That said, I have seen the movie six times now, and there are things about it that scare me a little. The "Julie Powell" of Julie & Julia: The Movie! has things to teach me, and the lessons are not all easy ones.
Ephron's Julie, adorably depicted by Amy Adams, shares with me some traits, history, and relationships, but is emphatically not me. For one thing, I was never editor of the Amherst College literary magazine when I was there. I do not have friends buying up parcels of Manhattan real estate or writing Showtime-series-inspiring blogs about having sex with billionaires in private jets. I did not start a blog to get a book deal--people didn't do that in 2002. I have never dressed up as Julia Child, and I hate Dean & DeLuca.
Ephron's Julie is not particularly funny--she is instead a person to whom funny things happen--whereas one of the great discoveries of my year cooking through Julia Child's marvelous, world-changing book and writing about it was that I could develop a voice people found engaging and humorous. (Possibly the greatest exchange of that entire year--Me: "I never realized I was funny before!" My mom: "I know--neither did I!")
Where things get a little fuzzier, and where the history gets possibly a tad revisionist, is the whole narcissism thing. Nora (Is it strange that I'm referring to this famous powerhouse of a woman I barely know as "Nora"? Probably....) very smartly brings up the subject of blogging as extreme self-absorption. Every time I watch the scene in which Ephron's Eric Powell (played, spot-on, by Chris Messina) calls out Ephron's Julie Powell on her relentless self-involvement, as exemplified by her breakdown over the failure of Judith Jones to come over to her house and give her a book deal, I cringe. "I wasn't like that!" I think to myself. "I was never that much of a twit!"
But was I? I like to think I was more self-aware--just as narcissistic, maybe, but at least conscious of my narcissism and able to poke fun at it. In my experience--even if many contemporary bloggers might take issue with this--the blogging was, at least in part, an exercise in self-involvement. Cooking through Mastering changed my life on many levels. It made me a better cook and a more confident person. And, yes, it wound up getting me a book deal (though that wasn't my intention starting out, I swear!)
But blogging about cooking through Mastering gave me other things. On the one hand, it gave me readers--passionate readers, involved readers, almost insanely devoted readers--who encouraged, cajoled, prodded, and harassed me into both completing the project and developing my voice as a writer. In a very real way, I owe them for everything that has happened to me since: I can think of no better way to get an unpublished, uncertain writer off her duff and working. On the other hand, it created a fishbowl effect. It was easy, even intoxicating, to start reading my own press a little too avidly: the comments from people who thought I was a brilliant writer, a brilliant cook, a brilliant person.