Interview with Lauren Graham

December, 2017
Lauren Graham The people have laughed, and they have voted: Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between) has been named Best Humor Book in the 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards. The debut memoir from Lauren Graham is a collection of witty essays about growing up and starting out in Hollywood. It's also a love letter to what she calls the "role of a lifetime," playing Lorelai Gilmore—first on television's Gilmore Girls and nine years later on the miniseries Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.

Best known as a performer, Graham—an English major who wrote her senior thesis on Tennyson—is no stranger to writing. Her novel, Someday, Someday Maybe, about a struggling actress, made the New York Times bestseller list in 2013, and she's currently at work on what she has described as a "fun giftie mini-book" for graduates.

While acting and writing may seem like totally different pursuits, Graham says they're "two sides of the same coin." Whether she's getting into character or writing a draft, her process is the same: She starts in the abstract and works to make those ideas as specific as they can be. Graham caught up with Goodreads contributor Kerry Shaw to discuss her writing process, her book club, and the best life advice she can offer.

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Goodreads: I don't know if you look at your Goodreads reviews, but you currently have more than 39,000 of them, which is amazing.

Lauren Graham: I have found it a good practice to not look at reviews of any kind, with any of my endeavors. But it's nice to know there are that many! It's interesting, too, because it was this time last year that the book was coming out, and I was promoting the show. So it's just a nice reminder that a book's life continues, and you get to enjoy that.

GR: What made you want to write your memoir?

LG: I had been approached about a memoir before but just didn't feel I had a reason yet. I didn't feel that I was old enough to look back on my career, and it didn't seem like my career was over. I needed a framework.

When Gilmore Girls came around again, I was looking back at where I was when I got on the show, who I was before that, and how all these things happened in between that I could not have predicted. Titles of chapters began to come to me, and that's always a good sign. I thought it could be interesting to keep a diary of what Gilmore Girls was like the second time and to compare that to what it was like the first time. That gave me a structure.

GR: I love that you waited until you felt like you had enough to say.

LG: There's nothing worse than trying to fill pages just to get to a page count.

GR: Were there any books that made you think, "Oh man, I would love for mine to be as good as that"?

LG: One of the best memoirs of the last however-many-years is Bossypants. I've read it a million times. I love the balance she struck: It was comedic; it was personal. It wasn't too personal, in a way that I respect.

I wanted to write a book of humorous essays. I didn't want to complain or talk about hard times in a way that wasn't helpful. And so that book stuck out to me.

Also, I just loved all of Carrie Fisher's books, fiction and nonfiction. I love her voice. Postcards from the Edge really spoke to me when I was still dreaming of being an actor. I didn't know anything about her personal life then. I just admired how she took what was clearly a personal story and made it universal.

GR: Was there anything that you were afraid to put in there?

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LG: I was a little nervous to write about my experience on Project Runway. You sign a confidentiality agreement when you become a judge, so that part had to be vetted by my lawyer, who was a little cautious. I was like, "I'm not revealing any secrets of the show. I'm just talking about my experience!"

I felt mixed about the story from Summer Stock Theater, where they had me show my butt in an audition. God knows if that had happened in today's climate! It was a boundary for me. It's questionable that that was even necessary. I didn't want to call out the person who did the interview. I'm not interested in slamming anybody. I wanted to write about a day that I realized something was not for me.

I made sure Alexis [Bledel, her co-star on Gilmore Girls] and Amy Sherman-Palladino [the creator of Gilmore Girls] read it before it got too close to the end—just to make sure that they felt properly represented.

GR: Anything you were very excited to put in there?

LG: It was hard to convey how special a time it was coming back to Gilmore Girls, and I could've done an entire book that was like a diary of that.

GR: You've done so many things that people only dream about—writing books, being an actor…. What would you say to someone who wants to be a writer and an actor?

LG: The main thing I've learned in both is there's nothing that does not benefit from more practice. And the more you stop thinking about results and just be in the doing of it, without regard to where you're going, you'll find your way.

As a writer, I still have trouble with procrastinating. One thing I've learned is that if I give attention to a draft, it helps me. It starts talking to me. And if I put it down—out of anxiety or something—then it's much harder to pick up. If there are pages you consider crummy, or an amount of time you think isn't enough, just keep checking in with it.

I think that's true as an actor, too: You just keep checking in, you keep working, you keep rehearsing, and the results will come. You can't let anxiety prevent you from telling your story.

GR: I know you're coming out with a graduation book in April 2018. What inspired that?

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LG: My dad was trying to get me to give a graduation speech at my high school. I said, "Dad, I haven't been there in a million years!" He thought it would be fun for me to be home and to look back on high school. And it was.

The book has evolved; now it's pretty far from the speech. I had thought about including it as a bonus chapter in another book, but my agent said, "I feel like this is a fun book on its own, and rather than waiting for your next book of essays, which is probably years away, or the next novel, which is way overdue, here's something that's manageable and would be a fun gift for people."

So it started from the speech and then it became something else. In my speech, I used the template of the roles I got in high school and how they were reflective to me of what happens later in life. Like the idea that I probably had as much fun—or more fun—being the nobody in the chorus as I did when I eventually got the leading role.

