This morning I was sitting at an airport terminal in Portland, Maine, listening to snippets of conversation between other passengers, occasional announcements over the loudspeaker (in particular about the delay of my flight), and a crying cat that would be boarding the same plane. I love cats. I just hoped to not be sitting anywhere near this one unless it's "Mommy" planned to give it a healthy dose of something like Benadryl or bourbon before boarding.
I have been writing since grammar school (and you know it must be a long time because nobody says "grammar school" anymore), but this week is about something so new for me that it doesn't even have a category in my compartmentalized brain. The Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop in Dayton Ohio.
This is me taking the biggest chance I've ever taken. This is me beyond excited to be with people running workshops who not only think like me and write like me - they live in the writing world.
Where I want to live.
These next few days will bring together the work, the dreams and the possibilities of those who live ordinary lives, who have celebrated, contemplated and mourned, and who have written about it all - weaving the most uneventful day in their lives into our world. And maybe for you, reading the story of that uneventful day turned into the moment you laughed. Or cried. Or remembered. Somehow it touched you.
Those are the people I am here to meet. And in the words of that very wise professor who encouraged Erma to pursue her writing, so simply put, they can write.
Since registering for this workshop for some reason I've developed a newfound confidence. I am confident that I will have something in common with the people I surround myself with during this workshop. I am confident that I can touch people with words. I am confident that I will be coming home equipped to push myself to the next thing - the next blog post, the next article, the next goal.
I am no spring chicken, there isn't another 50 years left on my agenda to hone my craft. Even so, that's no excuse not to keep growing and gleaning from others who offer, as the speakers this week have. There will be questions, and many of them will come from me. Ask my youngest about our college visits - she will tell you that by the end of the tours I was probably able to lead the next group. Questions are wonderful things. They lead to more information and maybe a great conversation. Never be afraid to ask questions, even if you are the only one left in the room.
After an insane delay in Newark I finally wrapped up the last leg of my flight to Dayton. Even after sitting on the tarmac for two hours waiting our turn to take off, I had to laugh... I had been gazing longingly at IKEA which was in clear sight from my window on what was beginning to feel like a refrigerated metal tube. By my calculations I could have walked the approximate half mile to the store, purchased an item, brought it back to the plane, and we all could have put it together before taking off. I should also mention the pigeon hanging around inside the United terminal before boarding, pecking his way through remnants of crumbs on the carpeted floor of the United Airlines waiting area, because that was just plain weird.
After finally reaching my hotel, I spent the past hour or so in the hotel restaurant already meeting new friends, collecting funny business cards, and swapping stories. It was a taste - a teaser of what's to come over the next few days, and I am so ready to be completely immersed in this opportunity.
The best part of this week is that we are all cheering each other on, happy to acknowledge other writers' pieces without competition. The ironic part is that the inspiring gift of this workshop is in memory of the late Erma Bombeck. As I sit here in this hotel room after already laughing about the antics of my fellow writers on our first introduction, there is no doubt in my mind.
Erma, you are right on time.