Today I returned to the Erma Bombeck Writer's Workshop in Dayton, OH. I came to the three-day conference in 2012 before I started writing Hairpin Turns Ahead. Two years ago, sitting in that first session, I remember thinking, This is where I belong.
Today I arrived in Dayton, two years later, tired and stressed. It takes so much work to prepare for a trip without kids, I don't even call it a vacation anymore. Halfway through the drive, I realized I forgot the one thing I didn't want to forget -- my business cards. And while dressing for dinner, I realized I forgot one other thing-- my right shoe -- and unfortunately I had the gaul to take it out on my left shoe. Feeling fat in my Eileen Fisher, and uncomfortable in my back-up shoes, I finally left the safe haven behind my laptop and headed to dinner to meet my online writer friends in real life.
During the seven-hour drive to Ohio, I reflected on my writing and Hairpin Turns Ahead. In nineteen months, I've written thousands of words, was cast in a Listen To Your Mother show, finished fourth in Blogger Idol and built a loyal following through social media. In addition, I've made a lot of mistakes. And to be perfectly honest, since the new year, I've had trouble finding the funny. I've worried so much about readers liking my posts, that it's paralyzed my writing.
Lately the most common question I'm asked is, "All this writing you do....so, what's it all for?" Is the writing for me? Is the writing for my readers? Is it for mere entertainment? Is it for some greater good? I'm not sure.
However, there are two things I do know for sure. I need to write. There are words and stories and ideas and just plain kooky thoughts that I need to get out of my head and onto paper. And most importantly, humor is my coping mechanism. When things are uncomfortable, painful, scary, unknown, or upsetting, I rely on humor -- not as a diversion, but as a path to accepting certain truths.
Tonight at dinner, our keynote speaker Phil Donohue spoke about his good friend and former Ohio neighbor, Erma Bombeck. He reminded us that Erma wrote the truth about topics that were often full of pretense. She opened the door for American women to be honest about their roles by using humor. And tonight I think Phil Donohue reignited the writing spark in me when he said, "The opportunities to skewer balloons of pretense are everywhere." Thanks, Phil. That was just what I needed to hear. And once again, I found myself thinking, This is where I belong.