Emily Giffin: Even more reason to love my favorite author…

Oh midterms week how I despise you. And among all of my reasons for why that is (loosing sleep and eating an endless amount of junk food to name a few), I can now add to the list having to miss the How I Write presentation this evening because of my study group. Anyhow, in order to still get my fix into the mind of an author at work, I turned to an interview with my absolute favorite compositionist, Emily Giffin. Every time I find time to sit down and read a Giffin novel with vanilla Chai tea and cozying up with what I believe has to be the softest blanket made on this planet, my mind is put at ease. Her stories resonate with my personal intrigue of the vast emotional complexities one experiences throughout early adulthood. And now, through watching an interview on her latest novel Where We Belong, I believe my love for these books may result from the viewpoints on writing and what it takes to be a good writer that Giffin and I share.

Right from the start Emily announces she has a love-hate relationship with writing. She explains that she has experienced her highest of highs from creating stories while also experiencing complete frustration and doubt that she will ever be able to produce a novel just a great as a preceding one. When directly asked, “what does it take to be a good writer?”, I absolutely loved Giffin’s response. She explains that in order to be a good writer you have to be curious about other people, and even more so have empathy for what others have experienced. In Where We Belong, she wrote about characters going through situations she personally had never gone through before. If you aren’t interested in others’ stories, how can you expect others to connect with your writing? I believe people enjoy reading what they can in some way relate to, even if this means simply agreeing with an overall message presented. And so, I now understand that I find myself attracted to Giffin’s books because we both value individuals who care to know and understand others, no matter how different and foreign their experiences or thinking may be.

3 thoughts to “Emily Giffin: Even more reason to love my favorite author…”

  1. Alexis, I’m thrilled that you’re so compelled by Giffin’s insistence on curiosity and empathy. AND, I wonder if you could perhaps complicate the idea of what it might mean to “relate” to something just a little bit beyond “agreeing” with it? That is, could you relate to a piece of work that takes a position you might not agree with? Or relate to a character in a novel or film who isn’t at all likeable? I feel like there’s some really delicious potential in expanding our idea of “relatability,” both as readers AND writers. 🙂

  2. Hi Alexis! So I totally agree with the idea of having a love-hate relationship with writing. There is actually a Dorothy Parker quote (she’s a comic writer from the early 20th century) that I want to feature in my eportfolio: “I hate writing. I love having written.” Writing can be so so frustrating, and it is always nice to see/read/hear about professional writers feeling that same frustration. I have never read anything of Giffin’s…maybe I should!

  3. That is a great quote, Amy! Those seven words sum up my entire writing outlook, and it sounds like most everyone else’s too. You’re right, it is comforting that such good writers share in our difficulties of writing…and also in our excitement of having written something good.

    Alexis, I think that’s a very good insight about writing as a form of curiousity about and empathy for other people. It goes back to one of the readings we did at the very beginning of the semester about how writing is just as much about escaping yourself as it is about expressing yourself. So, it seems good writing is not just personal, but interpersonal.

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