View Full Version : Not Sounding Arrogant?

12-02-2007, 02:28 AM
So you think you've led an interesting life. But it's the only one you've known...so who are YOU to judge, eh?

How does one set about writing in the Sedaris style (love his stuff) without worrying that they are coming off as a self-absorbed person who thinks people should hear stories about riding his bike behind the mosquito fogger in 1977?

It's one of a few projects I'm toying with, the others are all fiction.

12-02-2007, 02:31 AM
You don't worry about how you come off, just that you come off as funny and a good writer. (The funny is because you said Sedarisesque) He is my writing hero. I strive to write memoir like him all the time. If you're self effacing, it's hard to come across as self-absorbed. Sedaris makes fun of everybody and makes light and funny...but he also rubs himself in the mud a lot. That's a good key right there.

12-02-2007, 02:48 AM
First, I would suggest you write in your own style, not the style of someone else. You may like Sedaris and find him inspiring, but you have to find your own way. I liked reading Mark Twain and Huck Finn, but I do not aspire to write like Sam Clemens.

Taking this phrase: "coming off as a self-absorbed person who thinks people should hear stories about . . ." You can come across as self absorbed no matter what style you use. It's a good (talented) writer who avoids that trap. As to "people should hear" . . . I think that line displays a misunderstanding of how this game works.

The correct thing to say would be: "Can I write in such a way that people will want to read about xxxxx?" If the answer is yes, you will be a success. If the answer is no, then you should limit yourself to writing books that deliver specific content, like "How to program in C++" rather than memoir.

That, by the way, is not meant as any kind of slam. I actually got it from my own editor. She told me memoir is the hardest of things to write well, and far more people can write the drier, less emotional works that make the majority of published literature.

12-02-2007, 07:42 PM
Well said, John Robison.

Vet, you say you are toying with several projects. Toy away. That's the best way to find your own voice and discover whether writing about C++ is really your strong suit. I've toyed with fiction writing long enough to realize I absolutely do not have the skill and imagination needed to carry a plot through a whole book. Or perhaps it's lack of passion.