We find inspiration in nature, yoga, TED Talks, pets, music, books, travel and more. But for me, the greatest source of inspiration can be found at the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, the only one dedicated to humor writing. It’s held every other year on the campus of the University of Dayton, fondly called the Dayton Riviera.
We celebrate the spirit of Erma Bombeck, a suburban housewife, syndicated columnist and author of 12 books. Her sayings like, “There’s nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child,” touched the heart of America and covered their refrigerators.
This year’s presenters included Liza Donnelly, award-winning cartoonist with The New Yorker Magazine, Rita Davenport, award-winning TV host and John Grogan, bestselling author of Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog. We were wowed by their story, devotion to writing and the ability to generate laughter.
However, the people who inspired me the most were other attendees and workshop staff. The Erma-ites I meet uplifted each other and boosted self-confidence with their generosity and kindness. Getting along with 350 women (including 30 or so men) can be a complicated matter, but at this workshop, all ages, shapes and backgrounds worked together for three days and nights, sharing companionship, laughter and cake. Lots of cake.
Here’s my shout-out to those who inspired me the most.
Vikki Claflin – Your helpful attitude inspired me. I am grateful for the time you spent at airport sharing your publishing secrets.
Gina Valley – Your bravery to perform stand-up comedy inspired me. Monica Piper said it best, “You reminded me of Rosanne Barr.” You killed it.
Elaine Ambrose – Your charity, Cycling Without Age, brought tears to my eyes. You reminded me that the most important thing we can do is help others.
Teri Rizvi – Your attention to detail and hard work throughout the workshop made it the best by far. Because of you, I will be back in 2020.
Patricia Wynn Brown – As emcee, your lively spirit made everyone feel at home and welcome.
Jim Hands – Crowned King on the last day, your friendly nature made you hard to ignore.
Leighann Lord – Your magnetic personality and passion brought it all home on the last night as you introduced the evening’s speaker.
Wendy Liebman – Your friendly and supportive personality made everyone feel important and relevant. You have changed my direction in life.
Linda Wolff – Your cheerful and positive point of view was refreshing. Thanks for sharing your work.
Anne Parris – Your knowledge of technology expanded our mind.
Tracy Beckerman – Your expertise and dedication to blogging and branding inspired me.
Linda Roy – Your welcoming attitude made me feel part of the group.
Lisa Packer – Your curious and likeable attitude made you fun to be around.
Marcia Kester Doyle – Your bubbly enthusiasm for writing and blogging is contagious.
Dorothy Rosby – Your genuine interest in helping others made you a star.
Donna Beckman Tagliaferri – Your cheerful energy made me want to be your friend.
I will be back in 2020 because of the inspiration I gained from my Erma-ites. There is no substitute for laughter, friendship and companionship. From the words of our leader, Erma Bombeck said it best, “If you can’t make it better, you can laugh at it.”
By the way, did not need a seatbelt extender on the way home.
— Stacey Gustafson
Stacey Gustafson is an Amazon bestselling author, humor columnist and blogger who has experienced the horrors of being trapped inside a pair of SPANX. Her book, Are You Kidding Me? My Life With an Extremely Loud Family, Bathroom Calamities, and Crazy Relatives ranked #1 Amazon Best Seller in Parenting & Family Humor and Motherhood. Her short stories have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul and seven books in the Not Your Mother’s Book series. Her work appears in Midlife Boulevard, Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop and Better After 50. She was named EBWW’s Humor Writer of the Month. Enjoy her blog, Are You Kidding Me? at StaceyGustafson.com or follow on Twitter @RUKiddingStacey.