“I’m looking forward to reading your book one day. What’s your last name? That way I’ll remember you when I see it!”
That quote above? Said by New York Times bestselling author Emily Giffin … to me.
Cue inward flipping out, outward jumping up and down (after I was safely hidden behind a bookshelf, of course), and an entire rest of the day feeling so excited that I couldn’t help but smile. I’ve been a fan of Emily’s since I read the first sentence of Baby Proof – her third novel, and the first one that I randomly happened upon in a bookstore. To this day, I’m fairly certain that it holds the record for how fast I’ve gone through a book. I literally couldn’t put it down until I got to the last word, and I immediately wanted to read every other novel she’s written. She’s just that talented an author, the kind of writer who draws you in right from the beginning and leaves you wanting more. You want to know more about her characters, more about their decisions, more about their lives. Hers are the kinds of books you can get lost in, the kinds of characters who feel like friends. She does this amazing job of getting to the heart of the matter and crafting these stories that resonate far beyond the closing page and the last words. Writing is a love for Emily, and that shines through all the time.
She also happens to be such an inspiration to me when it comes both to writing and persistence. Never once did she give up on her quest to become a published author. She kept persevering and worked as hard as she possibly could to make her dreams a reality, despite an industry that’s so hard to crack. Not only is she the kind of writer I think so many strive to be, but she also has the tenacity and positive outlook that’s so, so essential. Her story of success is motivating, and so is she. Emily’s easily one of my favorite authors, no question about it. That’s why I was thrilled when I learned she’d be coming to Philadelphia for her Heart of the Matter book tour. I was excited to meet her and to tell her in person what an inspiration she’s been, and even though I know from interviews and her interaction with everyone online what a genuine, friendly, intelligent person she is, I don’t think anything could have quite prepared me for the response I got when I chatted with her.
From the very moment she breezed into Borders, you could just tell that there was this warm air about her – engaging, sincere, and as truly excited to meet everyone as we were to talk with her. She took some time at the beginning to sign books for the people who had to get back to work, and then launched into a short talk about her most recent novel and a Q&A that was both insightful and entertaining. We learned some tidbits about the upcoming movie for her first novel, Something Borrowed, and I was particularly interested to hear her speak about her writing process and how she approaches her novels. It’s something I always find fascinating, to see how such talented authors go about finding a process that works for them. That was one of many things Emily said that stuck out, actually, how it’s different for everyone and all that matters is finding what’s right for you. And something else that stood out – her comment about how it doesn’t matter if you’re published or not, because “if you write, you’re a writer.” Such a wonderful way to look at it. Another thing that also stayed with me was when she said the industry is about three main things – hard work, luck, and talent. She’s a true believer in the idea that if you work hard enough, if you have that dedication, then you can reach the goals you set. Beginning to see yet why I feel like I can relate to her so much?
FF to the signing portion of the event. I could easily tell how sweet and friendly Emily was, but her reaction to our chat was beyond any semblance of an expectation I could have had. I started off by telling her what an inspiration she’s been to me, both with writing and during my search for an agent, and her response to hearing that two agents have requested partial manuscripts from me already is something I’ll never, ever forget. There was such sincerity in her voice when she looked at me and exclaimed “that’s HUGE!” Seriously, that alone was enough to make my day. The woman’s a five-time bestselling author with unbelievable talent … and she was that excited for me? Too. Unbelievably. Cool. And it only got better. We chatted for a bit about the process of finding an agent and how tough it is, and then we moved on to discussing Baby Proof, since I had brought that for her to sign, as well. I also asked about her process for writing the end of her novels, whether she has an idea for that last paragraph ahead of time or she stays in the moment. It’s something that’s always been particularly fascinating to me when it comes to writing, and there was just something really special about discussing it with one of my absolute favorite authors.
And, um, speaking of special … the quote I posted above still makes me smile every time I think about it, even though it’s more than twenty-four hours later. After we chatted and took a picture, she thanked me for coming and wished me good luck again with my writing and finding an agent. Then, just in case she hadn’t already completely made my entire week, she said to me, “I look forward to reading YOUR book one day!” She followed that up by asking for my last name so she’d know my novel when she saw it … and I pretty much stood there in shock, trying to wrap my head around everything she’d just said and how, in that moment, I just felt so lucky. Talk about an amazing experience. Just meeting her would have been wonderful in its own right, but to have someone who’s inspired me so much say those things? And sincerely mean them?
Beyond cool. So beyond cool, and an experience I’ll remember forever. Emily’s not just a bestselling author. She’s not just an incredibly talented writer. She’s a kind, caring, genuine person, who truly deserves every single success she’s had and then some. Her words will stay with me as I continue this process, my autographed copy of Heart of the Matter on my desk as a reminder. Inspiring? You bet.
What about you? Have you ever met someone who’s played a pivotal or motivational role in your life or career? Did it exceed your expectations?