“Pretty sure this is the best conference in the history of conferences. All that were and all that ever will be,” wrote one attendee on a survey rating the 2018 Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop.
In reality, the spring workshop is the most highly rated ever. A record 252 attendees — an astounding 72 percent — completed an online survey, with the overall workshop receiving a 9.22 score (out of 10), the best mark recorded.
The workshop’s cost vs. value and the opportunity to network with other writers also netted scores greater than 9. More than 85 percent say they’d definitely come back or highly consider it. Nearly 80 percent said the knowledge and connections they gained at the workshop will cover the full cost of attending or far more than cover the cost of attending.
Among the hundreds of write-in responses: “The keynote speakers are always superb, but this year they were MIND BLOWING,” wrote one attendee.
Here’s what attendees had to say about the keynote slate and the emcee, all of whom received scores of 9 or higher:
Liza Donnelly: “Inspiring story and a generous spirit.”
Karen Walrond: “Funny, grounded and intelligent, Karen entertained everyone in her audience. In one word, her speech was magical.”
Rita Davenport: “I am still laughing. Not only hilariously funny, but offered good advice in the Q&A. Her Erma connection made it feel almost like Erma was there with us more than just in spirit.”
John Grogan: “His presentation was like his books. It conveyed feeling, a message and in the Bombeck vernacular ‘heart felt.’”
Monica Piper: “This was the most fun I’ve had since being born. I rate her 5,000…not 10. A super entertainer. I can’t say enough.” (In fact, her hysterical speech garnered the highest rating for any keynote speaker since the workshop organizers began surveying attendees in 2008.)
Patricia Wynn Brown: “I loved our emcee. She was so spontaneously funny, very poised and really endearing.”
Pitchapalooza, billed as the American Idol for books, only kinder and gentler, “teaches EVERYONE how to be their best writing selves (by) presenting and gaining confidence in one’s work. It is a sensational way to affirm each and every writer in the room. I love the one-minute ‘quickies.’ If we can say our story in a short presentation, then we really believe in our story,” one attendee wrote.
The attendee stand-up comedy night ended the workshop with howls of laughter and much praise for the host and brave souls who performed in a nearly full Marriott ballroom. “What can I say about Wendy Liebman that would do her justice? She is not only very, very funny, she is also warm, kind, supportive and generous with her time and attention,” one attendee observed. “She is as open and personable with her ‘students of comedy’ as if we were members of her own family. Love her!”
Other highlights from the survey:
• It’s hard to combine fun and substance, but both were in high supply at this workshop. Thank you for a great experience!
• My first Erma experience was beyond words. My heart and soul were filled. Now onto writing!
• My funny bone got tickled so much I will have to have elbow surgery.
• I was inspired every step of the way. I took away something important from every session. The event was incredibly well organized and all volunteers were kind and helpful. Thank you for allowing me this opportunity to meet and laugh with such talented people.
• Of the four workshops I’ve attended, I laughed at this one the hardest and longest.
• The access to industry professionals was mind blowing.
• I have never been to a conference in which nearly everyone was so open and welcoming. For someone who struggles a bit with networking, I was amazed how knots of people just opened up to let me in. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that anywhere else. I shared a taxi back to the airport with a woman who told me she was a professional conference planner and she told me it was the best organized conference she has ever attended.”
• Thanks again for a wonderful, exhilarating, inspiring, friendly, engaging and FUNNY learning experience.
• The dessert, as always, was delicious. The sessions were delectable. The keynotes were delightful. The people who attend EBWW, whether simple attendee or speaker, are among some of the most supportive, kindest encouragers I have ever encountered.
• I love the culture and character of this entire workshop. It was friendly and supportive and fun and inspiring. It’s really something special.
• We attendees were treated like royalty and the knowledge and connections I gleaned will last for years. …Thanks to all who made this possible at an affordable price.
• The Erma Bombeck Writing Workshop was the most organized and well run event I’ve ever attended. Let alone the most fun!
Writers offered us constructive suggestions, too. Attendees want a greater focus on the craft of writing, ways to use social media more effectively and more time for networking. Several suggested tracks for beginners and advanced writers. Others would like to see the workshop do a better job of “fostering a diversity of voices and people,” specifically men and underrepresented writers.
And while “the desserts were up to the usual Erma standard,” according to one attendee, another writer saw it differently: “there was a LOT of chicken and not enough cake.”
In addition to survey responses, nearly 40 writers tapped out literally thousands of words to capture their experience at the 2018 Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop. For links to their newspaper and online stories, blogs and podcasts, click here.
Audio recordings of the individual sessions or the complete workshop can be ordered here.
The next Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop will be held April 2-4, 2020. To keep in touch, like our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and subscribe to our free monthly e-newsletter. To subscribe, visit our blog.
— Teri Rizvi
Teri Rizvi is the founder of the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop at the University of Dayton, where she serves as executive director of strategic communications.