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Monday, April 19, 2010

And Then I Ask Myself: WWEBD?

I flew into Minneapolis from Dayton Sunday afternoon, after the Erma Bombeck Writing Conference.

It was a big responsibility, this conference.

The weight one feels, when operating with the knowledge that others are counting on one to behave outrageously, drink like Hemingway and write like, oh, Erma, is crushing, I tell you, absolutely crush– hold on a second.

Hello? Yeah, yeah! I’m home. Yesterday afternoon. What? No, I’m not drunk! Of course I learned stuff. All kinds of stuff. Saw Erma’s house. What? Yeah, big yard. Really big yard. Did you know the City of Dayton had some guy streaking through it a couple years ago? The taxi driver told me. Yeah! Lots of witnesses. Didn’t catch him. What? Oh, very funny. No, I’ve never lived in Dayton – and the streaker was a guy, not a gal. Sheesh. Make a coupla confessions and suddenly you’re a suspect every time someone runs through a yard without their trousers. Anyway, I gotta run, so to speak. I’m utilizing my education. TTYL, baby.

Now where was I?

Oh, yes. The crushing weight of expectations – and the accompanying exhaustion of paying full attention all day for three days.

Honestly, people! Have you been moved recently to pay attention, I mean really pay attention?

Yow. It’s so much harder than working.

But I did it. I participated and took notes, amused and was amused by my new friends, kept my mind open – and now I feel a weight to write something fabulously outlandish, something ridiculously fictitious. Something Gatsby-esque.

Should I?

Or shall I just report the events, as I swore to everyone I would?

And just what are these events, you ask? In no particular order:

1. The discovery that a hotel, much like a hospital, a park bench, and the workplace, is no place to get any rest.

2. The quality of writers (Wade Rouse - listen to his "At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream", a funny and touching memoir of he and his partner's move from the Big City to rural Michigan, despite, to paraphrase Mr. Rouse, having been born without the qualities that really mattered in their new world yet having the innate ability to detect quality leather goods...; Gail Collins, columnist with the New York Times whose lunch talk one day got me thinking, laughing, and buying her book "America's Women, 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines"; Craig Wilson, columnist with USAToday, whose sense of humor and firm yet gentle way of looking at things is just a joy; Bill Scheft, 15 years as a stand-up comedian and as many as a writer on the David Letterman Show, a natural speaker and genuinely witty writer with a new book out called "Everything Hurts" - follow the link!) at the conference was outstanding.

3. I rediscovered my love of listening to a lot of smart, funny people all gathered together. My face still hurts and I think my ears might be higher now than when I left.

4. I've found that I am doing a lot of the right things as far as writing goes. Next logical and horrifying step? Publication.

5. I've found that I am doing a lot of the wrong things as far as my writing goes. Word on the street? I am, and I quote, "giving it away for free". It's highschool all over again.

6. That's a joke, Mom.

7. I am meeting with a publisher in a month. That gives me 30 days to schvitz (thanks, Bill), chew my nails, wear my best friends out with this news, and gain a couple of pounds.

8. I have determined that the odds of me practicing yoga in a hotel room has been calculated. The odds are none out of none. None odds.

9. I think I may not be clear on what “odds” means.

10. It's been revealed to me that it is possible, faced with all-day large-group sessions, to hold one's wind for absolute hours. For cryin' out loud those auditoriums can get quiet, can't they?

OK. So that crushing weight I was feeling. I lied about the weight. The weight’s not so heavy. It is, after all, a self-imposed weight – I can make it as heavy or as light as I wish.

Happy Monday, everyone.

It’s another day above ground for you and I, and that makes it a great day. I hope you wore your good socks.


Simply Suthern said...

Welcome Home. Glad you had a wonderful time. It's always good to learn new things. Hope you don't stop giving it away for free cause I don't get it at home. Mostly, Glad to have you back home. Have a great week.

Molly Potter said...

You get even better when you've been out

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

What a great time! We just read Gail Collins' second book for book club this month and I LOVED her first. Good luck prepping for that meeting with a publisher! You go, Girl!

Pat said...

Sounds like it was absolutely scintillating, stimulating, and the best part, laugh-inducing. I, too, like Simply Suthern, hope you don't stop giving it away for free.

Anonymous said...

