Let’s have a little bit of honesty for a moment, can we?
Here’s the truth that I want to tell you. It comes in two parts.
Part one: Up until about two years ago, maybe a little less, I’d given up my dream of becoming a writer.
Part two: I decided I needed to become a Young Adult writer, not something I had previously aspired to, about half a year after I began watching Brotherhood 2.0 with John and Hank Green. It was because of John Green that I found my purpose, my place, and the full intensity of my passion came to fruition. I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I wanted to be a writer of YA fiction, that I wanted to make a difference where it mattered most, and I wanted to tell stories about amazing young girls finding their own strength, their own voice, and rising above the stereotype their usually dealt.
I love John Green. Not in that creepy, “I have a picture of him next to my bed and have memorized all of his favorites, his greatest quotes, and his home address” kind of way. I love him because he has unapologetically created a platform for teenagers to express themselves, take part in the world, create change, and support each other globally in a way that has never, could never have been possible before.
Maybe John and his brother Hank didn’t set out to create the Nerdfighters, or rather, they didn’t set out to inspire the creation of the Nerdfighters since as I remember it, it wasn’t so much a creation as it was a banding together, a movement born out of the ether of brilliant ideas.
Nerdfighters became a logo, a motto, a mantra, a banner of strength behind which stood the strength of thousands of young voices… the very type of organization I wish I’d had at that age so that I could have stopped trying to fit in and be popular and worry about my clothes and hair and nail polish and who I was going to dances with or parties or hanging out with in the morning before the first bell. I could have been a greater force of nature if I’d been told it was ok to just be the video game playing girl, the Star Wars quoting, internet nerd, and lover of sci-fi, fantasy and books instead of pretending for three and a half years that I was none of these things because I wanted girls to think I was one of them and boys to think I was girlfriend material. (I burnt out in my senior year and could no longer force my alter-ego Popular-Girl-in-Waiting. It was the saddest and happiest year of my childhood.)
I love that these two guys have given teens (and adults too!) permission to be exactly the person they want to be. Nerdy, geeky, brilliant, brainy, clumsy, creative, artistic, talented, talentless but always, always trying and everything in between.
I had the incredible opportunity to sit center stage at an intimate talk John Green gave in Indianapolis, IN at their main public library, the most beautiful, magical place I’ve ever been. (Disneyland, eat your heart out) He spoke about social networking, not so much how to do it, but how he has done it and the parts he think are most important about the matrixy world of YouTube and vlogging. He was bouncy, nervous, energetic, and a little silly. I had a great time, he was super nice, and I got a signed copy of Looking for Alaska. Who could possibly want more?
I was pretty bummed about not getting to see him and David Levithan on tour for their new book Will Grayson, Will Grayson. I would have loved to hear him talk again and of course, add to my growing collection of John Green signed books. I’d been putting off buying Will Grayson, Will Grayson for a few days, knowing I’d break down and do it but also hoping some magical moment would happen and an extra tour date would be added closer to my city.
This last weekend I stopped in my local independent bookstore. We don’t have many, strangely enough, and while I’m not a huge fan of this particular store, I like to support my indies.
Anyway, I don’t know why they had them, how they got them, or what divine intervention brought me to that store on that day, but in a little cardboard shelf set on an end cap were several copies of Will Grayson, Will Grayson with the lively little gold seal of approval indicating it was a signed copy. By both authors.
To my knowledge neither of those authors have been in town any time recently, so I can only assume the store had contacts that shipped them some pre-signed books. That’s cool, not as cool as if I’d seen them in person, but cool enough. I bought one, the one with the nicest looking handwritings. I’m very proud, wish I could have seen them again, but I’ll take what I can get.
Thank you John Green, Hank Green, and all the Nerdfighters in between!