On the weirdest week ever
Greetings, Tumblr—let’s take a journey
In early 2008 when I was thirteen, I started watching the Vlogbrothers (as a result of watching the fiveawesomegirls, actually). When Paper Towns came out in the fall, I got to see John and Hank start off their tour in a Manhattan Barnes & Noble. The crowd was really small. It’s incredible to see how that’s changed. I went to the recent TFiOS tour this last January, and there were hundreds of people in the audience. But I’ll get to my experience at that tour in a moment.
Firstly, it is absolutely ridiculous how much John’s work has influenced my perception of literature and the act of writing. I remember buying Looking for Alaska at Borders (RIP) after I had found his videos, and I had no idea how it would change how I viewed books. Personally, reading critically and thoughtfully was something that I really had to grow into to be able to do.
I know that most young people usually don’t know what career they would choose as adults or what to study, but I would always have this habit of aggressively hemming and hawing when it came to even thinking about it. That’s not too weird for someone my age, but in the middle of high school especially, when the time had truly come to start thinking about what I wanted for university, I would lie to myself. I have this recent, vivid memory of giving myself a hard look and finally admitting that I wanted to pursue the very unrealistic career choice of becoming a writer. If I hadn’t ever seen John’s videos and books, I don’t think I would have ever been honest with myself, and I don’t think I ever would have even imagined it to be possible. And most importantly, without both John and Hank, I don’t think I would be as happy with myself as I am right now.
So in July, I made this thing for The Fault in Our Stars way before it even came out. John reblogged it, and it made my summer. I’ve always been really, really impressed with how John connects with his readers with the internet, and I was ecstatic. In November, I did the same thing for Katherines, and I sent it into the contest that Penguin was having. Truthfully, I pretty much forgot about it. I thought it would be cool to submit something, but I had no expectations. I loved so many of the other covers that were floating around on Tumblr, and art/graphic design are just hobbies of mine.
I went to the TFiOS tour in January and brought some books, as well as the original sketch that I had done for the TFiOS cover that I had made to give to John. I did eventually give my sketch to John, and he recognized it. But then, right after he was finished signing my books, he asked me if I had submitted a similar one for the contest that Penguin was having. It took me a second to understand what he was saying because, like I said, I had forgotten about the contest. I told him I did, and he said he really liked it. I moved on and waited for my friends to get their things signed. Soon, one of my friends ran up to me and told me that I needed to go back into the signing room because I had won the cover contest for Katherines. I actually didn’t believe her at first, because I hadn’t even mentioned to anybody that I had sent anything in.
Yeah, that feeling pretty much vanished the second I found myself being led away from the line of people waiting to get their things signed by John Green so JOHN GREEN could quickly tell me that he had liked what I had submitted enough to pick it out and put it on the book he wrote.
Now, it’s June. Going to the Book Expo was incredible. I met John and finally got to meet the people that I had been emailing back and forth for a few months about the cover, as well as many other wonderful people from Penguin. Everybody was so kind to me, and I really couldn’t have asked for anything better. Seeing the book for the first time was so strange but so, so awesome. Honestly though, I think it’s going to really hit me like a bullet when I walk into a bookstore and see it casually lying on a shelf as I go to make an unrelated purchase.
A lot of people have asked me how it was to meet John, and it’s so weird to explain! It was incredible, but it was also the most bizarre thing that I have ever done in my entire life. My parents came with me, and at one point I found myself watching my dad talk to John about the food in Amsterdam while I got to glance over at the giant poster of something that I had drawn alone, in my room, forever ago. That feeling didn’t stop—it did not stop when John started to tell me about the Chicago area after I told him about where I was going to college, it did not stop when John asked me about my prom (“I’m excited for my prom tonight, but, uh, you know, not as much as I’m excited for this.”), and it sure as shit did not stop when John casually introduced me to David Levithan (“Um. I’ve read your books”). And, yeah, it really was the same day as prom. In some capacity, I’ve always had to imagine what my day leading up to prom would be like, but it turned out to be nothing like I had ever imagined. It was better.
Anyway, thanks for liking the cover if you do. I feel really honored, but I also feel so thankful that I could ever do something like this, because I owe a lot to the Vlogbrothers and the books that John has written. I’m just a kid who really likes to read and write and occasionally run an okay blog, and I got to do this incredible thing that I never ever would have even thought to dream of when I first decided to click on a funny-looking YouTube link when I was thirteen. My prom was great, I’m graduating high school in a week, and I’m really happy.
The designer of the new cover of An Abundance of Katherines recounts her week.
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