Hi. I'm John Green. I write novels, including Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns, the latter of which has just been adapted into a movie that is in (some) theaters now.

I also co-created the vlogbrothers YouTube channel with my brother Hank and the educational video series Crash Course. We also have a podcast where you can find terrible advice called Dear Hank and John.

Hank and I also run the Project for Awesome, an annual charity event in our community. My most important work, however, is my family.

Just kidding. My most important work is sponsoring the fourth-tier English football club AFC Wimbledon.

I promised to do 4 AMAs in the past four months (find previous ones here, here, and here. I'm 11 days late on this one but belatedly keeping my promise. AMA.


EDIT: Thanks as always for the excellent questions and conversation, reddit. DFTBA!

Comments: 2586 • Responses: 58  • Date: 

kittenpyjamas995 karma

How do you manage your anxiety disorder as well as doing all of this press stuff? Sounds like my worst nightmare!

(Also Hi! Long time nerdfighter!!)

thesoundandthefury1889 karma

In a word: Poorly.

(I have OCD and a lot of problems with anxiety.) So I've known that I have this mental illness for a long time, and I've had a lot of therapy and learned a lot of strategies for dealing with my illness. I know the benefits of exercise and meditation and medication and CBT strategies and etc.

And I try to treat my mental illness the way you would any chronic illness, and I'm very lucky that in general it's very manageable. But it's hard to describe just how extreme and overwhelming press junkets are. (I mean, I realize these are the first-worldiest problems possible; I'm just trying to be honest about my experience.)

But I was very lucky to have Nat Wolff with me almost all the time. Nat is a very close friend of mine, and I also trust him a lot. Whenever I got overwhelmed, he would take most of that interview, or he would find ways to distract me. ("Try to get the word 'Arkansas' into this interview," for instance.)

But there were a few moments when panic just really took hold of me. Nat and I always joke about this one time in Brazil when I literally lost consciousness for a few seconds (or at least awareness) and asked for a question to be repeated and then said in a small voice, "I'm sorry but I'm having a panic attack," and then Nat answered the question for me. There were a few moments like that, but mostly I was able to get through it.

mfb279273 karma

My significant other has developed extreme anxiety within the past year, and his unwillingness to get help outside of me makes it difficult for me to know how to support him while maintaining my own sanity. In what ways have your wife, and people closest to you, been most helpful and supportive with regard to your anxiety?

thesoundandthefury957 karma

Honestly the most helpful thing someone who loved me ever said was, "I am not a professional. I cannot make this better. Look at the science. All the studies show the way to manage this is with medication, exercise, and therapy. You have to go to the doctor. I will help you get to the doctor, but you have to go."

AdilB10129 karma

Do you have intrusive thoughts?

thesoundandthefury52 karma

I do.

Mackle942 karma

What's the most important life advice you have ever received?

thesoundandthefury3565 karma

"Stop trying to show me how good a writer you are and just tell me a fucking story." -P F Kluge, my college writing professor

JRoper94717 karma

Did any of your books have different titles prior to publishing?

thesoundandthefury1247 karma

I called Looking for Alaska "Pinaple," for a long time, which stood for "Proving I'm Not A Pontificating Literary Esthete." Like, the file on my computer of the final draft is still pinaple83.doc (because it was the 83rd version).

Sodium0mg371 karma

What made you change it?

thesoundandthefury1782 karma

Well, Pinaple just isn't a very good title for a novel. Whereas Looking for Alaska is a GREAT title, because everyone thinks your boarding school novel is a wilderness adventure story.

loveyalots581 karma

Which is better, pizza or AFC Wimbledon?

ajnack491 karma

I see he is still mulling this one over.

thesoundandthefury1147 karma

Yes, it's like being asked to choose between my children. I think AFC Wimbledon is the most interesting and important sports phenomenon of the 21st century.

But pizza has been shaping history--not just sports but every facet of human endeavor--since the Columbian Exchange began. So I'm going to have to go with pizza.

vivaportugalhabs500 karma

What's the most awkward run-in/experience you've had with a fan?

thesoundandthefury1338 karma

One time I was in Whole Foods with my 5-year-old son and a woman--in her late 20s, I would guess--started screaming really loudly from way down the aisle. She then ran to me and hugged me and Henry started crying because, you know, why was this screaming woman hugging Daddy? (Daddy was wondering the same thing.)

