Sharon Short was literally shaking when she pulled up to the curb before her first Antioch Writers Workshop in 1990.
“I remember thinking, ‘I can’t do this,’” she said. “But then I thought, ‘This is where I told my husband I’d be all week. What am I going to do? Drive around?’”
Instead, she went in.
“The people were really warm and welcoming,” said Short, now executive director of AWW and a published writer. “I can’t think of any other conference I’ve been to where I’m in touch with people a year later, much less later 25 years later. That’s pretty powerful.”
Now, it’s time for writers of all stripes to still those quivering limbs and join the 2015 summer workshop, the crown jewel of AWW and featuring literary queen Nikki Giovanni. Cincinnati native Giovanni, one of the world’s best-known African American poets, will serve as the keynoter during this year’s summer workshop, held July 11-17 at Antioch University Midwest in Yellow Springs. The deadline to register is June 20 for this workshop that celebrates all things writing, as well as being part of a community of writers.
“The week-long summer workshops is a very immersive experience,” Short said. “There are lots of online learning opportunities, and you certainly can gain plenty of craft tips from those. But when you’re together with other people who want to do this, you’re affirmed writing is a good and cool thing to be doing with part of your life. You’ll develop a support network and make connections that can last a lifetime and carry you through what’s next.
“Among all creative arts, writing can be very much a solitary activity,” Short added. “But getting that work out there in the world and feeling nurtured to keep creating that work is very much a community process.”
This year, AWW also celebrates its 30th anniversary.
“With any organization, especially a nonprofit, reaching the 30-year milestone is amazing,” Short said. “We started with Antioch College, and AWW was the brainchild of two instructors for whom we now have scholarships named: Bill Baker and Justin Jerome.
“It’s significant not only to be around that long,” she added, “but to keep a week-long immersive model that has changed in some ways but at its heart has stuck to this model: every summer, we dedicate time to get together and focus on creative writing and being a community of creative writers.”
And that community is inclusive of faculty, who also embrace the community philosophy of AWW and are as much a part of the experience as participants are.
“They remember what that’s like when you’re starting out and like to help people,” Short said.
AWW also fosters a community atmosphere because the summer workshop — along with all its events, including monthly seminars, fall and spring workshops, literary salons, and more — are a good fit for writers of all levels.
“If you’re just interested in writing and haven’t written anything since high school, consider at least coming to the keynote, which is free,” Short said. “But then come back the next morning to hear Nikki Giovanni’s craft talk — it may be just enough to get started again, to find motivation to continue a work in progress or inspiration for a piece in the works.”
The AWW summer workshop has a variety of options in its schedule, including:
The Full Week Experience: Attend the Saturday evening keynote on July 11 and Sunday Morning craft class July 12 with Nikki Giovanni, morning classes Monday-Friday (July 13-17) in fiction, poetry, nonfiction and professional skills for writers, and one afternoon seminar of your choice Sunday-Friday (July 12-17) focusing on either poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction (all of which include bringing a 10-20 page manuscript to workshop with a leader and peers) or “Getting Started,” which does not require a manuscript.
“A La Carte” Experience: Choose from these options:
- Saturday Seminar: July 11, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. — a one day prequel to the summer full-week Experience, focusing on inspiration and various craft topics. Includes Giovanni’s Saturday evening keynote and Sunday morning craft class.
- Morning Classes — Attend the Saturday evening keynote and Sunday morning craft class, as well as morning classes Monday-Friday (July 13-17) in fiction, poetry, nonfiction and professional skills for writers.
- Afternoon Only Seminar in ”Getting Started” — Attend the Saturday evening keynote and Sunday morning craft class and the afternoon Getting Started seminar (Sunday-Friday, July 12-17).
- Nikki Giovanni Saturday evening keynote (July 11) and Sunday Morning craft class (July 12) only.
“If anyone out there is feeling alone as a writer or feeling that writing is something other people out there do, we want them to know that’s not the case,” Short said. “I think people will be amazed at how truly welcoming and warm they’ll find the environment. This is one of the most diverse and friendliest writers workshops writers will attend.”