YELLOW SPRINGS — Ed Davis and Moriel Rothman-Zecher met at Emporium Wines & Underdog Cafe in Yellow Springs this January to plan a writing workshop.
When they decided to do it in March, they expected the planning process to be simple.
“We thought this was going to be so easy,” Davis said.
Davis serves as chair of the Education Committee and trustee of the Tecumseh Land Trust (TLT). He worked with Rothman-Zecher, a published author who lives in Yellow Springs, to make this workshop a TLT event. It was held over two Sundays, June 21 and 28, and was open to poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction writers at any level.
Rothman-Zecher and Davis, who worked as an administrator and advertiser for the event, originally planned to hold the workshop at the Glen Helen nature preserve in Yellow Springs. Then the coronavirus hit Greene County, and they had to change their plans.
They decided that Rothman-Zecher would host the workshop, called “Writing with the World,” via Zoom.
To be appropriate for a TLT event, the theme for the workshop had to relate to nature, Davis said. As the main designer of the event, Rothman-Zecher focused on using nature in writing in the context of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s less about the healing powers [of nature], as such,” Rothman-Zecher said in an email interview, “and more about the reminder that we are all small parts of a bigger thing, and that there is inspiration and solace to be drawn from remembering that, and writing with that emphasis in mind.”
On the first Sunday, Rothman-Zecher and participants discussed writing, wrote their own pieces and participated in a Q&A session. The following Sunday, they each met with Rothman-Zecher individually through Zoom.
Rothman-Zecher has hosted online workshops before, for Catapult Writers Program, the Miami Book Fair and Ohioana Library. Nonetheless, this workshop presented challenges for him.
He said it was difficult to write about nature when participants were using computers.
“But I think we managed to bridge that gap,” he said, “and connect to the world around us.”
The writers were able to connect to each other, too, Rothman-Zecher said. After the first session, he said the group was laughing and talking together through their screens.
Zoom presented benefits as well as challenges, he explained. Some of the workshop participants were from Florida and were only able to join because the workshop was online.
Though the TLT isn’t planning another writing workshop, Davis said it may host an essay contest in the future. The TLT also holds poetry readings every December.
Though this workshop didn’t turn out the way Rothman-Zecher and Davis expected, Rothman-Zecher said, “I felt that there was a sense of a shared process, even as the online format is complicated.”
Cedarville University senior Madeleine Mosher is an intern for Greene County News.