Meredith Goldstein writes the Boston Globe column, “Love Letters,” a daily dispatch of wisdom for the lovelorn that gets about 1 million page views monthly on Boston.com and appears in the Globe’s print edition every Saturday.The Singles, her first novel, was released by Penguin/Plume in April.
Art Throb’s Dinah Cardin caught up to Goldstein to ask a few questions before she shares her book and talks about love on Thursday, Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. at the Salem Athenaeum.
What was the Globe’s impetus for the column?
I hate to take credit, but I had to convince the Globe that the Love Letters column would be a good use of my time. I’m a huge fan of Carolyn Hax, who writes advice for The Washington Post, and I thought that the Globe would benefit from having its own, local columnist. I knew that Boston.com and Globe readers would make fantastic comments online.
How has it changed your thoughts on love?
I used to worry that the column would turn me into a pessimist — that reading about people’s problems all day would depress me. But it’s actually had the opposite effect. Writing the column has made it clear that we all have similar problems, and that we all want to be loved. The column has made the world feel a bit smaller, and I now truly believe that most people are naturally empathetic and want to make other people happy.
Writing a column on relationships is a dream for many writers…and many romantics. What’s the best part? What have you learned?
The best part if when I get thank you notes from people who feel better after getting advice. I never thought I’d have the power to change someone’s life for the better, but on a great day, that happens. As far as lessons go, I’ve had to be very careful about assumptions I make about letter writers and Boston.com commenters. For instance, we have this amazingly wise commenter who I just assumed was a 50-something woman. Turns out, the person is a man in his 30s. You just never know.
How did the column influence the book? How did your single friends influence it?
I have so many single friends of all ages who, for whatever reason, wind up going to formal functions by themselves. I wanted to give these single wedding guests a back story, everyone from the lone bridesmaid to the unmarried uncle. As for the column, it validated the book. Sometimes I’d get letters from people enduring wedding season, and I’d think, “Yup. My book isn’t so far off.”
I spent some of my spring and summer months traveling around Maryland and Washington D.C., and I just had book events in Syracuse (where I went to school) and Atlanta. This winter, I’ll have more events, including a Valentine’s Day talk at the Waltham Public Library. I’ve also spent the fall visiting book clubs around the state, and I plan to continue doing that this spring. You can sign up your book club on my website, meredithgoldstein.com. I love visiting book clubs.
Why is everyone searching for romantic love in a world with less hours in the day and more emphasis on work?
I mean, we all want romance, no matter how much we work. Success is always better if you have someone to share it with. Of course, sometimes it’s best to share your best moments with friends. I think that’s one of the themes in “The Singles.”
What is the best advice you can give for those seeking a relationship or in one?
Make sure you keep your sense of humor. You can’t enjoy being single or dating without laughing. Keep asking yourself, “When was the last time I giggled uncontrollably?” We need to surround ourselves with people who remind us to keep it light sometimes.
Working on something new? Can you tell our readers about it? How do you juggle fiction writing and working at the Boston Globe? Where do you find the hours?
I’m working (slowly) on a new book. All I can say is that it’s set here in Massachusetts, as it should be.