On Writing

Tuesday’s Truths


I have to write about John Green. GAH. (Good GAH. VERY GOOD GAH.)



I finished reading ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ this past weekend.


I read it in about ten minutes (mom-time – that’s about three days – pretty much a small miracle). I laughed. I cried. It was a momentous read for me. I’ve been reading YA for quite some time now since it’s what I’m writing. It’s research (how cool is that? reading amazing YA novels for research!). I’ve read John Green before.

In fact, John Green’s ‘Looking for Alaska’ was the first YA book I read as an adult. 


I read it because it had a lovely gold award plate on the front cover. I figured I’d go to the award winners to start my research. LFA knocked me on my ass. I was, like, what did I just read? In a way that I had to step away from anymore Green. (This is not a bad thing.)

Let me explain. Err, let Mr. Green explain. 

Below are the lines that I underlined as I read TFIOS. Yes, I just couldn’t pass these lines without underlining them. They were…well, just read.

And then we were out of Jesus’s heart and in the parking lot, the spring air just on the cold side of perfect, the late-afternoon light heavenly in its hurtfulness. Pg. 18

I mean – heavenly in its hurtfulness? My heart broke open when I read this. 


I liked that he was a tenured  professor in the Department of Slightly Crooked Smiles with a dual appointment in the Department of Having a Voice That Made My Skin Feel More Like Skin. Pg. 31


Mr. Green has his own language –  not just a terribly terrific voice – he capitalizes in the most unique unexpected ways. I gotta man who’s tenured in the Dept. of Slightly Crooked Smiles. I know what he’s talkin’ about. 


I was thinking about the word handle, and all the unholdable things that get handled. Pg.60


He makes up his own words. Unholdable. Not a word, but clearly it should be. Oye. The sentence runs off your tongue like sweet spit from your lover…


And yet still I worried. I liked being a person. I wanted to keep it. Worry is yet another side effect of dying. Pg. 65


I mean, who writes ‘I like being a person’? That’s an incredible line. It’s beautiful. And I worry. Worry is a side effect of many things. 


“That’s why I like you. Do you realize how hard it is to come across a hot girl who creates an adjectival version of the word pedophile? You are so busy being you that you have no idea how utterly unprecedented you are.” Pg. 123


Mr. Green’s characters are just astounding. Witty. Heartfelt. Honest. Creative. You know people like that. I know you do. They’re REAL. Mr. Green knows real. 


…and I felt like there was something noncancery wrong with my chest as the minutes ticked away. Pg. 144


How beautiful is it to describe a feeling that is outside of all that one feels when one has a disease like cancer? Noncancery is perfect. 


“Sure, anyone can name fourteen dead people. But we’re disorganized mourners, so a lot of people end up remembering Shakespeare, and no one ends up remembering the person he wrote Sonnet Fifty-Five about.” Pg. 152


What took me most in these sentences is the idea of people being disorganized mourners. It’s just a startlingly receptive statement. It’s so true. Death becomes us all and yet, when it arrives, or heaven forbid, leaves a message on our machines that it’ll be here soon, we can become, well disorganized. How to deal with death is something I think about all the time…

…we sat in the lacey shade of a huge chestnut tree…pg. 209


I’ve sat in lacey shade many a times…but I’ve never heard it described this way. Thank you, Mr. Green, for finding a home for outside of my underwear drawer for lace. 


I was too scared to ask if I had a reason to be scared. Pg. 211


Have you ever felt this way? Too scared to ask for a reason to be scared? Of course you have. It hit me in the gut to read it written out. 


He opened the door for Isaac, and I watched through the mirror as Gus helped Isaac out of the car, the two of them leaning on each other at the shoulder then tapering away, like praying hands that don’t quite meet at the palms. Pg. 227


One of Mr. Green’s writing talents includes writing metaphors like Michael Jackson grabs his crotch and rocks a stage – KA-BLAM – there it is. A wicked metaphor.  


Above us, the wind blew and the branching shadows rearranged themselves on our skin. Pg. 236


Again with the lovely tree metaphors. My skin yearned for a branch shadow when I read this. 


His eyes swam in their sockets. Pg. 246


My eyes were swimming in their sockets when I read this. Why? Because I was crying when I read it. I cried for, pretty much, the whole last chapter of TFIOS. Gorgeous. 


Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you. Pg. 286


TFIOS yanks whatever you know about grief with its fingery words and slaps you in the face with the love that organizes it. Oh, and I heart the name Hazel. 


The truth on this sunny but chilly Thursday is this: 


The world needs Green. John Green. As a writer, I am inspired by many writers. And I believe that when I read a book that racks my soul and rocks my writing world, I need to shout it out. I don’t write reviews on this blog. This is not a review of TFIOS but a message about incredible writing. It’s a message about how one author can inspire and mentor another writer without the two ever meeting or conversing or knowing each other. 


I could go to Mr. Green’s website and watch his videos. Read his blog, but I wanted to write this blog first. So it’s just me and his words. I hope that when people read my books, they feel how I feel (even a minute amount!) when I read a Green book. 


And so, I’d like to say thank you to Mr. Green for writing. For working BICHOK (butt in chair, hands on keyboard) like she’s a horny teen, and writing stories that make me underline sentence after sentence because I’ve fallen. Fallen in love with the words…their meanings and how it all makes me feel. 


Thank you, Mr. Green. 


I’m reading ‘Paper Towns’ now. The underlining continues.