It’s always wonderful to welcome new retreats to House of Light, and in June, we are delighted that award winning author, professor and performer, Nancy Stohlman, along with Kathy Fish will be bringing their group of writers, to dive into their creative flow of words for the Open Your Heart Open Your Art retreat.
Thank you Nancy for taking the time to share more about you and your work… we can’t wait to meet you and Kathy in person!
When did you first discover your love for writing and performing?
I’ve been reading, writing, and performing since childhood (as many future writers do). Growing up on military bases in Europe meant television in English was often not an option, and because we moved so often I became childhood best friends with authors and their books instead. Performance has also been part of my life for as long as I can remember–my parents were folk musicians (I was playing guitar and writing songs by age 10) and my mother started a Spanish clown troupe and recruited all of us (yes, I was a child clown). So…it’s in my blood.
So, what does Flash Fiction involves as a writer?
Flash fiction is all about compression, elimination, and the literary acrobatics required to tell a complete but compelling story in a small space.
I love novels, but as a writer (and reader) it’s a very different experience to tell a story when you have endless room to stretch out vs telling it in a restricted space. In that way I think flash fiction lies at the crossroads between the novel and poetry–we can tell epic stories with the skilled precision of language and white space, and the results are stunning.
Your bio describes you as a ‘rabble rouser’… tell us more!
I love to think out of the box and stir things up. I think that’s the job of all creative and visionary peopleto: envision possibilities where no one else sees them…yet. It’s really a sort of magic. And not only does this happen for me on the page, but also in the world. More than 10 years ago I started the Fbomb Flash fiction Reading Series–the first and longest running flash fiction centered reading series (it now has several spin-offs!) Around the same time I also started FlashNano: 30 stories in 30 days during the month of November. Last year was our 10th anniversary and we had over 2,000 participants! And of course five years ago Flash Fiction Retreats was just an idea I dreamed up with Kathy Fish–what if we could take writers to exotic places and give them the gift of just writing for a week? And now–poof! Here we are.
What do you love most about hosting your writing retreats… what’s the most fulfilling part of your work?
I love hosting writing retreats! Kathy Fish and I have often remarked that every retreat has its unique flavour: not only is each location unique, but each group that coalesces has its own signature. And honestly, the best part for me is creating a safe, nurturing, and inspiring container for other writers like me. I know well how challenging the day-to-day of writing can be–it’s solitary work by its very nature, and alone we can find ourselves in a rut, bogged down by real life and uninspired. Travel has always been my way out of ruts–forcing me out of comfort and back into the space of novelty. To be able to give others that same experience–not only travel, time, and novelty but a real creative community welcoming you on the other side–feels like the gift I needed to give myself. Watching others walk away rested and inspired, with new stories and a reset on their lives (even just a week of catching up on sleep!)–it’s a gift I feel lucky to be able to give.
What are you looking forward to most about coming to House of Light?
I’ve been admiring your space and your vibe for SO long now that it already feels like it will be a homecoming. I can’t wait to eat Ceri’s cooking, sit in those hammocks, and just be in Spain. And those yurts! Those views! Can I sit on your terrace and write all day, please! Plus I’ve never been to southern Spain–so I’m excited about that. But mostly I’m looking forward to meeting our group in person and engaging with all the brilliance they will inevitably bring to the table–we have a mix of new retreat participants and old retreat friends, so I’ve been extra inspired (and excited!) as I prepare my brand new workshop materials. It’s like the first time every time!
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Yes, we have 3 spots left, so if you are curious about flash fiction and/or want to commune with other writers for an amazing week of creativity, inspiration and renewal, then I’d love to chat with you! And if you want to know more about flash fiction, my book, Going Short: An Invitation to Flash Fiction, is re-releasing as an audiobook on March 15–it’s a wonderful primer for newbies and a valuable resource for flash fiction veterans.
And of course: thank you for having us and for your hospitality! We can’t wait to give real hugs soon!