When I was a young person, I loved reading Erma Bombeck.
Sometimes I would read her column in the occasional newspaper that made it to my family’s home, but mostly I read her books that I checked out from the local library.
I remember few details of those books today, but I vividly recall how Bombeck’s writing made me feel as a reader–her writing made me feel good.
You see, when you would read Erma, you smiled, you laughed, you reminisced, you wondered and marveled. You felt like you could get through another day in the rat race after you read her work.
Imagine my pleasant surprise when a friend recently compared some of my work to the late Erma Bombeck.
Yes, I like that comparison. Erma Bombeck is exactly whom I’d like my writing to be compared to. She is the gold standard for women writers like myself.
Erma’s writing was inspiring, engaging and funny as hell. She wrote about contemporary suburban life with a certain flair and honest humor.
Yes, I would love to be a modern Erma Bombeck, but with a twist–or two.
Sure, I want to make people smile and laugh, and to inspire, but I also want to provoke, challenge and inform.
I want to be a new Erma Bombeck, a woman who can write a humorous article, but also challenge antiquated thinking. I want to be the 42-year-old mother who interviews celebrities from her home office, while loading up the dishwasher with one hand and wiping up dog pee with the other; a suburban mom who volunteers for elementary school field trips and comes home to do a weekly LGBT radio show.
I want to write about the time my husband bought Prince concert tickets when I was 8 ½ months pregnant and we missed the concert because of early labor contractions, as well as writing about lesbian feminist Carolyn Gage’s newest plays and how to get her production, Sermons For a Lesbian Tent Revival, to Sacramento.
I want to be a contemporary Erma who writes about the issues of our day, like marriage equality and FAIR LGBT media representation, as well as the antics of my precocious first-grader who loves to sing Doris Day songs and our five-pound Pomeranian with an attitude and a gas problem.
In other words, I want to make you smile and tweak the nipples of patriarchy at the same time.
Yes, I love Erma Bombeck and extol her virtues as a contemporary writer. But I also love feminist poet Dr. Marie Cartier and out songwriter/musician Linda Perry.
So I am happy to blend all the styles and influences of my favorite writers and artists and perhaps create a new genre of writer: the independent-thinking married-feminist-mom-writer and her tales of a new suburbia.
But making people smile and laugh when they read your column, that’s all Erma and I sincerely hope that one day I can be half as good as she was.
Dedicated to all the Erma Bombecks of the world.
For more information: Erma Bombeck.
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