For my birthday The Mr took me to see David Sedaris. He was performing, we didn’t pay him a visit or anything. It’s not like The Mr was all “Pack a picnic, darling, we’re off to visit with David!” and then drove me to some grand estate with groundskeepers and things.
Why are David Sedaris, The Mr, and I suddenly in a Jane Austen novel? None of this seems right… Oh duh, that’s because The Mr bought tickets to go see David Sedaris speak in Massachusetts. Now things make more sense.
Clearly, I do not hang out with David Sedaris (and I believe it’s pretty obvious that that won’t be changing anytime soon.), but I’ve been a big fan of his since college when Bestbian introduced me to his work. I thought he was funny then, but now my affection for him and his work has grown from being a fan to being inspired. His ability to write an essay is frustratingly brilliant.
The personal essay is something that I’ve been working hard at lately, and in doing so, I’ve been turning to his work more and more.
There’s just one problem with looking to my heroes for inspiration: They always seem to be more interesting than I am.
David Sedaris seems to witness a completely different world than I do. Jenny Lawson always ends up in these ridiculous situations and conversations. After reading their work, I find myself not feeling inspired, but instead feeling inadequate.
But then David Sedaris said something in response to a question at his reading that changed things for me. A couple people asked him questions about how he got into writing memoir or if he goes out and gets himself into situations for the sake of the story and he began talking about how none of this was ever part of the plan.
“If you read my work, you’ll notice that nothing big ever really happens to me,” he said. “I just have to figure out how to make something out of nothing most of the time.”
He also said something along the lines of how going out and doing something just so that you can write about it immediately turns that story into a lie. He writes about things that happen to him and what he thinks about those things. Staging those situations immediately takes away the truth from the story.
I couldn’t stop thinking about this. For weeks prior to this reading, I had been saying to The Mr that we need to go do more interesting things and get ourselves into more interesting situations – all for the sake of having material. Of course, now I realize that this notion is completely ridiculous. I can’t put myself in situations like David Sedaris’ and Jenny Lawson’s and expect the great, fresh material to flow out of me. The world already has David Sedaris and Jenny Lawson. They don’t need a Sedaris-Lawson impersonator. (#Sedawson?)
I’m me. It’s my perspective and my ideas that should be going into my work. I just need to learn to make something out of nothing.
I simply need to learn to make something out of nothing.
And maybe when I’m feeling like I can’t do it or that I have nothing good to say, I’ll call my good friend David for a little pick-me-up. Oh… right. I’ll just think about that time I sat in an audience of a thousand people and heard some good advice.
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