Beauty in the Aftermath: A Creative Call to Action

Friends,

Are you feeling the shift? Something in the water these last few weeks… unfamiliar frequencies, extra static that you can’t quite put your finger on? A cautious shift into…joy? Hesitancy? Both?

In the U.S., there has been an impulse to move forward, and quickly! Take off your masks, everyone! Hug your friends! Go to Disneyworld! And yet it’s unsettling. For 18 months we’ve been dreaming of this kind of permission, but now we may feel stunned. Pausing in a fog of new feelings.

I’ve been trying to put a name to this feeling for weeks. It’s like slipping between worlds, inhabiting a strange, transitional, duty-free zone between here and there. A kind of reverse culture shock tinged with trauma.

Go with me for a minute…

You probably know about culture shock—if you’ve experienced it, you may remember feeling unmoored in the new spaces—not quite sure how to navigate in the face of so much difference. But…you eventually embraced the unfamiliar and opened your heart to the difference, and in that opening you found new ways, new foods, and new rituals.

I mean, that’s why we travel, right?

Fewer people talk about reverse culture shock. I first experienced it after spending 3 weeks on an anthropology trip in Nepal in college. We had been well prepared for the culture shock of Nepal—but, after 3 weeks of adjusting to a new everything: new climate, altitude, food, customs, time zone— we were completely unprepared for the re-entry. We had changed, and the old ways now seemed foreign and awkward. 

Returning created just as much disturbance as leaving—maybe more because we were unprepared for it.

But reverse culture shock is only part of the current equation. There is also the very real trauma of surviving a life-threatening situation. I don’t use the term PTSD lightly. But we carry the aftermath of life-threatening trauma—wars, accidents, abuse, starvation, or a deadly pandemic—in our bodies, sometimes for years, maybe even a lifetime. My grandparents lived in the shadow of the Depression for the rest of their lives.  

It was once explained to me that US soldiers in Vietnam began to experience more frequent instances of PTSD in part because of airplanes. In earlier wars, soldiers traveled home by ship, a process that took several weeks, and they traveled together. There was a natural buffer—a liminal time between the site of the trauma and the re-emerging into society. There were weeks of distance, processing, grieving, and connection among the soldiers that helped the re-entry process. But in Vietnam (and subsequent wars), most soldiers were debriefed and flown home on airplanes—leaving them only 18 hours to transition worlds. Which means they were in a war zone on Tuesday; thrown into their old lives and their old relationships on Wednesday. No wonder they struggled (and continue to struggle).
 
So combine the two—reverse culture shock with a bit of collective PTSD, and we get closer to defining this strange, in-between space we’re inhabiting these days. We are facing the aftermath and not sure how to reacclimate.

So now what?

What does a community of sensitive, emotionally attuned people do now, at this threshold? When there is a feeling of cosmic trepidation, hesitation, when making simple decisions seems overwhelming? When your creative work—wherever on the continuum you’ve been over the last 18 months—is again shifting. Perhaps the ripples we’ve been feeling is humanity herself shaking to be alive.

Now, as always, we turn to the artists—you and me—to hold a new vision of the world. More than ever we need the beauty makers and visionaries, the poets and painters and preachers. The storytellers. Our time has come, fellow art makers. Now, in the Reconstruction of our world—let’s help to leave it better and more beautiful than we found it.

Proud to be on your team,
Nancy
xoxo

“The Wacky, Weird, and Wonderful”–Zoom workshop fundraiser for Brilliant Flash Fiction

Virtual FUNDRAISING WORKSHOP WITH NANCY STOHLMAN

Saturday, JUNE 12, NOON MDT (Denver, CO, time)

Everyone attending the workshop will be eligible for a drawing to win one of 3 signed copies of Nancy Stohlman’s book, Going Short.

About the workshop:

“The Wacky, Weird, and Wonderful: Dazzling Narratives and Experimental Flash Fictions”

The constraints of flash fiction have ironically created a new sort of genre freedom, and flash fiction writers are embracing contortions that wouldn’t work in other forms: a motley circus of tightrope walkers and jugglers and trapeze artists plunging against their boundaries and defying narrative in breathtaking ways. In this one-hour workshop we’ll examine, discuss, and take bold risks with experimental narratives, attempting the kinds of literary acrobatics and daredevil antics that emerge when plots are forced to bend in small spaces.  

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From Brilliant Flash Fiction: If you want to attend this workshop, please email bffnonprofit@gmail.com with WORKSHOP in the subject line, giving your name and an email address where we can send a Zoom link. We ask participants to donate $20 by clicking the Donate button at brilliantflashfiction.com. Everyone attending the workshop will be eligible for a drawing to win one of 3 signed copies of Nancy Stohlman’s book, Going Short.

