David Sedaris and the Fatty Tumor

A few years ago, my one of my best friend’s from college, one of our English professors, and myself went on a 45-minute quest to see David Sedaris do a reading. We all loved his work and were completely fangirl-ing in line, waiting to get our books signed. I’ve never met a movie star, but I suppose it’s the same sort of nervous energy. I mean, you want to make an impression, right? Just there, in front of you, is someone famous. Now, I understand that not everyone knows who David Sedaris is, but that doesn’t matter when you’re a fangirl.

So, we’re standing in lidavidsedarisne, the sun is setting and he’s still there, signing books. He didn’t cut anyone off or decide that he was too tired to keep signing books. I mean, we shut the place down. This gives the three of us ample time to figure out how we’re going to be different from any other fangirl/fanboy in line that night or at any book signing; however, Sedaris had already set the bar pretty high during his reading. I can’t remember now if someone asked him to talk about the craziest fans he’d ever met, or it was part of some bigger story, but it was there. One story, and I’m not sure what it was might have involved someone’s big toe? Possibly their toenail? I don’t remember the specifics, but I remember the challenge. Different ideas were tossed around, and then it was our turn.

I think in your memories, you tend to make yourself the star of the story – especially if it’s an epic one. I’m not saying this is how it happened EXACTLY but it’s how I remember it.

I stand there and tell him that I’m majoring in creative writing. He politely asks appropriate questions and signs my book, “To Caroline, I can’t wait to read your (underlined) book one day.” He then turns to my friend and they start talking. The time has ALMOST come to where we’re supposed to get the hint and leave, but I don’t. I pause.

“So – could I see your fatty tumor?” I ask.

This is not as completely random as it might sound at first.

In his reading, David Sedaris informed the entire audience of the existence of his fatty tumor. Is was a new thing to Sedaris – never having had one before. He mused on all the ways a fatty tumor might be use/useful. Again, it was years ago and the details are fuzzy, but he did mention using it to fry food in.

See? Are the pieces coming together yet? I mean, he’d already laid the groundwork – I just had to accept the challenge.

David Sedaris looked up at me from his sport behind the folding table he was using as a desk with a look somewhere between confusion and disgust.

My confidence began to falter, and I started to think my fangirl moment would be one of ridicule down the line and not one of the epic-good ones.

“You want see it?” He asked.

“Y-yes…” I stammered out.

“Ew, no. You can’t see it.” My balloon was deflating and that sunburn of embarrassment was starting to creep up my neck. “But!” he shouted as he jumped to his feet and turned his afflicted side towards me. “You can touch it!”

Now it was my turn to flash him the look that was somewhere between disgust and confusion, but I’d made it this far…

“Sure,” I said as my finger started slowly to close the space between it’s tip and his fatty tumor that covered by his white and blue stripped button-down shirt.

“No, not like that.” David Sedaris grabbed my wrist and pulled me forward. “You really got to get in there and grab it.” So I did. I grabbed David Sedaris’ fatty tumor and gave it a few light squeezes.

“Can I touch it too?” My friend asks.

“Sure!” And I stood there, in slightly stunned silence and watched as my roomie/best-friend proceeded to give David Sedaris’ tumor a squeeze or two of her own.

As we made our way out of the venue and back to our car, our professor was beside herself with what we’d done.

I haven’t had a chance to see David Sedaris again since then, but I like to think that every -once-in-awhile when he’s at a reading he’ll tell the story of the two girls that felt-up his fatty tumor.

 

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Pressure

Right. So, this blog is a little bit about my life, a little bit about my writing/writing in general, and mostly about what it’s like being a creative writing grad student out in the “real” world.

Recently, I’ve been posting about life and hardships and inspirations and whatnot. Now I’m coming full circle back to writing.

I know what you’re thinking, “Ahhh – she’s a writer. It’s November. This is her National Novel Writing Month token post.”

Well, you’re wrong. I’m working on my thesis. I don’t have any time to write another novel on top of this one.

This is a thesis writing post.

Sorta.

Today has been brought to you by the letter “P”

P is for PRESSURE

Who is under pressure here? *I raise my hand*

Why – you may ask.

Well, I’ll tell you. So I rewrote chapter one. And it’s pretty awesome as far as I’m concerned. My thesis advisor even said it was some of the cleanest writing she’s ever seen from me. So naturally, I’m all like “woooooooo”

Then I sit down to write chapter 2. And the freaking cursor just sits there blinking on the damn page and no words are appearing.

Here’s what’s going through my head….

What if I can’t get back into that voice?”

What if my characters feel forced?”

“What if chapter 2 is not nearly as good as chapter one?”

“What if I can’t finish my thesis?”

“What if this is all I have in me?”

“What if this chapter is epically shorter than that last one?”

“WHAT WAS I THINKING?”

Yeah. It’s awesome. 

And really, who the fuck cares about most of that? Page count? I mean, come on…

Then I close the computer and read or watch TV and think, “Alright. All I need is a break. I just need some space.” 

ANNNNND then the cycle starts all over again. However this time it’s accompanied by that David Bowie and Queen song, Under Pressure.

You know, this one…

Well, I know how to beat the cycle! I will open the document and pretend that I’m not writing for my thesis. My masters degree doesn’t ride on this. No one else will see it. EVER. Just me. So really, all I need to do is have fun and write because it’s fun. Get back to the basics as it were. 

That’s what made chapter one so awesome. I was having FUN while writing it. 

