Posted April 22, 2012 by jimhigley
I just returned from the 2012 Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, which celebrated the genius of this one, incredible woman.
My mom was Betty.
And I’m quite certain that’s precisely how the other attendees at the 2012 Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop felt.
Erma died 16 years ago today. She left this world with far too many unfinished stories. Stories where she seemed to find the nugget of gold in the nooks and crannies of our days. It might be in the garbage disposal. Or in the burnt dinner. Or in the snippy conversation between parent and child. She always found gold. And she wrapped that gold in the dancing, smiling warmth you felt in her eyes. Her stories were your stories. Her stories made you feel alive. Her stories reminded you that – with Erma – you were never alone.
If you aren’t familiar with Erma’s works, youth is your only excuse. She wrote thousands of columns and countless books in the seventies, eighties and nineties. In sharing stories of her own family, she forever chronicled the stories of a generation.
And she did it with the universal language of humor.
The Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop draws hundreds of writers – from Pulitzer Prize winners and New York Times best sellers – to folks who are simply beginning their journey of sharing stories through a blog. The common bond of everyone, however, is a love of Erma. It is that bond that makes us her children.
Having just returned from this year’s Workshop, I’m still on an Erma High. I was honored to be on the faculty this year. This Workshop is different from the other writing and blogging conferences I participate in throughout the year. “Erma” isn’t packaged with glitzy presentations and it’s not overpowered by snazzy parties sponsored by big-name brands.
Nope. “Erma” is more like traveling home to a family reunion. The one without the nutty relatives.
The family atmosphere is reinforced by the regular attendance of members of Erma’s family. This year we were fortunate to have her husband, Bill, join us – along with two-thirds of her children.
Yep. “Erma” is the family gathering you love to attend.
You know that wonderful feeling you have when you’ve travelled to someone else’s home and walk down to their kitchen the first morning? You smell coffee. Perhaps cinnamon rolls. And you see the faces of people you forgot you missed? That’s how this Workshop is for me. Those “faces” are my true-blue writing pals. Suzette. Tracy. Michael. Karen. Michele. And they are the faces of some amazing new family. Anna. Nancy. Debba. And many more.
I’m enjoying my Erma High. I’ve been reminded of the goodness in the world. I’m reminded of the value in helping others. I’m reminded of the importance of opening doors for others. I’m reminded of the value of sharing your story and making others smile. Cry. Or laugh. But more than anything, I’m reminded of how fortunate I am to be a child of Erma.