories has always been like a way out of myself; trying to inhabit other people's consciousnesses can give me a break from having to inhabit my own. But, publishing those stories is about something else: a complicated mess of wanting people to like me, wanting to be successful, hoping that my stories might be useful or important to the people who read them, and wanting to pass on some of the gifts that other people's stories have given me.

And so, for at least the past, like, decade, writing for me hasn't only, or even primarily, been about writing. It's also about touring and publicity and movie rights. All of which, I am ridiculously lucky to stress about, but which I nonetheless find stressful.

And, all that together means that, for the moment anyway, I'm not really able to write much fiction. But, I haven't stopped writing. Instead, I've started writing in a place that's felt quieter and safer to me; where people who liked my work could find it, but people who didn't care to probably wouldn't. I started a podcast with a somewhat weird premise, reviewing facets of the human-centered planet on a five-star scale, and gave it a hard to spell name, the Anthropocene Reviewed. And, for the last year and a half, I've been writing about everything from scratch-and-sniff stickers and the Taco Bell breakfast menu to the practice of googling strangers.

And, it has been so fun and so fulfilling to explore a new kind of writing, and to seek out places where my personal experiences connect to universal ones. Like, I was way to into scratch-and-sniff stickers when I was a kid, an early symptom with my long-term fascination with virtualized experience, but I didn't understand the strange and beautiful chemistry of those stickers until I started writing about them. The pleasure of unexpected discovery turn out to be similar, whether you're writing fiction or nonfiction.

I do intend to publish more novels, many more hopefully, but, in the mean time, I'm very grateful that the ones I've written are still finding new readers. Books are quiet and interior experiences in a very loud world, and so are my favorite podcasts.

So, regardless of the medium, I just want to say thank you for listening.

Hank, I'll see you on Friday.