Chasing Slow: An Interview With Erin Loechner

Erin Loechner's recently-released book has already confirmed its spot as a staple on our bookshelves, so we sat down with the author to ask a few questions about how it came to be.

If you been here for long you are familiar with Clementine's origins and know that this site was founded by writer and friend, Erin Loechner. When Erin shared that she was writing a book, we knew it would be insightful, inspiring and full of stories that are both beautiful and heart wrenching (in the typical stunning writing fashion she is known for best). 

We sat down with the writer and blogger a few months ago to discuss the actual process of writing Chasing Slow, her favorite chapter of book, the importance of spirituality in her search for contentment and much more!  

By all intents and purposes, you are considered a veteran blogger and writer with years of beautiful stories and material under your belt. Why did you decide to write a book now?

My husband's English grandmother was the greatest cook I've ever known, and she always offered this advice from her sunny yellow kitchen: Keep the butter soft. At the time, she was referencing her obsession with room temperature margarine, namely in the pristine Lenox dish she prominently placed in the center of her island, but I think she was getting at something else, too. I think she was acknowledging that it's really easy to shelf our favorite things for later. It's really easy to save an opportunity for a rainy day, or store a dream for a better time — a time when there are no small children running underfoot or no deadlines looming or no endless balls to juggle between work and play and self and really  the dogs need to eat again?

And so, I don't know, I suppose this was my way of keeping the butter soft, of practicing while I can, of honing my words the best I know how and taking the time to document this time. Of trying my darndest to learn from this really tricky time as modern women, and of not just shoving all this raw material on the top shelf of the fridge to harden for someday use. It would've been easier to do, sure, but we all know hard butter's impossible to spread.

How did you approach this project? What was the process like, and what did you learn about yourself?

Oh, I'll be the first to admit that I approached this project in entirely an upside-down fashion. For one, I gave myself a six-month deadline, which was a nearly impossible goal. And secondly, I began without a real structure in place, assuming the book would form itself and I'd reach an epiphany halfway through where all words would take a miraculous shape and everything would package into a nice, tidy bow. Neither of these were wise, nor actualized. ;)

My process was really messy, but I learned that even when you scrap the entire first iteration of the book, not all is lost. Material from the cutting room floor can be refashioned in a million different ways, and no way is better than the other. They're all different creations, that's all.

What surprised me most about the process, however, was how much I learned about myself. It was a very raw, emotional time for me (no one likes to sit down for hours to recount the complete and utter a-hole they were in their 20's). I learned that I host many contradictions within myself — that we all do — and when you sit down to read your words in black and white, there's no way around the truth. It's you, front and center, staring at your flaws and fears and dreams and demons, and there's no running from it. It was a beautiful, scary, deeply vulnerable process for me — one that I'd recommend to anyone and everyone, forever and always.

Do you have a favorite chapter? If so, please share and tell us why! Which chapter was the most difficult to write and why?

One of my favorite chapters is #27, because it was a true turning point for me in penning this book. While I believe wholeheartedly in the pursuit of slowing down our lives — in thoughtful decisions and mindful choices — I know it's not a reality for everyone. Life is cyclical and there are seasons of reaping and sowing, of more and less. We can do our best to grip time in our fists, but we all know time is a slippery beast.

Chapter 27 was the chapter where I realized I wasn't writing a book about fast living versus slow living, but a book about releasing the metric altogether. Surrendering to what we've got, not what we want. Learning to see what's in front of us, rather than seeking what's just ahead. It 100% changed the way I live, and I suppose in that vein, it was also the most difficult to write in that took me no less than 35 years to write it. ;)

This book shares your journey to a slower, more intentional way of life, and there is also a theme and references to your spiritual philosophies throughout. How important is that connection to you? And in your opinion, how important is faith (in any context or form) to navigating one's path through the both the "good" and the "bad"?

Oh yes, faith is such a glue for me. I've always rejected the idea that we've been placed on this planet together by sheer randomness, or that life is void of meaning and we're all sort of floating away in ether, doing the best we can. So in that regard, my faith is very central to this pursuit of slowing because I think spirituality requires so much space to wrestle with along the way. Our fast, modern lives often leave very little room for the intangible, and it's always been essential for me to intentionally carve out that space — both for my own life and beliefs and in the lives and beliefs of others.

What is one thing we can all do to be more present, more intentional, more at peace in our lives right now?

See what's in front of us. That's it. We can stop glancing over our shoulders, peeking around the bend, looking to our screens or to the crowds — we can simply learn to see what we've been given and learn to steward that well. Our small world requires nothing more of us, and certainly nothing less.

You founded Clementine Daily, address the transition of letting CD go and paring down from running three sites to two. What did you learn from that process, and what do you miss most (if anything) about being a part of a collaborative effort?

I founded Clementine Daily in an interesting season of life. I'd been blogging for so many years and feared I was beginning to outgrow the design-driven space my own site was known for. And, I'd just had a baby. Because of those simultaneously shifting identities, I remember feeling this pull toward exploring other facets of my life that didn't directly speak to design, nor motherhood. Who was a woman, apart from her passions and/or her children?

Clementine Daily was an exploration of that question --- the celebrating of the everyday evidence of our wholeness, from shakshuka to cc cream and everything between. The women I hired were all beautifully brilliant in their own ways and it was such a treat to learn from them daily.

And yet, as the site grew and my daughter grew and the demands and responsibilities of leading a staff grew, my days felt manic, reactive. They were fuller than full, and I knew I needed to choose between managing a site that encouraged holistic living, or living a life that encouraged holistic living. I chose the latter.

This isn't to say that it's impossible for women to live a robust, healthy life online and off, and it isn't to say that it's impossible for women to balance career and motherhood. In fact, Clementine's own Executive Editor navigates this tension beautifully, and I'm forever in awe of her wisdom and grace. It's just to say that it wasn't possible for me, in that particular season.

It has been such a treat watching Clementine grow since those early days, and I love the site it's become. Amanda was my first hire, and she has managed the helm brilliantly. I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss our daily chats, or sifting through weekly pitches to see what's on the minds of our editors and readers. A female community can move mountains, and I so loved learning from and relying on such strong, empowered, multi-faceted ladies.

Of course, I'm so grateful for the lessons learned - both from founding and operating Clementine Daily, and from letting it go and watching it become something entirely new and entirely lovely. It was an immense pleasure to lead Clementine.

And now it's an immense pleasure to follow her. 

p.s. Book recs from three female trailblazers