Topic of the meeting was "Networking for the Writer," two hours of solid advice. Especially the part that said "Introverts, you can network online!" A guy there named Bob looked familiar. Soon I realized he was Bob Rybarczyk, the "Suburban Fringe" weekly humor columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
, and he writes good. His stuff, mostly family humor, is really funny.
Worried that he was there to write a funny column about a meeting called "Networking for the Writer," I un-introverted myself and said hi and complimented his column and asked why he was there; I figured he wouldn't need to network. Turns out he can't get syndication or an agent, has published a P.O.D. book
but wants a "legitimate publisher" (his words) and hasn't one. This is a writer with thousands of local fans and popular appeal. He isn't a journalist; he started out as a P.R. guy who happened to write amusing office e-mails. P.R. guy has to learn to network? Guess it's that old artificial difficulty.
For a while I've wondered: Where are today's female humor columnists? Nora Ephron feels bad about her neck, but she's not funny. Did the art die with Erma Bombeck? I know scores of witty women. (The presenters at the meeting were sharp, witty women: Tricia Sanders and Tricia Grissom, of coffeeandcritique.blogspot.com
.) But the stakes are higher now. Women can't afford to risk sending amusing office e-mails. Caring for kids and aged parents and grumpy mates of the kind Phyllis Diller called "Fang" and I called "The Missing Link," worrying about their necks and moles and the church people, keeping at all costs menial, ill-fitting jobs, not enough sleep -- these days a woman who laughed about these things in print, or even shut her door to start writing, would get visited by Child Protective Services. Lady, if you're out there: We need you!