The Divining Wand

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Guest Julie Buxbaum on
The Terror of the Blank Page

August 03, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

[Imagine Julie Buxbaum (After You, The Opposite of Love) being afraid to share her insight, honesty, and humor in writing! It’s true and — in today’s guest post — she not only confesses but explains how/why her “transformation” to being an author took place.]

The Terror of the Blank Page

I’m pretty sure there are only two kinds of writers in this world. The ones who spent their childhood dragging around piles of journals and their free time actually writing, and the ones like me, who for years only wrote in their heads. The biggest difference between the first and the second, I think, besides using paper, is that the first embraced what I like to call their inner writerdom, while the latter succumbed to the fear. When an option, fear seems to suit me.

For those of us who fancy ourselves writers, but have never written anything (and I was one of those people for a very long time, so believe me when I say I’m not judging) there is nothing more terrifying than the blank page. The idea is so terrifying in fact, that we choose to ignore it altogether and pursue alternative means of spending our lives. For me, I ran from the page by going to law school, and spending four years as an attorney, where I could fill pages by regurgitating case law, slewing together other people’s sentences. And only in the dark hours of night, or sometimes in the shower, would I write for myself, rearrange words until they meant something, only to get lost by morning, or when I put my foot on the bathmat, as if writing was some sort of dirty secret. Ah, it’s amazing what fear can do.

In college, my roommate took a fiction-writing course, and because I was too scared to share my work—no worse, I was too scared to create any work—I didn’t take the class, but read her syllabus again late at night, as if it was something to be shameful of. Neither did I turn my love of reading (and my distaste for numbers) into a major. Nope, again the fear kept me away and I embraced Philosophy, Political Science, Economics (Economics, really?), anything to avoid having to put my own thoughts, my own words onto paper. And still the paragraphs would line up at night, march into order, where I played with them, as if they were a game, not a way of life.

The funny thing is that when I finally embraced my identity as a writer, quit my job and plunged head first, I suddenly wasn’t scared at all. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I really, really hated my job, but I like to think that I needed to do all these other things first to know I was ready. Come to think of it, maybe there are two kinds of writers in the world. The ones who are born ready, and the rest of us who need to struggle just a bit first before we can face that terrifying blank page.

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Alicia Bessette’s Simply from Scratch in a random drawing to anyone who comments only on this specific post, Presenting Debutante Alicia Bessette and Simply from Scratch. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is Wednesday, August 4, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to possibly claim your book.

The Revealing of Julie Buxbaum

July 28, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles

Julie Buxbaum (After You, The Opposite of Love) knows life’s universal truths and explores them with deft insight and heartfelt honesty in both of her novels. Debuting with The Opposite of Love — earning a Starred Review from Library Journal –, she followed with After You in fall, 2009. Released in Paperback last month, here’s a brief overview of that second novel:

The complexities of friendship. The unraveling of a neglected marriage. And the redemptive power of literature…Julie Buxbaum, the acclaimed author of The Opposite of Love, delivers a powerful, gloriously written novel about love, family, and the secrets we hide from each other, and ourselves.

The Divining Wand has scheduled a full presentation/review of After You for Monday, August 9, 2010. In the meantime let’s meet this author through her “official” bio:

Julie Buxbaum is the author of The Opposite of Love and After You. Her work has been translated into eighteen languages, and The Opposite of Love has been optioned to film with Anne Hathaway set to star. Julie is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard Law School. She currently lives in London where After You is set.

Now here’s Julie revealed:

Q: How would you describe your life in 8 words?
A: Blessed. Fulfilling. Silly, exhausting, and sometimes ridiculous. Happy.

Q: What is your motto or maxim?
A:I wish I was organized enough to have a motto.

Q: How would you describe perfect happiness?
A: Making my daughter giggle. Should I up the ante? How about making my daughter giggle on the day I reached number one on the New York Times Bestseller list while vacationing on an exotic island wearing shorts that fit in high school.

Q: What’s your greatest fear?
A: Something happening to the people I love.

Q: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A: Wherever my family is, but if they happened to be on a sandy beach in Kauai I wouldn’t complain.

Q: With whom in history do you most identify?
A: Wonder Woman. Wait, she wasn’t a historical figure?

Q: Which living person do you most admire?
A: I’m a big fan of the work of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. And I have a major writer crush on Nora Ephron.

Q: What are your most overused words or phrases?
A: Since moving to London, I use the word lovely way too often.

Q: If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A: To dress myself. And to sleep ten hours a night. (I guess that’s less a talent and more a superpower.)

Q: What is your greatest achievement?
A: Being able to call myself a novelist.

Q: What’s your greatest flaw?
A: Anxiety. It can consume me, if I’m not careful.

Q: What’s your best quality?
A: I’m ferociously loyal. There are few things I wouldn’t do for the people I love.

Q: What do you regret most?
A: When I don’t take the time to appreciate my life.

Q: If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
A: I am not sure I would want to be anyone or anything else permanently, but I would like a sneak peak into pretty much anyone else’s mind from time to time. I think that’s probably why I write. I’m intensely curious about everyone else’s inner life.

Q: What trait is most noticeable about you?
A: My upper lip disappears when I smile, which is often.

Q: Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A: Am I cheating if I say Wonder Woman again? Okay, how about Nancy Drew?

Q: Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A: Gargamel, because it takes a certain amount of evil to hate Smurfs.

Q: If you could meet any athlete, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A: The Williams sisters, and I would tell them they rock.

Q: What is your biggest pet peeve?
A: When my baby is crying and people ask me if she is hungry.

Q: What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A: Reading, of course.

Q: What’s your fantasy profession?
A: Other than what I do now? Writing for Grey’s Anatomy.

Q: What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A:Kindness, humor, loyalty.

Q: If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
A: Mashed potatoes. Mountains of them.

Q: What are your 5 favorite songs?
A: Anna Begins, The Counting Crows
She Talks to Angels, Black Crowes
Hallelujah, (I’m partial to the Jeff Buckley version)
Crazy Love, Van Morrison
Tangled up in Blue, Bob Dylan

Q: What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A: The Secret Garden, Francis Hodgson Burnett
Gilead, Marilynne Robinson
Immortality, Milan Kundera
Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoevsky

Charming, funny, and very wise, enjoy more of Julie Buxbaum by following her on Twitter, becoming a friend/fan on Facebook, and visiting her recent creation, julie has writer’s blog.

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Claire Cook’s Seven Year Switch in a random drawing to anyone who comments only on this specific post, Claire Cook and Seven Year Switch. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is tonight at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced here in tomorrow’s’s post. If you enter, please return tomorrow to possibly claim your book.