Got My Funny Back At Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop 2016

Got My Funny Back at Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop Stacey Gustafson“Hi, I’m the one with the cat that got stuck in the furnace last week,” said Mary Levad Lovstad, one of the first attendees I met at the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop. At that moment, she’d confirmed that I was in the right place, one where my peeps, cheerleaders, and agenda-free friends gathered to listen to incredible stories, and share in our joy and sorrow.

You Can Write!

For three nights, every two years, humor writers descended on Dayton, Ohio to be reinvigorated by Erma Bombeck’s reminder, “You can write!” I came to find my direction again. My spark had faded and I need my butt kicked to get out of the funk. For the first time in 21 years, I did not have children to consume my time. With both of my kids in college, pursuing their own dreams, I was out of excuses.

When I arrived, I noticed other writers felt the same way I did, sorely lacking the mental energy needed to write and publish. Social media overwhelmed us, enthusiasm waned and inspiration was in short supply. We needed our tribe to feel whole, likeminded women who would push us forward and pull us up.Got My Funny Back At Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop 2016 Stacey Gustafson

Meet the Writers

As I reconnected with amazing women, we shared our hopes, dreams and adventures since the last Erma Bombeck workshop. As the attendees rolled into the Marriott, Elaine Ambrose, award-winning author of eight books, sat next to me and asked, “How’s the stand-up going?” Wow, she asked about me! At breakfast, Abbie Gale told me her social media story and the way a hashtag, #IndieFilm, had turned her

Got My Funny Back At Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop 2016 Stacey Gustafson

Stephanie, Stacey, Gina, Lisa

family upside-down when an independent filmmaker contacted her. Now her son has a role in the upcoming, “The Moleskin Diary.” During lunch, Gina Valley told me about her current projects, like finishing her humor books on parenting disasters, polishing a crime thriller and casually mentioned that she has seven kids, eight in the summer. If she can find the time to write, what’s my excuse? Stephanie Mark Lewis and I joked around and she shared her latest book idea, one in the same vein as Gone Girl. By the evening, I felt at home, a place saturated with quirky, enterprising, passionate writers. And they welcomed me to their table.

Meet the Presenters

Presenters like the talented, Alan Zweibel, winner of multiple Emmy awards and the original writer ofGot My Funny Back At Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop 2016 Stacey Gustafson Saturday Night Live, provided inspiration during the workshop sessions. He had me at, “I love short stories.” He even took a copy of Are You Kidding Me? My Life With an Extremely Loud Family, Bathroom Calamities, and Crazy Relatives and signed his book, Lunatics, “Hi, Stacey. Can’t wait to read your book. Love, Al.” We were on a first name basis! Joel Madison, writer for Rosanne, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and The Larry Sanders Show, helped me figure out what I didn’t want to be when I grew up, a screenwriter confined to a small room, like Room, where mostly men gathered for 12-15 hours per day. In his session, we punched up his script and in response to my suggestion, he said, “Really good. That’s exactly what I’m looking for.” Thanks to Wendy Liebman, comedian and semi-finalist on American’s Got Talent, I discovered that I loved the rush of stand-up comedy. On the last evening, I did a four-minute stand-up routine and afterwards she texted, “You are a natural!”Got My Funny Back At Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop 2016 Stacey Gustafson

Meet the Keynote Speakers

Keynote speakers inspired, as well. Kathy Kinney, Mimi on The Drew Carey Show and her best friend, Cindy Ratzlaff, author, speaker and entrepreneur, invigorated the workshop. Statements from their book, Queen of Your Own Life, electrified us. “Welcome to the second half of your life, or what we believe can Got My Funny Back At Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop 2016 Stacey Gustafsonbe the best half of your life.” Leighann Lord earned a standing ovation for her keynote as she shared family stories and dealing with aging parents. We applauded when she said, “Finding your passion is the gift you give yourself. Pursuing your passion is the gift you give others.”

On Sunday morning, I lugged my binder, mugs, books and scraps of notes back to the airport. Back to California. I felt refreshed and stories tumbled in my mind, begging to be written and submitted. The beauty is in the journey, whether or not I get paid. I know I have something to say. Laughter can change the world. The time to do it is now!

It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else. – Erma Bombeck

Actual Amazon Reviews for Ninja Grappling Hook Will Blow Your Mind Stacey GustafsonLooking for a good read?
Are You Kidding Me?: My Life with an Extremely Loud Family, Bathroom Calamities, and Crazy Relatives is available on Amazon and eBooks. It’s filled with stories about crazy families, holiday chaos, school disasters and more. Hoping to make you laugh one story at a time. Get your copy now!! Click to purchase on Amazon.

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  1. Stacey, I love this…takes me back to where I want to be right now! You captured the delicious moments of the EBWW. I hope we meet again soon. Every two years is too long!

    • staceygustafson says:

      It was an amazing three days full of laughs and reconnecting with friends near and far. So happy you were there. Can’t wait to hear about your future projects. Count me in!

  2. For some reason I’ve had it in my head for years I wasn’t a good enough writer to go to Erma.
    See you and thanks to Michelle Combs i’ve gotten over that and I really really hope to go some day.

    • staceygustafson says:

      This is for all writers. Everyone is supported and encouraged. This year at least 20% were first times. Get your business cards ready.

  3. Great write-up, I feel like I was there. There is nothing like being with your tribe to re-invigorate your creative life. Congrats for trying stand-up! It’s on my bucket list.

    • staceygustafson says:

      The time to do it is now. What’s there to lose? At Erma, it’s a great group of supportive friends. Everyone want you to succeed at stand-up.

  4. Hi Stacey, what a wonderful testimonial! My intention is to make the 2018 Erma conference, sadly this year did not work with my schedule, that said, I’m pretty sure everyone I know was there! Anyway, so glad you got your spark back, connected with other women and now feel reinvigorated to write.

    • staceygustafson says:

      I hope you make the next one. Such an awesome cast of comedians, actors, writers, bloggers, and friends.

  5. I’m glad my story made an impression! I am working on that cat in the furnace blog — and after such a wonderful experience I came back excited and exhausted — I am finally feeling recuperated enough to get it written — with my “You Can Write !” cup in hand. To all those who haven’t been to this event — Stacy did a great job in the blog — best workshop I’ve ever been to and it really is for everyone! But wait a day or so when the tickets are available next time — just kidding I just want to make sure I get mine first! Thanks Stacy —

    • staceygustafson says:

      Your story really stayed in my mind. Another type of person may have written it off, but a writer sees things in a different light. Can’t wait to read your version.

  6. Thanks for letting me live vicariously through you. I was very upset I couldn’t attend. I would have loved meeting Alan Zweibel (among others); I’ve long admired him. What a great group there was at Erma. I swear I’ll be there in 2018!

    • staceygustafson says:

      I look forward to meeting you. What a great cast of presenters and speakers. Teri Rizvi did a great job planning the workshop. I wish I could go to all the sessions.

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