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No, not you…me.

And so I sat at my computer last night, wondering…

How to make David Sedaris apropos for the ol’ blog.

Hmm.

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.

~Rebecca

*book image from goodreads.com

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10 thoughts on ““…until you don’t suck as much.”

    1. I’m sure that helps your writing–don’t you think? In the same way that one who journals might write down a phrase or image in words that strikes them, you capture the actual image. Looking over your images as a whole, I would imagine you could pull out dominant themes, etc. Since I’m not a good photographer (nor do I have a good phone for photos) I’m thinking I need to get a small, pretty journal, pop it in my purse, and try it out for a few weeks–see if capturing ideas as they occur to me helps my creativity when I sit down to write.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I definitely think it helps my writing, either as a prompt for a poem, or a detail for a future story. I also keep a small notebook in my purse to write ideas down, that really helps as well.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I have been keeping a journal since, like, forever! Most of it is about absolutely nothing. Just day to day stuff that is on my mind or thing that I did that day. I don’t write in it every day, sometimes not even every week, but for me that’s okay. I don’t let anyone read what I write there, but I do use it to write blog posts. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Yeah, I find I scribble down ideas for blog posts pretty often. For my fiction, I wait until I’m about to explode with various ideas that start to conjoin along the same theme before I put it down in writing. I’m superstitious, I think, that if I write it down in dribs and drabs it’ll have less intensity. But I also think, the older I get, the harder it is to keep it all top-of-mind! I’m def with you on the privacy of journaling. I have kids, so I might have to get a lock and key!

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  2. I have a little notebook that was given to me by my 5th grade teacher that I put a number of story “starts” in around that time, and then a few years later I used it to record some particularly difficult experiences I had at the end of middle school. Then there’s a journal I got during my college senior year internship over two years ago. The past two years have been pretty challenging for me, so I’ve used that one a good deal to vent and work through various experiences/emotions also. Not sure where I was going with this beyond sharing that it’s been helpful to me, and that I’d like to use my journaling going forward (not sure how as of yet), but thank you for getting me to think about this !

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I like the idea of journals having a particular purpose–either for creative story starts or for venting, etc. I’m a compartmentalizer, so maybe that’s why. I’ll be interested to see if your journaling informs your blogging! Thanks for checking in here!

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  4. I find my blog is my journal, and if that isn’t enough, I always go for photos to spark my ideas. Thanks for sharing this post, I’ll look into getting that book, too! Happy writing to you!

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