This is a new plan of attack. We’ll see how it pans out… updates will follow.

Revision is a New Form of Hell…

Well, my plan has been to work on writing the last few chapters of the novel and revise the earlier chapters at the same time. You know, one day writing, one day revision, and so on. 


Ha!

That plan didn’t really work out. I am making progress, however; it is not as quick as I would like for it to be. 

Writing the climax of my novel is really intimidating. It’s like, it’s been in my head for so long, it’s what I’ve been working toward, and what if it doesn’t come across as well on paper? What if I fail at delivering? It’s what the readers has invested their time in reading the novel for. 

So there’s that lovely little rain cloud hanging over my head.

Then, there’s the revision.

Yes, I have revised things before. How can I be in a writing program and not have done it. However, this time it seems different. Reading Chapter One and getting ready to revise it was just depressing. I looked at it and was like, “Shit, I’m going to have to rewrite the whole damn thing.” This is such crap! 

Then I took a break and literally stared at the hard-copy pages I printed out. I thought about things. About revision, about how to crawl inside of something and make it all better but not waste all the words and work you’ve already put into it.

After that, I put my little bird on my computer screen and went to work.
It really wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It really was like I could climb into the chapter and fix it. I cut pages and saved paragraphs. I shuffled things around and rewrote big chunks. What I found was, it was fun. I have a better handle on my characters now than I did when I started this years ago. I know who they are, how they talk, and how they react to thing. Even better, I know how to fold description into the story and eliminate huge paragraphs that are all telling and no showing. I know the weight of one perfect word over half a page of the almost right words. 

It is a slow process. In a way it’s daunting and hellish, I wonder if I’ll ever get it done

But, I just have to keep going. One page of revision at a time and writing one sentence at a time. 
 

Back to Reality

Yes, I lied.


I said that I would post (not regularly, but post none-the-less) this summer. Well, I didn’t. Sure, I posted a bit, but not enough to count.


I was super busy! This was my last summer to be on campus during my program and I wanted to make it count. And did I ever. I made tons of new friends, got lots of writing done, fell back in love with my novel/WIP/thesis, AND came to terms with the fact that I am a good writer.


For such a long time I felt like I wasn’t good enough. That the words that I put done on the page were just awful and that I’d never get a book deal. 


Well, I don’t feel that now. I reread a lot of my older stuff, stuff I typed up three months ago and with each key stroke would think, “This is shit. This is total and complete shit, but just get it on the page and then you can revise.” I don’t think that anymore. 


I need to believe in myself, because if I don’t then who the hell is going to? Yes, my super-amazing husband will always believe in me, and so will my family, but that is only enough when you believe in yourself. 


I’m stepping off of my soapbox now. 


Goals for this new “year.” I say year because by this time next year I will (hopefully) have my thesis done and will be looking for agents/ editors. Well, let me rephrase… Goal for this year. Work on my thesis/novel (it’s one in the same now) for AT LEAST one hour each day. I need to do that to get the last few chapter written and then begin the revision process before sending the revised chapters to my thesis advisor for notes and even more revision.





But it’s so exciting! There is an end in sight! I will have this  novel done soon, and before you know it you will be seeing it on the bookshelves at bookstores. Mark my words. I will continue to make salads and whatnot to help my husband with the finances but also so that I can focus on my work.


From here on out, my real job is my novel. My hobby is going and making money. 

Update from Grad School

Whew!


Things have been cray up here. I have been working hard on my WIP in my tutorial class and working on some short stories in my Magical Realism class….


I’m excited about tutorial today. It’ll be the first time chapter 7 gets a good and intense critiquing. I’ve been going through and re-reading my WIP, getting chapters ready for class, and I’ve fallen back in love with this story again. Which is AWESOME! It’s awful to fall out of love with your WIP… But sometimes I think that’s just the nature of the writer/story relationship. We spend too much time together and get sick of one another (this happened to me and my best friend at camp quiet often) and then we start talking to one another again and realize why we enjoyed each other the first time around.


Let’s see… Also, I am working on a presentation on how to make a believable antagonist. I’m kind of having a ton of fun with it. The teacher encouraged us to be as creative with these presentations as we want. So mine is involving a handout that looks like a recipe and bars of dark chocolate with quotes about villains on them. Kapow! I’m stoked. I present next week and will share my research here. 


In Magical Realism we’ve mostly been talking about the books we’ve read for the class and looking at how the writer does what they do within the story. You may be asking yourself, “What is magical realism?” Well, that is a whole different post entirely. I promise I will try and be better about posting while I am at school… 


I did write my first magical realism story and I’m debating if I’ll post it here. I might post a bit to give you a taste. I will tell you it involves the Berlin Wall and I’ve been having a fun time researching life in East Germany. 


Not that I want to live in the former GDR, but it’s cool to learn about a life so different from my own. I mean, they didn’t have bananas. I don’t even like bananas, but still. It was like they were super intense about the equality of all men that if everyone couldn’t have bananas then NO ONE COULD. 


On top of that I’ve been missing the Husband super much. It’s like when you get your wisdom teeth removed. There’s this big hole that is this dull pain kind-a all the time, and then you poke it and it’s super tender and hurts even more. BUT! I think he’s going to visit soon and that would rock soooo much! The only thing that keeps my graduate program from being paradise is that he’s not here with me. 


So there’s my update! I’m not sure how often I’ll be able to post, but I’ll make sure to do it once a week! Come back next time for thoughts on Magical Realism.