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Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Spreading your Seed

A few weeks ago I went to see David Sedaris read. It was a great performance, if that's what you'd call it. I mean, all he did was read some new short stories and for $60 a seat, you better be telling some serious jokes.

Afterward he sat at his signing table and made sure he signed every copy of every book someone had with his name on it. That was really awesome of him. But this isn't about how awesome Sedaris is, it's about some wisdom he passed on to a younger writer who was in line before me. The girl, in her younger to mid teen's was elated to meet her comic hero and while I stood bitching about having to pee after drinking copious amounts of $6 beer ( I wasn't drunk) I overheard him saying something to her that struck me wrong as she was claiming that she wanted to be a writer when she grew up.

Aside from her lack of fashion sense (big red bows in her hair that made her look like a used Christmas toy circa 87') and her mother who's presence made me want to shave the skin off a kitten (she was that mom who think her kid is the genius in the room and the rest of us were plebian morons taking up space and breathing the little Einstein's air. She wanted him to sign her book "good luck with your writing career, LOVE David Sedaris". I wanted to vomit. Who would really think this is acceptable?)

Anyhow, I was distressed by what he told said girl as she stood with her sad little doe eyes twinkling toward him: "If you want to write, read a lot." Okay, I thought, this something I completely agree with and champion as well. But then he said something that made me wonder if he was being facetious or actually serious. I was hoping for the former.

"Just keep writing, but keep it to yourself. Agents like to feel like they found something. Don't Twitter, don't blog, don't Facebook. Keep it all to yourself."

Isn't this exactly the opposite of what we're beaten in our heads from everyone else in the publishing world? Aren't we supposed to "build platform"? Aren't we supposed to get our name out there? I'm like a gigolo when it comes to my writing. I am a filthy word whore. If there's somewhere to say something, consider it as good as said. You need a literary condom to sit next to me.

I contribute to websites, blogs, Twitter feeds, everything I just watched a bestseller say is a bad idea? The whole notion was perplexing and made me wonder if David Sedaris was being the evil genius that he is. Him with his smug brilliance and legions of fans who want to hug him for explaining life in such a colorful and humorous way. In my head, he was being a bastard and testing this girl's wit and making her think about the brutal realities as a writer. If this is true or not, I can't say but in my head it makes perfect sense.


  1. What he said seems to go against what every agent and publisher tells us to do. Maybe he's scared of losing his best seller status?

  2. Robert -- if I need a literary condom to sit next to you, well... you might need plain jane earplugs to sit next to me. I waited a long damn time for my story to see the light of day so I'm telling everybody within earshot. Poor kid... I hope she's the rebellious sort who blows his advice off and does her own thing.

  3. I'm voting for the 'screw with' option.

  4. Hmmm - that made me think.

    Was he warning her that her 'beginning level' work would harm her reputation later? Once she is 'discovered' she can build her platform from that point on at a professional level?

    What is posted in Cyberspace is FOREVER - I wouldn't want MY tweenage level work posted anywhere!