Julie Buxbaum’s first novel, The Opposite of Love, has been translated into eighteen languages and optioned for film by Twentieth Century Fox with Anne Hathaway set to star. Jodi Picoult says of her new, just-out-in-paperback, After You, “Buxbaum writes with honesty and grace about the things we know about our friends and the things we wish we didn’t.” Need I say more? – Meg
I tend to go about most things backwards, so it’s not surprising that my writing career was no exception. Did I, like most normal book lovers—no book lover makes my obsession with books almost sound casual—did I like most normal book devourers, major in English in college, read all the classics and devote my life to the only hobby, perhaps the only passion I’ve ever had? Nope, maybe because I’m a closet masochist, I studied Political Science, Philosophy and Economics instead. Economics, with those horrible supply and demand graphs and their bizarre obsession with widgets. Still for the life of me have no idea what I was thinking, why I was too scared to find my way over to the English majors, who to got to spend their afternoons reading well-thumbed paperbacks on coffee shop couches. That was my tribe, but as is my way, I just didn’t know it yet.
And after graduating from college, I went on to law school, where I did enjoy my three years reading case law—close but not quite the experience of reading paperbacks on couches—and then by my mid-twenties, the State of New York, and later the State of California deemed me an attorney. What were they thinking? Probably the same thing I was when I started to practice: well, I passed the test. It took me four long years—four years of cutting and pasting case law into legal briefs, of mind numbing document review, of being told I needed to be concise, of having my “flowery language” edited out—that it occurred to me that perhaps being a lawyer wasn’t the most appropriate way for me to be spending my life.
How did I eventually find my way to the writing life? By a New Year’s Resolution to quit my job and start writing that book I had spent a decade talking about. (Yup, I spent a decade not writing, but talking about writing. Big difference.) Anyhow, six months later—six glorious months I spent actually writing at my kitchen table in pajamas, slowing letting the grip of the billable hour slip away—I had a rough first draft. Eight months later, I found an agent. Nine months later, the stars aligned in the sort of way that only happens once in a lifetime, and I sold my first book to Dial Press at Random House. And that’s how I became a writer. Took a wrong turn here and there, but found my way to where I was always meant to go. Maybe sometimes there’s something to be said for going about things backwards. All I know is I spent yesterday on the couch with a well-thumbed paperback and I got to call it work. And for that I’m forever grateful. – Julie