THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 15: Emily Giffin, Author

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


Age: 42
Where I live: Atlanta, GA
Job: Author
Ages/genders of kids: Harriet (6) and George & Edward (10-year-old identical twins)

Emily Giffin  - credit Emmanuelle ChoussyIs 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?
An oncologist.

Favorite books?
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. Dallowayby 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.

Biggest vices…
Activity? Reading the tabloids.
Food? Guac and chips and Arby’s curly fries.
Website? 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.


TOAO_100 1 3 (2)About Emily
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.

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Find more about Emily here:
Facebook: EmilyGiffinFans
Twitter: @emilygiffin
Instagram: @emilygiffinauthor
Pinterest: emilyfgiffin

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…

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  1. Stephanie S. Friday, May 9, 2014 at 8:56 am - Reply

    My favorite Emily Giffin book is Something Borrowed and Where we belong as a close second. I’m so excited to read The One and Only!!

  2. Bonnie K. Friday, May 9, 2014 at 9:56 am - Reply

    As far as balance in my life I try not to sweat the small stuff like having to vacuum the same day every week–it won’t hurt anybody if it waits a few more days.

  3. anovelreview1 Tuesday, May 13, 2014 at 9:09 am - Reply

    I’ve loved all her books, but I would say my favorite was…Something Borrowed. After I read it, I went to the bookstore and bought all her books 🙂 (of course at the time there were only three, but I’ve gotten everything since then).

  4. Angela Terry Thursday, May 15, 2014 at 6:06 pm - Reply

    My favorite Emily Giffin book is Something Blue, only because that is the first one I read and it introduced me to all her other amazing books. She’s also my personal hero because her bio on the Something Blue jacket gave me the courage to quit law and pursue my own writing dreams. Thank you, Ms. Giffin!

  5. Daphne Thursday, May 15, 2014 at 6:09 pm - Reply

    I’m still trying to find balance, but my fave EG book is a toss up between her first & her (second to) last, Something Borrowed/Where We Belong.

  6. JeannineAL Thursday, May 15, 2014 at 7:16 pm - Reply

    Balance–for us it means having a routine and sticking to it as best we can. As long as you understand that you may have sacrifices along the way and rid yourself of the guilt, you can achieve some semblan e of balance 🙂
    My all-time favorite EG book is Something Borrowed! That book gripped me in ’04 and 10 years later it still has a hold on me. I’ve read it several times, lost count after the fourth 🙂

  7. Chrissy Tuesday, May 20, 2014 at 1:36 pm - Reply

    My favorite book by Ms. Giffin is Where We Belong. I loved it. It struck a personal note with me as well.

    As for balance, I’m still trying my best. That’s all I can do. Try my best and do what i can.

  8. Annette Herbst Tuesday, May 20, 2014 at 2:44 pm - Reply

    My favorite EG book is all of them lol. But if I can pick only one it would be Something Borrowed

  9. paulinewiles Thursday, May 22, 2014 at 10:44 am - Reply

    I’ve read most of Emily Giffin’s books but Heart of the Matter really stood out for me.
    Oh, and I did like her brief appearances in the Something Borrowed movie!

  10. Kate I. Thursday, May 22, 2014 at 5:35 pm - Reply

    My favorite Emily Giffin title was SOMETHING BORROWED as that debut led me to follow the rest of her work.

  11. JJT Thursday, May 22, 2014 at 5:58 pm - Reply

    Always good to restore balance through moderate physical activity when feeling stresessd or overhwhelmed.

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