Ya know what Pearlie? I've been reading you for a long time and the same thought has crossed my mind a gazillion times while laughing my fanny off at your words...you're giving it all away hunny bunny. Publish them words girl. Go get em!

Sage said...

Funny--good luck with the publishing.

Is this Emma Bombeck conference an annual thing?

Chantel said...

Rock on Pearlesque....seriously, giving it away for free just gets your name on a bathroom door. Not that I would know. What??

powdergirl said...

One thing hotel rooms are conducive to: Drinking.
I know, its not like yoga till you fall down, but it has its merits.
Glad you had fun! And yeah, get published!

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

I hope you keep giving it away for free. Highschool wouldn't have been the same without you. All that listening needs some release. So now you get published and deny our sorrid past together, then I have to publish to refute your lies. Where does it end?

MamaOtwins+1 said...

We like it when you give it away for free. But I'm also so impressed that you are meeting with a publisher, and quite jealous of all the people you were able to listen to!

steelxmagnolia said...

... and clean undies (just in case)! Deep breaths. Then (da da drum roll) 'you go girl'. Publish. You write brilliantly. Cheers!

Willoughby said...

Don't think of it as giving it away for free, think of it as marketing yourself to potetial readers of your future published works.

Yoga in a hotel room would mean you'd have to come into contact with the carpet with more than just your feet, no? This germophobe would need therapy after that. I'm already afraid of the sheets and they wash those!

Kabbalah Rookie said...

Is it only me who laughed the hardest at point number 10? Because we only really notice these things when in a quiet auditorium...
Consider giving it away for free as good advertising... we all know how funny you are and are prepared to tell our non-bloggy friends...

The mad woman behind the blog said...

From what I've been told by my published friends, you won't gain any weight. The last few days you'll be too nervous to eat!

I am so excited for you and can't wait to hear all about it.

And am also eternally grateful for having to buy this cow! (Oh, that did NOT come out right!) You inspire me woman!

Anonymous said...

I totally believe in you, Pearl.

For real.


Lidian said...

Sounds like a fab time! I need to stop giving it away for free too...but I like doing that - I just want to have my given-away cake and publish it, too.

Oh, and I am wearing some very nice socks today :)

Mr London Street said...

I'll be interested to hear what comes of this. You'll have to start giving tips to those of us who harbour similar ambitions.

mapstew said...

Welcome home.

I will be wanting a signed copy of your first publication! :¬)


Janie at Sounding Forth said...

Oh, girl....by giving it away for free, they mean blogging?


Ms Sparrow said...

I'm so glad that the weekend was (as they say in work-speak) productive. Actually, I don't know how you could get much better. Thanks for filling us in on the proceedings.

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

I know what you mean about paying attention for hours...conferences are exhausting even BEFORE the drinking starts. I'll buy your book even though I've been getting it free!

Zaedah said...

I wore socks, the quality of which are uncertain. I paid attention... really paid attention and found nothing new under the sun. But I read your summary and now have hope for writer-kind : )

Anonymous said...

Purely delightful, as always, Pearl. I'd love to have been there,despite the holding wind part. That could be onerous.

And congratulations about the publisher meeting.

Oh, and when you get famous would it be OK if I tell people we're personal friends?

Ann's Rants said...

Sounds just wonderful, Pearl. You absolutely have what it takes. Can't wait to see what happens!

De Campo said...

When I read you it feels like I'm stealing cable.

Yeah, that good.

Anonymous said...

Hey Pearl,
Not sure if my post from yesterday went through. So enjoyed meeting you at the Erma-thing and hope you're up for some coffee now that we're back in the homeland. Drop me a note when you get a chance. Love your blog! Take care. Peg B.

SparkleFarkle said...

I'm so happy for you! I long ago-declared Erma a saint. Welcome back, too! Such fun to come home with a head full of Bombeck. Now that's what I'd call the perfect goodie bag!

P.S. I'm glad to hear number eight didn't work out for you. (8. ...practicing yoga in a hotel room...). NOBODY should get that close to a hotel room floor.

reasonably chubby said...

Funny! You really are an excellent writer dahlin'...so publish or perish I say!

Deb said...

Rooting for you!

R. Jacob said...

aww, you and Dawn are Erma writers. Both funny and witty and pretty!