A few days ago I found myself alone with some free time on my hands, so I went to the Harvard Book Store and read the first chapter of one of your favorite books, The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. As I was reading, I discovered that the main character, Hazel Grace Lancaster, speaks like John Green does in his Youtube videos. Example:
“So here’s how it went in God’s heart. The six or seven of us walked/wheeled in, grazed at a decrepit selection of cookies and lemonade, sat down in the Circle of Trust, and listened to Patrick recount for the thousandth time his depressingly miserable life story – how he had cancer in his balls and they though he was going to die but he didn’t die and now here he is, a full-grown adult in a church basement in the 137th nicest city in America, divorced, addicted to video games, mostly friendless, eking out a meager living by exploiting his cancertastic past, slowly working his way toward a master’s degree that will not improve his career prospects, waiting, as we all do, for the sword of Damocles to give him the relief that he escaped lo those many years ago when cancer took both of his nuts but spared what only the most generous soul would call his life.
AND YOU TOO MIGHT BE SO LUCKY!” (9, TFIOS)
Jump cut to another thought right after the interjection, and you basically have thirty seconds of a John Green youtube video. In fairness to John Green, he is very good in front of the camera, and from what I know of him, he doesn’t have the bleak, cynical, jaded view of the world that Hazel conveys. However, even though Mr. Green is good at dxpressing ideas which he does not personally share, he is not so great at disguising his vocal cadence.
Some might counter with the argument that because TFIOS is (spoilers) a romantic tragedy some expansive and eloquent language is permitted, an argument John Green makes himself in a FIFA video. However, the genre of romantic tragedy does not provide a justification for not changing your writing just a little bit so a reader can distinguish between the words of a teenage girl and the middle aged author who is writing the teenage girl.
Maybe I’m being to harsh to John Green. After all, he is an award winning author and I am but a poor internet blogger. The real question behind this blog post is how artists manage to present a view of the world that is at once universal and personal. Universal in the sense that a wide audience can appreciate it and personal in the sense that it tells the audience a bit about the artist who created the work. This is a problem I have encountered a lot in my own writing. I have a constant fear that my fiction is too narrow-minded, my characters too one-dimensional. How does one convey the workings of another mind? I haven’t quite figured it out yet, but I hope some practice will help. If you have any ideas, please let me know.
As for the college life, it’s been pretty easy so far. I’m probably going to work for Dorm Crew during the school year, seeing as it has a low time commitment and good hourly wages. Classes start in two weeks, so I have a little more summer vacation to be had. Living outside the Yard makes it a bit difficult to run into other freshman, bu the Greenough residents are meeting tonight, so hopefully I’ll makes some new friends there.