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Lunch With Seth Godin, Houses with Ramparts, the Tic Exchange, The Best Piece of Fish on Earth, and more from the New York Trip


Gang of one,

I just got back from a week split between Gettysburg and New York. A lot of very cool things happened, I got to meet some wonderful people, and today is a brief recap of the highlights.

On Friday I spoke as the opening Keynote at a Tourette Camp put on by the Pennsylvania Tourette Syndrome Alliance. Camp Eder is out in the woods outside of Gettysburg.

It was interesting to speak to a group of kids and adults. It was a challenge to keep both groups involved. A good learning experience. Also, tics often get worse when Tourettics think about them, talk about them, or hear someone else do those things. So some of the kids left and I totally get it.

On that note, the most fascinating part of TS camp was that I could watch a group of kids and literally see the tics jump from one kid to another. We were all picking up each other’s symptoms. Very bizarre. Very intriguing.

We spent the rest of those three days running around in the woods, throwing acorns into the stream, and talking with desperate parents who obviously come to the camp to unburden themselves and commiserate with others who are battling the schools and facing other challenges.

I did a brief strongman show, tearing some cards and rolling up some frying pans for the kids. I didn’t plan on anyone wanting the pans, so there was some fussing as the kids fought it out to see who could have their own piece of wrecked metal to cherish.

After that, we drove up to Manhattan on Sunday afternoon. There is about a one hundred mile stretch of Pennsylvania where there is a mileage marker every tenth of a mile. It was absurdly wasteful and we spent much of that tree-choked drive trying to guess who had sneaked that stupid project into their legislation.

I always like driving through unfamiliar places. Maybe this’ll wear off, but even seeing store chains I’m not familiar with is fun for me. Pennsylvania was beautiful.

On Monday we just hung out in White Plains, a well-to-do suburb about 20 minutes out of Manhattan. Janette and I went for a walk and promptly got lost. The streets were empty, the air was humid, and we were on the brink of screaming “Help! Help! Has anyone seen my editor’s house!” before we stumbled back onto the right road.

Some of the houses out there were absolutely enormous. I mean, like with ramparts and everything.

On Tuesday I got to go to Seth Godin’s office where he cooked lunch for Janette, my agent Lisa, and yours truly. He was a very good cook. Very fastidious. I had offered to bring something, but Lisa promptly killed this idea. After seeing what he went through to cook something fresh and wonderful for us, I got the idea. If I had shown up with a disgusting sack of burgers things would not have gone as well.

The conversation was brilliant. We had a very good talk about strategy, the publishing industry, courage, what’s wrong with the self improvement industry, and more.

Seth is the kind of person who gives me hope for humanity. He is way more generous than he needs to be and he really cares about being useful. He has been the perfect mentor for me and I look forward to working together in the future, or at least eating more of his cooking.

That night we drove into the city for my dinner. I would be eating with my editor (the actually buying editor who purchased the manuscript and will be the final word), the president of Gotham Books, and the head of my publicity team, a wonderful bookworm named Lisa Johnson.

I was nervous as hell. I had purchased a sports jacket just for the dinner. When I went to buy it, I thought it would be cheap because, you know, a jacket it just half a suit. Wow, no. What a rube. I guess the upside is, if you get taken advantage of in a clothing store, you still wind up looking good. I hate clothes shopping more than just about anything.

Anyway, I knew the first thing I would do at diner would be to spill all over that jacket. But I didn’t. It was a perfect evening. They immediately put me at ease, I didn’t spill, the food was unbelievably good–I had a piece of salmon with sourdough bread somehow melded into it–the meeting part of it was useful, and I left even more excited for the book.

The best piece of news was that, if I can hold up my end and keep things on schedule, the book will probably come out next May or June in 2013. It’s still a ways off, but possibly a full season earlier than what I had expected.

Oh, and work on the book cover is apparently going to start on July 18. I am going to insist that it displays a giant basket of kittens with angel halos and extra long eyelashes.

Oh, and I got some pudding with “crystallized violets” in it. As far as I could tell, they really were sugary pieces of flowery petals. I don’t know why anyone ever thought of eating violets, but it was really good.

And that, my friend, is a ragtag summary of one of the best weeks of my life. Now, back to work, back to writing, back to real life, but real life is slowly shifting towards a new, exciting reality that I never could have guessed at.

Hope you’re doing something great today.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Janet Thaeler June 14, 2012, 9:18 am

    Wow, Seth Godin cooked for you. And you got to hang out with him. I’m not jealous but I remember when he was stuck on a plane and decided to rent a car. He invited the other passengers to go with him. No one took him up on it. I would’ve.
    His speech about Linchpin a few years ago in Utah, was mind altering. I wish I could hit rewind and hear it all over again.

    • Josh Hanagarne June 14, 2012, 9:24 am

      I was at that speech here in Utah. I’d like to see it again too.

  • Amy June 14, 2012, 9:11 pm

    Sounds like an amazing time! I’ve seen the tics pass from one person to the next just at our family gatherings. It would be interesting to see it at a camp. There is a camp a few hours from here. Next summer Lane wants to go to it, so we’re going to make that happen.

  • Gustavo | Frugal Science June 15, 2012, 11:21 am

    Congratz, Josh. You rock! Except for your taste for book cover art (I don’t understand it; too surreal).

    I only know Seth Godin from his videos and books and it looks like I had an erroneous idea about the man.

    Could you post something about your next book without spoilers? I wouldn’t ask you this but 2013 sounds still far away.

    I don’t care much about eating violets but, for the rest of the trip, I would surely like to experience something alike, sometime in the future.

    The tics passing part makes me think about “The Simpson’s” show (I say this in fair mode since I like that show very much).

    • Josh Hanagarne June 15, 2012, 11:59 am

      Gustavo what do you want to know about the book?

  • Gustavo | Frugal Science June 15, 2012, 1:29 pm

    How about one review like those you do for others – as if you (the author) were not you.

    • Josh Hanagarne June 15, 2012, 2:12 pm

      Once I’m done writing, you insane man! I’ve still got a lot of work to do, Gustavo. So I can’t give you any sort of review yet, since I’m not sure what the finished product will look like for the next few months.

  • Boris B June 15, 2012, 8:11 pm

    Sounds like a great time Josh!

  • Betsy June 17, 2012, 3:05 pm

    That was Scarsdale with the ramparts, dear. We don’t got no ramparts in White Plains.

    • Josh Hanagarne June 17, 2012, 3:41 pm

      there was a siege tower in your neighborhood.