A few months ago I won a scholarship to The Antioch Writers’ Workshop. It took place mid July in Yellow Springs, Ohio and I tripped it from Columbus to go nerd out at book camp (or something.) I spent my time in writing seminars, specialized classes for poetry and nonfiction and trying to find Dave Chapelle (I didn’t.)
The keynote speaker was the writer Andre Dubus the III. He was very engaging and lively, the type of person who asks your name and remembers it hours later. I learned a great deal about character development from his morning craft class. Yellow Springs is something of a hippie town, progressive and pretty liberal. I stopped along an eclectic little block of shops, wafts of patchouli in the air and tie dye as far as the eye could see. In this block was Dark Star Books, a book store with a mix of comics, manga and floor to ceiling bookshelves. There was an assortment of literary and nerdy trinkets and I had to stop myself from going home with a stuffed Totoro. I also heard rumblings about a book store cat roaming around, but he was as elusive as the wily Chappelle.
Clifton Mills was close by so I decided to see it. It might as well have been a Bob Ross painting. I was hoping it would be a nice place to sit and write, but it was a little more touristy than I hoped. Still, it was secluded enough and I spent a good deal of time just wandering the area.
I spent a lot of my days driving to and from Antioch University to my Civil War themed hotel in Cedarville (weird, I know), traipsing through back country roads, losing wifi and realizing how much I depend on it for modern survival. It began the basis of a story in which a technology dependent girl gets stranded on the side of the road in a strange small town and stumbles upon a murder plot. I, uh, may or may not have become paranoid when I lost signal to my GPS and was about to run out of gas in the rain at night fall. Most of the story was written in my head as I panicked and imagined myself being eaten by wolves…because, you know. That happens.
There is something about Yellow Springs, about the Midwest in general, conducive to inspired writing. Something about open skies, grain elevators and sprawling fields perhaps. I gathered a lot of inspiration during my time there, and not just from the workshop. Yellow Springs can be quite charming.