But usually people are really cool. I am genuinely happy to meet people who like stuff I make when I'm out in public. The only thing that's weird is when, instead of coming up and saying hi, they try to subtly take pictures with their phones or whatever, because then I feel like I am being surveilled. But some of my favorite conversations with fans have happened in, like, Target.

threadsthataregolden467 karma

I just got out of graduate school in May (MFA) and I feel like I might never write again. All I did was write for two years and I feel empty. I am terrified that my will to write is gone and might not come back. Have you ever felt this way, and if so, how did you get out of it?

thesoundandthefury940 karma

I mean I haven't published a novel for three and a half years, so....yeah.

I feel this way all the time. People often use the phrase "literally the worst" colloquially, but I have on countless occasions felt that I am literally the worst writer on Earth, and that I am a complete fraud. I feel like a fraud all the time, and I still don't feel like I know how to write a novel, and at this point I doubt I ever will.

The only way through it for me is to take pleasure in the process of writing, or to find value in it. Even when I suck. Even when there's no way anything I'm writing will ever see the light of day. The act of trying to write for an audience must feel valuable in and of itself, or else I am doomed.

titansmalice452 karma

Was there a moment that you and Hank knew you had 'made it' with the channel? Thanks for doing this, love your work :)

thesoundandthefury922 karma

The moment I felt like we'd made it was August 1st, 2007. Hank and I had been making videos for 8 months, and we had around 200 YouTube subscribers. Our videos were regularly viewed by around 400 people, and we had a wonderful community and were doing cool projects together, but I was a little frustrated that we'd made over 100 videos and still hadn't reached a very wide audience.

And then Hank recorded a song about the last Harry Potter book called Accio Deathly Hallows, which got featured on YouTube, and suddenly there was this influx of new nerdfighters. Best of all, many of them came from the Harry Potter fan community, and they helped push nerdfighteria toward philanthropy and activism and in general toward awesomeness.

I remember waking up that morning and going to the front page of YouTube and seeing Hank and feeling momentarily confused and then calling Hank at 6 AM his time and shouting, "YOU'RE ON THE FRONT PAGE OF YOUTUBE! YOU GOT FEATURED!!!!"

By the end of that year, we only had around 9,000 subscribers (today we have over 10,000,000 across all channels), but the project felt sustainable.

LoZfan03137 karma

Wait, you called him? Did you get punished for that?! And if not, is that statute of limitations more or less than 8 years?

thesoundandthefury328 karma

Calls were okay. Only textual communication was illegal!

Saimouer414 karma

Any guidance for an amateur writer who doesn't know what to do in college?

EDIT: I also thought I should mention (In case you get along to reading this) that I am heavily interested in computer science and a few other STEM fields. I know I can't reasonably expect you to solve my life career problem, but I just don't really know where I'm going, I guess.

Admire all of your work. Thanks in advance if you read this.

SmallAsianChick1213 karma

I know I'm not John, but I'm a writer that just graduated College, and I can tell you some thing I wish someone had told me before I started.

Doesn't matter what you major in. Find other writers and interact with them. Read their work. Submit your own work to publications, magazines, workshops, show it to other people. Get it out there, get it critiqued, evolve. Take classes on subjects you wouldn't be interested in normally. As John himself once said, "Study broadly, and without fear." Good luck :)

obligatory thank you for the gold edit. i really appreciate it

thesoundandthefury1208 karma

Yeah, this. This is better advice than I would've given.

TheBestOpinion370 karma

What's it like to be harassed on a red carpet when you're not used to it ?

I remember you said it kind of startled you

thesoundandthefury674 karma

It's absolutely horrible.

I mean, among the world's horrors, obviously it is a pretty minor one, but yeah, I truly hate it.

It's made worse by the fact that I don't know how to be photographed or how to stand or where to put my hands and so I always end up looking like a jackass. I have never seen a red carpet picture of me where I didn't look absolutely miserable (usually quite sweaty too, because I sweat when anxious).

One time I was on a red carpet and there were hundreds of flashes all around me and I felt like I was going to faint, and a friend standing next to me who shall remain nameless but you can probably guess said, "Just let them make you an object. Just give in to it." And that seems like the only strategy that works.

