A Workshop of Excellence. A Time of Laughter and Support.

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Fulfilling a Writer’s Wish.

I attended the tenth, 2018 Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop. Held every other year in Dayton, Ohio, I wanted to be there for the first one but couldn’t schedule it on my calendar. Later, unfortunately, I listened to someone who had been at the first, and she did not recommend it.

Twenty years later, I listened to myself.

Erma Bombeck.

Erma Bombeck wrote a syndicated newspaper column featuring humorous stories about being a mother, a wife, living the stay-at-home-mom life in the suburbs during the 1960s-1990s. She received millions of dollars to write books chronicling this housewife-momhood life. For a woman, her place as a journalist and a big-publishing-contract author was unique. She opened doors for many funny women and columnists. In 1996, she passed away from cancer.

Two years after her death, in 1998, the first Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop began with Mr. Bombeck and the Bombeck children in attendance. They will always attend. Mr. Bombeck passed away a few months before this year’s workshop opened, but his children were there.

Be fast if you want in.

After four hours and forty-two minutes exactly, the registration window closed at maximum capacity of 350. A habit for this workshop.

I was flabbergasted.

With such popularity, it sounded like the Comic-Con for writers who aren’t necessarily espousing comic books or science fiction and fantasy writing or superhero movies and television shows.

People traveled from across all fifty states and Canada, including a woman from Spain.

Even the faculty want to come back.

As I stood in the registration line at the University of Dayton Courtyard Marriott for my workshop materials, the first person I talked to was a male faculty member. He said he returns every year. He asks to be invited back. I got the impression if they didn’t invite him, he would register as an attendee to be a part of the weekend.

Why?

The attendees are the best, he said. They are kind, supportive, positive and funny. The staff runs a very organized program. The faculty is top-notch.

Later at a wine and hors d’oeuvres meet and greet, I spoke with another faculty member, a comedy writer from Los Angeles. His first Erma Bombeck workshop was two years ago. He had to return.

Why? For the same reasons as the first faculty member stated: supportive attendees, great faculty, super organized program.

Where men are an anomaly.

The two men I spoke with were an anomaly. Of the 350 attendees, 327 were women and twenty-three were men. The majority of the faculty were women. The director and most of her staff are women.

I’ve never seen so many women at a workshop except for the regional and national conferences of the Romance Writers of America.

It’s not intentional. Anyone can attend.

Erma Bombeck being a woman, a columnist and a humor writer, the workshop in her name attracts the same.

Laughter is always center stage.

Stand-up comedian and joke writer, Monica Paper, inspirational humorist and financially successful entrepreneur Rita Davenport and cartoonist for The New Yorker and CBS news Liza Donnelly were my favorite keynote speakers.

I changed eyeliner after the first night because the tears of laughter smeared my eyes.

Good thing I did. I laughed the whole weekend.

Of Special Focus: Writers looking for Mojo.

Many of the 75-minute sessions focused on humor and nonfiction writing. Throughout them all, and specifically in some sessions, writers staying true to their desire to write was foremost.

Complete your stories. Have courage to submit your work to others for critique or for acceptance in a marketable venue. Write queries and make personal pitches to literary agents. Get on Twitter and be funny to be noticed.

I’ve been an aspiring writer for a long time and took great comfort in knowing others were cheering me on, even if they never met me, never knew my name.

The Erma Bombeck Workshop Facebook group keeps the inspirational fires burning, in case a writer needs a reboot of courage and recharge of persistence after the workshop weekend is over.

YOU can do this. You CAN do this. You can DO this. You can do THIS.

I believe I can.

Thank you, Erma Bombeck Family. Thank you, organizers of the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop.

 

“It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else.”

~Erma Bombeck

 

*All images are my own unless stated otherwise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Open Letter of Thanks and Gratitude

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      A Simple Reading Request.

I was asked if I would read a few of my short stories to the members of a local philanthropic chapter. I was delighted.

The chapter is part of the P.E.O, a philanthropic organization founded by seven students in 1869. Today the membership numbers nearly a quarter of a million chapters in the United States and Canada.

Their motto: Women Helping Women Reach for the Stars.

This local group raised money that morning by auctioning off lunches made by each member. The funds build their scholarship program for high school senior girls.

While they ate, I read. They laughed at the funny parts, nodded in the right places and clapped when I was done.

They gave me a thank you note, a gift card and my own lunch. Later I ate chicken salad, fruit soup, mango juice, granola bar and candy in a small, round apple basket.

A Greater Sense of Gratitude.

Today, my written note of thanks was awash in gratitude as I realized how much I need, we need, this PEO chapter of women and all those like it.

More Than a Note of Thanks.

Dear Nancy and Your Friends in P.E.O.:

Please accept my gratitude for giving me an opportunity to share my stories with you.

Getting published is a far more challenging endeavor than in the past, and there are moments when I believe being a taxi cab driver in NYC would be easier.

But putting together the right words in the best place and provoking emotion from a listener is incentive enough to keep working at it.

Nancy and her daughter are perfect hostesses. It didn’t take long to gobble up my special lunch basket, and I think I’ve found a new taste for fruit soup. Your other gifts of thanks were also welcomed.

We’re all hurting.

The world, our country, this city are hurting in many visible and invisible ways. The balance to heal those difficulties comes, in part, from your optimism and effort. 

Thank you for your energy and time.

May your year find you in good health and much joy.

Sincerely.