Most of the conversations I have outside my house go like this:
"So, what kind of work do you do?"
"I'm a writer."
"What do you write?"
"I'm a ghost writer for the craft industry. I write blogs and web content."
No matter who I'm talking to, by this time their eyes have glazed over. It was worse when I wrote lesson plans for an education company.
People under 40 tend to change the subject. Those 40 and over come back with the same thing:
"You're kinda funny. You should write like Erma Bombeck."
Hmm. Now why didn't I think of that? I mean, she's the only author I read by choice in junior high and high school. Yeah, I was middle aged and suburban way before my time. Her book If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, What am I Doing in the Pits? was a lot funnier than Ethan Frome. And she used punctuation -- unlike a certain Faulkner I know.
Then I think about how the web content writing pays my bills. No one has ever hired me to write like Erma Bombeck, although there was this one lady who let me write silly stuff about a serious subject. It's always a good day when you get paid to write a poem plus get to use the phrase "cow pooties" in it. So when people tell me that I should write like Erma, I usually think to myself, "Yeah. I'll put that on my list of things to do in my free time."
My mom said it the other day. "You should write like Erma Bombeck."
"Write what?" I asked.
"Funny books. Funny books would be good. You used to write those funny columns for the newspaper and the mayor even told you how much he liked them."
But she had forgotten the rest of that story. I was talking to the mayor one day who told me how much he loved to read my weekly humor column. Then he mentioned how tired he was of reading another local columnist who often wrote about his family. "I'm so tired of reading about his kid's milestones. Like no other kid has ever done the same thing," he said. Just then, that writer walked up and the mayor shook his hand and said, "I was just telling this young lady how much I look forward to hearing about that kid of yours. I sure do love those columns you write."
Yeah. So the mayor thing is not a compliment.
My mom refuses to be computer literate. I tried to explain to her that these days many bloggers write like Erma did. And that people can read their blogs online for free all day long. What would make them buy a book?
"Well, I don't have all the answers," she snapped back. "I just think you should write like Erma Bombeck. She was even on Good Morning America."
Here's my out: "You know, the camera adds 10 pounds. I can't be on GMA. I'm already overweight as it is."
"About that, you need to get off that computer and get outside. And quit snacking so much. You've got to cut out the junk food." Just as I'm about to bust into my "I never snack" routine, I hear a beep. "Oh, the brownies are done. How about a hot brownie with butter on it?" she beams.