Quickly Quotable #39 – David Sedaris

I tend to write things seven times before I show them to my editor. I write them seven times, then I take them on tour, read them like a dozen times on tour, then go back to the room and rewrite, read and rewrite, and I try to learn as much as I can on my own before I show it to my editor at The New Yorker. I would never show him a first draft, because then he’s really going to be sick of it by the twelfth draft

Oasis Magazine, June 2008

I met a young woman the other day, and she said, what advice would you have for a writer, and I said it would be to work every day. But then she said, and how do you get to know someone like Ira Glass? And I said, that’s not the point. You don’t befriend people for that reason. I was just lucky and Ira happened to be in a place where I was reading one night and heard me read. I didn’t invite him to come there. If I had gone out of my way to invite him, he probably wouldn’t have come. Your job is to write. The rest of it will take care of itself. But, generally, it seems … you know how that is, you meet people and they have a talent for self-promotion. Those are the pushy people. And you know their writing’s not going to be any good, because that’s not their talent.

Oasis Magazine, June 2008

I’m glad that I didn’t have the Internet when I started writing. I started writing when I was 20 and didn’t show a word of it to anyone until I was 28. I had the sense to keep it to myself. Now the temptation with blogs and such, they’re just getting it out there; maybe it would have been best to keep it to themselves.

Bohemian.com interview, June 2009

When I taught, a lot of my students weren’t big readers, so they would write something and I realized that they thought it belonged in a book. Like, they didn’t know what the inside of a book looked like, you know what I mean?

Oasis Magazine, June 2008

I haven’t got the slightest idea how to change people, but still I keep a long list of prospective candidates just in case I should ever figure it out.


When I was teaching — I taught for a while — my students would write as if they were raised by wolves. Or raised on the streets. They were middle-class kids and they were ashamed of their background. They felt like unless they grew up in poverty, they had nothing to write about. Which was interesting because I had always thought that poor people were the ones who were ashamed. But it’s not. It’s middle-class people who are ashamed of their lives. And it doesn’t really matter what your life was like, you can write about anything. It’s just the writing of it that is the challenge. I felt sorry for these kids, that they thought that their whole past was absolutely worthless because it was less than remarkable.

January Magazine, June 2000


David Sedaris

  • Born: 26 December 1956
  • Birthplace: Johnson City, New York
  • Best Known As: Author of the essay collection Me Talk Pretty One Day

Author David Sedaris is known for his prickly, funny essays about his absurdist childhood in North Carolina and his absurdist adult life as a just-slightly-neurotic gay expatriate in Paris. His best-known piece may still be “SantaLand Diaries,” an exasperated memoir of his temporary job as a Christmas elf at a Macy’s department store. Sedaris was born in New York, grew up in North Carolina, and spent the 1980s as an aspiring writer. He and his sister, Amy Sedaris, later teamed up in New York under the ironical name of The Talent Family, writing plays like Incident at Cobbler’s Knob and One Woman Shoe. He was asked to read parts of “SantaLand Diaries” on National Public Radio in 1992, and the gig made him a sudden radio star. That led to his first book, Barrel Fever, in 1994. By 2001, when Time magazine profiled him in a feature called “America’s Best,” his essays were appearing in The New Yorker and Esquire magazines and he had become a regular on the radio show This American Life. His other essay collections include Naked (1997), Me Talk Pretty One Day (2000), and When You Are Engulfed In Flames (2008).

David and Amy Sedaris won a “special citation” Obie Award in 1995 for their play One Woman Shoe… Sedaris attended both Kent State and Duke University; he got a writing degree from the Art Institute of Chicago in 1987… Me Talk Pretty One Day is a reference to his poor performance as a student of French… Sedaris has lived for many years in Paris with his partner, the theater director Hugh Hamrick… The New York Times reported in 2008 that Sedaris’s books had sold over seven million copies.

Quotes selected from Notable-quotes.com
Biography from Answers.com

About Jodi

Jodi L. Milner is a writer, mandala enthusiast, and educator. Her epic fantasy novel, Stonebearer’s Betrayal, was published in November 2018 and rereleased in Jan 2020. She has been published in several anthologies. When not writing, she can be found folding children and feeding the laundry, occasionally in that order.
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7 Responses to Quickly Quotable #39 – David Sedaris

  1. You know I love Sedaris. . .I have read every single one of his books, except the most recent, his fairy tales for adults collection, which is on my list. O absolutely adore his view of his life as well as his boservations on others. Did you decide onthis post before or after reading my post for yesterday? I only ask because it would be amazingly synchronous of us to have decided independently to feature him on our own. One of the good collections of his not mentioned above is “Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim.”

    I offer one caveat on his writing: It is not for children. His language can be crude, but for adults who can “handle” it, it is always perfectly descriptive! Even though I am a “Preacher’s Wife,” (albeit probably not typical of the breed!), I thoroughly enjoy what he has to say! So, I encourage any and every adult to sit down and have a blast! He also, by the way, has some serious observations on life, as seen in the quotes you cited, and can bring tears to the eyes as well – especially when writing about his quirky family!

    • tsuchigari says:

      Paula – I adored the 6-8 Black Men monologue, that was why I chose to feature him right after Christmas. I have you to thank for posting about it. I plan on reading his other works as soon as I get my hands on them. He has that dry wit that is so appealing.

  2. Some really great quotes there, Jodi. And of course now I’m feeling really nervous about showing 2nd drafts to people.


  3. nrhatch says:

    Priceless observations!

    And posted on his birthday! How cool!

  4. Pingback: Premature Ejaculation « Spirit Lights The Way

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