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Everything Is Copy

By Jordan Fried
January 11, 2023
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"Everything is copy." - Nora Ephron

I heard this quote while watching a documentary about Nora Ephron's life. Nora Ephron wrote and directed Silkwood and When Harry Met Sally. She also wrote and directed Sleepless in Seattle and Julie & Julia.

Nora used to have this saying, "Everything is copy" and over the course of the documentary we're left to imagine what Nora actually meant by this expression. 

It's a beautiful expression and my interpretation of it is as follows: 

Every damn thing that happens to you is a story worth telling.

And what's more, is that it's your story to tell. 

You don't need anyone's permission to tell that story. 

Write about it all. 

The good
The bad
The ugly
The embarrassments
The humiliations
The pain
The sorrow

This is as much advice to myself as it is to you, the reader. But it's strange to have to even make this point at all.

It can feel weird to share a story, especially a story that involves others. Must we ask their permission before sharing the story? What if they're not comfortable with us sharing that story? 

My conclusion is that if it happened to you, it belongs to you. All of it.

It's your life and you don't need permission from anyone to talk about it. 

It's all fair game to write about. 

I recognize that not everyone will like my stories but that's the thing, they're my stories and I'm not telling them in hopes of people "liking them." I'm telling them because that's what humans do. We tell stories.

Humans have been practicing the art of storytelling since the time of cavemen. Our human ancestors depicted images on the walls of torch-lit caves. Storytelling then shifted to oral traditions in which spoken stories were passed down from generation to generation. And ultimately stories are now written down and printed to live on forever. 

Storytelling is a powerful skill, especially to be able to do so in writing. 

If I had to score myself currently I'd say I'm an average writer.

But my big goal this year is to improve and to do so I know I must write. And I know that's not always easy, because life isn't always easy. But I know I must keep writing anyway. Because it's all worth writing about. It all can be a story.

And after all, isn't that what writers do?

They write.