To be fair, I was a totally willing participant in this I'll Let You Turn Me Into an Object If You Mention the Movie Adaptation of My Book in Your Publication exchange, so it's not like I was being exploited or oppressed or anything. I was trading a little bit of myself for a little bit of movie exposure.

This of course felt dirty but on the other hand I did really like the movie and was grateful to the people who made it and wanted to be helpful if I could.

ColbyStein351 karma

Have you given much thought to the fact that you're really in it for the long run? The proper long run of life. Your unborn grandchildren are going to grow up as "John Green's grandchildren", and people, however sparingly or not, will talk about you with enthusiasm after you're gone. Does this frighten you, as to the cultural impression you're knowingly or unknowingly having on the world?

EDIT: Grammar and word stuff.

thesoundandthefury542 karma

I have not given that much thought.

I do think there's a chance that you're overstating my success / the length of cultural memory. Like, the bestselling American novel of 1945 was Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor, and I don't think Ms. Winsor's grandchildren think of themselves primarily as the descendent of the great Kathleen Winsor.

Art has a life just like anything else does, and I am ridiculously lucky that my work has been read and viewed by so many people. But I'm trying to work for and with people who are here now, and not for people of some distant time whose lives I cannot imagine. If I get lucky enough that something I do resonates with those hypothetical future people, that will be great. But I think it's far more likely that I will go the way of Kathleen Winsor, which is okay too.

CreamyJalapenoSauce292 karma

You keep it clean in your videos and podcasts and public appearances, but I've always really wanted to know... How much do you and Hank curse?

thesoundandthefury817 karma

I curse a lot more than Hank. I curse a lot. Hank also curses some, but I curse a lot. I've gotten a bit less sweary since my children became old enough to speak, but I am still given over to extravagant swearing.

I say "bag of dicks" a lot at the moment. I find it to be a really beautiful insult.

CreamyJalapenoSauce275 karma

What would you recommend to a person who currently works a 9-5 but who wants to break out into their own endeavors that aren't as reliable?

thesoundandthefury488 karma

After college, I worked 9 to 5 for seven years before becoming a "full time writer," and even now I don't consider myself a real writer--I go to an office almost ever day to work on Crash Course, mental_floss video, and our other projects. So I still sorta have a 9 to 5 job.

I wrote at night and on the weekends through my first two novels. It was a sacrifice (although less so for me because I never really had THAT much of a social life), but I also really enjoyed feeling like writing was something I did for fun, a process that I found joyful and not like "work." I think that's the reason I still "work" on other projects most of the day, so that writing can feel like a joyful escape from the prison of my consciousness.

ranilprasad245 karma

In an old vlogbrothers video, you talked about writing the Paper Towns screenplay, and how you wanted Q to end up with Lacey. A lot of us readers loved the way the book ended, with Q realising that he couldn't just chase a girl across the country in his manic pixie girl fantasy.

Anyways, why did you want Q to end up with Lacey in the original screenplay? Do you think that this impacts the overall theme of the book?

thesoundandthefury334 karma

Well, that whole screenplay was terrible, and I was very grateful that Scott and Mike wrote such a great script for the movie that actually ended up being made.

In the script that I wrote, the idea was that Q realized that he'd been projected onto Margo and making her into something more than a person, so that remained. But then for some reason he was like, "Oh, but I know Lacey as a real person," and then they made out and rode off into the sunset so it could be a properly Hollywood ending.

It was pretty terrible, like I said.

Fooltagonist202 karma

Hey there John.

What is your opinion on "Go set a watchman"? Not just the novel but the fact that a draft of your work could be published later in your life, or even after it, soiling work you've already done? (Like, for example, a sequel or prequel to one of your books and it being about the History of the United states postal service or the roadkill tanning-hide manual).

thesoundandthefury405 karma

Great question, and thanks for reminding me about the draft of An Abundance of Katherines that was so heavily devoted to the process of tanning a raccoon hide.

  1. My literary executor has explicit instructions about what can be published and what can't. GSaW is complicated because Harper Lee is still alive and from what we can tell was in favor of the book's publication. (I call it a book because it lives between covers, but I don't consider it a novel. It is clearly a precursor draft to TKaM. There are early drafts of LfA and TFIOS that are comparably different from the finished manuscripts, but they too are drafts and not separate novels.)

