No, not you…me.
And so I sat at my computer last night, wondering…
How to make David Sedaris apropos for the ol’ blog.
The author/humorist is a native of Binghamton, New York. That’s Rust Belt-ish, right?
Who cares? It’s David Sedaris! He’s got a new book out. Bookish Beck reviews it here. And so he’s been top-of-mind.
On a day when I’m feeling kind of stuck, creative writing-wise, and even a little sucky, I went searching for some writing advice and found Sedaris’s. It’s funny and wise and talks as much about our current share-heavy-and-share-often culture as it does about writing.
So, obviously, I will share it here, now.
“David Sedaris on Keeping a Diary in the Age of Over-Sharing” in The Atlantic.
I kept a diary for all of a week, when I was nineteen. I probably called it journaling, but it’s the same thing, I think. My mistake, according to Sedaris, is that I read what I had written–and was embarrassed by the detailing of overwrought emotions in response to a series of banal-at-best events. So I stopped journaling.
In my interview with memoirist David Giffels (another very funny guy), he had this to say about journaling:
I have journaled at various times, but to me, writing is getting down to work and doing it when it needs to be done. I think in banker’s hours. Once I’m working on a project, it’s all-consuming. I’m always taking notes. When you’re working on a writing project, you become a selective magnet, like all of a sudden everything in the world is being tested to see whether it’s going to be drawn to your subject. If it is, it comes flying at you and sticks. I’ll hear or see something and think, I have to write that down right away. That’s urgent journaling, I guess.
It’s good that I stopped journaling when I did, I think, because I hadn’t lived yet. I was writing about nothing. Certainly, I didn’t know enough to feel any sense of creative urgency.
So I started living and still try to; to do otherwise scares me. (Guess I should write about it). These days, when I’m writing, I’m writing, when I’m not, I’m reading–and attempting to live outside paper-and-ink worlds. How else does one have anything to write about?
Memoirists must have an abundance of personal story, but truth makes the narrative choices fewer. Amy Jo Burns, author of Cinderland, told me this in my interview with her this spring:
I’ll put it like this–novelists suffer from having too many choices, and memoirists suffer from the lack of them. I think I’ve used the same kind of creativity to solve both problems, but the boundaries are very separate.
Nonfiction and fiction writers alike trade in personal truths, of course. We are what and who we write–no matter the genre, no matter the distance we try to create between our characters and ourselves.
So, tell me, do you journal, write in a diary? When did you start? When did you first show it to someone? Does it spark your personal essays, blogs, stories?
Here’s to journaling–urgent or not. To writing and writing until we “don’t suck as much.” To funny writers. To beautiful weekend weather that took me outside to swim, bike, and shoot hoops with my boys. To live in the world off the page, so that I might feel inspired enough to get back to it today.
Happy Monday, all.
*book image from goodreads.com