Mary Laura Philpott
Mary Laura Philpott’s writing has been featured in the New York Times; the Washington Post; the Los Angeles Times; O, The Oprah Magazine; and other publications. She’s the founding editor of Musing, the online magazine of Parnassus Books, as well as an Emmy-winning cohost of the literary interview show A Word on Wordson Nashville Public Television. She lives in Nashville with her family.
Ordinary Lives, Writing Friends, Sponsored by Griffin & Company Insurance
What does it mean to live a life full of more blessings than challenges? What if your life was not defined by one extraordinary event or some stroke of tragedy you survived but by the culmination of all your mundane decisions to make a living, a home, a family, and to care for the people and land that made you who you are. And what if these decisions sparkled with the same transforming flames that the greatest hero must walk through to reach sacred ground? Margaret Renkl, opinion columnist for The New York Times, and Mary Laura Philpott, editor of Musings and co-host of A Word on Words for Nashville Public Television, have each published memoir collections of essays. These critically-acclaimed books took shape at each other’s kitchen table in their monthly writers’ group meetings. These friends and writers will discuss how it’s possible to write for fifteen minutes a day in the midst of a busy career with kids at home about the topics with which we all deal but are sometimes too anxious, too polite or too busy to really face.
Beth Waltemath is a member of the Decatur Book Festival adult program committee. She worked at Random House and Hearst Magazines in New York City before attending seminary. She currently serves as co-pastor of North Decatur Presbyterian Church. She continues to write book reviews and author interviews and teach classes on writing and publishing.
I Miss You When I Blink
I Miss You When I Blink is a brave and candid debut memoir-in-essays, brimming with self-effacing wit and suffused with hard-earned wisdom. By turns humorous and heart-rending, Philpott writes about meticulously ticking all the boxes on her life’s to-do list (job, spouse, house, babies—check!), only to find herself at loose ends and longing for a new path. Mary Laura’s young son once said to her, “I miss you when I blink.” Over the years, the simple sentence became a touchstone—a reminder to slow down, to live in the moment. But it also served as an apt description of the creeping identity crisis many experience at some point. She missed. . . . herself. Surrounded by everything she had always wanted, Mary Laura still felt anxious. Lost. Stuck in a daily grind of packed calendars, endless carpools, and grueling small talk, she wondered: What’s the worse failure? Smiling and staying the course, or blowing it all up and running away? And are those the only options? Philpott’s stories about reassessing her goals and reinventing her life—with funny and fraught detours along the way—show that losing track of where we’re going and how to get there can happen anytime and many times. And that’s okay! Her spot-on observations about home, work, family, and creativity are sure to resonate with those moving in or out of a friendship or romance, leaving school and entering the real world, or balancing professional ambitions with personal passions—in short, anyone who’s ever felt the need to hit rewind and redo the way things are, or figure out how to take that challenging next step forward. Like lingering late-night conversations with a kindred spirit, these incisive and ultimately inspiring essays are sure to appeal to readers of Meghan Daum, Dani Shapiro, Sloane Crosley, David Rakoff, Jessi Klein, and Jenny Lawson—and others who appreciate the appeal of striking out on the Pacific Crest Trail or settling into an Italian villa, yet don’t want to leave quite everything behind.