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In which I tell you how to sign 150,000 autographs. The Anthropocene Reviewed book comes out on May 18th. Every copy of the first printing will be signed.

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Good morning Hank it's Tuesday.

The first thing to know is that it's gonna take a while. If you rush, you can maybe sign 700 sheets an hour, but you're not a machine, which is one of the primary lessons of this endeavor.

Ultimately, when you account for the time spent sorting and collecting the paper and changing pens and so on, it takes around two hours to sign a thousand sheets, so this will take 300 hours. Plan accordingly. Then there is the physical aspect of it.

Hold the marker loosely. Remember what that physical therapist told you once: The Sharpie is doing the work, not your hand. Keep your shoulder relaxed and don’t hold tension in your neck.

Occasionally, you’ll want to draw a spiral to mix up the motions your hand is making, or else write dftba. These little variations are important in keeping your hand from cramping too much. But the real question is not what your hand will do for these 300 hours but what your mind will do.

What will you think about? Sometimes, you’ll listen to podcasts or an audiobook; back in 2011, when you signed the first printing of The Fault in Our Stars, you listened to Moby-Dick; now you’re enjoying Hilary Mantel’s trilogy about Thomas Cromwell. But much of the time, you won’t listen to anything.

You’ll just sit there. It’s good if you can spend some time thinking about why you are doing this. It’s a way of saying thanks to people who will read the book  --for buying it, of course,  but also for their attention, the hours they will give to your work.

And it’s good if you can remind yourself that you are absurdly, ridiculously lucky to have this many sheets to sign. You will also think about whether all this signing is just a publicity stunt. Where is the line between wanting to share your work and commodifying yourself or your audience?

That’s something you will think about. And you will think that maybe you are doing this simply because you enjoy it, or at least you enjoy something about it. Of course you’ll think as well about the obvious psychologist-y explanation for this endeavor.

You will remember being nine years old and winning a writing contest that meant you could attend the Florida Young Writers Conference of 1987. And you will remember that a very famous author whose books you loved was the special guest at the conference and that you stood in line with dogeared paperback copies of his books only to be told that the very famous author was only signing new hardcover books, which you didn’t have money to buy, and how horribly you felt. And then you will think about how now you understand that the Very Famous Author probably was not nearly as wealthy as childhood you imagined him to be, and how you understand now the internal and external pressure that is on authors to  sell their new books.

But  still, it’s not that hard to sign your name, and you vividly remember being a heartsunk 9-year-old, and it is probably not a total coincidence that your first memory of authors was of not getting an autograph and now you sign your name quite a bit. If nothing else, this is a small thing you can do that may brighten some people’s days. What else will you think about?

Sometimes, you will think about the signatures themselves, the little imperfections that you can’t seem to rid yourself of even after all this practice. Sometimes, you will think about how many sheets you have left from this box, and how many boxes you have left. But mostly you won’t think at all.

On the other side of monotony lies a flow state, a way of being that is just being, a present tense that actually feels present. It’s the consolation and pleasure of driving alone at night, or getting lost in a story. You’re listening to the sharpie on the paper, and you are, and this is.

Hank, I’ll see you on Friday.