A Writer’s Disneyworld

Posted Sep 26, 2019

“I promise to use my time wisely, to enjoy the omelet bar in moderation and to wear the robe with honor,” one applicant pledged.

“The residency,” another wrote, “would be a writer’s Disneyworld for me.”

From LA to New York City and Anchorage to Des Moines, writers weighed in on why they deserve to be “robed” in plush, custom-embroidered bathrobes and receive the ultimate gift — the luxury of time to write.

In all, the 2019 “A Hotel Room of One’s Own: The Erma Bombeck | Anna Lefler Humorist-in-Residence Program” attracted 396 applications from 44 states coast to coast as well as seven countries  — Belgium, Canada, China, Germany, Spain, the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, and the United Kingdom.

What humor writer wouldn’t want to attend the University of Dayton’s wildly popular Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop and spend an additional two all-expenses-paid weeks at a hotel in Dayton, Ohio? Free room service. A housekeeping staff. An omelette bar. A TV remote of their own. The sun rising over the Great Miami River (aka, the Dayton Riviera). 

And, most importantly, a “Do Not Disturb” sign.

“I’m already blown away by both the quality and variety of this year’s applications. It’s as if people have been polishing their submissions since the first contest closed in 2017! They are that good,” said Anna Lefler, a Los Angeles-based novelist and humorist who underwrote and helped create and launch the program.

Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist Dave Barry and best-selling novelist Adriana Trigiani will serve as finalist judges. Preliminary judges include nearly 50 established writers. All entries will be blind-judged, with the two winners named Nov. 12. Three finalists will win $250, and five honorable mentions will be awarded $100.

The program attracted entries from writers working on comedic novels, narrative non-fiction, plays, essays, sitcom scripts and other humor-writing projects.

“I would be thrilled for this program to provide the catalyst for emerging comedy writers to break through with their art,” Lefler said.

Besides the residency, the workshop also co-sponsors an international writing competition organized by the Washington-Centerville Public Library. The writing contest opens Dec. 2, with entries accepted until Jan. 7, 2020.  Four winners will receive cash prizes and free registration to the April 2-4, 2020, workshop.

The Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop is the only workshop in the country devoted to both humor and human interest writing and is so popular that it sells out within hours. Registration will open in December.