I don’t know where to begin to extol the virtues of the wonder that was the 2016 Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop March 31 – April 2nd in Dayton, Ohio. How many times can you say “amazing,” “transformative,” or “inspirational” before people’s eyes glaze over and they start thinking about whether they should have chicken or fish for dinner? So, I’m going to let Francine, my 93 year-old mother steer the conversation.
If I Only Had The Chance To Meet Erma
Francine: “Did you make any friends?”
Yes. I went knowing only one person (the delightful Jennifer who was a fellow 2015 Listen To Your Mother Seattle cast mate) and came home with a suitcase full of names. There are too many to list here and knowing me, I’ll leave somebody out and they’ll be sure to notice. However, it would be remiss of me to not introduce you to Val, a local who adopted three of us for a day and drove us to several highlights of Dayton. First stop? Lihn’s Bistro, a popular Vietnamese restaurant. That’s her hand in the right of the photo below, demonstrating just how very large my bowl of soup actually was. Apparently it was larger than my head. It was delicious.
She then zipped us over to Woodland Cemetery, one of the nation’s five oldest rural garden cemeteries. Founded in 1841, it’s 200 acres in size. I’ll bet you’re wondering “A cemetery?” Or perhaps “Why this cemetery?”
It’s the resting place of Erma Bombeck. But unless you’re in the know, you’d likely not know that. It wasn’t even on the scheduled itinerary for the conference.
No, true to her humble nature that I adore, Ms. Bombeck has no wordy grave marker, plaque or tombstone marking her burial plot. Just this modest 29,000-pound boulder that her husband had trucked in from their Arizona home.
Photo credit: Jennifer D Munro
That’s me up there on the left with Elly Lonon, my new pal who ended up winning the Pitchapalooza contest. Huge achievement for her. Huge. This win hooks her up with a potential agent. Watch for her book to grace store shelves in the near future …
Francine: “Now what did you learn during the conference?”
One word answer? Write. Although I’ve heard it before, I needed to hear it again. From many people, apparently. Write. Get the stories down.Tiptoe through the fear and quit procrastinating. Sit down and write.
Francine: “What was your takeaway from the conference?”
Besides getting the flu (or the Erma Plaque) and being happy it wasn’t strep? I’d have to say, the understanding that I’d met my tribe. My group of people who I feel comfortable with and am inspired by. I adored February’s Salt Lake blogging conference, don’t get me wrong. Meeting Mo and Katie was life-changing and I’d go anywhere with them at anytime. It’s just that at Erma there were over 300 humor writers. Absolute heaven to someone like me.
Francine: “What’s the one thing that you regret about the conference?”
The fact that this legend passed away too soon. If only I had the chance to meet Erma. We’d have been instant pals, I just know. But that sounds selfish. And unCanadian. So, I also could say that she had SEVERAL more books in her, I just know. It’s sad that she took them to the boulder with her without getting a chance to share them with the rest of the world.
Francine: “Can you do your bit to share the word about Erma?”
Yes, I can. And I already have. The day after I got back home, I had to zip into the countryside to pick up Bonanza (rabbit) and Poppy (Dog) from their collective spas. It was a new girl who handed me Bonanza’s crate and she asked me where I’d been.
“Dayton, Ohio to attend the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop.”
“Erma Bombeck? Who’s she? I love to read books by new authors …”
I enlightened her by sharing my new top three Erma Quotes:
“When humor goes, there goes civilization.”
“I believe everything of any importance in this world has been brought about by dreamers, visionaries who see beyond the first step.”
“Seize the moment. Think of all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.”
Erma, you’ve got a new fan. She wrote down your name and was googling you when I left the clinic.
This post was inspired by the Finish The Sentence Friday prompt of “If I only …” Our hosts are Kristi from http://www.findingninee.com/) and this week’s sentence-thinker-upper Deirdre Conran from https://myblogforlife.wordpress.com/
Enough about me and my If I Only Had The Chance To Meet Erma. I’m curious about you. Are you an Erma fan? If so, what’s your favourite quote or book? Don’t you wish you could just sit down with her over a wine or six and some pie and chat? If you’d care to share, I’d love to hear.