"I'm Nora Ephron, Bitch!"
The first time I heard the phrase that became the title of this blog post was on The Bold Type. Oh, if you haven't yet seen it, go now, get on it. It's a really good TV series, already 2 seasons in!
In Season 1, Ep. 5, Jane challenged her bff, Sutton, to do what Nora Ephron would do, in her quest to negotiate the terms of employment for the position of Fashion Assistant at Scarlet Magazine. (Just a bit of history...apparently in 1962 when Nora started her career at Newsweek, she was told that women could not be writers, so she worked her way up the ranks - as a mailgirl, clipper, then researcher and when that didn't go anywhere she caught a break and jumped ship to work for the New York Post, where she began her real career in journalism.)
According to Jane, Nora held on to her power, and that is exactly what Sutton needed to do to get this job! Later in the episode, once Sutton snags the position, she runs back to tell Jane, belting out the phrase "I'm Nora Ephron, bitch," while doing a little celebratory dance that was totally cute.
Before watching The Bold Type, I was clueless as to who this Nora Ephron person was, but after her name kept surfacing, I just had to find out. So, for those of you who are clueless yourselves, let me, let me upgrade you! Nora was an American journalist, writer, filmmaker, shape shifter, and feminist icon, known for her romantic comedies (probably some of your favs) - Sleepless in Seattle, Silkwood, When Harry Met Sally, You’ve Got Mail, and Julie & Julia. She made very worthwhile contributions with her writing but was unfortunately diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in 2006 and died of related complications in 2012.
Nora is a healthy dose of inspiration to me because she lived by some philosophies that intersect with some of my beliefs. It's not just that I identify with her as a writer, although she's become quite the silent mentor to me after delving into her work. She has brilliant takes on life that resonate strongly with where I am, and took a stance on women's discrimination at a time when the liberation movement was just taking shape. Must be an age thing, but seriously I can sum it up in one phrase, depicted in this HuffPost photo below.
So moved was I after reading about her life and work, I decided to share this post as part motivation, part inspiration to support your pursuit of wisdom and of course, your writing goals. I know you have a story to share, so keep reading as I outline some of her beliefs below.
1. One of her brilliant philosophies which she says she learned from her mother is "everything is copy, everything is material; someday you will think this is funny." It's a never take yourself too seriously look at life; work through the challenges, get to the other side and turn your flops into something.
Simply put, her advice is - Focus on the funny side of even the saddest things.
In many interviews and writings, Nora talks about her flops - the movies she wrote that didn't make any money and how they impacted her life as she continued to assess these failures. Her religion, she says, is "Get over it!"
Personally, I know how easy it is to stay stuck on your failures and contemplate why things never worked out the way you wanted them to. I know a lot about moving on or having to, when life throws you for a loop. After experiencing two job layoffs, (one right after closing on my first home), losing my Mom and having to deal with the grief of that...trust me, moving on was not easy at all. It took some time, but I eventually did emerge from each situation a much better, stronger person. At the end of the day, we all have to move on and keep going the way Nora did...sharing our light to the very end.
2. In her last book titled I Remember Nothing, she wrote that the key to aging GRATEFULLY, is to know what you love doing so you can do a great deal of it. It was evident after the fact that Nora knew she was dying when she wrote this book, so this may have come with some regrets on her part. She may not have done all she wished she could have. Still, it's generous advice for anyone to start today where you are, and embrace what makes you happy. We know not the time or place that our life will end.
With that said, in spring of this year, I made a pact with myself to start doing two things: 1. Live my best bucket list life, and 2. Focus on the things that bring me peace and joy and do them often. One of the first things I did when summer came around was attend my first concert alone. I couldn't find anyone who wanted to see the Queen herself, Janelle Monae, as badly as I did, so yes, I rolled to the Dirty Computer tour solo. Listen! It was one of those experiences you never forget and I met two people who also came alone. So there!
The other thing that I started paying more attention to was the joy I find in writing. This is my one thing! It brings me peace, and so in true Mellany style I ditched all the extra fluff in my business and focused all my energy around writing more. You may have received an email notification from me a while back about this. Sure enough, by mid-summer, I already had an offer from a local magazine to come on board as a lifestyle editor. Talk about manifesting right! Where focus goes, energy flows!!
3. "You cannot wait around for someone to give you permission to tell your stories.” (from The New Yorker, Seeing Nora Everywhere By Lena Dunham). This last one I share I consider to be the best philosophy of them all. Wanna know why? This advice is bold and daring and very much like the character that Nora espoused throughout her life. She told her stories whether or not they became box office hits!
For one, it's solid advice for aspiring writers and filmmakers. I always stress to my clients that their story is THEIRS, it's unique and only they can tell it. Let no one dissuade you, especially if you feel strongly about sharing. Besides, it's proven that in time people get on board when you hold firm to your convictions. Just do it!
As I continue to read and understand more about Nora, I realize more and more that I embody her thought process about things. Like her, I make a mental note to block out any knowledge about the Kardashians, all Housewives, Survivors, American Idols, and Bachelors, basically all reality TV, that I don’t deem real at all. But, anyway. She was a fierce and loyal friend. She was a mentor when she didn't have to be, and most of all when she didn't have the time to. It's great to have role models; people who can inspire a spark in you and keep that spark going. Nora has definitely done that for me posthumously - from grabbing opportunities by the horns when I really want them, to not being shy about taking chances with my writing. I resolve that I'm going to keep publishing my work and wiping wild experiences off my bucket list. I'll have some stories to share for sure!
But most of all, I want to continue to be a loyal friend to mine and be that light to others shining to the very end...
What about you? I know you have a story to share. If you’re thinking of writing a book in the near future, here’s an article I wrote to help you get started - So You Want To Write a Book? Here's Some Advice Before You Do
I don't usually sanction hand-holding, but when it comes to writing books, you need it. Check out my Never Write Alone Book Development Mastermind that begins this September 19. Come spend six weeks along with other aspiring authors hacking out your first manuscript. I look forward to seeing you there! Click the link below to find out more and sign up! Let's get our Nora Ephron on!