No one would mistake me for a virgin. Even if you didn’t know about my husband and three children, there’s my obvious postpartum physique, which I have not only maintained, but enlarged upon, for over 30 years.
And yet, I am a virgin. In fact, this week a bunch of us virgins will gather in Dayton, Ohio, for our first Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop.
Although this has been a biennial event since 2008, I was oblivious to it until 2016, when I entered the companion writing contest. By that time registration was filled, so I was left to watch from the sidelines via the event’s Facebook page, getting sadder and more envious with each post, and vowing to attend in 2018.
That why, early last December, everyone in my office was on high alert so I wouldn’t forget to get on the computer at the precise moment that registration opened. Acting like a fanatic going after playoff or Comic-Con tickets may seem ridiculous, but it took less than five hours for the conference to fill, and I am one of the lucky 350 writers attending.
This amazing gathering of talented and hilarious women (and at least five men — looks like I’ll have to pack my bra after all) promises to provide an unlimited supply of fun, belly laughs, and great memories. But don’t let the tiaras and bunny slippers fool you. This is a professional workshop, led by experts in their fields… essentially “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Writing but Were Afraid to Ask.” I’m particularly looking forward to Stand Up Comedy Boot Camp and Pitchapalooza — where randomly selected writers will have an opportunity to pitch their book idea to a panel of judges, ala American Idol.
Since getting my golden ticket I’ve gotten to “meet” many of the other “Ermites” who will be attending, thanks to social media, a wondrous organizational team and enthusiastic and encouraging veterans whose passion is contagious and advice is priceless. These old timers have been graciously sharing their experiences to make it easier for us newbies, and the newbies have been openly sharing their excitement and the things about which they are nervous. I should probably be lifting weights to get ready for all the hugging that will undoubtedly ensue.
So, just like before I lost that other virginity, I feel a mixture of anticipation, nervousness, curiosity and no small amount of excitement. And I’m confident it’s also something I’m going to want to keep doing again and again and again.
— Laurie O’Connor Stephans
Laurie O’Connor Stephans of Plano, Illinois, is a lifelong writer who, after many years of journalism and business writing, is now exploring creative and essay writing through her blog, We B Late (But Right on Schedule).