May 16, 2010

the heart of the matter.

You know that feeling when you come across something you absolutely love and you just have to share it with everyone you know? Well, that's how I feel about Emily Giffin. 

I know I've mentioned her before but, well, she deserves another post (or twelve.)

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It's an incredibly rare and lucky miracle to have the chance to meet your idol--the person who does what you love, and does it so beautifully, that you're stirred to pursue it that much more passionately yourself. I was fortunate enough to not only meet mine, but also have dinner with her: the warm, open-hearted, and brilliantly talented writer Emily Giffin.

As she opened the door to her home, I was struck first by her familiarity--not because we'd met before or because she looked like someone I'd known, but because her open and earnest kindness lends itself to feeling as if you've known her all your life. You don't meet Emily; you recognize her. She is welcoming and warm, naturally so. And as I spoke to her, minutes after meeting, it was comforting to learn that her words are as eloquent, powerful, and magnetic as she is.

Or, rather, that she is as charmingly fabulous as her work.

Within minutes, Emily and I had aligned ourselves as similar: both writers, both lived in London, both from the Western suburbs of Chicago--in fact, only one town apart. Within hours, we had aligned ourselves as "BFF," swapping stories of complicated friendships and even more complicated heartbreaks that seemed eerily similar to each other. And by the end of the night--several laughs, some tears, and more than a few "No-way-you-too!?" moments later--she declared us "Soul Sisters."
Emily, of course, is someone who could easily discover a soul sister in every woman she meets; she's that friendly and relatable. But more than anything, she is enthusiastically curious--asking more questions than she answers, preferring to dig into the details of your life story rather than talk about her own. She is genuinely--and selflessly--interested in other people, in the key moments and relationships that define a person. She'll plunge into your stories like a scuba diver in search of a buried chest. Human narratives--the heartfelt, the heartbreaking, the every day and the once in a lifetime--seem to be her treasure.

My own words are inadequate in trying to express what she means to me--as a friend, as a personal mentor, as a professional inspiration--and how her work has touched my life. Luckily, though, her words speak for themselves--and anyone who reads her work has no trouble understanding her ability to move, to affect, to influence. She brings her own natural accessibility into each of her characters, so that on every page you feel as if she is sketching the detailed portrait of someone you know. And by the end, you not only know her characters, but you empathize with them as well--no matter how profoundly different their spirit or circumstances are from your own.

This, to me, is the sign of successful writing.

So Laura, you ask, why all the gushing?
Because last Monday, Emily's highly anticipated fifth book--Heart of the Matter--was released. Of course I had it pre-ordered and of course I finished it in less than twenty-four hours and of course--of course--it was just as beautiful and brilliant and poignant as her first four novels. I was struck--as always--by her ability to evoke some of the most captivating, compelling, and refreshingly human characters I've ever read. I believe in them, I believe in their stories, and I believe in the overarching message she sends to her readers--this time, one of love and commitment and forgiveness, the complicated entwining of the three.

I tend to fall in love with the books that remind us we are all connected. And this, more than anything else, is the distinct mark and essence of Emily's writing: her innate, incredible, awe-inspiring capacity to connect.

Visit: Emily's website & blog


Caroline said... [Reply to comment]

So exciting!!!! xo Great Post!!

m i s s . k r i s t a said... [Reply to comment]

WOW!!! That's soo amazing! I love all her books as well! Such a great writer!
I agree with caroline, Great Post! I'm so pumped for you that you got to meet her!! Yay!:)
I can't wait to read her new book!

Neely said... [Reply to comment]

Im a huuuuge emily fan too! I love your follower here! Come check out mine if you get a chance

ALFIE said... [Reply to comment]

YOUR passion and relatability shine through this post! How amazing to meet your muse. your hero. as a long-time & devoted fan of emily's---i can only imagine the thrill of bantering with her for an evening.

i was able to steal an hour or so out of my shift at the hospital last night--and got about 60 pages deep into HOTM. am loving it so far! can't wait to read more :)

Claire Kiefer said... [Reply to comment]

Wow, you've totally motivated me to go out and get her books!

funnybookworm said... [Reply to comment]

However did you even get a chance to meet her? How exciting and wonderful to meet your idol!

Blancs said... [Reply to comment]

I am great fan of emily too. Dying of envy here right now.=)

k8te said... [Reply to comment]

i just found your blog, so i'm reading back through posts. i am HUGE emily giffin fan! i need to buy her newest book ASAP...i can't believe i've waited this long when it came out in july! love your blog, and i think you're a fantastic writer!