More info, as well as contests, submissions, and other awesomeness, at Brilliant Flash Fiction

Writer’s Digest Short Story Virtual Conference May 22-23

Thanks to everyone who registered for summer workshops–all workshops are now FULL, and I am looking forward to working with you all!

If you were not able to register for a workshop intensive: I will be participating in several live (Zoom) opportunities in May and June! The first one is this weekend, at the Writer’s Digest Short Story Virtual Conference:

Writer’s Digest Short Story Virtual Conference, May 21-23

Writer’s Digest is pleased to present an exclusive virtual conference for short story writers! On May 21-23, our Short Story Writing Virtual Conference will provide expert insights from SEVEN award-winning and best-selling authors on the finer points of how to write a short story. Spend the weekend learning techniques for honing your craft skills, marketing your short fiction, editing, and getting the tools you need to advance your career as a writer from seven different published authors.

Experience the education, camaraderie, and opportunities provided by a live writing conference without ever having to leave your home!

  • Marketing Short Fiction: The Science of Publishing by Jacob M. Appel
    The purpose of this session is to demystify the submission and selection process, ultimately leading to a more impressive acceptance to submission ratio.
  • Editing the Short Stuff by Windy Lynn Harris
    This session will walk you through a four-step plan to go from first draft to last with confidence.
  • Whose Story Is It Anyway?: Point of View in Short Stories by Ran Walker
    Award-winning author Ran Walker discusses the ins and outs, pros and cons, of using the various forms of point-of-view so that you can approach your next story with greater confidence.
  • How to Use Eight (vs Five) Senses in the Short Story by Jenny Bhatt
    During this session, we’ll look at practical examples from well-known short stories for how to leverage all eight senses in our own writing.
  • Going Short: Flash Fiction for the Flash-Curious by Nancy Stohlman
    In this session, veteran writer, publisher, and professor Nancy Stohlman will take you on a flash fiction journey to examine and discuss the fundamentals of flash, examine different approaches to the compressed narrative, debunk flash myths and distinguish flash fiction from its close cousins, the short story and the prose poem.
  • How to Develop an Enticing Story Premise by Rachel Swearingen
    In this session, you will learn how to use the elements of craft to discover the unique premise hiding in your material.
  • Worldbuilding and the Bi-valve Heart of the Story by Brenda Peynado
    This craft lesson will show you how to forecast the heart of the story within the first sentence or paragraph at the same time as it builds your fictional world, small or large—a family, a suburb, a spaceship, or a planet.

Info, full schedule, and registration for the conference:

***Going Short: Flash Fiction for the Flash-Curious will be held Saturday, May 22 at 3 pm EST/12 pm PST

Would love to “see” you there!

Summer Workshops: Registration Open!

Friends! It’s that time of year again! These will be the only “live” (asynchronous) workshops I will be offering until January 2022–I’m looking forward to working with everyone this summer!

Flash Flood: Write a Flash Novel

May 31-June 11, 2021 (FULL)

July 19-July 30 (FULL)

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Do you have a large, book-length idea that you’ve been wanting to bring to fruition? Do you want to end 2020 with your flash novel in progress? Do you love the intensity of FlashNano or NaNoWrimo? Then get ready: In 10 days we will create a literal “flash flood” and you will leave the workshop with the bones (at least) of a flash novel.

What’s a flash novel? With the scope and complexity of a novel, and the size and ingenuity of flash fiction, the flash novel is a new type of book, a breakout genre that can deliver a sophisticated reading experience in a compact space. In this online workshop will envision, draft, collage and create the momentum for that large-scale idea you have been wanting to tackle.

Participants should come with a basic understanding of flash fiction and have ideas for a book-length project.

NOTE: This class (taken this summer or previously) is the pre-requisite for the Flash Novel Mastermind


Going Short: Writing Beautiful Flash Fiction 

June 14-18, 2021 (FULL)

August 2-6, 2021 (FULL)

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This 5-day generative class will take a deeper dive into the concepts from Going Short to examine the fundamentals of flash, try a variety of approaches to the compressed narrative, discuss what makes successful flash, and generate your own original flash pieces.

This course is open to writers with all levels of experience in the form, whether you are brand new to flash fiction, a writer coming from other genres, or a veteran flasher looking for a dose of inspiration and some writing camaraderie.

Questions? Feel free to contact me at nancystohlman@gmail.com


The 12-Week Flash Novel Mastermind

Returning in September, 2021!

