Approaching Mystery: Writing Flash Memoir about Wonder and the Unexplained

5-Week Online Class

Approaching Mystery: Writing Flash Memoir about Wonder and the Unexplained

September 10 - October 14

$260 if registered by 08/20/2018
$310 if registered after 08/20/2018

Your course registration includes a free 4-issue subscription to Creative Nonfiction or a free ebook; click here for more details.

Refund and cancellation policies


Instructor: Joanna Cooper

Flash poses a challenge: how to tell a meaningful story in few words.

This course will show you how the flash memoir form is particularly suited to representing the mystery of the writer’s mind. Even as it remains grounded in the reality of lived experience, flash memoir can capture the absurd or surreal quality of everyday life.

The short pieces you compose in this course could become foundations for longer works (essay/memoir) or remain stand alone "flash" pieces. Alternately, you could see them as writing practice, as a way to loosen up and access your creativity. You will explore the parameters and promises of creative nonfiction and how the particular conventions of the flash essay can be a rich source of inspiration.

In this course you will:

  • focus on judicious use of concrete detail, development of individual voice, and creation of character and scene through suggestion;
  • engage in creative play and discovery, even as you delve into serious subjects;
  • receive feedback from the instructor along the way; and by the end of the course; and
  • develop  a portfolio of flash pieces or a longer essay composed of shorter vignettes.

Week 1: Childhood Scenes: Image as Anchor and Key
Week 2: Secrets, Slippage, and the Mystery of the Everyday
Week 3: Memory, Grief, and Wonder
Week 4: Memoir, the Surreal, and the Writer's Mind
Week 5: Locating the Self/Jumping Off

See the complete syllabus here »

See schedule of all available classes »


* US residents will receive a complimentary 4-issue subscription to Creative Nonfiction magazine with their online course registration (or a 4-issue extension to their existing subscription). Students outside the US can receive a free copy of the ebook Creating Nonfiction: Lessons from the Voice of the Genre, or can choose to receive a 4-issue print subscription for the cost of shipping fees. We regret that we are not able to offer complimentary digital subscriptions for international students at this time.

If you are an international student who would like a print subscription, please click here to add the cost of shipping to your order total. If you prefer the ebook, contact us at after you register.

Refund and cancellation policies

By 5pm EST on the Monday before classes begin (one week prior to start date):

  • Students may request a refund (less a $50 application fee). You may also request a transfer (no fee) to another course in the same term or future term. Transfer credits must be applied within two years from your cancellation date.

By 5pm EST on the Friday at the end of the first week of classes:

  • Students may transfer their enrollment credit to a future course (less a $95 processing fee for 10-week courses or a $75 processing fee for 5-week courses). Transfer credits must be applied within two years from your cancellation date.
  • Students may switch to another class in the same term (subject to availability) for a $25 fee.

No refunds or transfers will be offered after this deadline.