Nora Ephron _ Invisible

About a year ago, Nora Ephron passed away at the age of 71. Hers was the first female name I ever noticed under the “written by” billing of really popular movies – a spot I hope my name will one day be. The more I looked in to her body of work, the more I loved her.

It was only after she died that I found out she was invisibly ill.

I would say it was a new level of invisibility.

Nobody seemed to know about this part of her life. The news reports that day all seemed to imply that this was some great secret that she had kept from everyone. Nora Ephron, the honest, witty, down to earth writer that talked about the realities of life with just enough flippancy to capture the weirdness, sadness, and happiness that is our existence, had this dark, tragic secret waiting to take her away.

The day she died, I had so many mixed feelings. I looked up to her in a way that was different than any other role model I have. She was most known for being a “prolific screenwriter,” and there’s not a lot of ladies under that title. Her writing reminded me so much of my own. She wrote about real people, real things. Funny, but not a romantic comedy. Tearful, but not a Lifetime movie. No specific genre, just real life. Good stories. Well told. I thought one day I could be like her.

Then one movie came along that truly changed my life.

Every time I watch Julie and Julia, I cry. My heart glows, absolutely glows when Julie (and Julia) find success with their writing. That’s right! This movie isn’t about cooking. It’s about writing. And dreaming. And success. And it was with this film playing in my heart that one day I decided to start a blog. It’s still one of my greatest dreams that this blog will find real success. I’m so happy to have moved over 150 people to follow this blog, but I have bigger dreams. I want to write for a living. I want to be the next Nora Ephron.

This passion for writing was always in me, but Nora’s stories keep me believing it could actually happen. My biography could say “prolific screenwriter” instead of, you know, not existing.

And here I am reading her biographies, still looking up to her, but feeling somehow betrayed. I know many, many people who go with the school of thought that your health is your business. I have never understood people who write anonymous blogs or things like that, but I respect that it’s their choice. But I was (and still am) in shock that Nora would. Her stories were by nature a look into personal things. I’ve related to all of her characters, I’ve loved them, and I’ve wanted to be them! It would have been so easy for her to create a character that embodied strength and awareness of invisible illnesses. How could she not even mention it in her autobiographies?

It felt like an old friend had kept an important secret from me. I knew it wasn’t fair to fault my hero for this, but my heart was still wounded. You could have helped me. You could have helped us all.

One article I read put it very profoundly:

“It’s completely understandable, of course. But I can’t help thinking that Ephron’s fans might also have benefited from her baldly honest, and perhaps even slyly witty, assessment of terminal illness and mortality. It’s a conversation that needs to be had more often… Ephron apparently didn’t want, or perhaps wasn’t in a position, to have that conversation. We’re left to do it ourselves.”

But of course, it’s the selfishness of the reader that asks the writer for more when they’ve given so much. As Harry Potter fans clamor at JK Rowling for more books and Star Wars fans bash Lucas’s later films, I was raging at Nora Ephron for keeping her cancer a secret.

So I try to remember that Julie and Julia made me start this blog, and in a roundabout way that is Nora Ephron raising awareness for invisible illness. If we had ever met, I doubt she’d have known I was sick. Two people who never met with sickness that no one could see connected invisibly through space and time… invisibly, a movement was started. And I don’t think it ever would have without her.

A year ago, countless news articles read “Hollywood is shocked.”

Nora, you didn’t look sick.

Thank you for everything. Your stories inspired so many aspects of my life.



Photo on 2013-07-07 at 23.26

And…yes, it’s officially the middle of the night. So. I’ll end with a simple

Thank You, Nora Ephron


P.S. – we have an “event” up on facebook where you can RSVP for the 100th Post Celebration! Here’s the link!

10 thoughts on “Nora Ephron _ Invisible

  1. I love her, and I’m so glad you love her too– Nora Ephron literally changed the way I saw words. I’m glad we share a hero! *hugs*

  2. Beautiful! Also—in a roundabout way—makes me think of a brief phase I went through of obsessively trying to dig up evidence that David Foster Wallace suffered from a gastrointestinal condition…simply because one character in Infinite Jest had Crohn’s (and because DFW committed suicide, and I always keep an eye out for examples of people w/ GI disorders who commit suicide—a weird, morbid kind of radar, but I can’t seem to help myself). We so often want our writers to write about themselves, and when we see ourselves in their characters we want it to be true that the writers are like us too. But I think sometimes writers just want to think—and write—about things other than themselves. I totally see why you’d feel it’s selfish to hold this back, and I kinda agree…but I also get why she wouldn’t have wanted to write about this part of her life. Maybe writing was her distraction.

    1. I totally relate to the morbid suicide radar – I have a few morbid radars. I think it’s natural to be fascinated by death and sadness, and I think that the stigma that it’s morbid is also a healthy reminder not to get too deep in. 😉 Writers are a strange breed and they’re all so different. My writing mentor once told me that you can never know a person so intimately as you can by reading their writing. I think this is both true and false. I think any piece of writing does reveal something deep and mysterious about that author, yet it is being conveyed in the guise of a story – allowing it to be as precisely clear or wildly misunderstood as possible. 🙂 I’m sure I’ll start seeing traces of revelation of the invisible illness struggle in her writing now, because maybe they are there, and maybe they’re not ~ just like DFW’s Crohn’s character. I like this sort of illogical logic and I truly would love to write in circles like this for hours, but I’ll stop now. 😉

  3. Great post! I really enjoyed this one, and all the pictures in between.

    You clearly enjoy writing, and that makes life good 🙂

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