Last week was the Antioch Writers’ Workshop in Yellow Springs. This event, to me, is mecca. I have wanted to do this for years but something always got in the way. (Usually my own self – lack of confidence, lack of funds, etc.) But it’s different now. Now I am a student at Antioch University Midwest. In order to graduate I MUST do the workshop. Wow. What a concept: A writing student being required to participate in one of the greatest workshops in the writing sphere. Daunting? Yes. Exhilarating? Again, yes.
The festivities kicked off on Saturday. As I walked into the reception I was scared to death. The first person I saw that I actually knew was Rebecca Morean, the President of the Workshop’s Board of Directors, who was also one of my instructors. She noted the abject terror in my eyes and immediately made me feel more comfortable. Then I ran into Sharon Short, the Director of the Workshop, who also happens to be one of my instructors. (It was actually her encouragement in class that pushed me to do the workshop this year.) A few minutes later I ran into a fellow writers group member, then another classmate and more instructors. Slowly, I relaxed. As I did so, I realized something. The energy in the room was palpable. The longer I stayed and mingled with the people around me, the more I realized that I was where I belonged. (Of course that feeling was made stronger due to the encouraging words of Gilah Pomerantz Anderson, my wonderful Poetry instructor from last quarter.)
John Grogan (of the Marley and Me fame) was the keynote speaker. He was low-key, approachable, and funny. I took his master class the following morning and listened to him give advice about writing and life in general. His teaching/lecturing style is casual and full of interesting tidbits. As he talked, I looked around the auditorium at my fellow attendees, writers who were also here to improve their craft. There was a very broad spectrum of people – from young teenagers to people who were easily in their 70s (or beyond). We were here to learn, we were here to grow. To be honest, it takes a certain amount of courage to sign up for something like this. Courage that I didn’t possess for a long time. But then I realized: I’m here now. And that’s what matters.
All week long I took classes, learned about the craft of writing, and made new friends. And I loved every minute of it. I loved the direct teaching style of Hallie Ephron. I loved the humor of Jerry Dennis. I loved the wanderings of Jeff Gundy’s travels through poetry. I loved my afternoon seminars with Carrie Bebris. I loved being able to have lunch with Hallie Ephron and C. Kelly Robinson. I loved my one on one time with Linda Gerber. I loved the inspiration and excitement I felt every day.
But what I think I loved most of all is the absolute sense of community – the encouragement, the understanding, and the acceptance that we were all writers and we were in this together. That is the beauty and the magic of the Antioch Writers’ Workshop.