March 3, 2020
Note From Rochelle
Today I’m delighted to welcome Lauren Casper to the blog. She’s the author of the book Loving Well in a Broken World.
Writers@Work: How Empathy Can Help You Write a Better Story
An Interview with Lauren Casper
by Rochelle Melander
Welcome to the blog! And congratulations on your new book, Loving Well in a Broken World. Can you talk about the book and what it’s about.
Thank you! Loving Well in a Broken World is about how and why empathy serves as a guide to loving our neighbors as ourselves. As Christians, we know we’re called to love our neighbors but we so often struggle with how to do that. The world is complicated and messy and people are too. But cultivating empathy—seeing another person’s pain, understanding the cause of it, and then feeling with them—can show us how to reach out and love others in tangible ways.
Can you talk about your Trader Joe’s experience and the popular post that followed. Did that experience lead you to write your book or was it already in the works when that happened?
In a roundabout way that experience led to this book. It was Spring 2013—so seven years ago—that our family was just given incredible grace and empathy in the Trader Joe’s parking lot. We were going through a really tough season and were kind of falling apart inside the store. Our kids were really young and I felt like everyone was staring and judging, but then a young woman who worked there followed me into the parking lot with a bouquet of flowers and some really encouraging words. She looked deeper and saw that there was more to our story.
That moment made a huge impact on me and I wrote about it on my blog that same week. A couple years later, I shared the post again and this time it went viral. I was able to reconnect with the woman—JoJo—and learn more about her story which was really special. Because the post was so popular, my blog really took off and a lot more people were exposed to my writing. This led to some really fun opportunities—one of them being a publishing contract for two books.
Loving Well in a Broken World is my second book and while there are many things that have shaped the message of this book, that experience in Trader Joe’s is certainly one of them.
You talk a lot about empathy in the book. How has cultivating empathy helped you to become a better writer?
Empathy has helped me grow as a writer because I am constantly looking for what’s not initially seen. What’s just beyond the edges of the picture? What’s the story behind this behavior or this issue? When we look deeper and cultivate empathy, we’re able to do everything better whether it’s in our occupation (like writing) or our relationships (like parenting, friendship, marriage, etc.). Empathy simply shows us how to connect with the world around us and we live and love out of that connection.
You write, speak, and parent two children with your husband. What are your tips for finding time to write in the midst of it all?
I usually write while my kids are at school. They’re in elementary school, so that gives me a solid seven hours per day during the week. Rarely, I’ll need time in the evenings or on the weekend (usually when a big deadline is looming) and that’s when my husband will take the kids to the playground or something like that so I can write. I don’t speak very often by design. Speaking usually involves overnight traveling and I don’t like to be away from my family much. Sometimes they come with me, but I try to travel just a few times a year. I’m very grateful to have a supportive partner.
What are you reading now?
I just started reading Parable of the Brown Girl: The Sacred Lives of Girls of Color by Khristi Lauren Adams and I am loving it. I can already tell it’s going to open my eyes and show me new ways to see and love my neighbors.
About the author. Lauren Casper, author of Loving Well in a Broken World and It’s Okay About It, is a writer, speaker, and advocate. Lauren’s essays, known for their vulnerability and personal story-telling style, have appeared on The Huffington Post, the TODAY show, Yahoo! News, and several other publications. Lauren serves on the board of her local Community Anti-Racism Effort; a non-profit dedicated to working toward an inclusive and equitable community. She makes her home in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with her husband, two children, and one fluffy dog. You can find Lauren online at laurencasper.com and connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.
Write Now! Coach Rochelle Melander is a certified professional coach, experienced publishing strategist, and artist educator. She is the author of eleven books, including Level Up: Quests to Master Mindset, Overcome Procrastination and Increase Productivity. She provides solutions for people who feel stuck, overwhelmed or confused by the publishing process. She is the founder of Dream Keepers, a writing workshop that supports teens in finding their voice and sharing their stories. Sign up for her Write Now! Tips Ezine at https://www.writenowcoach.com.