Men Running on Tanks and the Truth about Book Editors

Men Running on Tanks and the Truth about Book Editors

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 Pavillion of the Venice
Biennale’, which is a REALLY fancy deal. For example, not to brag, I went to a party
with Micheal 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.

100 thoughts on “Men Running on Tanks and the Truth about Book Editors

  1. I have a friend that is one of those people that believe that editors are useless and that your blood is blue and that your hair is made of dead skin cells and I can't ever convince her otherwise because she's so stubborn that she won't even listen to SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE! 

  2. GOOD MORNING HANK-(commercial)-IT'S MONDAY!

  3. someone from indianapolis is called Hoosiers

  4. 1:06 actually, the demonym for indianapolis is hoosier 

  5. lol ATM machine. Another victim of UAS Syndrome (unnecessary acronym syndrome syndrome)

  6. Yes, stormtroopers is one word, and even George Lucas couldn't convince me otherwise.

  7. ATM Machine is redundant!!!!!!

  8. i've probably watched this vlogbrother video more than any other video.

  9. Three years later and the movie will come out on the same day this video was posted. Also my birthday

  10. calendrically-specific dementia.
    i love nerdfighteria because phrases like this exist within it.

  11. Watching John discuss the editing process over the course of the vlogbrothers has made me incredibly driven to become an editor. Before I got into watching these videos I was considering it as a career path but I was largely sticking to a childhood ambition to go in to law. Now I finally have a dream for my future that I am completely in love with.

  12. @vlogbrothers  Google or Apple? (Please say Google?)

  13. "callendrically specific dementia" is my new favorite phrase.

  14. You should staple those papers. What if you drop them? HOW WOULD YOU KNOW WHAT ORDER THEY GO IN?! Sammich.

  15. I recently re-found this video and it reminded me that this video in one of the things that inspired me to aspire to become an editor. I graduated from college last summer and got a job as a copy editor in September—a job I greatly enjoy. I am learning a lot and I still aspire to one day become a book editor who helps people tell their stories. (Basically, I want to get paid to send email like the one you read from your editor 🙂 ) So, all this to say thank you. Thank you for being thoughtful and making everyday inspiring things 🙂

  16. You sir are a hoosier. Embrace it! 🙂

  17. Throw back

  18. Why would anyone voluntarily read a style guide? Chicago, MLA, or AP. It doesn't matter, that's not good reading.

  19. I've known that I want to be an editor for years now, but this video has reaffirmed my wants and has killed at least fifty percent of the doubts I've began to have on whether it is what I want to do, so thank you 🙂 

  20. I'm watching this on a friday.

  21. John, I know this is not the proper place to write this but I just wanted to tell you that The Fault In Our Stars was one of the books that helped me to open my eyes up to the world and realize our time here is fleeting and to live each day as if it were my last. Of course I smiled and cried through so much of this book, I couldn't stop the tears from falling for more than a week. That said I am so happy I choose to read your book versus seeing the movie first because sometimes when you do that it sort of kills things. I just wanted to know if there will be a sequel to this book or if AIA is a real book? Thanks you so much you have given with this book. Your an inspiration to me.

  22. Dear 2011 John,

    Tomorrow is June 6, 2014 (a Friday, actually), exactly 3 years after you posted this video.  And tomorrow, this story that is a stack of scribbled-on pages on top of your head, will be a movie released in theaters.  It has been a project nurtured by people who value your story, who have worked hard to do it justice, and who have respected you in the creative process.  It currently has an 8.6 rating on Rotten Tomatoes. And your life will be very different in 2014 for many reasons.  But just know that starting tomorrow, your story will live on the silver screen, and we are all so, so proud of you.  Because even if it's not technically your movie, it is your story, and it inspired something beautiful.

    Best Wishes,
    2014 Kelsi

    P.S.: "Calendrically-specific dementia" is still probably the best phrase anyone has ever said ever.

  23. Stormtrooper is one word!!!!!

  24. Pass the pizza 😉

  25. +vlogbrothers this was posted exactly three years before the TFIOS movie came out or the book came out.


  27. stormtroopers is one word check the credits of a lost hope

  28. Indiapolitan.

  29. Indianapolite, almost Canada…

  30. Hoosier. You're a Hoosier, John

  31. 3 years later I find this…. and have to stop to laugh at "pass the pizza" XD

  32. If I had a time machine, I'd tell you that every day might be friday. This way, when students today analyze your book, their teacher will be like "There's a deep point in every day being friday.", and a future nerdfighter will come to him with a link to this video, proudly sayin' "No there isn't!"
    But I don't have a time machine (yet) :-°

  33. The tan line on his forehead kind of makes it look like he has peanut butter face on.

  34. John. ATM machine. shakes head

  35. SERIOUSLY! You are an author, smart, and oh so wise man! I did NOT just hear you say ATM MACHINE!!! Which means you actually said, Automated Teller Machine MACHINE!!!! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! I work at a bank if you couldn't tell! 😀 😀 😀 

  36. John… John. You just said "ATM Machine". ATM. Machine. As in "Automated Teller Machine Machine." Aaaaaah HEAD-DESK

  37. That letter is why I want to be an editor 😀 Thank you for clarifying for the world what I actually want to do with my life because I get tired of explaining. You are an amazing person 🙂

  38. Did the part with the word "stormtroopers" involved not make it into the book? Because I don't remember reading it, and I feel like I would if it were in there.

