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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Nora Ephron: My Writing Heroine

Long before I became a writer by profession I was obsessed with the words of others. I would watch movies like "Sleepless in Seattle," "You've Got Mail," and my all-time favorite, "When Harry Met Sally," over and over, until I was able to recite the snappy, clever dialogue.

Nora Ephron became a screenwriter and director at a time when there weren't many women let into that club. But it's no surprise, as a graduate of the stalwart women's college, Wellesley, (my daughter's alma mater!) she was a trail blazer.

She began in the mail room at Newsweek and eventually became a very accomplished journalist penning stories and columns, the latter of which punctuated with her signature wit.

It's not easy being a writer. It's lonely, isolating and filled with rejection. Unless you have a writing partner it means hours and hours of being alone. It's a bit of an odd career to choose. Somehow you are fine with being somewhat anti-social, but crave to share what you have to say with others. We are a strange breed. But writers are amongst my absolute favorite people to be with.

As a journalist, and novelist I always dreamed of getting to interview Ms. Ephron. I write about pop culture and entertainment and to me she was the pinnacle of success as a woman writer. It is because of her that we have the likes of Tina Fey and Mindy Kaling now.

When I was working on my first novel, I would write scenes and as crazy as it sounds, as I wrote dialogue I would think, "What would Nora say?" I wanted my own voice of course, but I aspired to capture the wit, wisdom and realness of what she was able to achieve. I long to create lines people, like me, will remember and recite.

I find it so sad that Nora is now gone and the world will have to rely on what's already been captured on film and the writen page. Women like her, like Dorothy Parker are rare and to be relished. I thank her for giving me a very high bar to aspire to reach, I can only hope to have one one thousandth of the success she had.

You make me want to be a better writer, Nora. And you inspire me to keep going against all odds. Something tells me I'm not alone.Thank you.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Do Women Need to Be Taught How To Pick A Good Man?

I read a piece today about how women need to be taught the fine art of finding a supportive partner. that got me thinking. What I posit is that for many of us, while the roles and opportunities have changed and expanded, we're still stuck in an old paradigm of what we look for in a man.

I'm a big fan of women, and men too, I just think when it comes to vetting partners we can all be bad choosers. I know I have been.

What this article declares is that choosing the right partner makes a huge difference in your lifestyle - both in your home life and career. The right partner, one who is a cheerleader, not a wet blanket, can make all the difference. If you have a partner who is willing to be supportive and  encouraging you will mostly likely go further in your career, have more help at home, and well, probably have a better life!

Sadly, many women (ahem, I cop to this) don't make conscious choices, they wait to get picked and do a lot of forcing their round selves into the square holes of relationships that just aren't as wonderful as they should be. I however, finally (!) am making more conscious choices and deciding whether or not I want someone, not just do they want me. There are some clubs you just don't want to be a member of.

We have a lot of really bad role models out there - celebrities who choose fancy weddings over actually choosing a spouse, women vying for a rose and wanting some schmuck to pick them (never wondering if they really like him!) and a plethora of "Housewives" and "Jersey Shore" residents who don't look far below the surface when picking a boyfriend or husband. And of course the sad and pathetic Gigi in "He's Just Not That Into You," the girl who is yoked to her cell phone waiting for a guy, any guy to pick her, Ugh!

I bristled at first blush at the concept of teaching women to choose a good husband, but the more I thought about it I'm thinking it's not such a bad idea. After years of indoctrination leading us to think if a guy likes you he doesn't treat you well,,, maybe we do need a course, And a good, stiff backbone. 

Stop thinking the guy who makes you feel insecure, off-balance and worried is "the one" because he deigns to call  you once in a while. Do me a favor - the next time you meet a guy don't sit there wondering if he likes you, will call again or doodle his name on a legal pad. Think hard, very hard...and ask yourself, What do I think? What do I want? You might find you come up with a much different scenario.