  2. I have read GSaW, and I think it's an interesting and important draft of one of the great novels of the 20th century. My favorite thing about its publication is that it changes the way we think about Atticus Finch a little, and I think that's good: The idea that the great literary hero of the Civil Rights Era would be a white southern man was always problematic to me, because that just doesn't reflect the reality of the Civil Rights-era South. There were white men who opposed segregation (my grandfather was one of them), but they didn't kill Jim Crow. Black activists did.

  3. Go Set a Watchman has a lot of beautiful passages, and Harper Lee's prose is just so damned easy on the eyes that I found much of it really enjoyable. But I still think it was awful of the publisher to put it out there with neither a foreword nor an explanation from scholars about the manuscript or its history. The publisher presented it as a new Harper Lee novel, when in fact it is definitely not new and at least in my opinion not a novel either.

hurricaneemily122 karma

I work at a bookstore and SO many people think it's a sequel. I describe it to them as the same universe, but a different dimension. Quite a few customers tell me how dissatisfied and upset they are with the book when they read it with that mindset. I feel they should have explained the situation better or written an introduction about how the book came to be.

thesoundandthefury170 karma

Yeah, it's asking too much of readers. They expect a standalone novel because it's been marketed that way, and if you don't buy it from a knowledgeable bookseller like yourself, you're 100% going to be disappointed because it just doesn't stand alone as a novel, and it certainly isn't a sequel.

thewhizkid28168 karma

While I enjoy your books immensly, they do all tackle similar themes, issues, etc. Have you considered/are you planning to go in a completely new and different creative direction at any point?

thesoundandthefury425 karma

Well, it depends on how you define "completely." I like writing about smart teenagers and don't really feel an urge to write about other types of people--that limits my writing, I guess, but it also gives me a world and language and parameters within my narrative imagination, which I find helpful.

But if you mean writing about issues around how young men romanticize and misimagine young women in destructive ways, I feel like I've said about that all that I can. And if you mean will I write about child prodigies again, probably not. And I am also probably done writing about grief, at least for a while.

I am evading your question because I don't really know the answer. I continue to be interested in the heightened experiences and language of adolescence. That's really all I can say with certainty at the moment.

scorpiusdiamond158 karma

Do you feel YouTube is becoming "too big?"

A lot of YouTubers who were the most watched and involved in the community at the beginning of the site have since expressed a disconnection with their audience, especially when it comes to VidCon (Michael Aranda for example in this video feels as though he no longer draws enough of a crowd to warrant his attendance as a feature).

Do you think it's a medium that is as creative and challenging to popular culture as it used to be?

thesoundandthefury258 karma

No, I don't think YouTube is as revolutionary as it was five years ago. That happens online: Facebook transformed the way we interacted with each other, and then we integrated it into our experience and it ceased to be the force of change it had once been.

But I do think YouTube is still important, and that original content creators on YouTube--both those who draw big crowds and those who don't--are still important. The people at the center of the platform change, but the platform remains important.

To make an analogy that is only partly applicable: Fewer people listen to Pearl Jam than did in 1996, but music is still important, and also Pearl Jam is still important.

TheKillerPupa15 karma

What do you think is holding vimeo back? They host their videos in higher quality and are very good to hear creators from a filmmaker prospective.

thesoundandthefury79 karma

There's no community of viewers there. No interweaving of the viewer and creator communities like you have on YouTube. They overvalue technical quality and undervalue the quality of engagement.

Cyborg_Keith153 karma

Paper Towns made me deeply think about how I think about other people. What made you begin to picture people as people and not as your own personal constructs of them?

thesoundandthefury403 karma

I realized in college that if I was going to be serious about writing, I would have to try to see people as they see themselves. This is incredibly hard to do on a minute-by-minute basis, but I also believe that it's the #1 job of adulthood. Everything is unlocked through empathy.

It seems to be the biggest failure of Internet discourse is a failure of empathy. We don't REALLY see the Other as human, especially if they aren't physically present, and so we engage in conversation as if the Other were a monster. But this is also in a less visible way the failure of regular discourse, too, right? Because we just physically remove ourselves from the Other (by living in neighborhoods and attending schools that are segregated by race and class) and by not taking the time to understand that the people we interact with have inner lives that are as rich and multitudinous as our own.

