The Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop 2016 – Welcome to No Man’s Land


Saturday is always a bittersweet day at Erma. By this time everyone’s gotten into their groove and you’ve already made a ton of new friends. But it’s also the final day of the conference, which means it will be another two years until you feel this inspired and energized again.

That, and soon I’ll have to give up my peaceful, palatial hotel room and return to the land of perpetual noise and LEGO land mines.

Here are my highlights of the day that was:

  • I started the day at the “From Misfit with Blog to Author with Deal” workshop with Jenny Lawson, aka, The Bloggess. I’d heard raving reviews from the previous day and, apparently, it was one wild ride. She didn’t disappoint. This self-proclaimed sufferer of social anxiety started off by taking a pano of us all acting like we were in a free-for-all brawl. I, of course, was being choked by my friend Lisa, continuing the emasculating theme of this woman-dominated conference.
  • At the first break, I made a mad rush to the Men’s Room but was beaten there by a woman who ended up causing me to “miss my moment”, so to speak. (TMI) There’s a big deficiency of Women’s Rooms here. But, hey, I wasn’t going to argue with her. I’m way too outnumbered in this crowd.
  • Next up was “The Journey to Publication” with fellow Burgh-er Nick Courage, author, speaker, and book marketer. Nick offered a ton of great info for aspiring novelists and, more important, is a fellow Bigfoot nut. And I mean “nut” in the most positive way.
  • At lunch I grabbed a front row seat — SCORE! But during Kathy Kinneyaka, Mimi from Drew Carey, and Cindy Ratzlaff’s, aka Mrs. Partridge (not really) hilarious and inspiring talk, the guy next to me started doing some strange type of body-weight exercises, shaking his head back and forth while grabbing the table for leverage. Luckily it wasn’t enough to distract me from hearing such pearls of wisdom like, “Everything you want is right on the other side of fear; all you have to do is walk through it”, and “You don’t have to be 21 to have your whole life ahead of you.”
  • At one point Kathy said, “When you’ve been on TV, everyone likes you a little better, even your family.” Not that I know anything about that.
  • I’m pretty sure the guy at the table across from me was Tom Brokaw in disguise. (BTW, one of my good friends at Erma, Joanne Brokaw (no relation)was kind enough to give up her seats at table #21 so that others could sit there. I know that karma will repay you.
  • After lunch I decided to take the afternoon off to prepare, mentally and physically, for the late night ahead, i.e., I came back to my room to take a nap.

So, as many of you know, it’s damn hard writing funny. (May I submit the previous text as proof?) But it’s really hard being funny when you have the flu, which, unfortunately, is what I believe I have. I tried to tough it out, and I relied on Grandma’s old remedy, a double glass of Scotch (actually, she’s a whiskey girl). And for a while, thanks to my angels, Becky Sydeski and Lisa Kanarek, I made it through most of dinner. But alas, here it is, 7:55, and I’m back in my room getting ready for bed.

For anyone who came in close proximity and ends up getting the flu, I’m sorry. For the person that gave me the flu…well, I’m a good ol’ Catholic boy, so we’ll just leave it at that. ~


Copyright 2016 Valentine J. Brkich



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