If you ever attend a David Sedaris reading, I suggest you watch him closely. You’ll see that as he reads, he keeps a pencil in his hand and he makes notations on the text. Sometimes if you pay close attention to his hands, you can see him cross out a word that he stumbles on, or add a word when an improvisation works particularly well. When you attend a Sedaris reading, you’re not just watching a performance — you’re taking part in an editing session. Even if the pieces were published in the New Yorker or in books, he still works on them; refining, polishing, making them better. It’s fascinating to watch.
Early next year, Seattle is going to get an even bigger window into his writing process. Before he publishes a new book, Sedaris always workshops his manuscript before a live audience for a solid week. This is an intensive part of his editing process, and it and helps him perfect his performance. Think of it, maybe, as a preview reading.
Next summer, Sedaris is publishing a new book titled Theft By Finding. The week of January 14th, he’ll be doing a weeklong stand in Seattle at Broadway Performance Hall, reading and polishing Theft By Finding in eight workshops before a live audience. Each workshop will include a question and answer session, which will likely be extra-intimate given the size of the hall.
This is a rare window inside Sedaris's process, and an opportunity to experience his next book before the rest of the world. If you’re interested in the art of writing and editing, I heartily recommend you attend more than one of these workshop readings. It will give you an opportunity to look into the process of a meticulous writer. That’s the kind of education you can’t pick up in a creative writing MFA course.
Theft By Finding will collect short and long pieces from Sedaris’s diaries, which he has fastidiously kept since the late 1970s. Last night, in front of a sold-out crowd at Benaroya Hall, he announced that he turned in the draft of Theft By Finding to his publisher a few days ago and that right now, the draft stands at over 700,000 words. (By comparison, his most recent book was a little over 50,000 words.) He said this book may be split into two or more volumes, depending on how his editors — and audience — respond to the work. Seattle will have a part in determining what the book will look like. I expect tickets to go quickly for this one; they’d make great Christmas gifts for someone in your life.