So I wrote Paper Towns about that, but it's also the #1 thing I've been thinking about for the last like 18 years or so.

HorribleSensei107 karma

As a virgin, the thing that has been on my mind for the last 18 years is sex.

Talk about different priorities in life.

thesoundandthefury578 karma

Empathy is by far the most important part of sex.

CreamyJalapenoSauce148 karma

If we come across you in public, how would you prefer we approach you if at all?

EDIT: Apparently not by screaming and running to hug you. But I'm not sure if I could muster that much expressiveness anyway.

thesoundandthefury342 karma

Just say hi! Treat me like a normal person, and I will try to treat you like a normal person, and 99% of the time it will work out fine. The only place we might have an issue is if you're behind me in line at Chipotle, because I am very serious about my Chipotle ordering and cannot be distracted during it.

TeenageThrowawayV2135 karma

If you had to make a movie out of "Will Grayson Will Grayson" or "An Abundance of Katherines" - Which would you want to do first?

thesoundandthefury261 karma

I think WGWG would be the more important and interesting movie. (I am quite fond of Katherines, but it is for good reasons my least popular book.)

dendodge53 karma

I'm curious about what you, as an insider, think those good reasons are.

thesoundandthefury156 karma

I mean, it's a comic novel featuring a LOT of math with a not-terribly-likable protagonist, so it's very different from my other books. It's also sort of fantastical--all my books are, I guess, but it's the closest to like explicit magical realism. It's just a weird little book. I still like it, and it has really hardcore fans, but I get why people find it weird or off-putting.

dojijosu132 karma

Some of your Youtuber friends (like Hannah Hart) have appeared on Epic Rap Battles of History. Would you and Hank ever consider doing the same? And if so, what character would you want to rap as?

thesoundandthefury334 karma

Well, there are a few challenges here:

  1. Unlike most professional online video people, neither Hank nor I lives in Los Angeles.

  2. I cannot rap. Or sing.

So I am probably a bad candidate for ERB. Hank, however, would be awesome. He is a surprisingly good rapper.

Mariam_Alsaraji116 karma

One place you really want to visit?

thesoundandthefury639 karma

To be entirely honest with you, I want to spend a year at home. Every day. I want to be with my kids and my wife and my friends. I want to walk in the woods by my house every day. I want to see the leaves turn and then fall and then return in the Spring, and I don't want to leave Indianapolis even for a few hours. And then maybe I will want to see another place. But right now I feel like I haven't seen nearly enough of Indianapolis.

IAmA_Mr_BS113 karma

I wonder if you are open to doing a Crash Course Religion or Crash Course Christianity considering your seminary background. I am a seminary graduate and love discussing religion in general and Christianity in particular and I would be very interested to learn more about your perspective. Do you think that might happen down the road?

thesoundandthefury294 karma

I think a Crash Course World Religions series would be awesome, and it's something we'd like to do eventually. (As far as my own education goes, I mostly studied early Islamic history and know very little about Christian theology and history, even though I am a Christian.)

SmallAsianChick110 karma

How do you feel about a lot of movie reviewers saying the ending of Paper Towns was "underwhelming"?

thesoundandthefury534 karma

Well, it was supposed to be underwhelming.

I mean, the whole idea of the story is that Quentin thinks of himself as the hero in some manic pixie dream girl fantasy: He must track down the girl, despite long odds, and then go on this Hero's Journey to Save Her, and then once he has done that he will Win The Girl and Live Happily Ever After.

Except the whole construction of that narrative is based on young men romanticizing and idealizing the girls they like, and thinking of them as objects to be won after overcoming a series of obstacles. In fact, girls are not objects to be won or conquered or whatever; they are people, in precisely the same complex and multitudinous way Quentin himself is a person.

Learning this about Margo--that she is not some fine and precious thing but is in fact a person who's been tremendously hurt by the world's romanticization of her--is the climax of the story. Story climaxes typically involve either death or sex, and this one doesn't, and that's underwhelming. But the essential argument of the movie is that these male heroic journeys are either underwhelming or they are dishonest.

pbay_102 karma

What was the last photo you took on your phone?

thesoundandthefury422 karma

My son and his best friend hugging after not seeing each other for 12 days. VERY CUTE.

