“I try to write parts for women that are as complicated and interesting as women actually are.” – Nora Ephron
For me Nora Ephron is a model. Of course I am not alone. She was a role model for her peers, including her fellow “Harpies,” Barbara Walters, Gloria Steinham, Jennifer Maguire Isham, Liz Smith, Peggy Siegal, Maurie Perl—a group of women who met regularly for lunch. “They were never meant to be anything more than no-bull, gab-a-thons,” Walters said.
She became a role model for younger women as well: “For young women, her death represents the loss of a talisman, a woman who epitomized success on personal terms,” suggested one remembrance of Ephron.
Her quippy, often serious, always hilarious portraits of women provided a new line-of-sight for living life well. For communicators, that line-of-sight appeared even more meaningful: Ephron lived a successful life as a writer that could be emulated. Not only that, she made the job look fun—even with all the warts, wrong turns and, yes, necks that we hate.
I sat down a few weeks ago, with a perfect cup of coffee and a quiet moment to read. Nora Ephron’s Final Act, The New York Times remembrance of Nora Ephron by her son, Jacob Bernstein. My dad forwarded the essay to me (men love Ephron as much as women). The quality of the poignant piece did not surprise me. After all Bernstein is the son of Ephron and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Carl Bernstein. The younger Bernstein shares how Ephron handled her terminal illness with the wit, grace and style (and Prada shoes) that characterized her life.
In Ephron’s last years the story of another journalist consumed her. Mike McAlary lost his life to an untimely death. Writing McAlary’s story became a metaphor for Ms. Ephron’s own. That is no surprise—she always wrote about transmuting life’s challenges.
“All her life, she subscribed to the belief that ‘everything is copy,’ a phrase that her mother, Phoebe used to say. In fact, when Phoebe was on her deathbed, she told my mother, ‘Take notes.’ She did. What both of them believed was that writing has the power to turn the bad things to you into art (although ‘art’ was a word she hated.),” Bernstein said.
At AWC-SB, I hope you find your own “harpies,” the like-minded women who understand why everything is copy and appreciate living life the Ephron way.
P.S. Please join us for a “no-bull gab-a-thon” networking, happy hour this coming Wednesday, April 3, 5:30-7:30 pm at Casa Blanca.