Erma Bombeck writers’ conference

I’m not sure I’ve made it as a writer yet. Such things are like knowing whether or not a country is in a recession – only hindsight can tell. But I owe much of what success I have had to the Erma Bombeck conference in Dayton, Ohio.

It was there, in 2006, that I met an editor at the Christian Science Monitor who gave me my first big boy clip, which led to an editor at the World Vision Report radio program contacting me to record some essays for them. One thing led to another and by 2007 I had enough clips to be taken seriously by editors of books and magazines.

This year, the director of the conference mentioned me in his opening address. He mentioned my small victories, my underwear wall of fame (which I forgot I even had), and the fact that I spent a month in Bangladesh because that’s where my underwear were made. I was “the underwear guy” the rest of the weekend. Garrison Keillor even signed his latest book Pontoon, “For Kelsey, the underwear guy.”

Garrison Keillor’s speech was awesome. Connie Schultz, Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist and author of And His Lovely Wife: A Memoir from the Woman Beside the Man, gave a hilarious and touching speech. She was a single mother and feminist that ended up marrying Sherrod Brown shortly before his campaign to become an Ohio Senator. I was lucky enough to meet both Keillor and Schultz and her husband.

I had never met a Senator before. I was excited to meet Senator Brown because I voted for him in 2006 and he has worked a lot on trade laws. He helped introduce the Decent Working Conditions and Fair Competition Act in 2007, known by some as the “Anti-sweatshop” bill, and even wrote a book on trade. I have a bazillion and one questions for the Senator. When I told him about my book he was very interested, promised to send me one his book, and told me that he would give me a call. I think he might even have mentioned the possibility of contributing a blurb. I’m not sure about this; I was a little busy trying not to look like a stuttering idiot. The strange part is that he was on my short list of people to ask for blurbs. So was Nicholas Kristof who I met a few months ago. I would have never dreamed I would be lucky enough to meet them both.

Of course the most exciting part is meeting other writers. I had the pleasure of celebrating literary victories and consoling one another in our literary defeats with Dave Fox, Bobby White, Seth Brown, Lizzy Miles, DC Stanfa, Jenn Dlugos, Danny Gallagher, Norm Cowie, and Joanne Brokaw.

All-in-all a pretty successful and enjoyable conference. I’m sure I’ll be at the next one.

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Kent says:

Looks like you inflitrated their ranks Kels. You even have your own tag line.

Kelsey says:

I’m kinda hoping “the underwear guy” doesn’t stick.

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