Me? The new Erma? Think again. I’m not nearly as full of sass, not nearly as wise. I have had the occasional funny blurbs that happen to all of us, but that’s about it. Not a spectacular life. Just a meaningful and well-intentioned one, doing the ordinary things that we all do.
Finish high school, go to college, get married, have kids, try to raise them without actually killing them, healthy doses of Gentile guilt, (well, we weren’t Jewish, but I had to use something) and lots of love.
I always told my kids that I would one day be the new Erma Bombeck. Meaning, I admired and looked up to her, hoped to one day entertain through the printed word and offer my own little insights for what they’re worth. Yet while raising the kids, attending to all the busyness that becomes our daily existence, the time for writing never seemed to be permitted.
There were always dishes or laundry or a bathroom to clean, or church work to attend to. I enjoyed cooking for the crowds that we entertained constantly. With volunteer help, I fed 250 each Wednesday evening before prayer meeting, Sunday morning Easter Breakfast (that was my tops in attendance, we fed 555 the last Easter that I was responsible for the meal). I surely didn’t accomplish it alone, in fact I had tons of qualified and willing volunteers who made me look pretty good. So where was the time that I was permitted to devote to writing?
Erma said she would get up early in the morning, before her family arose for the day, and write in her laundry room so she would have privacy. I totally understand the concept; I just didn’t think I could DO that; my writing seemed like an addition, like having my nails done or reading a magazine—I just wasn’t able at the time to place a high priority on it. I lost hundreds of hours of sleep writing, so I guess I sandwiched mine in after bedtime. I craved it, always felt as though it was silently, patiently waiting on me to get through with the necessities of a mother’s harried life so that I could devote to it the quantity of time it deserved in order to thrive.
That’s not the appropriate attitude for someone who was born to write, but that’s what I was stuck with. And now, thirty plus years later, I find myself in a situation that is supremely designed to allow me to focus solely on writing. No other priority comes before it. I find myself jealously guarding my writing time, even avoiding simple opportunties to hang out with friends in order to pursue my private heaven of writing writing writing.
So at this point the question is, what’s the value in what I’ve written, and who is ever going to get to read it? Good question, that. I’m not sure I can assess a value to the writing; I only know that I feel called; I have to do it. I find peace in writing. Not in stream of consciousness, spill-your-guts writing, but in seriously working to convey the experience that I’ve lived so that the reader can experience the same outcome, the same emotions that I found when I lived through the events. Tall order. But it’s what I’m driven to do. So, move over, Erma.