  39. Indianiapolishisist? I thought it was Hoosier?

  40. 3:47 of pointless babbling.

  41. Why does his forehead look like he spread peanut butter on it?
    (Not that this would be unusual but still.)

  42. did he just say ATM machine?

  43. Can't see anyone else mentioning this so I'm going to: weren't 'The Sun Also Rises' and 'The Great Gatsby' both edited by Gertrude Stein, and therefore – not by the same GUY?


  45. Try "Indianapolitan" (which you probably already know, since this comment comes almost 4 years later).

  46. stormtrooper is one word! that's why there isn't a red line under it!

  47. ATM Machine. Ha.

  48. I actually really want to read all those first drafts with all of his weird tangents now. Those sound awesome and hilarious.

  49. It's one word John. WE WIN!

  50. Sometimes when you use big words I get excite and look it up in hopes of expanding my vocabulary. Then I realize you're just playfully using derivational morphology. Don't play with my emotions like that, John. 😆 Calendrically. Calendar as an adjective. Who would've thunk?

  51. Oh, I love happy and excited John!

  52. Stormtrooper is most definitely one word.

  53. This video makes me feel so many things and absolutely none of them are anger about the phrase 'ATM machine'.  Different strokes etc 😛

    This is awesome, all of it, from TFiOS being a pile of loose leaf paper balanced on John's head to the snippet of letter suggesting exploring one of my favourite things about the book…  I vaguely remember this video from before but it is so different knowing the book.

  54. Please write a book in which every single day is Friday

  55. Stormtrooper is one word.

  56. 3:07 – an important note of encouragement to all those doing Nanowrimo – you will have long useless scenes in your first draft – fear not

  57. And thus, we have John giving us the main characters of TFiOS, to which I don't think I have seen a single comment commenting on this revelation… Then again, maybe he's said this in the past but I just forget.

    The fact that he would have been seeing Hank on Friday, that just made my day LOL

  58. Julie should be writing philosophy books if she has any time left after editing young adult novels o.O

  59. Did you write groundhog day? Not sure if that should be ground hog. I'll email Bill Murray. Should that have been e-mail?

  60. I watched this on Friday.

  61. I watched this on a Friday… Friday the thursteenth.

  62. watching on a friday

  63. John said my name. woop woop

  64. People from Indianapolis are "Indianapolitans".

  65. hasa diga eebowai- more commonly used three word phrase. i win.

  66. its weird hearing john say the sun also rises without adding in your pants. it's also significantly less funny.

  67. The amazing thing about that ATM/Pipe organ is not that it's a real pipe organ, but John's response to it.

  68. ATM machine???!

  69. Wikipedia says Indianapolitan.

  70. I'm fairly certain that German storm troopers (autocorrected to two words) is the bases for the starwars ones

  71. If you take Naples' lead, it would be "Indianeapolitan"

  72. Watching this after coming home from a class on Editors and Editing. It's so good to hear an author talking about the value of the editorial process! 😀


  74. How are you

  75. Perhaps "I love you"?

  76. I'm kinda suprised we weren't led here during the hunt.

  77. How many @anniecolbert dream sequence Toyota #C0ROFL0L0LinZ is that?

    See/watch Cody's channels.

  78. ATM machine. smh

  79. Most inspirational video for inspiring writers I've ever seen. Wish more authors would talk about their writing failures honestly because many would lead you to believe they shit gold every morning before breakfast.

  80. 75 pages on how to take a roadkill raccoon, skin it, and tan its hide?

    Yeah, fun fact: John Green is just S. Morgenstern with an editor.

  81. Indianeapolitan


  83. Your quote from your editor is amazing as all heck

  84. English major and aspiring editor…watching on a Friday 🙂

  85. Indianapolicious is great but I still prefer Naptowner.

  86. Holy crap! Imagine the existential nightmare that would be. Every day is friday, but you still had the consept of the other days. You would be in a constant state of limbo beteeen work and weekend, forever chasing that wich is now unobtaineble to you.

  87. this video just discourages me from becoming a writer. thanks john! (I am being so sarcastic in that thank you)

  88. Pass the pizza

  89. Indianapolin.

  90. Stormtroopers is one word!

  91. the proper term for people who live in indiana is hoosier

  92. I want that how to guide to be included in a special edition

  93. Indianapolisisist

  94. Oh my goodness John is talking so fast!!!

  95. I honestly cannot like this video enough. I've watched it like five times. Thank you for this. And for not publishing "Skinning roadkill for dummies".

  96. hi there I seem to remember watching a video where John had a video where a woman, another author or maybe his editor? was talking about the best way to get a book published. I can't for the life of me fine it. anyone any ideas?

  97. I really want that book about the US postal service.

  98. I just remembered something that used to be a thing… "Who is the iety?" 😂

  99. Indianapolitan

  100. I thought this would mean men are powered by tanks. Nope. That's probably good too.

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