The 2014 Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop Left Me Speechless (which is quite an achievement for a writer)

20140412_091927It’s been a week since I returned from the 2014 Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop. Most of the attendees have already posted on their blogs about their experiences there, but I have not.

I am late. Very, very late.

It’s not because I didn’t have an unbelieveable time. I did.

Or that I didn’t connect with old friends and meet loads of great new ones. I did that, too.

It also has nothing to do with the fact that I went on spring break with my family the whole week following the conference, or that we had our kitchen and baths demolished while we were out of town and I had to set up a makeshift kitchen in the living room when we got home.

wojo photobomb

Betsy Bombeck and Michele Wojciechowski (photobomb)

The issue is, I needed some time to let it all sink in. The sessions. The friendships. The moments of pure joy, feelings of connectedness, and inspiration. The sheer “Erma-ness” of the whole thing. Like a great brisket, my thoughts needed time to bake, absorb the flavor, and sit for a bit before being served.

I know, pretty poetic for a humor writer, huh?

This was my sixth Erma conference. I first went in 2004, so this was actually my ten year anniversary. For my ten year wedding anniversary, my husband took us to Italy. For my ten year Erma anniversary, naturally, I went to Dayton.

Keynote speaker Phil Donahue

Keynote speaker Phil Donahue

Although I had transitioned from attendee to faculty member several years ago, I realized there is still not all that much that separates me from the other writers. We all have insecurities about the work we birth into the world. We all want to be paid for our writing. We all want to be acknowledged on some level for our contributions and achievements. And we all want to be successful.

But how we define success is different for each person. Some people measure it by the dozens of newspapers or websites that carry their column or blog. Some measure it by the one newspaper or website that carries their column or blog.  We often quantify it by hits, likes, retweets and visits.

As writers, success is often marked more by response than output. 
Wouldn’t it be great if more of us writers could feel successful simply for writing?

Putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and creating something meaningful, relatable and well-crafted is almost more difficult than childbirth. In the case of my book, “Lost in Suburbia,” the gestation period was actually the same. It took me nine months to write the book, and in the end, I finally had to give it over to God. More than anything else this weekend, I realized that for each of us, writing is the way we communicate our feelings and describe our world. It is not the way we work. It is the way we breathe.


Suzette Martinez-Standring and W. Bruce Cameron


Rajean Blomquist, Abbie Gale, Michelle Lamarca, Linda Wolff








Ilene Beckerman and Anne Parris

Debe Dockins and Teri Rivzi

Debe Dockins and Teri Rizvi







Thank goodness for conferences like the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop for reminding us that it’s not about the swag, the sponsors, the number of unique visitors we have to our sites, and the people who want to compensate us for our work with “exposure.”  It’s about realizing that what we do has value, whether that value is felt by one person or a million, by friends or family or complete strangers. It’s about connecting with like minded people. And it’s about recognizing how very lucky we are to have discovered this gift and love we have for writing.

My session:  "Surrounding Your Brand"

My session: “Surrounding Your Brand”

I want to thank Teri Rizvi, Bob Daley, and the rest of the University of Dayton crew for putting this conference together every two years; to Debe Dockins and the Washington Centerville LIbrary for graciously hosting the awards competition; to Patricia Wynn Brown for generously donating her time to be the Master of Ceremonies throughout the weekend.  Also, my pit crew, Michele Wojciechowski, Anne Parris, Bruce Cameron, Cathryn Michon, Suzette Martinez Standring, Joy Steele, Rose Valenta, Wanda Argersinger, Sharon Dillon, Michelle Momper, and so many others who share my passion and support my goals.

To Betsy, Matt and Andy Bombeck for continuing to be a part of this celebration year after year.  To their dad Bill, in absentia.


L-R: Matt Bombeck, Andy Bombeck, Me, Betsy Bombeck


… and to Erma Bombeck, for showing us that We. Can. Write.

©2014, Beckerman. All rights reserved.

Xmas book bundleCheck out my books, “Rebel without a Minivan” and “Lost in Suburbia”  HERE

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29 responses to “The 2014 Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop Left Me Speechless (which is quite an achievement for a writer)

  1. The internet tells me that you wowed them with your humor and touched their hearts with all that is you. Blessed to count you as my friend Tracy …Love always.

  2. Your comments touched my heart; thank you for your words, & thank you for knowing how incredibly fulfilling it is to share by writing. Some people just think writers are weird, whether they’re paid, or not paid (that would be me). I need to meet you one day, shake your hand, give you a hug. Again, thank you.

  3. imnotasupermom

    I go to a lot of really good conferences, but there is something almost magical about EBWW. I think it’s because of Erma. The conference keeps her spirit, wit, and heart alive.

  4. menopausalmother

    I love this post—-brings it all back. That’s a GREAT picture of you with the Bombeck family! It was so wonderful meeting you, Tracy. I can’t wait until ERMA 2016!!

  5. bowchicabowmom

    Very refreshing perspective on success. Makes me wonder how writers measure their success before the internet. It really is all about the writing. Thank you, and it was nice to meet you.

  6. I filled my notebooks with your advice. Thanks for taking the time to help a beginner navigate social media. It was great to meet you.

  7. Girlfriend, you captured it all, and as usual, you were a superb presenter, too. I ERMA you!

  8. How cool that on your 10th Erma Anniversary you won the Humor Writing award! It was great to see you again Tracy. What an amazing conference. I can’t wait for 2016.

  9. It was great to meet you, albeit briefly, and I’m sad I didn’t get to attend your session. But so much of what you say here is how I felt. I came away with a renewed sense of what I wanted out of my writing and my effort and my time. I look at my blog differently now, and I vowed to do more REAL writing and submit. And I’m already counting the days until Erma 2016.

  10. Gah! I just got over the huge disappointment of not going to the EBWW, and then I read this. The whole thing just sounds amazing. I’m going to the other room to pout now…with cookies! But you will see me in 2016, darn it! With cookies!

    • I will be there and I will share your cookies (if you let me). Sorry you couldn’t make it but FYI, the sessions are available on audio tape if you want them and the Erma community is online (humor and on FB to be your writing tribe anytime!

  11. Writing has been a bit of a slog for me lately for various reasons and, I will admit, because I am human I have even been slightly envious of the output and success of others. Reading this post came at EXACTLY the right time for me, Traci. You hit the nail on the head when you said, “It’s about realizing that what we do has value, whether that value is felt by one person or a million, by friends or family or complete strangers. It’s about connecting with like minded people. And it’s about recognizing how very lucky we are to have discovered this gift and love we have for writing.”

    I had forgotten that. Thanks for reminding me. And congratulations on all of your success! 🙂


    • Thanks so much! I can relate to the slog. I was in a slump too before the conference. Hard to write funny when life is being a pain in the neck. It helps me to realize there is usually humor in even the most difficult situations… maybe not right away, but eventually.. and when I tap into that I find my muse again. Good luck with yours!!

  12. I adore this, all of it. I am there in 2016.

  13. janieemaus

    I think this was one of the best conferences I’ve ever attended. It was wonderful getting to know you. See in 2016, if not sooner.

  14. Excellent post, Tracy. I enjoyed your session and our brief chat during the signings. I am so happy that I attended, it was my first writing workshop ever, can’t imagine how another one could top this one! Here’s to 2016!

  15. Great summary, gratitude and friendship. ‘’I was pleased that you mentioned me, a little late starting and going nuts trying to figure out this computer stuff. I finally have my blog up with a basic format. Will start posting tomorrow. sd