Talking to Meaghan O’Connell: Editor, Coming & Crying

Posted by Jason Diamond

I feel like other people have had more interesting things to say about Coming & Crying.  An example would be this thing that Emily Gould wrote for MIT.

I’m interested in the entire project that Meaghan O’Connell and Gira Grant started from the ground up, and eventually turned into a really incredibly anthology.  I think it’s safe to say that Coming & Crying is both a success story in progress, as well as a book full of dirty stories by really amazing lineup of writers.  It’s an interesting look at the way things are changing, but also sorta stay the same.

Does that even make sense?

How did the idea for the book come about?

The idea for the book was borne on Gchat. Melissa Gira Grant and I were internet friends and who read each others’ blogs late at night. There was mutual admiration and mutual love of a group of people publishing a type of writing online that we didn’t see too often–or often enough–in books. People were being so vulnerable emotionally, and without fading to black when the sex part of their stories came along. There was this idea of writing in community, that we sort of dare each other on, give more when other people are, too. We wanted to keep going with that idea, and we believed it needed to exist as a book, as something you could hold in your hands.The title started as a joke and then one day we looked at each other and decided we had called this project Coming & Crying for so long that it had to be named that officially. 

It’s a pretty impressive lineup you put together, how did you present the idea to writers?
We had most of the writers in mind before we put it on Kickstarter. Most of them were internet friends, too, who helped us shape our ideas of what C&C would become. Jonathan Ames and Tao Lin were both cornered at a Rumpus party after all of us had had a few drinks. Everyone was game. That’s how the whole process has felt, a humbling series of, Yeah, why not‘s. The way the writers have shown up for this thing again and again, from doing interviews, coming to events, advocating for the book, watching our private Vimeo videos we used to give some of them remote story edits. 

Here is part of how our call to submissions opened:
Within the manifesto-like vision we’ve described on the Kickstarter page, we’d love for you to submit:

A true story — with all the complexity erotica publishers never ask for, and the sex that would make Dave Eggers stammer. “True” means more-or-less nonfiction. You plot where that is on your own moral compass. Anywhere from blog post to really long blog post. TL;DR is welcome; whatever space you need to say what you need to say.

You have a story in the book.  I’m assuming it’s true?  Was it hard to be so honest about something so personal?

My story is true; all of them are. It’s not hard for me to put something that personal in a book, mostly because I don’t have to be there when you read it. But even reading it in front of a crowd–it’s more my writing than it is the personal content, you know? You can think I’m a damaged pervert all you want, but a bad writer? Eek!
I think to write, fiction just as much as non-fiction–you have to just take for granted that everyone is fucked up in their own little private ways and so what if someone knows a few of yours? It means more to me that someone reads my story and relates to parts of it and feels a little less alone. It’s a kind of cost benefit analysis: will people judge me for getting jiggy in a bathroom stall divided by making someone feel less alone multiplied by the square root of this will help me get into grad school. JUST KIDDING ABOUT THE LAST ONE.

What’s next?  A follow up?

After the holiday madness we’re going to look into getting this thing reprinted, hopefully in a way that will get it in more bookstores like McNally Jackson, who up until now has been our first & only and a completely wonderful experience. I think it’s fair to say that we hope to sell many more books in 2011 but spend a lot less time at the post office. And beyond that, you’ll have to wait and see!