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Thursday, January 18, 2007

WHAT WRITERS DO ALL DAY

First, dear readers . . . if you have not been watching Brotherhood 2.0, you should be. John and his sensational brother Hank are doing an experiment. They can’t e-mail or text each other for a year. They can only talk or visit in person. And they have to record a video blog to each other every other day.

You should not only watch this because it is excellent, but I feel the need to point out that E. Lockhart and I are featured at the opening of the January 16th installment, saying good morning. And then January 17th, internet sensation Hank carries out a suggestion I made in a comment. He speaks to me! Hank speaks to me!

Now, you may remember that it was E. Lockhart and John Green who spearheaded the attack against the audience at Books of Wonder in December, so sitting with them does make me a little nervous. But it is good to be a little nervous when writing. It prevents you from falling into a dangerous state of complacency.

But wait, you are asking yourself . . . why were you sitting there with E. Lockhart and John Green? Is this what writers do all day, just sit around with each other?

The answer is yes.

There are advantages and disadvantages to the way writers work. The good part is that we get a lot of flexibility and can work when we want, where we want. The bad part is that we often work by ourselves, and we can slowly go crazy and procrastinate.

Writers love to procrastinate, as I have said before. We e-mail, and we Google random words in our stories. We Google ourselves. We Google you.

This is all very normal. It gets a lot worse when you don’t know what to write. For example, I got stuck one day and found myself polishing a silver trash can for an hour. And it wasn’t even my trash can. It was Oscar’s.

So, by banding together, we make ourselves strong. We decided to meet for a few hours each day to work, so that at least for part of the day, we were accountable to others.

It also gives me the opportunity to see what other writers do all day, because I really had no idea. I sort of assumed they were all being super-productive, all the time. Here, for your reading pleasure and edification, is a glimpse into the working life of three writers.

(It should be pointed out that J. Green and I are approaching deadlines. J. Green’s is quite soon, and mine is a few weeks later. This means that we experience constant mood fluctuations about our books—ranging from just plain worry to a kind of soul-freezing doom. E. Lockhart is not in this predicament right now. Also, E. Lockhart is one cool cucumber, whereas J. Green and I are a bit more sensitive and histrionic. I don't think he would deny this.)

10 AM: Due to stalled train, I am last to arrive. E. Lockhart and J. Green are talking about “books.” As I cannot read, I avoid this conversation and stare into space for fifteen minutes, waiting for the caffeine in my tea to take effect. E. Lockhart is working on a title for her new “book.”

10:11 AM: Though I am not familiar with the subject of reading, I propose that adding the words “in your pants” to any book title makes it better. We discuss this subject for several minutes, trying it out. Come to the conclusion that “Looking for Alaska in Your Pants,” “The Fly on the Wall in Your Pants,” and “13 Little Blue Envelopes in Your Pants” would all have been better book titles.

I cannot read, but can pretend very well.

10:21 AM: Work begins.

10:23 AM: “An Abundance of Katherines in Your Pants” is also very funny.

10:25 AM: J. Green, bemoaning the restrictiveness of the Weight Watchers point system, gets himself a bagel with low-fat cream cheese, which is somewhat runnier than normal, fatty cream cheese.

10:47 AM: E. Lockhart asks J. Green if he is going to eat that bagel, or just let it is sit on the windowsill and get cold. J. Green replies that he is going to let it get cold because he likes it that way. E. Lockhart clearly thinks that J. Green is weird, but is much to polite to say anything like that.

11:05 AM: J. Green tries to eat bagel with cream cheese. Plan goes horribly awry. Cream cheese everywhere. Face, hands. Drops bagel on his leg. E. Lockhart and I laugh and laugh and laugh. Finally get him a napkin.

11:11 AM: I point out that the cream cheese has taken hold in the corduroy folds of J. Green’s pants. J. Green acknowledges that this is true.

11:23 AM: “A Great and Terrible Beauty in Your Pants” is also very funny. But that is not one of our books. That is Libba Bray’s. Also, “Magic Lessons in Your Pants” by Justine Larbalestier would have been a great success. I only think these things to myself, and do not share them with the group.

We are too busy working for me to discuss the new titles.

11:28 AM: J. Green still has a lot of cream cheese on him.

12:18 PM: J. Green has a lunch commitment. Clearly, the bagel has not satisfied him. He says that he will be back shortly.

12:35 PM: E. Lockhart and I have lunch. Neither of us eat meat, but find the selection available to us at our writing location adequate. I declare that smoked almonds are my eighth favorite food. As I think this through, I have the horrible realization that when I made a random guess at what my favorite food is, the first thing that leaps to mind is tacos. This seems very sad and third grade of me, so I do not reveal it to E. Lockhart.

12:41 PM: I don’t think tacos are my favorite food. Wonder what actual favorite food is. Decide it must be something like Thai curry or miso soup, both of which I love.

12:46 PM: Nope. I’m still only getting tacos.

12:48 PM: The prospect of a taco is sounding pretty good right now. I haven’t had tacos in ages. I wonder where I can get a vegetarian taco. I do not ask E. Lockhart, even though she probably knows.

