When I was young my father would often catch me writing at the kitchen table.
He would ask me what I was writing about and I would proudly tell him that I was working on a story I had made up.
He would then shake his head sadly, look me in the eye and say:
“Any author will tell you time and again that it has been proven in order to be a good writer you have to:
…WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW.”
I remember rolling my eyes at these words and dismissively turning my thoughts back to my work of fiction while he would go his own way and continue to putter around the house.
And that was that.
I don’t think I ever finished that story.
In fact, I can’t even remember what it was about.
Years later, the first author that I ever seriously paid attention to was Erma Bombeck.
At the time I was a newlywed and struggling with the concept of trying to maintain due diligence in the upkeep of hearth and home.
It wasn’t easy.
There was no manual to consult.
I found myself looking forward to Erma’s segments on the television show ‘Good Morning America.’
With her priceless self-effacing wit, she recounted her struggles as she strived to maintain the illusion of a perfect housewife.
She talked about keeping up with the household chores, the dog, the kids, the husband, and the ongoing hopelessness that she was doomed to fail on all counts.
Basically, she was obviously…
‘Writing what she knew.’
However the most incredible thing about this wonderful lady was that she did all that with an spark of humour.
Through her wit and wisdom, I learned I was not alone in my domestic futility.
The first book I read written by Erma Bombeck was:
“If Life Is Like A Bowl Of Cherries Then Why Do I Always Get The Pits?”
What housewife could not love that title?
And with every couple of weeks I would return to my local library and pick up her books one after the other.
With each book, I learned to laugh my way through the housekeeping blues.
And if I couldn’t laugh, I could at least smirk and then move on.
The most important lesson that I learned from her was when I was a young mother.
In her newspaper column she related her struggles trying to balance a clean house with a young newborn.
Unfortunately, I have never been able to find that article again after reading it only once or twice.
However, her lesson still resonates within me.
In a nutshell the column went something like this:
“Who really cares about the dust underneath the toilet when there is a brand-new baby in the house, to be played with, fussed over and loved?”
She of course was absolutely right.
Thank you Erma Bombeck.
I’ll never forget you.