Monday, 4 February 2013

On Meeting Idols (OMGJohnGreenAHHH)

Hullo all,

Sorry I've been a bit rubbish about posting (I would say 'recently' but consider I started this in September (I think?) it technically still is a 'recent' thing so I'm basically saying 'sorry for being rubbish about posting'. So, sorry.) Turns out that this university lark is a lot more work than they say it is... so much for going out and getting trashed/wasted every night!

I have so much to catch you up on, stuff that is actually quite important considering I started this blog to map how I cope being a fresher whilst still living at home (the main thing being I actually have a house for next year now!), but today is not the day when you get to learn about that. Sorry.

Today is the day, however, that I get to eeep and squeal and bounce up and down clapping my hands about the fact that yesterday I met my idol.

We (when I put 'we' here it will mean myself, my sister and (for a majority of the time) two (or sometimes three) of her friends (an occasionally a couple of northerners)) woke up at the bright an breezy hour of 5 am in order to leave our house at 6am in order to get on a bus to London at 6.45am. So that was fun. The bus journey, as most travel experiences are at the hour of the morning, was a couple of hours of mixed excitement, exhaustion, worry and planning. I felt sorry for the other passengers on the bus, who clearly were not as stoked as us, but not sorry enough to turn down the dial on my glowing mood.

We arrived in London 25 minutes ahead of schedule, which was nice and relaxing. However, it also meant we had to spend an extra 25 minutes in the bitter London wind, which wasn't fun. I don't know if a lot of non-Londoners know this - I didn't until we went to London for Les Mis in January - but London doesn't really start until 10am on a regular day. I had assumed it would start up between 8 and 9 like all the other cities in this country, but nope. 10am. Can anybody explain why?? Anyway, so as London starts at 10am on a regular day, we didn't realise that shops wouldn't open till 12am on a Sunday... Our gig/show started at 12am. This meant that there was literally NOTHING TO DO other than wander round in the bitter weather or sit huddled in a cafe. We chose the latter. I'm ashamed to say we huddled in a chain shop rather than a nice local cafe. This was partly because the chain shop was actually open, and partly because we were in Chelsea (specifically Kensington) which is notorious for being a bit expensive (for further reference/to be blown away by appalling acting/to be dumbstruck by wealth and/or beauty/for mind numbing effects: watch Made In Chelsea). At about 11 we decided to seek out the venue, which took us all of ten minutes and if we had any doubts about whether or not it was the right place, the queue quickly settled those. We joined it, got interviewed by a guy with a camera, and entered the venue.

Cadogan Hall is beautiful. Everything looks so clean and so old and its just gorgeous. We walked in and received a signed (and Hanklerfished) copy of  John Green's The Fault In Our Stars, then queued again (because no Brit can resist a good queue) and I bought a poster. Everyone at the venue was lovely. I've never been in an environment when everyone is so excited and happy and wants to meet you and make friends. A group of girls came up to us and offered us home-made and TFioS iced buns!

Then it was time for the show. John came on and said some things about writing TFioS and about writing in general and gave advice and read a bit and was generally beautiful. Here's some of what I remember he said.

He spoke about how long it had taken him to write TFioS, and I don't just mean the many drafts that became TFioS I mean the entire writing process, from wanting to write a book that featured children who were suffering and from wanting to tell the story of them and their family. This began in 2000, when he was working as a chaplain in a children's hospice. The early drafts of TFioS featured a guy who was sort of like John, but (as he said) 'Adverb. Handsome'. Following this he said (for me) his most important piece of writing advice: none of those drafts worked because they were self indulgent. Not only was he writing about himself, but he was also writing for himself. It was only when he began to write for other people, so that other people would enjoy his work, that he became a writer. Writing doesn't work when you write for yourself, or if you write to be popular or if you write to sell. As John said, he never expected TFioS to sell - so clearly he shouldn't be trusted with things like that.

Amongst all this profundity and life advice - do things for other people not just for yourself - he also said a lot of funny things. There is a line in the first few pages of TFioS where it says that everything is a side effect of dying, including cancer. Which I know doesn't sound all that funny, but it was his defence of this line (which many people disagree with) that was funny. He said that cancer is form from the death of cells, which then have to reform, as cells that don't go through this process don't get cancer. We know this because Zombies don't get cancer. John Green, everybody.

He also spoke a lot about a certain nerdfighter called Esther Earl. You can find her in the links at the bottom of this page (you can also find where to donate to This Star Won't Go Out - the charity founded in her memory). He, through Esther, was taught that however short life is it deserves to be lived. This comes across in TFioS. It is also very poignant that the story is set from the point of view of a sick person, and about their life. All too often, stories are about helathy people. They seem to suggest that the sick person is put on the planet to help them learn something. But of course one person is not alive to help another. They are there for themselves too, and if they help you along the way then that's a bonus.

After all of this, Hank came on and played some songs, they both answered questions put to them by special guest Maureen Johnson, Hank got slapped, he played some more songs and they closed with the Proclaimers 500 miles. We waited two hours in a signing queue, got our stuff signed, had a brief chat and left, very happy people.

I'm not going to go into detail about what I said to John or what I said to Hank or what they said to me, because it wasn't that groundbreaking and it's special to me. I left them both letters, which said everything I knew I wouldn't be able to say (because of time and general flusteryness). I also left a letter for Rosianna (Halse Rojas, missxrojas on the tubes) because I knew she was going to the show later, but then I saw her down stairs, said hi and thank you a lot. We left, went to another chain shop, got food, got a bus, slept a lot, got home.

It was one of those days I won't ever forget. I met the man who inspired me to read differently, to write with purpose, to be the best person I can be. And I met his equally amazing brother. And I met the beautiful Rosianna.
I think a lot of people freak out when they meet their idols. I didn't meet my idol that day, I met a man. A brilliant man, but a man none the less. He was tired, his arm was probably about to fall off and when it was over, he had to do it all again two hours later. He wasn't this amazing being, but he was human. And that was what made the day so special. I got to meet the human who did so much for me. I got to say thank you to him. I got to give him my letter. I got to tell him,

Best Wishes

John and Hank:


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