Ever since I first saw Julie and Julia in the theater when it debuted in 2009, I’ve been wanting to do “A Year of ___________” in which I immerse myself in some subject and then document the experience of it. But I every time I tried to think of an appealing subject, I drew a blank.
Duran Duran was too obvious.
And obviously going through a chef’s cookbook was also already done. (I thought about trying one new Cooking Light recipe every day, but then I saw that someone else had done it. Besides, I’m too much of a picky eater in general to attempt anything to do with cooking.)
A Year of Jogging? Painting? Playing guitar? Nothing screamed yes to me.
I think when you set out to do something like that, you need to challenge yourself a little bit, even step outside your comfort zone. But you also need to feel the passion of it.
How had it taken me so long to choose Nora?
It came to me at the very end of last year. And yet, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen it. She was right there in front of me the entire time. I’d read/seen most of her stuff already. A treasure trove of scripts and screenplays, articles and essays, all for my consumption. And let’s not forget Heartburn, which I read once every two years now. But devoting a year to all things Nora Ephron would be interesting. It would be fun. I was completely on board with this. And I was going to keep it secret until the book was done.
Oh, did I mention I wanted to write a book?
I began on New Year’s Day with Wallflower at the Orgy, her earliest collection of articles. My original intention was to write something in response to each piece I read, and then somehow assemble it into a book.
I ran into two roadblocks. One, I found myself not stopping at just one piece at a time. I’d read two or three at a time, make notes, and then forget to write the response to the notes. Two, the more I tried to write responses, the less I knew what to say. Most of the time I found myself delving into my own experience with food, marriage, reflections on the women’s movement (having reaped the benefits of it rather than lived through it as it was happening). I couldn’t see where the potential book was, why anyone would care what I had to say. I didn’t even know how to write about the writing. Because for me, my love of Nora Ephron started with the writing. The more I read, the more I wished I had known the writer.
And then, of course, I wasn’t reading every day. What was the point of devoting a year to someone or something if you weren’t going to partake in it every day?
I did it anyway. Kept reading. Wallflower at the Orgy. Crazy Salad. Scribble Scribble. Heartburn. Lucky Guy. Blog posts featured in The Most of Nora Ephron. I just finished I Feel Bad About My Neck.
I’ve read a lot in three months.
But there’s more. I want to finish the collection. I want to read more scripts and screenplays. Richard Cohen’s book She Made Me Laugh: My Friend Nora Ephron. I want to see films that haven’t been on my Nora Ephron rotation (Mixed Nuts, anyone?). I’m looking forward to seeing her son Jacob Bernstein’s documentary Everything is Copy again this week. I want to get my hands on the rare Nora Ephron Collected, preferably a copy that doesn’t go for over fifty bucks.
And I figured I’d drop the secrecy—and the writing-a-book idea—and simply share my reflections here. Blogging can provide a good outlet in that aspect, provided it’s not all just one big blob of stream-of-consciousness dumped on the virtual page. I’d like this series to inform and educate, enlighten and entertain. I’d like my readers to see just how and why she means as much as she does to me, and how she’s shown up in my own books. And I’d like to share a few thoughts about the topics that she wrote about and loved—food, marriage, and New York, for starters.
Who knows, maybe along the way I’ll figure out what I really want to say.
I'm an author of commercial women's fiction and a writing instructor. My claim to fame: I can say the alphabet backwards.