Into the Flash Course Update

As many of you know, ITF is my signature, 5-week, online flash form writing class that has been a tremendous source of joy and creativity for me, for seven years. This year, I cannot teach this course. 

Here’s why: In my twenties, I had a breakdown. The person who, at the time, was the deepest love of my life, lost his mind and was hospitalized. This happened while I was simultaneously working at a boarding school that demanded more of me than was healthy; but I didn’t have boundaries yet. I didn’t know myself well enough yet, either. I lost myself in the job, then I left the job, and I lost the lover who emerged, months later still kind and talented but not the same. “It all worked out in the end,” as they say–and I completely agree–but damn did it hurt while I was in it. How did I dig myself out? By leaving teaching, living in an off the grid cabin, splitting wood for rent-trade, writing, and applying to grad school. Within 9 months I had six acceptance letters on my desk and a decision to make. It was one of the best feelings I’ve ever experienced.

Guess what happened in my thirties? I had a breakdown. I lost myself in a life I could have lived, felt with every cell I needed to live, and yet was not meant to be. That life would have been in Alaska and all I can tell you now is that there is a tiny, dead, version of me in a very specific place in that state and she will always be there–dead, lingering, broken, confused. I have written poems to her. I have mentally flown 5,000 miles to retrieve her. I have carried her on my back to North Carolina and told her she would have to let go of who she thought she was and what she thought she meant to become. How did I dig myself out? By living in an Airstream, waitressing two shifts a week, and revising a book that got rejected 42 times but eventually went on to win two awards and be taught at the United States Air Force Academy. Within a year, I’d met the man who would be my future husband–the truest love of my life and a source of great silliness, intelligence, exploration, and joy–and launched a book tour that connected me with communities I still care very deeply about today.

Guess what happened last year, yep, in my forties? You know how this goes. You lived through 2020, too, and I mean that quite literally. If you are reading this, you survived. You did not die in the pandemic that is currently killing more people every day than we are wont to admit. But we are more than our bodies. Other parts of us can die, too, and I suspect that for many of us, we are still coming to terms with exactly how much damage 2020 wrought, and what 2021 needs to look like as we reshape ourselves and our country anew. Having a small child at home and a husband on reduced pay despite his exposure to COVID as he worked with patients in an anti-masking community, undid me. I am very, very tired. I am also still–somehow–very, very in love with this world. I want to feel myself in it–alive, infused, laughing–and I want others to feel this way, too. How will I dig myself out? I will rest. I will hold true to my part-time hours, no matter what. I will write more. I will dream more. I will read more. I will walk more. I will marvel at trees more–TREES, people, TREES–and how their trunks burst forth and rise up. It astonishes me every day; this miracle of persistence. I keep staring at the place where the trunk meets the soil as if it will offer some clue, some answer, to this miracle of faith and strength.

And you know what? It has. Here’s the answer I keep hearing in my mind, which I also heard in my mind in my twenties and thirties: Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Just because I can keep teaching, and even if it’s something I love to teach, doesn’t mean that I should. Which is why:

  • Into the Flash will not be offered in 2021.
  • I will be slow to respond to email, especially starting in April.
  • I will still always respond to your emails, so don’t stop sharing with me, please; I value what you do and want to hear about it.
  • My Monthly Mentees will remain at the top of my inbox, my focus, and my heart. Would this program support you? Email me now if you think you’re poised for deep work and support.
  • My craving for uninterrupted focus will not be denied; this is what I will fight for. This is what that fist, that Presidential message, that tree rising up…all symbolize for me.

If you need some flash writing inspiration for the spring, consider my Flash in a Flash e-course. Lessons are delivered to your inbox once a day, for 5 days, and include task lists and full email access to the instructor. Busy? Save the lessons for a rainy day—they’re yours to keep forever and I’ll be standing by.

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