Coming & Crying

An interesting project to be aware of: Coming & Crying. Coming & Crying is an effort by Melissa Gira Grant and Meaghan O’Connell to publish a new book of honest, original sex writing. Grant and O’Connell describe the kind of writing they want to publish thus: “Compelling writing that doesn’t skip over the interesting parts, writing that is willing to go there, to be brave and to dwell in it, the way few published authors have.”

I fully agree with Melissa and Meaghan about the dearth of quirky, realistic, striking sex writing. Sex writing should explore the same spectrum of emotion and experience as any other writing, but there is little of that writing being published by major presses. Stephen Elliott is one fantastic author who does write like that, and he has become (deservedly) successful for it. (He’s great, seriously, buy his books.)

Grant and O’Connell then say that the one place they have found good sex writing is on the Internet, where the conditions of quasi-anonymity and easy publishing allow for it. So they’re soliciting donations online via the website Kickstarter, which they then plan to take to an on-demand press. Their goal was $3,000. At present they’ve garnered $4,728 from 114 backers (of which, yes, I am one). A wild success.

There’s something to be said for the innovative model of publishing that Grant and O’Connell are using. They’re straddling the online and real-world arenas; the Internet is making possible a real, physical book. (Elliott, too, lives in both spheres; he tours tirelessly to sell hard copies of his books, but is also the founder of the online literary magazine The Rumpus.) A pledge of $15 or more guarantees the backer a hard copy, so essentially you’re buying the book in advance on the promise of certain content. Clearly this model won’t work for all books—poetry and certain types of experimental writing, for example—but it is perfectly suited to this book. Yes, there is the danger that on-demand presses can come to resemble vanity presses, but they also publish books that simply would not be published elsewhere. This provides a sort of second slush pile for major presses, who will sometimes make an offer for a book.

Why not just publish online? Because the physical book is still an object of unique aesthetic pleasure for millions. Because writers deserve to be paid for their work. Because major publishers will may more attention to a book in traditional book form.

I for one am excited. If Coming & Crying turns out as intended, it could be spectacular.

Jennifer Bernstein