Get First Access to all courses

From Past Participants:

“Nancy’s class was a delight to take. Her incorporation of multimedia into each day’s approach motivated me on new levels, and her prompts opened doors to reimagining my stories in ways I had never before considered. The focus is on creation, not critique, which offered a comfort in that foggy, not-knowing phase of writing, something I’ve long struggled to find. This class was the gentle push I needed to dive head first into my ideas and let them carry me for while, before taking the reins. Thank you!”~Meagan Johanson

“Nancy Stohlman’s Flash Novel workshop was so helpful and so much fun I took it twice. Nancy’s wonderful course materials—readings, commentaries, exercises, critiques—arrive each morning like a magical gift to unwrap with the day’s first coffee. Now I’m hoping she’ll offer a Flash Novel Next Steps workshop!” ~ Sally Reno

“Nancy will help you to become a better writer—while having an awesome time. The best thing about working with her is that it doesn’t feel like work; the atmosphere is positive, generative, encouraging. I took her “Write a Flash Novel” class. These days I’ve become a slower, finicky writer, but her class pushed me out of my finickiness and into producing work. I wrote the hell out of those two weeks. Every day there was an inspiring prompt and lesson. It coaxed me out of dull perfectionism and allowed me to make a mess (a requisite for any artist).” ~Leonora Desar

“Nancy is a gifted teacher and coach, striking just the right balance between inspiration and discipline. In her Flash Novel workshop, I learned how to let go of preconceived ideas about my material and explore its larger possibilities for characters, structure, and plot. By the end of the class, I had lots of great ideas and a road map for getting them on the page.” ~Pedro Ponce

“The day I signed up for Nancy Stohlman’s “Flash Flood: Write a Flash Novel” workshop, I entered with five underdeveloped ideas. By the workshops conclusion, one of these ideas blossomed into a cast of characters with personalized desires, humor encompassed in varying flash forms, and previews of my fellow writers flash novels in-progress. This workshop enables writers to construct a table of contents, toy with characters (new and old), and exchange ideas on how to proceed in writing their novel in flash once the workshop ends.” ~K.B. Carle

“Nancy Stohlman’s Novel-in-Flash Workshop was a thoroughly rewarding experience. Nancy was an encouraging and passionate instructor. She fostered a supportive community of writers. Her knowledge of flash fiction helped me move out of my comfort zone and try out different techniques I would otherwise have been afraid of trying.”~Candace Hartsuyker

“Nancy Stohlman’s Novella in Flash Workshop moved my writing ahead in a direction I never imagined.  Before it began, I feared I’d signed up for more than I could handle. But, in a ‘flash’, Nancy, a generous person, with an infectious creative spirit assuaged those worries. From the first workshop day to the last I received encouragement and insightful responses to my writing.” ~Jo Goren

“Nancy’s class was a delight to take. Her incorporation of multimedia into each day’s approach motivated me on new levels, and her prompts opened doors to reimagining my stories in ways I had never before considered. The focus is on creation, not critique, which offered a comfort in that foggy, not-knowing phase of writing, something I’ve long struggled to find. This class was the gentle push I needed to dive head first into my ideas and let them carry me for while, before taking the reins. Thank you!”~Meagan Johanson

During these times of uncertainty and unknowing, Nancy Stohlman opens up the writer’s mind to embrace uncertainty and unknowing as a source of creativity and discovery for our potential as writers. Her workshops provide a safe environment to let things go and see what surprises return. ~Annie Bien

The Flash Novel workshop with Nancy Stohlman was an amazing immersive experience. I looked forward to each morning, wondering what she would cook up next! Her prompts worked miracles, opening my story, helping to push it out, guiding the work to the next place it needed to go. Im so grateful for her wise suggestions, her boundless supportand for the tools to maintain a daily writing practice to continue my project after the workshop was over. ~Jean Wolfersteig

Flash Flood: Writing the Flash Novel was the most inspiring and transformative writing workshop I have ever experienced, and I’ve participated in many good ones over the decades!  The structure was brilliant, including a craft lesson each morning replete with sample readings, reflective observations from Nancy, and a multi-layered prompt.  The flexibility allowed for each writer to respond in the way that was most meaningful for their project and where they were in their process. The small class size and the general good will of the writers created a warm and supportive sense of community from the first introductions. Nancy’s personalized and thoughtful comments arrived daily in response to each person’s work. I learned a wealth of new strategies that will continue to serve my writing for years to come.  I also gained valuable insight into areas where I needed to push myself to explore new directions and approaches.  I wrapped up this workshop with a solid collection of new work and a strong foundation for moving forward.  Flash Flood was a game changer for my writing and I will be forever grateful for having had the opportunity to work with Nancy! ~Katie Maxim