Professor_Jango87 karma

I just recently rewatched the whole 2007 run of Brotherhood 2.0 again for the first time since I watched it as you were putting them out daily. What is the biggest lesson either about life or making videos that you learned way back then which still informs what you do now?

thesoundandthefury140 karma

Thanks for watching, and rewatching. I think the biggest lesson I took away from B2.0 was about discipline. Just making something for people every other day for a year stretched me a lot and showed me that I had more creative bandwidth than I initially believed.

I'd always imagined discipline and deadlines as the enemies of creativity, but for me at least they made me more creatively productive. That changed the way I approach my work.

Also, the nerdfighter community has changed everything about my life. It's hard to isolate one thing because being part of nerdfighteria just changed everything.

Dr-Zobo82 karma

What would be your perfect meal?

thesoundandthefury408 karma

Really good cheese pizza for a first course, and then some kind of fancy vegetable-laden pizza for the main course, and then a single slice of pepperoni pizza for dessert.

dbt1180 karma

If you were to enter the presidential race under the third party of Nerdfighteria, what would be the issues you'd talk about most as part of your plan once you enter the White House?

thesoundandthefury353 karma

I would say:

  1. We need to raise taxes and devote more resources to foreign aid, especially to helping poor countries build better primary health care facilities with the goal of cutting infant and maternal mortality by half in the next 20 years.

  2. We need to raise taxes again to spend more money on NASA.

  3. Then we need to raise taxes once more to dramatically increase teacher pay so that good second-year teachers are making $60,000 a year in public schools on average. But don't worry, I would also piss off teachers by making the pay increases merit based.

  4. The tax I would use to pay for all this would be a national consumption tax, or VAT, of around 10%. I would also raise taxes on everyone who makes more than $45,000 per year, and would dramatically raise the tax rate of income over $500,000 a year. Also I would bring back the estate tax.

I would be so electable.

fabulousmanatee73 karma

Will you be staring in another crash course series?

thesoundandthefury194 karma

Probably, yes, but not for the rest of this year and possibly not next year. Right now my Crash Course energy is focused on trying to build curricular materials around the videos that we can release for free: worksheets and collections of primary sources and lesson plans and essays that can complement the videos and that sort of stuff.

We're trying to work much more closely with teachers to understand how they use Crash Course in their teaching and what we can do to make that experience richer for the students. Our long-term goal is to make lots and lots of materials available to students for free--not just videos but hopefully also textbooks or textbook-like learning tools.

Also I need to write another novel, and until I've finished at least a draft I don't want to take on the responsibility of hosting a Crash Course series. In the meantime, we've got great hosts and will have more in the coming year.

AnEroticTeddyBear60 karma

When i told my teacher about the American History ones she started to show a video at the start of class and then we were giving more in depth knowledge from her. So the videos were like a starter.

thesoundandthefury99 karma

Yeah, that's our hope for how they can work in a classroom.

UnicornPantaloons54 karma

Crash course physics so all the sciences are covered would be amazing!

NillieK41 karma

It definitely would be amazing, but I don't think John would be the right person to host that.

thesoundandthefury252 karma


Oh right because of the D I got in high school Physics.

Decster11170 karma

How do you feel about Liverpool's chances in the Premier League this season, and will you be getting across to many games?

thesoundandthefury137 karma

We're going to win the league.

Not sure how much I'll be able to travel to England during the season, but I hope to get to at least one game.

BlooregaurdQKazoo64 karma

Do you sometimes miss 2008 Nerdfighteria? When it was a little smaller core audience.

thesoundandthefury114 karma


But I am also very grateful for 2015 nerdfighteria, because the project for awesome and our other projects have so much more reach, and because the size of nerdfighteria allows shows from crashcourse to the art assignment to sexplanations to thrive.

pbay_64 karma

What is your absolute favorite book? (Or at least one you highly recommend for highschool readers)

thesoundandthefury171 karma

I don't have a favorite book. I have hundreds.

Right now I want every high school student to read Ta-Nehisi Coates' book Between the World and Me.

