Jason Diamond may have been Searching for John Hughes, but in my own way I'm Searching for Jason Diamond.
I discovered Jason Diamond through Twitter after spending the last year following some prominent New York City-based writers. I'm not sure if they're connected to each personally, professionally or both but one follow led to another and before I realized it I had stumbled into some sort of NYC media clique. First I followed Amanda Mull, Managing Editor of Purse Blog and freelance writer. (Her dry wit makes her one of my best follows to date, follow her. And she's a Dawg and fellow Grady grad like me!) At some point in the infinite twitter timeline, she led me to Jason Diamond who is the sports and pop culture editor of Rolling Stone, and of course a writer. And with his memoir, Searching for John Hughes, an author.
I didn't know much about him as a writer other than he penned an article, "Sex, Drugs, and Bestsellers: The Legend of the Literary Brat Pack" for Harper's Bazaar back in October that I really liked. But I'm a sucker for John Hughes and personal nonfiction so when I saw Diamond's book was coming out, I pre-ordered it the day it became available on Amazon.
A couple of days later I got an email saying there was a problem with my account. The next day the order was cancelled. I tried again the next week. It happened again. Then November turned into December and I became consumed with my impending move from Kansas City to New York. Pre-ordering a book slid off my to-do list without me even noticing.
Flash forward to January 2017. I was about 3 weeks new to New York and again, Twitter had led me to something. Jason Diamond would be speaking about John Hughes films and signing copies of his book at The Strand. Sold! I bought a ticket in about 2 minutes flat. (Also being new to New York, I was unemployed so it's not like I had to clear my schedule. I would have though, for the record.)
"Hi," I told him while he cracked open my copy of his book to sign. "I loved your article in Harper's from a few months ago. Bret Easton Ellis and Jay McInerney are two of my favorite writers."
"Oh, thanks," he said. "Yeah, it was awesome to interview them." His hand paused over my book with the Sharpie.
"I just moved to New York," I told him while he signed it. I left out the part that I'm a writer. Since I've been published in a few places I'm no longer aspiring per se, but I guess more like aspiring to write full-time.
We exchanged quickly about the fact I'm from Kansas City and he's from Chicago and that KC barbecue is awesome. I've never eaten it, but I lied and agreed it was great. He struck a line through his name in the book and handed me back my newly signed copy. That was it. It was a great night.
How accomplished it must feel, I thought to myself as Jason bantered back and forth with another writer about 80s flicks to not only do a book signing and have people be interested enough in your writing to show up, but to be doing it at one of New York's most famous bookstores.
I showed my friend my signed copy.
"Why is there a line through his name?" She scrutinzed it.
"I'm not sure." I shrugged it off.
After leaving the signing, I immediately went home and started reading it. After finishing it, I I think I can say with a fair amount of certainty that Jason felt pretty damn grateful to be publishing a book and doing a signing at The Strand considering everything he's been through that was revealed in his book.
Jason Diamond may have been Searching for John Hughes but inadvertently he wrote the perfect book for a 20-something writer who just moved to New York City to follow their dream. He captured the gut-wrenching doubt we feel about our own worthiness and deservedness as writers. Certain lines seemed like he pulled them directly from my subconscious.
Oh and as for the line through his name? In his book, he says that he had seen a famous writer do it one time when he took a book to get signed. And now that he's made it, I guess he's doing it too. And as I navigate Manhattan, pursuing writing and getting published in more places, I'm starting out just like he did.
He may have been Searching for John Hughes, but in my own way, I'm Searching for Jason Diamond.
By Kathryn Greene