Last week Rachel and Claire each published a book in their kindergarten class. Claire wrote and illustrated a mini-memoir about visiting the Great Wolf Lodge last year, while Rachel wrote about how Mommy comes to wake her up in the morning. I was able to see their process from first draft to final, and now I had little writers who were so proud of their work. God bless those teachers who patiently help them revise and edit those stories from we wit to grt wf ldje it was fun we wit swmmg to something slightly less headache inducing.
I just returned from the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, a conference centered around humor writing, publishing, and honoring the late great Erma herself. It was, in a word, remarkable. There’s nothing like being surround by something you are passionate about to get you inspired and totally pumped for your next project. And really, where else are you going to be stuffed in a room with a hundred or so other people who all say things like OMG I LOOOOOVE thesaurus.com!
Here are reasons YOU should attend the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop.
You will learn that it’s okay to own it
Admit you’re a writer, and people ask when you’re going to write the next Great American Novel. But admit you’re a humor writer, and people look at you expectantly, like okay, so BE FUNNY. Which is why I tend not to declare those types of goods on my writerly customs form. It’s just too much pressure.
But truth be told, I to like to make people laugh, or at the least, I like to make myself laugh. If I scroll through my blog, I find more funny than I do not, and I know that’s my true voice. So here I go. I’m declaring it. I am a humor writer. Ish. But seriously, I’m not a performing monkey, so stop waiting for me to be funny.
Your voice/story/idea/passion is valid
How many people have said Well I kinda wanted to write a book about ______, but that’s all been done before. Well, sure it has. By someone else. But not by YOU.
If there’s one thing that was repeated by several faculty members, it’s that your perspective is what will make your project unique. Author Kelsey Timmerman suggested we to find the thing that we are perfectly suited to write about. Writer and humor columnist Gina Barreca urged us to tell our stories the way we alone can. Humor author Dan Zevin encouraged everyone to be true to your point of view. Your unique perspective is what makes something funny.
Basically, who cares if someone has written a book about whatever it is you want to write a book about? YOU haven’t written it yet.
Tell all the truth but tell it slant,
Success in circuit lies
You’ll find idols, new and old
Two days before the conference I decided it would be a good idea to actually look at the sessions and figure out where I wanted to go, and that’s when I noticed that one of my favorite humor authors was leading a session. I’d chatted with Dan Zevin on twitter briefly after I read his book last year, so I was stunned awkward when he recognized my name and declared us “old friends.”
As for new author crushes, I loved listening to Lisa Scottoline and her daughter Francesca Serritella speak about writing humor and working as a mother/daughter team. I’m now putting my three girls through rigorous training to see who can come out on top as my new sidekick.
You will be among your people
I have friends and loved ones in from many different fields, and I adore them all, but there’s truly nothing like being around my people.
Okay, maybe I wasn’t exactly comfortable until the second day and the third drink, but you know what I mean. Writers at every turn, fabulous speakers who were truly experts in their field and masters of their craft, and of course, hilarious to boot. And lots and lots of friends, old and new. There’s nothing like exchanging business cards with someone and then saying OMG I KNOW YOU! Instant friends.
(Almost) Everyone is awkward
I can be outgoing and open and funny online. That’s truly a part of my personality. But meet me in person for the first time and be prepared to be underwhelmed by my less than sparkling personality. I’m all Hey! You’re ________! It’s so great to meet you in person finally! And then… Now what? Am I supposed to keep talking? What do I say? Why are there no words coming out of my mouth? Why am I sweating?
And (almost) everyone felt the same way. I think.
The downsides? Well, you’ll eat a lot of conference food, so pack some protein bars in your bag for those days when you just can’t with the chicken salad and ambiguous rice mound. And when you crack a joke in the airport on your way home, you’ll realize that no one at this airport thinks you are funny. They’re all boring duds.
And that’s when you’ll start counting the days until Erma 2016.