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My friend, Nora Ephron.

I listened to a lecture by Nora Ephron.  She’s my current obsession; I’m reading her stuff, listening to her voice, and scouring her words.  She’s a woman who could write.  Naturally I pretend we are good friends.

She was speaking to young writers, giving them her very best advice on the career of creating.

It basically boiled down to this, with my voice and sentiments sprinkled in. (Forgive me, Nora Ephron.  I’m pretty sure I’m about to pretend to co author with you.)

The story is about the point.  Make sense of something.

Truth is subjective in writing, and everybody tells a story a different way.  Even a true story, about what really happened, can be told a million ways.  So don’t get hung up on getting it right.  Tell the story.

The next thing you are about to do, if you are lucky, is not the thing that you will always do.  And the smartest, luckiest decision you can make is to continue to move sideways in your career, to do a little more of this and more of that, so that by the end, your experience is broad.  Don’t let yourself grow bored, she says.  Sidestep.  Do it a little differently.

And don’t tell yourself you have to do one thing at a time.  You can do this and that. “If you see a fork in the road, take it,” she says, quoting Yogi Berra.  Do both.  Don’t get hung up on forever.  Just do the next thing, and the couple next things at the same time, if you want.

And the only difference between a young artist and an experienced one is that the younger artist should focus on learning the craft.  When you learn the craft to the very best of your ability, and then some, then you have more to contribute as an experienced artist.

So here I am.  A young writing, budding author.
And I do believe Nora Ephron just told me these things:

Breathe deeply, tell a good story, and don’t be too hard on yourself.  Do today, and then do tomorrow.  And write both today and tomorrow.

I think I’ll write that in a note to myself.  And sign her name.

(Just kidding.)

(Or… I might not be kidding.)

Tricia Lott Williford

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  1. I will always love her writing. Though when I read somewhere that she was a confirmed atheist, it broke my book-reading, Lutheran-girl heart just a little bit. I’m hoping it was inaccurate….

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