Stauffenberg4157 karma

Biggest mistake you've made or one thing you would change in your adult life John?

thesoundandthefury247 karma

I've been really lucky in that all my mistakes were made with a safety net beneath me, so the ones that might've been catastrophic feel like a bump in the road. (Actually, I have not been lucky. I have been privileged. I know much of reddit dislikes that word, but it's the right word.)

The biggest mistake I made was overinvesting my time and energy into other people's notions of success (You should be on TV! You should be in movies! You should have Proper Fame!) rather than focusing on the work that matters most to me--writing books and making YouTube videos.

PrincessLeah8056 karma

Hi John! Thanks for answering questions! I'm a pretty big fan and I've been following Vlogbrothers for a couple of years. I've noticed that your charity focuses are primarily in Africa, especially regarding healthcare. Are there any plans or intentions to broaden your travels to Latin, Pacific Island or Asian countries? This is in no way an attack on the humanitarian efforts you have supported, as all successful charity is good, I'm just curious if we'll see a broader outreach as time goes on.

thesoundandthefury87 karma

Well, there's the charity work my wife and I do personally and then there are the focuses of nerdfighteria.

As for Sarah and me: Our giving is focused on 1. global health and poverty and 2. educational opportunities for women. Most of our money goes to organizations like Save the Children and Partners in Health that do work in Africa but also work in Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, etc. (PIH is one of the largest and most effective NGOs in Haiti, for instance.)

As for nerdfighteria: I think we've been active as a community around the world. We've helped build clean water solutions for villages in Bangladesh; we've built wells through water.org in Haiti; and we're actively working on clean water projects in rural Ethiopia right now. And through the nerdfighter kiva group, millions of dollars are being loaned to entrepreneurs throughout the world.

If there's been a focus on Ethiopia in the past year, it's because I was recently there to try to learn about how they've built such a (relatively) successful primary healthcare system despite being one of the poorest countries in the world. But I definitely want to think about poverty and health as systemic human problems and not as problems limited to one country or continent.

fullmean52 karma

Advice for being told your major is "useless"?

thesoundandthefury220 karma

I'm not sure when we got this idea that education exists only to give us better job opportunities/higher lifetime earnings. A major is not useless if for the rest of your life you're able to bring broader context to your experience. It is not useless if you've given a better framework for understanding and pursuing your passions, whether those turn out to be lucrative or not. And it is not useless if you graduate from college able to write well and think critically, because that prepares you not just for most jobs but also for the non-professional challenges and opportunities of adulthood.

samhH50 karma

What do you anticipate for the future of Youtube? Thank you for all the amazing work you do!

thesoundandthefury121 karma

I am terrible at predicting the future, but I think YouTube will continue for the foreseeable future to be the best place for independent video creators to monetize their work.

The challenge these days is that there is so much stuff on YouTube that it's very hard for new voices to break out, especially new voices that are very different from what we've come to see as "YouTube."

Everybody talks about Facebook video, but as Hank has pointed out, their video stats are pretty misleading. I think YouTube will be the destination for independently created online video. I also think the current CEO of YouTube has focused on the company on independent creators over, like, Hollywood studios--and that has been a very good decision. (Obviously I could not possibly be more biased on that front, though.)

karmadownurgun47 karma

Good morning John! I am currently at work so the only reason I saw this is because I'm obviously not being productive at work. How do you stay productive and on task while working? Especially when so much of your work is on your own time and you don't have a boss hovering over your shoulder keeping you on task.

thesoundandthefury68 karma

I am also not being productive at the moment if that makes you feel any better. :)

I am very fortunate to like my work, and to enjoy the process of being inside of it. I find the world pretty overwhelming and scary, and if I can disappear into work I escape that feeling a little. That is what keeps me productive. When doing work I'm not passionate about--and I've done lots of it over the years--I find it impossible to be very productive.

emilycorene44 karma

The ending of the Paper Towns movie changed a little bit from the book. How did you feel about that? Did you like it?

thesoundandthefury109 karma

Yeah I liked the end of the movie.

I've never cared much about plot (as numerous critics have pointed out). The priority for me was finding a way to capture the anticlimax of Q understanding that Margo is not some fine and precious thing to be won after a hero's journey but is in fact a person. But I liked that after that, we got to see Q go not just away from that romanticization of Margo, but also toward the value he has been failing to recognize because of that romanticization: the value of love between friends. So I thought it really worked in the movie, but in the end that's for the audience to decide.

