A lot of the writers I’ve met seem to be under the impression that because they weren’t child prodigies, they will never be successful. I’m not sure where this assumption comes from-- it’s not like writing is something with a shelf life like gymnastics, or professional dance.
I’ve decided I’m going to stop worrying about accomplishing great things and just worry about everything else for a while. And it’s because of David Sedaris. Last fall, David Sedaris was speaking and my family had tickets. It was a school night, so I did French homework until the lights went down. I was in stitches the whole time once he started speaking. I had forgotten my glasses, so he was blurry, but that didn’t bother me. He makes everything seem like a story. Even stupid things. Even things you’re convinced are too normal to be an interesting story actually are.
And that’s what this story is: normal. Up until a point. After David Sedaris finished, we got in line to have him sign his new book for us. The line looped from the front of the building all the way around to the front of auditorium and we were almost the last people in line. There were two vaguely Russian sounding people behind us. We had been waiting for about five minutes when someone tapped me on the shoulder. It took me a minute to realize who it was-- I didn’t have my glasses on earlier, remember?-- but it was David Sedaris. I don’t remember exactly what he said first, but it was something along the lines of "come with me.” I figured I should probably listen to him, so I began half running after him as he began to walk away. He turned around and added that my parents could come too, which was nice. He could have just kidnapped me.
As we walked past a crowd of angry people waiting to get their books signed, he explained that he always liked to give teenagers stuff when they came to see him. I later read in an interview that this was because “they could be getting high in their cars, but instead they came to see me.” He gave me one of those miniature body lotions from his hotel and one of the post cards he had printed out with a pekinese skull on it. As he was signing our book, he asked me if I had a job or lived in a house. I said yes to the latter, but had to admit, that no, I did not have a job. If I had a job, I told him, I would want it to be writing. He didn’t laugh, so he was already my most favorite adult in the universe by that point. He just said, “You won’t be paid for writing until you’re 37.” I’m not sure if this is a prophecy or a challenge. I want to get paid for writing something just so I can write to him and tell him.
Jobs are important and everything, but hearing someone say that I won’t be paid for writing until I’m 37 was actually kind of relief. It feels like a hall pass -- yeah, I’m not one of those people who are published when they’re ten and make millions-- but so what? I don’t have to do anything yet. As David pointed out, I could be getting high in my (non-existant) car, so as long as I’m not doing that, I’m on the right track.
He said he pulled me out of line because I was special, so unless you want to argue with David Sedaris, my life’s in pretty good shape.