Dayton veterinarian wins Erma Bombeck writing competition

Lauren McCarty | Contributing Writer

Every two years, The Washington-Centerville Public Library collaborates with The University of Dayton to honor Erma Bombeck with a writing competition and workshop for aspiring writers.

Bombeck is a UD graduate and Centerville resident who gained success in the 1970s. She was a popular newspaper columnist and authored several books. Bombeck humorously wrote about family life and being a suburban housewife. Since 2000 the Washington-Centerville Public Library has celebrated the late writer with the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition.

Writers from all over the world participate in the competition hosted by the library and the writers’ workshop that follows the competition, sponsored by the university. Winners of the competition receive $1,000, and free registration to the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop. Their work is also incorporated into programs in the workshop.

The competition includes categories: Local human interest and comedy. A panel of writers, comedians, actors, professors, bloggers, columnists and directors from all over judge the entries. Dayton resident Lindsey Roth took first place in the local human-interest category. “A Hard Day’s Work” is a short essay in which Roth describes a hectic day in her life as a veterinarian.

It begins with her describing the self-help trope of work being “A pillar of Happiness,” and though the events of her day are stressful and could topple her pillar- her purpose outweighs the overwhelming workday. Roth said she finds peace in writing, after a wild day she writes to decompress the day’s events. Roth turns the chaos of her day into clever and relatable tales.

“A crazy day at work is relatable to almost everyone, and this one was a doozy. Inspiration for writing is a mystery to me. It’s almost like magic- like it doesn’t come from you,” Roth said.

Dayton Daily News columnist and host of the WYSO radio show The Book Nook, Vick Mickunas was the finalist judge for the Human Interest Category this year.

“This essay has it all; the craziness of everyday life, the sudden surprise, and the author turns sour lemons into sweet lemonade with humor and vivid, punchy descriptions of a normal and utterly absurd day at the veterinary clinic. Erma would have laughed. I certainly did,” Mickunas said.

Roth discovered her love for writing as a child. When studying biology at St. Mary’s College, attending Veterinary school at Purdue then in her professional career she strayed from writing for leisure. In recent years, while living in Dayton with her husband and children, she picked it up again as a way to journal her life and process her day; it has been a staple in keeping her work-life balance.

Roth keeps busy with raising her children and taking care of her patients but when she finds time to write, she casually creates award-winning pieces based on her life.

“A Good Day’s Work” is her second piece to win in this competition, in 2022 she won first place in the same category for “Truth and Fairy Tales.”

“Truth in Fairy Tales draws from my experiences from being a vet but also as a parent, the things I find most interesting and rewarding in my life I think other people also find interesting, so those are the subjects I choose to write about” Roth said she feels honored to have won twice. She is excited to have her work incorporated in the workshop and for it to reach so many people.

“We evolve with time and I always hope to improve my writing through that evolution of myself,”

To read “A Good Day’s Work” and other essays, visit the Washington-Centerville Public Libraries website here.

For more arts and entertainment coverage check out Flyer News’s A&E coverage here.

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