A belated farewell to Nora Ephron

badlanguage.net: I Remember Nothing by Nora Ephron These words originally appeared as a guest post on Matthew Stibbe's Bad Language 

Nora Ephron died on the 26th June this year. Sadly I only became acquainted with her properly on the 27th when I read this wonderful piece about her in the New York Times. I knew that she’d directed You’ve Got Mail, and been involved with When Harry Met Sally, but that is all I knew. Then I discovered her essays, her humour and her absolutely amazing way with words and I fell in love. This is why.

Nonfiction is fabulous

When you think of a writer you tend to think novels: at least I did. This can be very intimidating if you enjoy words and ideas but are no good at inventing stories. I Feel Bad About My Neck taught me just how inventive and prolific you can be about real life. Being a writer simply means deciding to pull your thoughts together and put them on paper, which is a very liberating lesson to learn.

You can write from the simplest of things

Your thoughts do not have to be earth shattering or steeped in philosophy for you to create fresh and engaging writing. Moving On is about a love affair with an apartment in New York. I Just Want to Say: Teflon is about the sad discovery that Teflon is bad for you. Nora Ephron wrote about stuff. She did it well.

Write the way you think and you have a voice

In her essays, her novels, even her films Nora Ephron did not use long complicated words in order to sound intellectual.  She did not write in long, complex sentences.  Her writing is relaxed and intimate: you feel like you are chatting with her over coffee. Her words become a voice. It is a wonderful thing to aspire to.

Life is very funny, and even when it’s not, it’s still a good story

Heartburn was Ephron’s first novel and it was based on the breakdown of her second marriage. Her words, taken from an interview in The Believer, explain best what I learned from it:

The whole time the marriage was breaking up and I was in a state of complete torment and misery, I knew that this would someday be a funny story. I absolutely knew it. It was too horrible. It was too ridiculous not to be.

Being a writer for Ephron was life, there was no division between the two and I think that made her words exceptional.

I realise it is a little late, but this is my way of offering a belated farewell to Nora Ephron, who, it turns out, I shall miss dearly.