Dear John: Family Matters


This is a strange stage of life to be in during the holidays.

Unlike many of my friends, I am single and back living in the same house where I grew up. Most of my friends have moved away from our small town for work and school. So when my boss said a few weeks ago, “Do not work on Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve,” as grateful as I was for that, I just shook my head. Sighed to myself.

I don’t have many friends or family members to spend time with this season. Work is all I really have.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my family and spending time with loved ones over these two weeks is absolutely essential. But all I’ve wanted to do since I left home to celebrate Christmas is work. Writing is work for me. It’s work I enjoy. Sometimes I would just rather spend all my time writing instead of watching Christmas movies. Nothing against Christmas movies or anything.

I view all this, obviously, from the perspective of someone who has never had a family of her own. I forget it’s different for people who have. Which is why, sometimes, I get frustrated when I am depending on someone for something, and their timing just doesn’t match up with mine. It seems selfish, unless you take into account these differing perspectives.

Earlier this year I (jokingly, but no one really saw it that way) wrote an open letter to John Green about how he was overdue for a new book. I made the mistake of posting that into the Nerdfighter Facebook group, and everyone shot me down and criticized me for not respecting John’s time or personal life.

It’s still up on this blog and you can probably find it if you want to. I didn’t delete it. But those comments really hurt my feelings and made me feel really guilty about the whole thing. I won’t lie about that. Here I was, a writer who understood how hard it is to write a book and balance other responsibilities, basically being publicly shamed for writing something about an author I really looked up to.

That was back in July or August, if I’m remembering right. I’ve learned a lot since then (like how not to share my work with a bunch of strangers who can’t respect someone else’s style and opinion). I’ve paid a lot more attention to how John maintains balance in his life as well (certainly not in a creepy way). After Project for Awesome, I finally realized I understood something John does right that has made him so successful in so many areas of his life, despite a handful of obstacles.

He puts his family first.

He will go on a social media hiatus (though he’s not very good at it) so he can better divide his time between work and family. He will allow both of his children to live their own private lives despite his status as an author, creator etc, yet he will jump up in the middle of hosting a live stream the second little Alice needs his immediate attention.

That isn’t a kind of dedication I can yet understand. It’s not my fault. I just don’t have a family to take care of yet. I have to balance work and school and a few friends and that’s about it. So I’m sorry if sometimes I come off selfish, like I don’t care about other people’s time. But you have to look at it through my eyes. I wanted to work over the holiday because, honestly, what else do I have to do?

I hope that whatever stage of life you’re currently in, if you don’t see things the way someone else does, you will at least try to view the matter from their perspective. I’ve never had kids, I’ve never had to try and raise a family and write a book at the same time, but John can do it. Someday I’ll have to do it. And when I’m at that point in my life, I’ll find a way to make it work.

I suppose even I can still learn to be more grateful for this time in my life. It’s kind of depressing sometimes and I don’t wish the loneliness on anyone, but maybe we have to learn how to handle being bored before we’re allowed to be busy truly living.

Thank you, John, for always teaching me things without knowing you’re doing it. I don’t write these things because I expect you to read them. It just keeps me sane. Mostly.

Merry Christmas, and DFTBA,, Meg<3

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

Meg is the managing editor at College Lifestyles magazine, a guest contributor with Lifehack and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine. She is an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner and has also written for Teen Ink and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.

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