Me and Erma Bombeck

Me and Erma Bombeck

If you recognize her name, you’re probably over thirty. Erma Bombeck was an American humorist, who wrote a column about ordinary life. She was a one-of-a-kind genius. She said things like:
– If you look like your passport picture, it’s time to go home.
– Insanity is hereditary. You catch it from your kids.
– I didn’t fight my way to the top of the food chain to be a vegetarian.
She wrote fifteen best-selling books and over four-thousand newspaper columns.

My writing has been compared to hers often enough that it finally made me stop and examine the comparison. It’s not just one person who’s made this comparison, its lots of different people. Even virtual strangers! I’m flattered beyond words. Only, I don’t see it. Occasionally, something happens in my life and I get a bit passionate and write about it. But, I’m no Erma.

There was the time a next door neighbor painted his garage, and through a series of unbelievable mishaps, his truck ended up parked in my sons’ bedrooms. And there was the time my dogs pinned a water moccasin and I kicked it away while wearing flip-flops. Recently, I was leaving the doctor’s office and a lady hit my parked car while I was sitting inside, then she said she didn’t do it and if I thought I could prove it, I should call the cops. So I did. Call the cops and prove it.

Once, I allowed my computer’s virus protection to expire for six hours and over the next few months, before I discovered there was a problem, I was hacked over twelve-hundred and seventy times! Fortunately, I have long, complicated, apparently unbreakable passwords. So that’s a plus. But still, it took three techs over eight hours to clean up the damage done to my brand new lap top. (I included this paragraph as a warning – if you don’t have long, complicated passwords – you should rethink that! Mine are 12 to 15 characters long and I only use each one once. And yes, I have a book where they are all written down.)

My point is that Erma Bombeck wrote about ordinary life and made it funny. Weird things happen to me, and I write about them. Fortunately, weird things don’t happen often enough that I could write a regular column about my life. So, what do YOU think? Is it a valid comparison? I hope I’m at least keeping you entertained enough that you keep tuning in. I’ll be back in four weeks … hope you will be, too!

Terri Rich

Terri Richison (writing as Terri Rich) lives in Clear Lake City, TX with her husband and a giant Great Dane (giant even by Great Dane standards). She is working on self-publishing women’s fiction and avoiding getting a pie in the face if she doesn’t produce pages for every critique session! PIES OR PAGES! Terri started telling stories almost as soon as she could talk – she learned everything she needed to know about storytelling at her grandmother’s knee. Craft however, is something she is still learning – those damn commas give me nightmares!

8 thoughts on “Me and Erma Bombeck

  1. Interesting events. Kicked a snake while wearing flip-flops! I happened to see one on my daughter’s porch and went running with a bum knee to my son-in-law to take care of it! You’re a brave person, indeed. My hat’s off to you! Keep writing. Personal events are the best!

  2. Kathie, it wasn’t bravery, it was stupidity. My dogs were barking their business bark – I expected a lizard or a frog or a turtle – the typical victims. I went downstairs and discovered the water moccasin striking at my fur babies. There was no thought – it was all instinct – I needed to get it away from them, the angle was right, I kicked and it FORTUNATELY slithered back into the creek from which it came. I’m TERRIFIED OF SNAKES. TERRIFIED. But I guess I love my fur babies more than I’m afraid of snakes.

  3. I’m reminded of a wonderful quote by Sheryl Crow, the musician: “I may not be the best guitar player in the world, but nobody plays the guitar like Sheryl Crow better than I do.”

    What writing brings you joy? What story lines make you want to get up early and write? Who are the characters who come into your head and won’t leave you alone until they have their Happily Ever After?

    For me, that’s where the really writing occurs — regardless of genre, subgenre, training, or craft. We begin by writing for ourselves, and if we find an audience, that’s icing on the cake.

  4. Terri – I think that you are mistaken when you say in your post that it is only “weird things” that are worthy of your writing talents. Why, in your very next paragraph, you discuss how Erma wrote about ordinary life. Ellen DeGenreeus has a talent that way, and so do you, my dear. Maybe one day they will be saying, Terri Rich with the same reverence as they do Erma and Ellen.

  5. What makes your re-telling of these oddball life events so intriguing is the innate sense of humor you approach life with. Same can be said for Erma!

    This, my dear friend, is what they call VOICE, and yours comes in loud and clear. The lesson here: write to your strengths. Know, going into any story, that at least one of your characters is going to have a snarky attitude and a tendency towards unusual experiences. AND, just because writing really is hard, you need to make sure to limit the number of characters you write that are this solidly in your “wheelhouse.” To stretch and learn and grow as a writer, we have to challenge ourselves.

  6. Another Erma? That I don’t know, but I enjoyed your blog and wished it was longer. Does that count?

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