Posts Tagged ‘ephron’

Life in print

August 5, 2009

I love the saying “All of life is copy.”  I heard this for the first time on the special features of “You’ve Got Mail” when Nora Ephron was talking about the lesson she learned as a child.  She came from a family of writers, and as far as I’m concerned, she is an amazing writer herself.

The lesson of this little statement, that she learned from her father, was that there is no subject so private, or so sacred, that you cannot write about it.  If you are so worried about who might be offended, or hurt, by what you write, don’t let it stop you from writing what you need to.

Writing has an amazing way of helping you through the healing process of a tragedy, or a bout of depression, and if it helps you, it may help others.  Don’t be afraid to put down exactly what you feel.  When writing fiction, negative events in your life can serve to inspire scenes in your story, or an entire novel. How you use the event isn’t nearly as important as getting it down on paper.

As an example, I thought I would give you just a little of my main character’s history, as it was inspired by my own history.  The name of my main character is Sarah Bradley.  Her father left her and her mother when Sarah was 7, with a woman he was having an affair with. He never came back.  My mother left us when I was 7, but it had nothing to do with an affair, and she did come back.

Sarah always dreamed about writing, and traveling.  I always dreamed about writing and photography; traveling didn’t matter that much to me.

She has a horrific schedule with her job as an executive assistant at an advertising agency, which keeps her from writing.  I have two jobs and take care of a handicapped wife, and that keeps me from writing as much as I need to.

Her mother is creative.  My mother is creative.

As you can see, parts of her history are the same as mine, and other parts are not.  The parts that are not I’ve taken from other people I know, and people I’ve read about. Those things I include can be deeply emotional for me, but by writing them down helps me to erase some of the scars.

Don’t forget, the things that happened to us in the past become a part of who we are now.  There is nothing that you can do to change that, so why not write about it, it may be that event will add dimension to an otherwise flat story line.

Challenge:  Take a negative event in your life and do something positive that may help someone else; add it to your writing.


A different kind of signature

May 20, 2009

When I was younger, my mom told me one of the secrets of the Denver Museum of Natural History that made it fun for any kid to go.  One of the backdrop painters had a unique signature to his paintings.  Somewhere in his paintings he would add a gnome, and it was always placed in interesting places.  This made it a game to find it, and kids found the museum interesting.

In movies, Steven Spielberg is always adding a little joke about a previous movie in all of his movies.  Nora Ephron even put the name of a desert in one of her movies as a dating ritual, just so that people would ask her about it.

Artists of every kind will put something personal in something they do.  Sometimes it’s an inside joke, and sometimes it’s sentimental, but if you look closely, you might be able to spot it.  Writers are no different.

I’ve notices some writers I’ve talked to think it’s a cheap trick, so they say they don’t do it, yet I’ve caught a couple of them at it.  To illustrate this, I’m going to give mine away in the book I’m writing, there will be others but this is just fun.

Those who are regulars on youtube will recognize the name Shay Carl.  In my book, there will be a restaurant named “Chez Carl’s”.  Only those who watch youtube will get that.  I’m always using people I know (their names mostly) and parts of my past.

The point is this, if you write, don’t be afraid to slip something personal in your writing.  It makes it more fun for you, and makes it a game for your readers to figure it out.

Challenge:  Pick something personal, (a favorite food, or a photograph…) and try to slip it into a paragraph where people have to look for it.  It’s a fun exercise.