As a person who has gotten to do what she wants for a living, I was trying to convey the mixed blessings of success. It didn't feel like it was a giant book, and it didn't feel like it was like an essay that belonged anywhere else. Hopefully it's a nice bite-size bit of encouragement.

GR: I imagine you get asked many questions by high school and college grads. What's the thing you find yourself telling them the most?

LG: It's basically the title of my book, which is In Conclusion, Don't Worry About It.

We all put so much pressure on ourselves. In terms of getting work done, that is just not helpful. Putting pressure on yourself doesn't help you feel better, look better, do better, or make more money. Pressure and worry have not amounted to whatever degree of success I have or haven't gotten—it's only gotten in my way.

I can't necessarily tell somebody I meet for a few minutes how to stop putting so much pressure on herself, but it's definitely a practice of mine. The thing I most want to convey to people, especially those who have embraced what's sweet and happy and comforting about a show like Gilmore Girls, is this: Give yourself more of that! Give yourself more of the things that make you feel good. We all deserve to feel better than anxious all the time.

It's why I want to throw every phone into the ocean. It's the largest source now of continuous chatter, anxiety, bad news, and despair. We all have to be active on our own behalf to find what's positive and joyous, otherwise we'll just live in anxiety, which is no fun. And we all deserve better.

GR: Any books you're excited about right now?

LG: I just finished Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan, which was incredible. And then, not just because she's my editor, one of my favorite books this year was Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith. Speaking of hopeful and joyous, I'm reading Turtles All the Way Down right now by John Green.

I've been doing a "shared stack" with some friends. It's not quite a book club, but we go to dinner and trade books. We sit across the table, we talk about books for about ten minutes, and then we share them. It saves money, and you start to really know your friends, what they like.

I have one friend who's like, "I know what I'm supposed to read, what's supposed to be good for me, but I just want something easy, something happy."

I said, "Two words for you my friend: Maeve Binchy." And I gave her Light a Penny Candle.

Reading gives me so much. I would just sit and read all day if I didn't have to pay my rent.

Comments (showing 1-21 of 21) (21 new)

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message 1: by Julia (new)

Julia Flores Congratulations, Lauren -- for being the winner at 2017 (humor category)

message 2: by K (new)

K I’m so glad you won! I loved this book and can’t wait to read your others! Love you LG!

message 3: by Natalie (new)

Natalie I loved her memoir and her novel was pretty great too.

Side note: Goodreads, the title is "Talking as Fast as I Can," not "I'm Talking..."

message 4: by dennis (new)

dennis the audio version is great, too!

message 5: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Leone-campbell Just curious...did you ever get your coat back?

message 6: by Maddie (new)

Maddie Hanes Loved this interview! Congrats Lauren!!

message 7: by Sean (new)

Sean Carlin I loved Talking as Fast as I Can, and even wrote an entire blog post about how it taught me to be a more productive writer. Great interview, Lauren, and congratulations on the well-deserved Goodreads award!

message 8: by Michele (new)

Michele So glad her book won the award! I enjoyed it so very much. Now my new favorite line of hers is from this interview, "Maeve Binchy." We have something something in common!

message 9: by Vanessa (new)

Vanessa Beerman You're amazing, and so accomplished, Lauren Graham! Keep being you, because I think it's doing wonderful things for you in life!

message 10: by Crystal (new)

Crystal Paine Congratulations!!

message 11: by Seth (new)

Seth LG! You are such an inspiration. From Squeegee Beckenheim all the way here, talking as fast as you can the whole way through! Thank you for being so incredible and bringing so much light and laughter to this too-often dark world we live in. 💙💙💙

message 12: by Joyce (new)

Joyce Chua Honestly, I haven't read her books yet (but they're in my TBR pile), but I absolutely loved her in Gilmore Girls and she seems like someone you can grab a coffee with and just talk all day. Congrats on the win, Lauren!!

message 13: by 4EverStudent (new)

4EverStudent I read this on my phone ;)
(but I agree that we should from them away ->more time for reading :p)

message 14: by Mara (new)

Mara Aliprandi Congratulation Lauren! I loved Talking as fast as I can so much, it's really amazing!

message 15: by Xanthi (new)

Xanthi patera Congratulations, Lauren -- for being the winner at 2017

message 16: by Mats (new)

Mats Andersson Congratulations on your win! All the best!

message 17: by Star (new)

Star Forbis I want to be in her shared stack!!

message 18: by Anita (new)

Anita I'd probably put a lot more thought into this, if I believed you were going to read the comments. *wink* I am so very happy your book won! Congratulations!

Turtles All the Way Down is on my must read, and agree about Maeve Binchey... any book she wrote, so good and worth reading again! I will check out the other recommendations and look forward to reading more of your books!

message 19: by Jerry (new)

Jerry Emmanuel congrats Lauren

message 20: by Molly (new)

Molly I love that Lauren Graham is also a fan of my all time favorite author, Maeve Binchy.

message 21: by Mona (last edited 15 hours, 57 min ago) (new)

Mona Congrats on the win Lauren, I read the book this year before the release of the new edition with the new chapter, hopefully can get it one day. Love Gilmore Girls and was going to start watching Parenthood. Also ordered Someday, Someday, Maybe and waiting for it to arrive :) Keep writing. Had Carrie Fisher and Tina Fey books in my to read for a while

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