Welcome to THE BALANCE PROJECT: a series of relevant and refreshingly candid interviews featuring inspiring and accomplished women talking about balance. I’ve always been curious—and maybe a little obsessed—about how women I admire manage the tragically glorified “doing it all” craze. So I asked them. As I suspected, no one really does “it all.” Everyone’s making sacrifices somewhere. And that should make us feel a little better. Every Friday I’ll feature a new interview. Here’s what Emily Giffin had to say…
No. 15: Emily Giffin, Author
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Where I live: Atlanta, GA
Ages/genders of kids: Harriet (6) and George & Edward (10-year-old identical twins)
Is the job you have now the same one you had before kids? If not, how and why did you change directions?
Motherhood impacts everything in a profound way and certainly permeated all aspects of my writing career, from my writing schedule to the themes of my books.
Do you think having “it all” is realistic or overrated and why?
Having it all doesn’t exist. With every choice, you must make sacrifices and compromises. For example, I get to go on an exciting tour whenever I have a new book coming out, but this also means I will miss a lot of the summer with my children while on the road.
What part of “balance” can you just not seem to figure out?
I am a perfectionist. It is my best and worst trait. Sometimes I find myself unable to let even the small things go until I get it just right.
What part of “balance” are you getting better at?
It’s easy (and dangerous) to put your family and close friends last, because you know they will understand… But I’m getting better at putting them first and saying no to social obligations and other fringe activity.
What was the best advice you ever heard on balance from your mother?
My mother offered lots of philosophical nuggets along the way, but growing up I remember how often she told us to always be kind and keep our fingernails clean.
If you had one extra hour in each day and you couldn’t work or be with your family, how would you spend that hour?
Reading or napping.
What do you wish you’d known when you were 20?
That 30 is still very, very young.
What do you hope to know by time you’re 60?
Ideally, by 60, I will have reached some heightened level of self-enlightenment. But I will settle for becoming a great cook/entertainer (I’m only average now), and overcoming my fear of highway driving (haven’t driven on a highway since ’96!)!
Whose job do you wish you had?
Well, I’d love to be a musician or professional athlete, but if we’re assuming the same set of skills I currently possess, then I think I’d make a good therapist or talk show host.
Whose job are you glad you don’t have?
Again, I have so many! A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett; The Inn at Lake Devine, by Elinor Lipman; Runaway by Alice Munro; and Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf are a few favorites. But my all-time favorite is probably To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee.
What have you recently read or are currently reading?
The Age of Miracles, by Karen Thompson Walker; This Is Where I leave You, by Jonathan Tropper (being made into a movie with Jane Fonda and I’m helping to host her premiere!); Still Life with Bread Crumbs, by Anna Quindlen; After I’m Gone, by Laura Lippman; The Circle, by Dave Eggers; Perfect, by Rachel Joyce.
Activity? Reading the tabloids.
Food? Guac and chips and Arby’s curly fries.
Website? DailyMail.co.uk. Perhaps stemming from my days living in London, I can read endlessly about the royals.
How many hours do you generally sleep at night during the week?
It varies, but usually not enough.
Complete the following sentences:
I think: (know!) I am the world’s foremost authority on Brady Bunch trivia.
I wish I: could write faster. I’m so slow.
My kids: are compassionate and kind.
Emily Giffin, a Chicago native, graduated summa cum laude from Wake Forest University and the University of Virginia School of Law. After law school, she moved to Manhattan and practiced litigation at a large firm for several years while she paid back her school loans, wrote a novel in her very limited spare time, and dreamed of becoming a writer.
Despite the rejection of her first manuscript, Giffin persisted, retiring from the legal profession and moving to London to pursue her dreams fulltime. It was there that she began writing Something Borrowed (2004), a story of a young woman who, upon turning thirty, finally learned to take a risk and follow her heart. One year later, Giffin’s own gamble paid off, as she completed her manuscript, landed an agent, and signed a two-book deal on both sides of the Atlantic. The following summer, Something Borrowed became a surprise sensation, and Giffin vowed never to practice law again.
Dubbed a “modern day Jane Austen” (Vanity Fair) and a “dependably down-to-earth storyteller” (New York Times), Giffin has since penned five more New York Times bestsellers, Something Blue (2005), Baby Proof (2006), Love the One You’re With (2008), Heart of the Matter (2010) and Where We Belong (2012). Her six novels, all filled with endearingly flawed characters and emotional complexity, have been translated into twenty-nine languages, with eleven million copies in print worldwide. In addition, five of her novels have been optioned for the big screen and are in various stages of development. The first, Something Borrowed, hit theaters in May 2011, starring Kate Hudson, Ginnifer Goodwin, and John Krasinski.
Giffin now resides with her husband and three young children in Atlanta. Her seventh novel, The One & Only, will be released on May 20, 2014.
Please share your own tips on balance and check back every Friday for another interview from THE BALANCE PROJECT. Better yet, subscribe in the box to the right and I’ll let you know when a new one posts…
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 1: Jessica Mindich, Entrepreneur
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 2: Veronica Beard, Fashion Designer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 3: Emily Liebert, Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 4: Lyss Stern, Mom-trepreneur
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 5: Lauren Slayton, Nutritionist
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 6: Elizabeth Moyer, Blogger
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 7: Annabel Monaghan, Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 8: Holly Gordon, Director
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 9: Jill Salzman, Entrepreneur
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 10: Jennifer Levinson, Jen’s List
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 11: Jenny Hutt, Media Personality
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 12: Angela Santomero, Kids’ Media Creator
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 13: Carola Donato, Yogi
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 14: Tiffany Washington, Pastry Designer