This week in New York City, a publisher asked me who my literary idols are. I rattled off a bunch of names, but at the top of the list was the one and only Nora Ephron. She’s done about everything in the writing world from penning epic memoirs and novels to writing articles and screenplays (Sleepless in Seattle will always be my favorite). I think about Nora a lot, especially lately. I often think, ‘what would Nora do?’ And the solutions is almost always equal parts brave, bold and hilarious.
My pal Joanna Goddard recently unearthed this quote from Nora that I loved:
“We have a game we play when we’re waiting for tables in restaurants, where you have to write the five things that describe yourself on a piece of paper. When I was [in my twenties], I would have put: ambitious, Wellesley graduate, daughter, Democrat, single. Ten years later not one of those five things turned up on my list. I was: journalist, feminist, New Yorker, divorced, funny. Today not one of those five things turns up in my list: writer, director, mother, sister, happy.”
How would you describe yourself in five words? Right now, I might say: mother, friend, writer, runner, hopeful.
I also love, love, love Nora’s words on shaking things up:
“Whatever you choose, however many roads you travel, I hope that you choose not to be a lady. I hope you will find some way to break the rules and make a little trouble out there. And I also hope that you will choose to make some of that trouble on behalf of women.”
Oh, and one of the coolest career moments for me (aside from interviewing Maya Angelou), was when I sent Nora a copy of my first novel when it was first published, and her assistant, very kindly, wrote me to say that Nora had the book on her bedside table and was enjoying it. Whether that was true, or merely meant to make a fledgling author feel happy, I’ll never know. But, I’ll tell you: I smile every time I think about a novel of mine on Nora’s bedside table.
The world misses her.