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In which John discusses the editorial process involved in the creation of his new book (still no official title!) and also his previous books Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, and Paper Towns. He also discusses Gloria, the project currently on display at the Venice Biennale's US Pavilion featuring work by artists Allora & Calzadilla in collaboration with members of the US gymanstics and track and field teams, organized by the Indianapolis Museum of Art. It's an amazing show; if you're in Venice, check it out.

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A Bunny
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Good morning, Hank! Good morning, Hank. Good morning, Hank, good morning, Hank... I wonder if I've ever said any three-word phrase more often in my life.

Anyway, it's Monday. I hope you enjoyed Venice, Florida as much as I enjoyed Venice, Italy; I was there because the Indianapolis Museum of Art, where the Yeti is a curator, commissioned the 2011 'American Pavilion of the Venice Biennale', which is a REALLY fancy deal.

For example, not to brag, I went to a party with Michael Stipe, the lead singer of REM, who wrote the song 'Stand' which you and I choreographed a dance to in 1989, which our dad videotaped and then blessedly lost.

The artist the IMA commissioned is called Allora & Calzadilla, and the pavilion is a total success - it involves overturned tanks and Olympic decathletes and gymnasts and an actual ATM machine that is also an actual pipe organ! [pipe organ music plays]

Hank, this is the first time the commission for the Venice Biennale has gone to a museum that isn't on either coast or the Art Institute of Chicago, and I'm really proud of everybody at the Indianapolis Museum of Art for making it such a huge success. It makes me super happy to be an Indianapolisian. Or Indianapolisicist. Or Indianapolicious. Indianapolicious.

Hey, where are you from? Oh me? I'm Indianapolicious.

In other news, Hank, this is my book! It arrived today from New York, where my editor and publisher Julie Strauss-Gabel sent it to me, you know, with all of her comments on the pages and everything.

I'm very excited, Hank, because even though Julie and I have been revising this book for more than a year, we finally reached the point where she, like, writes on the manuscript, and we can do the fun stuff like fighting about how to spell the word stormtrooper. And she can write little notes making fun of me, like about how in my fictional universe every day is Friday.

This is a big problem with my writing, Hank. I'll often write, like, "On Friday, Augustus Waters called me. Three days later, on Friday, we went out to lunch," and Julie's just like "Are you even trying? Are you even trying to figure out what day it should be?" and I'm like "No! I'm not trying! That's your job."

But in fact, Hank, while that's the public's perception of what an editor does, the truth is somewhat more complicated, as usual. The real heart of the editorial process happens way before we ever start fighting about whether "stormtroopers" is one word or two, and whether every day can be Friday; it starts when I send Julie a draft and then she sends me an editorial letter.

And that editorial letter isn't about comma splices--it includes sentences like, "As we crack open Augustus's philosophy and contrast it with Hazel's more connected sense of living, I also think there's a lot of room to look more at the question of the nobility, and frankly the epic sexiness, of sacrifice/violence versus the unsung struggle of illness; in short: what constitutes martyrdom?"

As you can see, Hank, that's not about spelling. By the way, Julie, if you're watching this, I am not changing my spelling of stormtroopers unless and until George Lucas himself calls me and tells me that it's two words. That said, you're right about everything else, and, no matter how happy it would make Rebecca Black, I agree with you that every day should not be Friday.

So, Hank, I think the assumption that editors exist primarily to, like, fix grammar errors is really incorrect. I mean, I could just read the universe through the Chicago Style Manual; I don't need Julie for that. But! I also think it's incorrect when people think that the main reason editors exist is to, like, censor your work, or to somehow make it worse.

Without Julie, Paper Towns would be devoted largely not to Walt Whitman's poem Song of Myself but to an incredibly boring history of the machinations of the United States Postal Service. And without Julie, instead of Colin and Hassan hunting for feral hogs in rural Tennessee, there would be this 75-page--and I'm not making this up--how-to guide about how to take a roadkilled raccoon, skin it, and then tan its hide.

I don't know what I was thinking, Hank, but back in 2005 I was really interested in hide tanning.

And without Julie and before her my amazing mentor and first editor Ilene Cooper, nothing that anyone likes about Looking for Alaska would be in that book.

In short, Hank, while God knows I'd like to think that writers are more important than editors, the truth is that we may not be. I mean, there is a reason that The Great Gatsby and The Sun Also Rises were edited by the same guy.

Hank, I'm going to get to work. I'll see you on Friday. [laughs] I didn't--I didn't even do that on purpose, I promise. Ohhhh, it's like I have calendrically specific dementia.