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Write (But First, Dance)

By Kathy Shiels Tully

After attending Erma '22 I didn't write an essay to sum up my feelings. Instead, I pulled together a playlist.

I was starting to deflate and dreaded losing the weekend’s worth of high energy, lotsa love, Erma Magic that had enveloped me.  I was thinking this while driving in my car, when Justin Timberlake’s song “Can’t Stop the Feeling” came on. It made me so happy.

I then thought of “Happy” by Pharrell Williams.

After that, I searched for upbeat songs that made me want to dance and added them to the list. I suffer from crippling writer’s block and imposter syndrome. It was time to shake them off! Unlike Elizabeth Gilbert, I didn’t want them in my car or my head. Keynoter Cathy Guisewite shared she has a special song in her head to write. I realized I had none.

Not anymore. Now I have a soundtrack!

Whenever I need a jolt to get writing, I play “Erma ‘22 Writer’s BlockBUSTER” on Spotify.

Within a few beats, memories of an amazing weekend come flooding back. And I’m ready to write.

But first, dance.

— Kathy Shiels Tully

Inspired by Erma since age 10, Kathy Shiels Tully didn't head in the 'write' direction until she decided to combine two dreams — writing and get married — by proposing for Leap Day to her then-boyfriend on the op-ed page of The Boston Herald in February 1996. She hasn't stopped writing since. In 2020, she placed first globally in the human interest category of the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition and served as a preliminary judge for Nickie's Prize for Humor Writing. A panelist for 2016 EBWW's "Speed Dating for Writers," Kathy is a regular contributor for The Boston Globe. Her stories have appeared in FamilyFun, The Christian Science Monitor, The Writer and Chicken Soup for the Soul (Brothers & Sisters; the Power of Gratitude). Kathy lives with her husband and their two daughters north of Boston.

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