Well, everybody, I had the pleasure of meeting nonfiction author/essayist/humor writer David Sedaris this evening, and it was quite inspiring.
As I’ve said a million times, I met Sedaris when he came to Tucson in 2007, so this wasn’t our first encounter, but it was most definitely our first meeting since I started reading his books. He’s the sole reason I’ve decided to pursue non-fiction and memoir writing, and I made that known during our talk tonight.
Kendra and I arrived at the Tucson Music Hall about an hour before Sedaris was set to give his reading. We were the first people at the door. Call it dorky, but imagine meeting your favorite celebrity or athletic figure. For the sports desk at the Wildcat, it would be like interviewing Shaq, something that a few of the sports writers have had the privilege of actually doing. It’s equivalent to talking to Shaq for the sports lovers and Brad Pitt/Megan Fox for the Perez Hilton addicts.
Anyway, Kendra and I purposefully sat in Sedaris’s signing area until he finally arrived. It actually caught us by surprise when he walked up.
I immediately jumped out of his seat, apologized, and he said, “Oh, that’s okay! Hold on, I’ll be right back!” and went to go chat with the UA Bookstores representatives for a second.
He came back, and I was the first person to get my book autographed.
He said, “So, I draw animals in every book I sign. What kind of animal would you like?”
Because I grew up drawing pigs, or rather, “Wet Porky” in my junior high school homework assignments, I told Sedaris to draw a pig for me. He said that he struggled the most with pigs, so he thanked me for letting him practice on my book.
I told him that I met him in 2007, when he came to the UA, and I went on and on for another thirty seconds about how he’s exactly what I want to be when I “grow up,” and I thanked him for putting out his works because they really inspired me to go forward with my nonfiction dreams and write about the weird people and things that I encounter in my life.
I can’t explain it, but I felt really comfortable around him, more so than any other celebrity that I’ve ever met. It probably has to do with the fact that he’s led such an unusual, bizarre, unconventional life. Those types are always the greatest to spend time with.
Anyway, I gave my speech and probably looked like the biggest dork ever, but he seemed pretty amused, and he thanked me for reading.
Then he went on to warn me about how awkward it is to write about real people and things that happen because these individuals end up reading the works later on down the road.
He specifically said, “I wrote about this rude dermatologist and then my friend called him when the book came out. I was like, ‘FUCK! I don’t want him to see what I said about him!’ So you have to be prepared for that.”
And I am…Or at least I think I am.
Sedaris also asked, “What do you do?” in such a way that didn’t seem like he was actually asking what my career was or anything…It came across like, “What do you do with your time?!” So, I said I was a writing and French student at the university in Tucson, and I once again thanked him for everything he’s ever written.
He asked Kendra the same thing! She said she was a pre-nursing major, and he was like, “Pre-Nursing? What’s that?” Weird!
It was a good thing Kendra and I got to the Music Hall as early as we did because the entire place was packed that night. I didn’t even bother going to his second signing at the end of the night, I’d still be waiting in that line.
I just have to say that this was one of the most inspiring events I’ve been to in a very long time, mostly because I would love to emulate Sedaris someday. If that doesn’t happen, I’ll at least try to get there.
My favorite thing about Sedaris is that he’s not arrogant, and it’s just so obvious. He must be self-involved to some extent, especially to be a memoirist, but it doesn’t show. He’s approachable, hilarious, human, talkative, interesting, and really down to earth. I’d like to think that his insane life story has contributed to his humble ways. He’s just been through so many weird experiences and met so many crazy people, he couldn’t be a snob. That’s my image of him, and it’s staying that way.
Plus, he mentioned that he’s very critical of his work. He won’t read reviews, and he said, “I’m not a fan of my own writing. I re-read one of my essays once, and it made me envious of those whose works are out of print.”
He said he recommends other books over his own, but he suggested we read When You Are Engulfed in Flames because most of the essays from that ended up in The New Yorker, and “The New Yorker only publishes good work.”
Unfortunately, Sedaris won’t be writing about his crude brother anymore because his brother, who calls himself “the rooster,” has a kid, and Sedaris doesn’t want the little girl to read crazy stories about her dad later in life. None of that would phase me, but that might make me a bad person. Both of my insane brothers each have two kids, and that’s not going to stop me from publishing our explosively funny family stories one day! Maybe that makes me a bad aunt.
Hopefully, I’ll get to meet Sedaris for a third time. God willing, we can actually have a legitimate, long conversation at that point, because I honestly feel like I could talk to him forever and ever and exchange unusual stories.