Today, I'm speaking to Julie Buxbaum, the fabulous new author of the recently released book "The Opposite of Love." Julie is 30 (like moi, whose birthday is today, in fact!), a first time author who is seeing a lot of success and acclaim for her first work of fiction, and as you'll see, below, an inspiration to people who are thinking about making a big life change in the name of happiness and fulfillment. Here's my conversation with Julie:
SJ: I'm always fascinated with people who make bold moves. And, from what I know about your story, you are certainly one of them. It had to be frightening quitting your job at the law firm (especially after working so hard for that degree!), and looking ahead to the unknown. How did you justify such a leap? Did you know that when you quit, you'd be working on your book, or did that come later?
JB: I have to admit, I was scared to quit, but I realized that it was something I just had to do. There came a point where I just couldn't handle another Sunday night where I was dreading Monday morning at the office. It seemed ridiculous to spend ninety percent of my waking hours in a career in which I was unfulfilled, when I hadn't even seen what else was out there. I'd always dreamed of writing a book, so when it was time to leave the law, I figured it was my shot. When I sat down to write THE OPPOSITE OF LOVE I made the decision that no matter what happened--if my novel ended up being just a pile of paper that lived in a drawer for the rest of my life--the experience of writing it would be enough. So the fact that I have made a career out of writing feels--to mix my cliches--like icing on the cake and nothing short of a dream come true.
SJ: In life, I fear these things most: rats, snakes, and evil bloggers (and if I had a book out right now, book critics would probably be on the list, too). Rats and snakes aside, book publishing kind of puts you out there, and I wonder how you prepare yourself for that as a new author. For instance, when you wake up one morning and realize that some snarky blogger has said something not-so-nice about you, how do you deal with that? Roll your eyes and say "whatever," or maybe call your best friend for sympathy?
JB: No doubt about it, I find it strange and terrifying that my novel puts me out there, especially because writing is such a solitary and personal exercise. When you write, you can't think about what's going to happen years later, when those words are in an actual book on a shelf that someone is going to buy (hopefully!) and read and comment on. When I read anything about the book, the first thing I do is try to learn something from it. Do I agree with what this person says? Disagree? If there is some constructive criticism there, I try to put my ego aside and hear it. If you look at the Amazon comments for your absolute favorite book in the world--the one that you think is a masterpiece--I guarantee there are a bunch of people who have called it crap. The truth is this is all subjective, and I try to find comfort in that idea.
SJ: When you got your book deal, how did you celebrate? A fabulous dinner out? A pair of (wildly expensive) new shoes? Several joy-filled screams in the street?
JB: My husband (then boyfriend) took me out for a casual dinner, and I spent much of the evening shell-shocked. I just kept repeating, "Can you believe it? I don't believe it? Can you believe it?" I was incapable of conversation beyond that for a good twenty-four hours. The next day, I visited my local bookstore and checked out where my book would live in the fiction section and who would be my alphabetical neighbors. I remember just staring at the shelf and smiling to myself. Pretty great moment.
SJ: Now that you're not bustling between the courthouse and the boardroom, what does a typical day look like for you?
JB: I roll out of bed around nine am, and change from my sleeping pj's to my day pj's. Recently, I've upgraded from full fledged pajama pants (with polka dots) to lounge pants, and for that my FedEx guy is very grateful. I think he was starting to worry about me. I walk about ten feet to my dining room table, which I use as a desk, though there is a perfectly good desk right next to it, because the table faces out a window. When I sit here, as I am doing right this moment, I am easily fooled. Whatever I am doing here cannot be called "work." If I am in the middle of a first draft, I'll write till I take a break for lunch, and maybe an afternoon shower to clear my head. And then it is either back to my desk to keep plugging along, or perhaps, if I'm in need of some human interaction, I'll put on some real people clothes and head to a nearby coffee shop to work for the rest of the day. I try to keep a pretty normal working schedule, but I am not always that diligent.
SJ: Are you working on any future projects that we can keep our eyes out for?
JB: I am currently at work on my second novel, but not sure yet when it will be released into the world. I'll keep you posted!