It occurred to me that I couldn’t even define literature—not even to myself. I could give very erudite and intimidating answers to other people, the sort of bullshit that anyone with an English degree can throw up as a smokescreen, but I didn’t have a substantive answer that I believed in. I didn’t know why I liked the books I liked. So I decided I would throw everything away, everything I’d heard in college and everything else. I decided I would trust only myself—what I really believed and felt to be true. Which, of course, didn’t exactly occur overnight: it probably took the better part of 2004. But it was a very conscious effort.
—20 Under 40 Fiction Q. & A.: Philipp Meyer : The New Yorker
That was when things began to change. I think of it as year zero, though it was actually year ten. The cynical part of me says, Well, maybe it could have happened some other way—maybe you could have kept the cushy job and kept writing. But I really don’t think so. I think you really have to stare down the demons. You really have to know what making art is worth to you.