Dear Marion Winik

I just returned from a weekend of laughter, inspiration, education, and a tad bit of humiliation at the 2018 Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop.

There were seven workshops spread over two days. Each time slot had multiple classes from which to choose. Narrowing down which to attend was like Sophie’s Choice. I made my choices though, several times. My decisions were based on what the workshop topic would be, as I’m not good at remembering the names of the speakers/authors.

Friday morning, I settled down in the Memoir Boot Camp, ready to take my personal essay skills to the next level. Our speaker introduced herself as Marion Winik and proceeded to captivate us by reading some of her own essays. For a brief moment we felt all warm and fuzzy, and then it was time to get down to business and do some writing of our own.

The assignment: Write about a time we made a mistake in dealing with a family member. Be specific.

This was part one of a six-part process, and the hardest part for me. Combine the fact that it was morning with my memory, and you get a glazed-over look with no brain or pen activity.

I thought about calling my kids. I’m sure they could have helped me, but nobody’s got time for that! So, I made something up (that’s what writers do) and stumbled through the assignment.

Later that afternoon, I was in The Comfortable Chair: Bringing Humor to the Personal Essay workshop. (Strangely enough though, I was in a very uncomfortable chair.) I arrived early and spotted the speaker from the previous workshop, so of course I went over and talked with her.

I told her of my struggles – just with her exercise, not with life in general. We didn’t have that much time. Then we started talking about sarcasm and the place that it has in writing. This is a topic with which I am very comfortable. I have been immersed in sarcasm for most of my life. We discussed it in the framework of, “What would Erma do?” Here’s a snippet:

The speaker, “Erma was edgy. She wasn’t afraid to push the line. I had someone tell me that Erma Bombeck was edgier than Marion Winik.”

Me, “Really? I’m sorry, but I don’t know who Marion Winik is.”

The speaker, “I’m Marion Winik.”

There you go. End scene. I slinked off after apologizing profusely for being terrible at names in general and her name more specifically. She was very gracious.

Next challenge – connecting with speaker Dinty W. Moore as he spoke about the Comfortable Chair while I tried to hide underneath of mine. I crawled out from under, sat myself down, and wrote a note to Marion Winik.

Me and Marion Winik

“Dear Marion Winik, I know who you are…”

I won’t tell you the entire thing, mainly because, not only am I not too good with names, but I struggle to remember exactly what I wrote. As I pondered it later, though, I did wonder if it sounded like I was a stalker. So, I decided to track her down. Finally, I got close enough to ask for a picture together, and she kindly agreed.

I had worried for nothing! She seemed only too happy to have her picture taken with me. Perhaps it was so she could point me out in a line-up, or maybe I’ve made a new Erma friend. I’ll go with the latter. I’ll see you next time, Marion Winik!

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4 Comments

  1. Good one, Bonnie! I’m really bad with names, too!

    Reply
  2. Hey Bonnie, I took Marion Winik’s Boot Camp class as well. I doubted whether I could come up with a mistake I made with a family member I would be willing to share. But I thank Marion for that wisdom now because she sparked a great idea in me. She is approachable and generous. Would love to take more classes with her. Happy Writing to you Bonnie, if I remembered your name correctly. lol

    Reply
    • Thank you, Kimberly, for your kind comment. Erma was quite the experience. I am almost awake enough now to start to put some of that info into practice. Happy writing to you, too.

      Reply

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