I literally *just* told you to read David Sedaris and here you are reading this blog post instead, seriously?
No, but for real though, you should read David Sedaris. The title of this post isn’t so much a call to action as me simply quoting what my friend told, nay, implored me to do. She even went ahead and bought me one of his books, Me Talk Pretty One Day, to get me started.
But why did she want me to read him so much? Surely, you must be thinking, this is simply a case of one friend recommending a writer to another friend? Well, yes, it is that, but you need more context. This particular friend is someone I regularly exchange writing projects with. A paragraph here, a poem there etc etc. She had recently read a chapter of my non-fiction/memoir-ish writing, and her reaction to it led her to recommend Sedaris to me in an YOU HAVE TO READ HIM kind of way, so I didn’t forget it. Before I continue trying to convince you to read him too, I want to give you even more context re: life writing.
In my last post, Diary of a Diarist, I wrote about…being a diarist. The way I approach diary writing is different to how I approach writing about my life and the events that happen within that life. The piece of writing I let my friend read was about when I first got diagnosed with anxiety. My diary at that time was non-existent, you know, cause of the anxiety. I didn’t really have a record of what was going through my head at the time. I didn’t sit down every morning and write, SO TODAY I AM ANXIOUS, WHAT’S NEW??? because every morning I’d wake up feeling like a stranger in my own life, and didn’t want to get up at all. I was unmotivated by my very existence, and I didn’t even believe in what I was doing with my life, let alone know how to live it.
It’s easy for me to look back on that time and reflect on what was happening, because I can see it much clearer with hindsight, and from a point of being mostly on top of my anxiety and in a good place with it. I am now where I wanted to be then, and with my mental state being a lot better and well-equipped to be able to write about it, I put pen to paper. I wrote my life at that time into a narrative. I took my storytelling skills from doing fiction, and applied them to my own life. Past-me was now the main character. Present-me was the all-seeing prescient figure, looking back over the life that had already been lived, and re-telling it.
It was a suuuuper personal piece of writing, and sharing it was a Big Deal for me. So when my friend came back to me with really good, positive and constructive comments, I was relieved. But, she also came with her Read.David.Sedaris comment, and yes, I did read him.
This is the point at which I should link you to my book review, but I never wrote one. It’s also a good time to tell you that I recently read two more of his books, and am now ready to pass on the message that you should all be reading him. I am a complete convert.
What you need to know
His writing takes the form of humourous personal essays/memorish chapters. They’re snippets and observations, particular aspects of his life that he focuses on and writes about. For example, one chapter in his latest book Calypso is dedicated to the moment he discovered and swiftly aquired a Fitbit (omg relatable). He tells us (the readers) about it as though we’re just having a conversation and the subject of Fitbits just happened to come up. He tells you how having a Fitbit impacted his life. I don’t know this guy, but I’m getting to know him through his books. I’m getting to know his style, and I’m getting to know how I’d like to write similar things. I’m wondering everyday what aspects of my life I’d like to pick out and write about. And I also think of him everytime my Fitbit goes crazy when I reach 10,000 steps.
And here’s the best bit: he’s a diarist. *everyone cheers*. I don’t own his diaries (Theft by Finding) yet, but I’m going after them next, because I have no more Sedaris material left in my possession. There’s still a bunch more of his books for me to read, but it’s the diaries that I think will really inspire my own writing process.
So, having said all that, why exactly are you still here? You should be frantically searching for your nearest library/bookshop/market/friend and asking them, politely, where you can find the David Sedaris books cause someone mentioned, in a very subtle and extremely casual manner, that you should be reading him, or something.
Go! Go now!
P.S. I genuinely thought Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls was a book exploring Diabetes within an owl metaphor, and I thought ‘how, why, what????’ and completely ignored the book, yet remained distantly curious.
It is my duty now to inform you that it is not what I thought it was, not even close. You know what to do.