She Did It (So Why Can’t I?): Emily Giffin (the Lawyer/Chick Lit Novelist)

Hola!! So, I know I’ve been blogging about other people a lot lately rather than my own endeavors.  It’s not that I don’t have some experiences that I want to reflect upon, I do.  But the summer is apparently book-tour season, especially for anything that might be read on the beach and the reality is if Emily Giffin (a lawyer who wrote 6 beach reads) is in town, I can’t not write about her you know?

So yeah, Emily Giffin was in DC and Bethesda on Monday promoting her new book “Where We Belong.”  Of course her lawyer background makes her particularly intriguing to me, as she graduated from UVA law school and worked at Winston & Strawn in New York before knocking out “Something Borrowed.”  Although Emily had quit her job and moved to London before she wrote that extremely successful novel turned movie, she did actually write a complete manuscript while working at a law firm.  At the firm, she completed a young adult book, which means I can honestly ask the question: she did it (i.e., write a novel while simultaneously being a professional), so why can’t I?    Unfortunately, that particular work was rejected by eight publishers so she gave it up.  However, maybe it’s for the best because then she started writing about adults, producing a story about a lawyer–obviously one of the best consequences of Giffin’s background in the law.  Emily Giffin has actually managed to publish a chick lit (yes, straight up chick lit, not Lady Lit, but I’m not the one who thinks that’s a bad thing, others do!) novel starring a woman who was not a fashion writer, but an actual lawyer!  The protagonist wasn’t Sandra Bullock in Two Weeks Notice trying to save a community center either, she was a lawyer at a firm!  One thing I know for sure is that you don’t see many books with pink covers about law firm lawyers.

Anyway, so I was really excited about the Giffin book signing.  I’ve actually read all five of her previous novels.  (“Something Borrowed”  was my favorite, then “Love the One You’re With” and “Baby Proof,” and you can read about them all here).  My friend and I were already late to the signing, so we decided to get a drink at the café.  The place was packed, but somehow Emily Giffin ended up being, literally, right next to us preparing for her talk (I don’t know how this stuff happens).  She was an inch away, we could hear her whole conversation and everything, and I was just looking at her (without a book because I hadn’t bought yet) thinking, “should I bother her? Is she trying to get in the zone before her speech?” While I was busy doing that, some girl walked up to her and Emily proceeded to sign her book, take a picture with her and give her a hug before marching to the front of the room and giving her presentation.  After that it was a wrap, and I was officially at the end of a 3 hour line, opportunity missed.  The line was so long that (no joke) my friend and I left, got dinner, had a long deep conversation and came back only to find at least an hour-long wait.  I ended up leaving, which is why I have no me + famous author pic to share. 😦

As for the talk itself, it was short but worthwhile.  She discussed the latest novel, of course, about a girl who was adopted and the mother who gave up her child for adoption (two points of view).  (Side note: the premise actually reminded me of a decent movie with Kerry Washington and Naomi Watts called Mother and Child). From what I gather, it speaks a lot about identity issues.  Rather than read from the book, Emily recited letters from two fans who had read the novel and identified with the struggle of figuring out “where they belonged.”  That part was actually very inspiring to me.  It reminded me of the ultimate purpose behind this novel dream, which I think involves having impact on women’s lives.  Like I’ve said, I am drawn by this idea about being young and “lost,” and from those letters, it really sounds like Giffin was able to touch some “lost” people with this latest work.  I think it’s a wonderful accomplishment to have shown some girl out that her crazy confused feelings simply are not unique to her.  That definitely made me smile.  🙂  Til next time, ciao!

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How to Hang Out with a Fiction Writer In the Next 2 Weeks

Recently one of my friends said that I’m “always” going to book signings and hanging out with authors and stuff.  That’s not exactly true, but I do try to keep an eye out.  Sometimes I fail spectacularly, like when I missed Michelle Obama signing her garden cookbook a block away from my job.  Other times, my dreams come true.  Anyway, in New York it’s pretty easy to find out the haps in the literary world.  Just ask the love of my life, New York Magazine; however, I live in DC now, and I’m starting to think the key to hanging out with a fiction writer here is Politics & Prose.  Some pretty cool people role through there.  Below are some upcoming events in DC (in order of date, not importance).  I’m hoping to report back on 2 of the 3.  Let me know if you want to join me!

1. Kurt Andersen signing True Believers at Politics and Prose tomorrow @ 7pm.  I honestly know nothing about ole Kurt except to say that his book True Believers was reviewed by the New York Times and the Washington Post, so he must be important.

2. UZO IWEALA signing “Our Kind of People: A Continent’s Challenge, a Country’s Hope” at Politics and Prose Thursday @ 7pm.  Uzo takes this book writing thing way more seriously than I do, which he tells me is a gift as well as a curse.  We went to college together back in the day, when he turned his senior thesis Beasts of No Nation (about child soldiers in Africa) into a published novel (which I think is on some of Harvard’s syllabi now…?).  Anyway, what I’m saying is that this is his second book and he wrote it WHILE IN MED SCHOOL.  I’m expecting to get some thought provoking wisdom on writing and writing + doing something completely unrelated and incredibly demanding from him Thurs.  Can’t wait!

3. Emily Giffin signing “Where We Belong” at Urban Chic Georgetown July 30 @ 12pm and at B&N Bethesda July 30 @ 7pm.  My girl Emily Giffin, the queen of chick lit, creator of “Something Borrowed,” which as you may know became a movie with Kate Hudson and the dude from The Office.  I think she safely falls into that category, although her debut novel did have a lawyer protagonist (as opposed to a magazine writer or bake shop owner).  Before publishing a bunch of novels she was a lawyer at a big law firm! Love this one!

What is else is going on this month??