I love love love the new Beauty and the Beast movie. One of the best parts, of course, is the Beast’s library, so I wrote “Belle Would Be Enchanted by These 10 Lovely Libraries in Hotels” for USA Today 10Best.Read All Entries
thank you, erma bombeck
I laughed so much at the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop last weekend that my stomach still hurts. Since the next one isn’t until 2016, I figure I have two years to recover – and to come up with a book proposal. And if you’re considering going, well, I highly recommend it as both a literary lovefest and a great ab workout.
I’ve already told you how much Erma means to me, and those feelings were magnified a thousandfold as writer after writer shared deeply personal stories about how she had inspired them.
The stories were so obviously what this weekend was all about – and they were amazing. I heard happy ones, sad ones, poignant ones, embarrassing ones. All told with humor. All easy to relate to even if they never happened to me.
You probably don’t need to hear how much I learned about writing at EBWW – although hopefully that will become apparent in future posts – so I’m just going to share a couple of highlights from the conference.
Phil Donahue. He is always a highlight. As a keynote speaker and Erma’s childhood friend and neighbor, he shared anecdotes about growing up together, and read the eulogy he gave at her funeral, bringing the audience to tears. He showed us the importance of Erma’s words and how she gave a voice to a generation of women who were feeling unsatisfied by housework and motherhood. Although she used humor and wrote about everyday domestic issues, her impact was powerful and far-reaching, he explained, calling her a vocal proponent of the Equal Rights Amendment (which still hasn’t been passed, people).
When I got home, I found an old VHS tape of the time my sister and I were in Phil Donahue’s audience. It was 1989, I was pregnant and Erica Jong was the guest. I got to ask a question and it was a thrill to have Phil stand next to me with his signature microphone.
Here we are then:
Here we are now:
Although I recognized him immediately, he didn’t seem to remember me at all. Hmm. We haven’t He hasn’t changed one bit.
The women. I was so blown away by mother/daughter authors Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella, and the panel featuring Ilene Beckerman, Gina Barreca, Suzanne Braun Levine and moderated by Patricia Wynn Brown, that I’m saving them for special posts. I still have to process everything I took away from those, and definitely need to share the experiences with you. Soon.
The other women. My old friends, my new friends. Everywhere I turned, people were smiling, laughing, hugging and sharing. It was the warmest and fuzziest conference I’ve ever attended, which is not to say it didn’t involve lots of cursing and alcohol.
Pitchapalooza. Twenty writers were randomly selected to pitch their book idea in front of the crowd, and Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry, the warm, funny and oh-so-smart husband and wife authors of The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published, would select a winner and introduce him or her to an agent or publisher. I learned so much just listening to the judges’ constructive criticism. I was proud of my three friends, Julie Danis, Noelle Gunn Elliott and Janie Emaus, in order below, who got up and did their one-minute pitch so brilliantly, and especially excited that Julie won! Yay, Julie! Can’t wait to feature your book when it comes out!
Stand-up Comedy. You couldn’t pay me to do this and I give so much credit to the 18 people who got up the nerve to perform. “It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else,” Erma once said. These people were courageous and hilarious, and the crowd was behind them all the way.
As I sit here now, reminiscing and smiling at the memories, I guess the big takeaway is that humor is what gets us through life. And if laughter is truly the best medicine, then, last weekend, a whole lot of people were made healthy.