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.
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.
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