Recently, I stood in line for well over an hour to speak with David Sedaris.
He had just finished doing a reading from his forthcoming book. My friend Terri and I decided we wanted to get our books signed before we called it a night. David was gracious with the lengthy lineup as he stuck around for over two hours to sign books and chat with everyone who approached him at the signing table.
When it was my turn, he asked me if I wanted a piece of his cornbread. He had been eating a late dinner during the signing session and had a piece of the yellow bread left.
“Sure,” I said. I took it and ate it quickly. He was quick to ask me a follow-up question as he flipped through pages of the book I’d given him to sign – the one containing my favorite essay of his, Laugh, Kookaburra – so he could find the appropriate page to leave his mark.
“What do you do?”
“I’m a writer,” I remarked. I didn’t want to be one of those writers that comes up to a successful author and declares that I am a writer, so I was glad he broached the subject.
“What do you write about?”
“Time management and productivity.”
By this time, he was looking directly at me, making absolutely no additional progress on the signing of the book.
“You know, the internet can be an interesting thing. It’s got distractions and…”
He started to dive a bit deeper into how the internet can hamper productivity. I didn’t expect him to go down this path at all. I thought he’d simply sign my book and move on to the next person. We were actually starting to have a discussion about writing. I found myself talking with David Sedaris – a writer I’ve admired for a long time – about writing.
We talked about how we can’t really read anything when we are working on a big writing project and how I was facing that right now with my latest work. I told him that his work was the kind of “bridge writing” I like to read between reading non-fiction and fiction. We spoke of changing up our environments and the cliché of occasionally writing in coffee shops rather than our home offices.
Then we wrapped up our chat – one that was all of about three minutes long but seemed far longer. He signed the book I gave him – my favorite of his to date, adding the phrase YOU FEASTED ON MY CORNBREAD to the page for good measure. We said goodbye. I moved along, and the line behind me moved forward.
I’ve been moving forward as well since that encounter.
I’ve been working on stuff for The Productivityist Playbook. I’ve been mapping out my new Daily Themes for the weeks and months ahead to be sure I leverage my time and energy better. (As always, you can read about what I’m doing now – including what my current Daily Themes are – here.
I wasn’t planning on attending David Sedaris’s reading while he was in town; I figured I had too much to do. I had a YouTube channel to dust off. I had some writing to do and other things on my plate.
But I wanted to go, so I did. I’m glad I did. Sometimes the things you want to do wind up being the things you needed to do. It doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does (and you go for it), you’ll find yourself farther ahead than you would have if you did something else.
And you might even get offered some cornbread by a New York Times bestselling author in the process.