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Friday, April 04, 2008

Humor Writing Conference, Take 1

So here I am in cloudy, light-misting-rainy Dayton, Ohio, attending the Erma Bombeck Writers's Workshop. I'm sitting in front of this wall as wide as two sofas. The wall is painted with blackboard paint with the invitation to "Espresso Yourself Here" on it. No one in this place has anything original to write, but there is a nice picture of an octopus with a little man in one of its tentacles.

I'm in this coffee shop, Boston Stoker, because it's the only place I can find with free Wi-Fi. (Note to self: find a good story to convey my deep-seated belief that everyone should have free access to the Internet.)

Garrison Keillor was the keynote speaker the first night. I had no idea how squished in his face seems in real life. Maybe that's part of the reason he does that breathing noise he makes when he's talking. Until Thursday night when I saw him, I had thought it was all affectation.

A couple things he said struck me as worth scribbling down. Unfortunately I scribbled them on the conference schedule, which I left in my room, which I had to leave because it was a nice hotel so it didn't have free Wi-Fi in my room. Marriott Courtyard has free Wi-Fi in rooms; upscale Marriott doesn't. So, to sum up rather that quote: Keillor said that people get writer's block because they are too impatient. He says he has learned to sit for hours with unproductivity (and this is a good thing). Others sit for 15 minutes, don't have an idea, and abandon their work, calling it writer's block.

He says he loves the 750-word column format that Bombeck worked in. It's like an embroidery hoop, he said, where you are forced to make art inside a boundary. He also likes writing sonnets for the same reason. He had a nice turn of phrase to describe this effort. I'd pass it along to you if I hadn't had to leave my program in my room in search of free Wi-Fi.

Tomorrow: Words of wisdom from the guy who taught a session on how to make your book a best-seller.


Blogger Elizabeth Partridge said...

great blog entries. I write bios for young adults and just came across your blog.
so...are you going to post how to make your book a best seller, or did you already post and I am somehow missing it?
thanks for all the info. you post.

8:52 PM  
Anonymous Michele said...

"I had no idea how squished in his face seems in real life."

Thanks for the laugh! Oh, and thank you, also, for the great list of writing contests.

1:14 PM  

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