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I started at the Susan Sontag chapter and then worked backwards to the Dorothy Parker section.
How did you envision your reader approaching this book?
I’d go into an archive and look at everything they had ever written to women—especially women in the book, obviously, and then subsets of other women writers and critics in their orbit.
When I was a lawyer, I read it over and over again. I came to her from a much different frame than most people do, which is usually the personal essays, starting with Slouching Towards Bethlehem.I think a lot of working writers will appreciate reading about the financial lives of these women—especially learning about projects that made them little or no money and the impact it had on their lives (Pauline Kael wrote criticism for Berkeley’s Cinema Guild flyers for no money, and then sued her ex-husband for back wages and profits).And then, conversely, how someone like Nora Ephron’s career changed forever when Heartburn became a bestseller, and then again, when she wrote the screenplay for the film version.It didn’t make it into the book, but in the first letter, he sends her a key to his apartment.
People have connections that you wouldn’t dream of.
How important was it to you to include their financial lives?