Tuesday, April 12, 2011

an evening with david sedaris.

 {David Sedaris photo by Karen Robinson/Retna Ltd.}

We went to see David Sedaris Sunday night, and I have no photos or mementos documenting the event. It's a shame, really, because I long to be one of those people who takes deliberate care in recording down these moments of our lives. Instead, I am, more often than not, the girl who forgets the camera in her other purse and leaves her copy of Me Talk Pretty One Day sitting at home on her desk.

I will say, though, that there is some good to be found in leaving the camera at home, in attending events unencumbered, able to simply and wholly enjoy what's right in front of your face. It's rare. Most people are tweeting or Facebooking or fiddling with their camera settings or stressing out about what funny thing they're going to say to David Sedaris while he signs their book. Me? I just got to sit there.

Truthfully, I'm not entirely sure what I loved most about seeing David Sedaris live and in person. He's hysterical, but everybody already knows that. His stories cover the most outlandish (the love affair of a chipmunk and a squirrel) to the everyday (swimming lessons at the local country club), but what was most striking about his performance -- and really, it's what's striking about his writing in general -- was that one moment, the audience was snorting with laughter, and in another, they were crying, broken over a father's injustices. I wish I had the whole thing on tape. It was brilliant, every minute.

His timing is impeccable, and I just sat there in awe. I don't know how other writers read their work publicly; I've never heard it done before, so I'm not sure how Sedaris might compare with any other author. All I know is I got lost in it, and I love it when that happens. Love when I forget where I am, love when it hits me, right there in that instant, that wow... this is so good.

It's rare, I think, to discover people who are just naturally good at what they do, and when you find them, you should listen to them. Soak them in. Ask them questions. Figure out what makes them tick. Sunday night, as I sat enraptured by a writer passionate about his craft, I realized that all I really want to do is write. It's all I've ever wanted.

And I don't think I'll ever be as good as the writers I read. I'm not sure I possess the patience or the stamina or the raw talent that those individuals possess. But it never hurts to just listen, to sit at the feet of a master craftsman. It's this humble act, I think, that can make us better: better writers, better artists, better creators, better people. Sometimes it takes discovering how completely inadequate you are to realize how wonderful you really could be.

5 comments:

waytenmom said...

I love this, Annie! We were fortunate enough to be given tickets (thank you, Karma!). The most potent moment for me was in the q&a when someone asked, "do you make yourself write every day?" and he said, "um, I never have to make myself write...I just DO."

Also, the no cameras thing makes me think about dance performances. Most studios we have been at prohibit parents videotaping. It costs more to get the DVD but you miss SO much when you are trying to dodge the heads in front of you and capture the moment perfectly that you lose the irreplaceable feel of the moment.

Kara Gehret said...

Oh man I saw him live several years ago. HI-larious!

Katie W... said...

How random that I just recently started following your blog and I saw Sedaris the night after you in Virginia!

Hearing and seeing him read his stuff changes it completely. To hear his stories, with his timing, his emphasis, his appreciation for the life he's livied... It was incredible! I loved how he read from his journal and how kind he is in his "darkness". He's a beautiful artist.

Julianne said...

I love the last line in this post, Annie. So glad you got to go see him and enjoyed it so much! I can't wait to hear all about it.

Jessi said...

Today is the first day I have looked at your blog, and I already feel as if we are "kindred spirits". Imagine how surprised I was to discover among the Out of Print t-shirt Atlas Shrugged mentioned, my absolute favorite book of all time. However the bit you have about David Sedaris is a bit much, as I just finished listening to Me Talk Pretty One Day (for the second time) yesterday, and started in on When You are Engulfed in Flames (again). I look forward to reading the rest of your blog. Thanks!