Interviews Nonfiction Writing

Craig Lancaster vs. Jonathan Evison

Jonathan Evison’s story — and his stories — always inspire me. For any writer out there that knows the name or were ever befriended by him during the MySpace years, you’ve heard the rumor that, before the publication of All About Lulu, he wrote six novels, all which never secured press time with a publisher, and that he actually buried three of said novels and torched every rejection letter he received. Talk about defeat. But did he give up? Not hardly. He kept on plugging along, now a New York Times bestseller.

Following is an excerpt from an interview Craig Lancaster did with Evison for The Nervous Breakdown:

CL: There’s a publishing movement today where people get stars in their eyes and think, man, if I can just get my book (or e-book) out there, I’ll sell jillions of copies and be a success! It’s great when it works out, but what about when it doesn’t? Isn’t there something to be said for having a broader definition of achievement?

JE: Anyone with the wherewithal to finish a novel, even a bad one, is a success in my eyes. It takes stones to write a novel. Publishing is no measure of a writer’s success. Christ, Whitman had to harass people on street corners—the guy couldn’t give his books away! The marketplace has never been a meritocracy. Call me deluded, but I felt successful three novels before I ever published All About Lulu. I was doing exactly what I always wanted to do: I was writing novels. Was anyone publishing them? No. Was anyone even reading them? Not really. Not even my mom, come to think of it. But I learned a shitload about myself, and what I was made of, and what I wanted and didn’t want, and who I loved and why. I always come back to that great Spike Jonze quote from Adaptation: You are what you love, not what loves you.

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