He should know, given the viciousness with which he criticizes his own work. Even now his stories require more than twenty drafts to get right, as he mentions in the PBS NewsHour clip at the top of the post , but when he re-read his first diaries, "it was really painful. Really painful." These early entries revealed that "no one was a worse writer than me. No one was more false. No one was more pretentious. It was just absolute garbage." But some of them hint at things to come. "I stayed up all night and worked on my new story," a 28-year-old Sedaris writes in 1985. "Unfortunately, I write like I paint: one corner at a time. I can never step back and see the full picture. Instead, I concentrate on a little square and realize later that it looks nothing like the real live object. Maybe it's my strength, and I'm the only one who can't see it."
"Hugh and I got this house in West Sussex, right, and it's in an area called the South Downs. And the Downs are these massive, chalk-speckled hills that run for a hundred miles between East and West Sussex, and we're just at the base of one of them, and our house is on a one-lane winding road that's tree-lined, and it's my idea of beauty. There are forests, and it's just what beauty means to me. But English people throw everything out their car window, and the roadsides are carpeted with rubbish, so that's what I do with my life now: I pick up rubbish on the side of the road. I do it on my bike. I do it on foot. The local council has given me an outfit and a grabber."