1:13 PM: You may think that famous writers like J. Green have their lunch commitments at some of the best restaurants in town. J. Green has been to Chick-Fil-A, where he had a salad. J. Green hates Weight Watchers.

1:24 PM: E. Lockhart further explains the intricacies of the Weight Watchers point system to J. Green. He thought he would be finished with his diet in about three weeks. She delivers the news that, in order to meet his stated goal, he will be doing it for fourteen weeks or more.

1:30 PM: J. Green is clearly unhappy, both about his deadline and the prospect of thirteen more weeks of Weight Watchers.

E. Lockhart accidentally causes palpable dismay on the part of J. Green.

1:45 PM: E. Lockhart’s work for the day requires internet access, so she leaves us. I move over to her spot.

1:47 PM: J. Green and I get down to work again.

2:15 PM: J. Green and I stare sadly at each other from across the table.

2:32 PM: I tell J. Green my favorite parts of Printz Award-winning Looking for Alaska. He sighs and looks deeply into the cream cheese still in his pants. This actual "in his pants" is not really as funny as our conceptual "in your pants." At least to him.

2:46 PM: I tell John Green that I heard that Treasure Island was written in just three weeks. I’m not actually sure if this is true, but this encourages him.

Just after a word count check.

3:08 PM: J. Green yells out loud at a car scene in his book. Also, J. Green makes hand gestures when he writes, as he tries to figure out how characters will move and how to describe these movements. J. Green says I do the same thing.

3:58 PM: My computer goes insane, crashes, scrambles my entire book document. J. Green is forced to listen to my cries for the next 40 minutes as I reassemble it. He is very patient about this, but then again, J. Green used to be a hospital chaplain and knows how to deal with people in distress.

4:07 PM: J. Green ruminates out loud about other possible career choices.

4:58 PM: J. Green continues writing at a steady clip until his departure. Packs up slowly shaking head. We discuss the great strides we will make in the next few days.

5:17 PM: I conclude that “Peeps in Your Pants” by Scott Westerfeld is my favorite new YA title. I would share this with the group, but there is no one to tell. I am nonetheless satisfied, and close up shop for the day.

A successful day's work . . . in your pants.

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19 Comments:

Anonymous Daphne Unfeasible said...

"Treasure Island In Your Pants" sounds very dirty.

10:57 PM  
Blogger John Green said...

lol.

lol.

lol.

12:45 AM  
Blogger cecil castellucci said...

absolutely brilliant.

cc

1:03 AM  
Blogger Hannah said...

I have this feeling that someone soon is going to come out with a "-Blank- in your pants" book quite soon. I agree that Peeps in the pants is brilliant. We should discuss name changes with Scott.

-Hannah

8:46 AM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

haha, is this what you were doing when you were supposed to be writing???

6:07 AM  
Anonymous Hank said...

H. Green is now a huge fan of your blog and will likely be looking into getting a dozen or so envelopes in his pants in the near future.

7:16 AM  
Blogger Morwen said...

Jimmy Stewart is love. There's no other way to put it.
...and 'Pride and Prejudice in your Pants' sounds very..mm. Different than the actual topic of the book.

12:22 PM  
Blogger Becs said...

Thanks to you, I have started adding "in your pants" to the titles of every book on my shelf.


"Ender's Game in Your Pants"
"Prom in Your Pants"
"No Plot? No Problem in Your Pants!"
"The Boyfriend List in Your Pants"
"Devilish in Your Pants!"

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! You have truly made my day. :D

2:20 AM  
Blogger Jackie said...

You know? I was totally thinking like 2 weeks ago that you and John Green would be the best of friends. Because you are my two fav. blogging authors. If that makes any sense.

5:41 AM  
Anonymous Emily D4 said...

I love that movie... we saw it in history and it captivated me...I watch it alot and oh my gosh, we should have a camp for boys and have boys pay it off, nikel by nikel. I think it was a brilliant idea.

7:07 AM  
Anonymous Becky said...

Trickster's Queen in Your Pants
Anne of Green Gables in Your Pants
The Great Gatsby in Your Pants

And my favorite asofar:

Mates, Dates, and Inflatable Bras in Your Pants

7:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

haha,cute.

5:52 AM  
Anonymous cep program said...

thank you nice sharing

4:00 PM  
Anonymous Chelsea said...

My Favorites:

Nineteen Minutes in your pants.
Guns, Germs, and Steel in your pants.
A Ring of Endless Light in your pants.
Great Expectations in your pants.


This list could go on for hours. It has been a rough night. Thanks for making me laugh, even though you wrote this exactly 1 year and 5 months before I read it.

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4:57 AM  
OpenID kira902k said...

Yeah, so I was just going over the old B20 videos, and I saw the one where Hank introduces the In Your Pants rule, and mentions your blog. So I came and read it. (ive been reading your blog for a while, but not since 2007)
I gotta say, you are HILARIOUS. I already knew that, but STILL.
Funniest person. Ever.
Thank you for your pants.

9:02 AM  

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