My husband surprised me last week with a ticket to see one of my favorite authors, David Sedaris. He was coming to our city as part of the DMA Arts & Letters live series, and he was also doing a book signing. I’ve been a big fan of David Sedaris’ work since around 2004, when my best friend loaned me a copy of his bestseller Me Talk Pretty One Day on audio book. My husband and I were going on a long road trip and she thought we’d enjoy listening to it. She was right. We became forever fans.
David Sedaris is a satirist. He writes essays and stories about everyday life experiences and within those mundane moments, he finds the nuggets of absurdity, humor, and poignancy. He is not family friendly. He does talk about inappropriate things and he uses adult language, so some people might not care for his work, but I’ll admit that he’s one of my favorite pleasures.
I enjoy seeing authors read their work, book signings are a special opportunity to meet them and have a memento, and I am always reflective about my own path as a writer when I learn from an artist I admire. In that vein, I wanted to share a few takeaways I gained from the experience.
The Importance of Artists Dates
In her bestselling book, The Artists Way, Julia Cameron talks extensively about the importance of a practice called The Artist Date. She suggests planning a solo experience once a week that is nurturing, fun, and interesting to you. I’m personally not able to plan one every week, but I will say that when I am able to take an artist date, I feel refreshed, reconnected to myself, and more creative. An artist date is something you do alone, it’s not a date with your spouse or partner.
I think my husband just sensed that I needed to get out, plus a few years ago he went alone to see David Sedaris because we couldn’t find a babysitter, so when he saw the event come across his Facebook he knew he wanted to surprise me. It was a touching gift from my husband and I was grateful and excited to receive it.
Have you ever taken a trip by yourself, or just spent an afternoon or evening doing something you enjoy without the input of other people? This is an important part of how I reconnect with myself, and by doing so, I am able to share more with my family and friends.
Going the extra mile
David Sedaris is an author who enjoys his fans. He discusses it openly in his writing, in his live appearances, and you can tell that he sincerely enjoys it when you meet him. At the event I attended, he signed books for 40 minutes before the reading, he offered a Q&A with the audience at the end of his show, and he stayed after to sign books again. A staff member announced that he would stay until every book was signed, no matter how long it took. Honestly, I was impressed by that. He was generous, enthusiastic, and sincere in connecting with the people who enjoy his work. He didn’t have to do any of it. It was a potent message to me about going the extra mile in everything we do. Also, that whatever we decide to do, be happy and enthusiastic about it. I hope that if I’m ever in a position to have a crowd eager to meet me and get their books signed, that I am able to offer the same attention and care.
It’s ok to present work that isn’t perfect
This is probably my biggest takeaway, and the message I heard the loudest. Because I had never seen David Sedaris live, I didn’t realize that he often uses his audiences to work on his stories. He reads unfinished and in-progress work live. He uses the opportunity of having an audience to get in the moment feedback, and then he takes that response and applies it to whatever he’s working on. How often do we hold off on sharing something because it isn’t perfect? Or we put effort into something only to never share it because in our eyes all we can see is the flaws? I wonder if our process would be different if we just put ourselves out there and used the feedback as a way to grow and adapt. I think in my case it would eliminate a lot of unnecessary doubt and playing small.
This experience was so generative for me! I learned so much more than I thought I would going in to it. I not only had fun and laughed uproariously the entire evening, I learned some valuable lessons from someone I admire so much. I encourage you to try an artist date for yourself, read one of David Sedaris’ books, share something you’re proud of even if it isn’t perfect, and to practice nourishing and fun self-care. Leave your stories in the comments and let’s learn from each other.
*This story contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase something I’ve written about with the link I provided, I will get a small commission – at no extra cost to you.