In this course, we’ll explore the possibilities of flash nonfiction and how the form’s shape offers us a way to highlight and explore those resonant moments (flashes!) of life that contextualize our lived experience. What are the moments we return to in our memories to relive? What are the small observations that spin us into reflection? How does an object represent an entire relationship?
Each week, students will read examples of contemporary flash nonfiction—Jill Christman, Lia Purpura, Shawn Wen, Lee Martin, Patricia Smith—and receive optional writing prompts. We’ll talk about pulling together essays from seemingly-disparate objects, arguing contrarian perspectives, and experimenting with borrowed genres. Students will also each write and workshop one piece of original flash nonfiction, and provide their peers with feedback.
We’ll conclude the course with an overview of how and where to submit flash in the literary publishing scene.
This course is best-suited for students with prior workshop experience, particularly nonfiction writers who want to try their hand a new form and poets interested in exploring a different genre.
Class meetings will be held over video chat, using Zoom accessed from your private class page. While you can use Zoom from your browser, we recommend downloading the desktop client so you have access to all platform features.
- Write at least one original flash nonfiction piece
- Receive detailed feedback from instructor and peers
- Overview of the publication process for literary journals and suggestions for potential outlets
- Access to Catapult's list of writing opportunities and important submission deadlines, as well as a 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
Each week: read 3 flash essays by contemporary writers, write craft excises, and read and provide feedback on student workshop submissions
Over the whole course: Write 1 flash essay (under 1,000 words)
Week One: Introductions, Expectations, and Scheduling; Memoir vs. Essays
Week Two: Workshop Group #1; Research/Object Essays
Week Three: Workshop Group #2; Contrarian Essays
Week Four: Workshop Group #3; Hermit Crab Essays
Week Five: Workshop Group #4; Lyric Essays
Week Six: Workshop Group #5; Revision and Publishing Flash
"This class was amazing, I learned how to write better and discovered new techniques that I wasn't even aware of. Alysia is an overall great professor, she's always answered the classes questions and worked with each of us to be successful in her class. I would love to take a future class with her. "
"Alysia is an amazing instructor and I would excitedly take one of her classes again and recommend her to my friends. She's passionate about the class and incredibly helpful at answering for what works well, but never made me feel like one way of doing things was the "right way" in a creative sense, which is difficult to do. "
"In this probing and emotionally intelligent book, Alysia Sawchyn uses all the tools in an essayist’s belt to reject the easy binaries we see in many personal narratives: wellness/disorder, injury/ recovery, or past/future. A FISH GROWING LUNGS works instead to show how the majority of living occurs in grayer spaces where multiple modes of being are not just possible; they are inevitable."
"The essays in A FISH GROWING LUNGS offer an intimate, vulnerable, and entirely spellbinding exploration of addiction, identity, and one writer’s struggle to become whole. This debut collection is searingly honest, beautifully written, and Alysia Sawchyn is a fresh new voice."