OwlMyLovin18 karma

I was just wondering why you chose Orlando? I'm from there so it was really cool for me to read all the places that I grew up. :-)

thesoundandthefury58 karma

I grew up there, so it's a place I knew well. Also, I knew how it felt to want to leave. :)

chenology34540 karma

When you give advice on your podcast, do you ever feel nervous or anxious that you might be giving poor advice? Love your podcast by the way!

thesoundandthefury108 karma

Well, I'm confident that I'm providing poor advice, which is why I try in ever episode to emphasize that our advice should be taken with a grain of salt.

I assume people listen to the podcast to get the latest news about AFC Wimbledon and then just sorta suffer through the advice portion of the program.

vanessacsp33 karma

I need a new book to read, can you recommend me some that you really loved?

thesoundandthefury72 karma

Read Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. It just came out and it is really special.

Ringrrl24 karma

How many books do you read a year?

thesoundandthefury47 karma

I used to read way more before I had kids. Once THEY learn to read I'm hoping I'll be back to my old ways. These days I read maybe 25 books a year.

Risotto8622 karma

You've talked a lot about your ex-girlfriends throughout your time on Youtube. What advice do you have for someone who's coming out of a long term relationship a little bit heartbroken?

thesoundandthefury63 karma

Let yourself feel sad. Don't judge yourself for feeling sad. The worst part about heartbreak is that you're sad and then you get mad at yourself for being sad, and then you're mad and sad, and then you get increasingly despondent about this increasing misery, and it spirals out of control.

You're sad. That's okay. You should be sad. This relationship that was important to you has ended. There's a real loss there. But you must allow them to have their lives, and you need to go on and have your life. So find stuff to do and people to spend time with, and don't judge yourself for being sad, and slowly but inexorably, things will get better.

That's been my experience, anyway.

claripal20 karma

What is your thoughts on the interruptions of the Bernie Sander's rally by BLM activists? Do you think this represents a positive possible trend in american political activism and discourse?

P.S.: Your 42 days of mountain goats on Tumblr was absolutely lovely

thesoundandthefury77 karma

I refuse to acknowledge that there is a Presidential election campaign until January 28th, 2016--100 days before the primary vote here in Indiana.

ajnack38 karma

He probably won't answer this because the election is still over 100 days away.

thesoundandthefury40 karma


achennnnnn16 karma

Hi John! How do you and Hank decide on starting new ventures?Do you guys ever conduct data analysis/analytics on any of your projects?

thesoundandthefury41 karma

We do rely a lot on the annual nerdfighteria census that nerdfighters fill out. They tell us about themselves, what make them feel like a nerdfighter, and what kind of stuff they want to see more of.

But Hank and I also just talk a lot with each other about what makes sense. Should we focus more on vidcon or on Crash Course? What Crash Course series should we be doing? If we were going to make a show that offered context to news stories, how would we go about that? What would the budget look like? Could we fund it ourselves or would we need a partner? Where are we going to find writers?

We tend to explore those questions in exhausting detail for months and months before we ever do anything.

Come to think of it, though, there are other times when I'll call Hank and he'll be like, "Did I tell you I started a videoblog adaptation of Pride and Prejudice? Well, I did." So I guess it depends.

hg122313 karma

My daughter met you in NYC and gave you the Edgar Allen Poe Pop-Up book. To be honest, before she met you, I did not know much about you. I knew you were an author but had no idea how much impact you are having on my daughter and her friends. I am so happy they have you as inspiration and am wondering if you really understand the wonderful impact you (and Hank) have had?

thesoundandthefury22 karma

I still have that! That was such a cool present. Please thank your daughter for me.

I try to keep my head down and make stuff and not think too much about impact, because when I do I find the prospect of it kind of overwhelming. (There is always more that you could/should do, for instance, and I find that I focus a lot more on that than on whatever stuff I have done.)

But I'm really glad if you feel like I've been a positive influence in your daughter's life. It's a an amazing thing to have a seat at the table in people's lives when they are forming their values and thinking about big questions, and I try to take that opportunity seriously.