And they shall call me "#Sedawson!" Wait. No.

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.

 

via GIPHY

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.

 

via GIPHY

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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My identity (or lack of one?) as a writer.

I've been in an interesting stage with my writing lately. Even though I've been doing this blog for a few years now, I’ve always seen myself as a potential novelist. I just wanted a way to exercise my writing brain and to use my sense of humor along the way, so I though this blog would be fun. I've completed a first draft and a first round of edits on a novel, and I'm really proud of that, but I'm starting to wonder if that's the route I really want to take.

I really enjoy personal essay. It's an incredibly fun thing to work with and it’s a great way to explore that whole “write what you know” concept – or in some cases what you don’t know.

But it’s also so damn personal. And what if I write something now that I’m going to regret later? What if I choose to rant about gun control or women’s rights and I end up looking back on it and saying “Crap, that wasn’t what I should have said.”

Maybe that’s not the attitude to have. After all, if you constantly live in fear of regret, you never do anything, right?

And maybe this just means that I need to set up rules for myself.

So that’s what I’m doing. Here are my rules for writing:

  1. Never write anything that will hurt someone else’s feelings. Or at least, never intentionally do so. Obviously I can’t avoid everyone’s hot buttons, but if I can foresee someone getting hurt, I will try and do my best to back away. Basically: only make fun of myself.
  2. Avoid major political or social issues as much as possible. This isn’t to say that I’ll remain completely neutral on subjects, and I might allude to my feelings, but I’ll probably never write an essay about why a certain candidate is amazing or terrible. I’m not smart enough to tackle that shit.
  3. Be honest. I think this is one of the most important ones. I don’t want to be fake with my writing. I don’t want to try and adopt a personality because I think it’s what everyone wants to read. I want to be me, and if some people find that interesting, then yay. If they don’t, at least I didn’t lost myself or lie about who I am in the process.

And I think that’s all I need for right now. Those are my three things that I will check in on before publishing anything.

And lastly, I’m going to start trying to submit my content to places. While I edit my novel, I want to start actually working on getting published in other ways. I want to start receiving rejection letters and maybe even some yesses.

If anyone has any tips or knows of a place where I should start submitting, I’d really love to hear what you have to say. We’re all in this together, right?

Here’s to the writing life.