It’s been over a week since I returned from the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop in Dayton, Ohio. This means that there are less than 103 weeks until the next one. I. Can’t. Wait.
Before going to the conference, I felt disconnected from writing, as if I was at war with my words. They would occupy my mind, bounce around my brain, but find no place to settle, leaving them, and me, senseless and lost.
I needed to fall in love with words again, and the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop helped push me in that direction. I can honestly say that buying that ticket was one of the nicest things I’ve ever done for myself. I came away from the conference with renewed inspiration. And stronger abdominal muscles from laughing so hard. (Did I mention that this event was especially for human interest and HUMOR writers?)
I wish I could adequately recap for you all of the sessions and keynote speakers. I wish I could describe fully the feeling of love and awe in the room when Phil Donahue spoke of Erma, when he showed clips of her many appearances on his show. This woman was a force – one I had underestimated until I participated in a three day ode to her brilliance. I wonder what it felt like for her children, who were all in attendance, to watch their mother on the screen in a room filled with people who adored her writing, her presence, and her unique-yet-oh-so-familiar message.
I wish I could fully explain what I felt as I sat in on the session – Women Writing Their Lives – with Gina Barreca, Ilene Beckerman, Suzanne Braun Levine, and moderator Patricia Wynn Brown. The words and stories and laughs that these women shared with us ring in my ears over a week later, leaving the whispered message, “You can do it.” The lessons they unknowingly imparted about writing and life and their genuine and kind presence will stay with me always.
I attended this conference to find inspiration and purpose for my writing. I hoped to meet writers I have long admired and to meet writers that I had not yet discovered. I anticipated sharing laughs with my friend, Kari, and our LTYM Chicago sisters, Erin and Shannan, in our native (except Erin) Ohio.
I went hoping Erma could put my words and me back on the same page again.
I left the Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop full of energy, hope, the healthy glow of camaraderie, and cake.