I just spent a fabulous 3 days in Dayton, Ohio (yes, it’s possible to have a fabulous time there.) I attended my first ever Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop, a bi-annual coming-together of humor writers.
Attendees run the gamut of published authors, screen-writers, bloggers, social media fanatics and those who were just dipping their toe in the stream of writing. There was a fantastic line up of presenters and speakers, including, but certainly not limited to:
W. Bruce Cameron-author of my favoritest-ever (yes, that’s my word) book, “A Dog’s Purpose.” (Which, by the way, will be made into a movie soon.)
Craig Wilson-USA Today feature writer and author of “It’s the Little Things: An Appreciation of Life’s Simple Pleasures.”
Adriana Trigiani-writer for The Cosby Show and A Different World, and author of “Lucia, Lucia” and “Big Stone Gap” which was where Adriana and I both began our lives.
Irene Beckerman- whose writing career began at the age of 60 (Oh, thank you, Irene- there is STILL hope for me!)
Alan Zweibel, one of the original writer’s for “Saturday Night Live.” He also wrote for “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and the movie “North”, among others.
Dave Fox-author of Globejotting and Getting Lost, and who I consider responsible for my enthusiasm about writing humor. I’ve taken 2 of Dave’s online humor-writing classes, and he encouraged me to go to the EBWW conference.
There were many more inspirational presenters at the conference, and, perhaps most inspirational of all was Erma’s family. Each family member read one of their favorite columns written by Erma, and gave us a piece of their own life with the woman we all consider “Mom.”
The presenters were unique, but the message was the same. Keep writing. Do what you love. Persevere. “Overnight success is a myth, so don’t give up!” That is exactly what I needed to hear. Muchas Gracias!
My roommate, Angela, was a former classmate in Dave’s online humor classes, and, although we were virtual strangers, we at least had a clue that we would get along. She knew my penchant for wine and dropping the “F” bomb, and still agreed to let me room with her.
Angela is a “low talker.” (Remember Seinfield’s Puffy-Shirt episode?)
I am deaf.
No, not totally deaf, but I struggle to hear, much less understand, anything quieter than a passing fire truck or dynamite blast. I have no idea what I nodded and smiled about for the first hour in our room, but after showing her my hearing aids and asking her to please yell at me, we hit it off. We’re even talking about taking a trip to Asia next year.
Polly arrived 8 ½ months pregnant, but other than that she seemed normal.
Then the truth came out.
Polly is a Mormon.
I’m from rural Appalachia. I’ve never met a real Mormon in person. My exposure lies in the endless TV ads that have ambushed us every 5 minutes, ever since Mitt Romney began his bid for president. You’ve probably seen them: Drug addicts, ex-convicts, Walmart greeters… Each commercial ends in “I am a Mormon.
Maybe they should get Polly on that ad, saying she’s a Mom and a writer. It would have laid my fears to rest, for sure.
The bottom line is this. Last weekend I was exposed to some of the funniest, funnest, coolest and genuinely warmest people I’ve ever met. Thank you, Erma, for your gift.