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with love + defiance

a (letter) writing sanctuary

A writing course on encounter.

Come write with me.
August 19th-September 27th

There is so much beauty in the ordinary and Isabel’s writing courses have made me notice what is happening at the edges of my life and pay attention to the moments that are beyond my usual focus. This practice has given me space to see and feel it all and have it witnessed in her group spaces. Every emotion, every detail, every contradiction is recognized and honoured. I live in the details and the prompts have deeply sweetened that awareness for me. Each time it changes me and I will sign up for every single one she offers.
— Renee Magnusson

Letter Writing

We write letters to send to the one person, for their eyes only.
We write letters to write and never send, as a way of saying what we need to say, to know the words live some place else besides our own body.

We write open letters, the personal always political, critical thought mingling with creative expression, our own voice speaking to the many through the familiarity of the singular.

We write letters to the editor and essay letters to the celebrity crush who changed our life forever and Dear John letters that are part regret and part full freedom.

We write letters to inanimate objects breathed to living things through the intimacy of language.

It is this, the nature of letter writing as a creative writing form so deeply intimate, that pulls us in and allows for us to say things we might not otherwise find the words to say. For it is deeply relational. We cross the bridge from the detachment of I-it, writing as if there is us the subject and an object separate from ourselves we can use and discard, and move toward the intimacy of I-thou, writing in relationship, gloriously affected and continually brought to a state of wonder. It may be thank you or it may be rage. Either way, we are here fully human, not removed and isolated from that which we make art and know as art.

To write a letter is to be in the realm of encounter.

This is the invitation.

Come write with me.

How it works:

  • This writing sanctuary is six week weeks. Six creative writing explorations in letter form
    Including: a letter to location, place and space; letters to your younger self and future self; open letters, letters we could not send, letters to the forgotten, love letters of liberation.

  • Weekly letters from me to you delivered Monday morning in your inbox. These will include reflections and musings, prompts of possibility for beginning, like the question that invites intimate conversation, recipes of wonder and imagination for why and ways of writing so directly and intimately like skin to skin through word to word. There will be specific prompts for a letter essay or two you might want to write that week. These letters from me are yours to keep for as long as you want.

  • We gather together in our private sanctuary group online. (This is optional. You can choose to receive the prompts and engage with them in your own writing practice privately if you choose to.) I will be in our group Monday, Wednesday and Friday to read every word shared, to connect there with each with you. You are also welcome to share any of your writing privately with me via email for reflection and feedback if you want and choose.

  • Mondays we will have a check in with how we are in our own writing process and where this writing form is taking us, each in our own ways.
    Wednesday I will offer us shorter letter writing prompts: think post it note poems of sorts, ways of using our intimate and expressive and the personal is always political writing muscles without censor and second guessing. A celebration and riot and come closer and what I really need to say.

Isabels Writing Sanctuary’s are a sacred safe container for exploring and sharing your words and thoughts. This is not a place where you are told what to write but an invitation into exploring your own inner truths. There is a deep tenderness in opening up and sharing your writing in such a safe way. And in this sharing, listening to the beautiful way others respond to the daily writing prompts in turn opens up more questions, it’s a beautiful thing.
I have felt totally honoured to be part of these groups and I will continue to take part in these Writing Sanctuary’s for as long as I can.
— Tracey Sharpe


Date: August 19th-September 27th
Cost: $129

Time commitment: the writing prompts come Monday and if you want to write one letter week this may take you one hour or ten hours, depending upon what it is you are working with. You are not required to complete things and can show up with what you have which may be two sentences or simply an “I’m here.” All is welcome and we all write in our ways and at our pace. I recommend making a commitment in the beginning with yourself, and keeping it doable. This isn’t about a sprint or proving our worth in some self-imposed sense of mastery. This is about showing up and listening and allowing ourselves to be fed by the act of paying attention and the art of what is real.

Who this is for: this is for humans who want a writing practice that feeds you and supports you in listening to life and paying attention to the world inside you and the world right in front of you and the world around you, intimately and honestly. For new writers, long time writers, artists of all kinds. For journal writers, academic writers, freedom writers, fearful writers, private writers, curious writers. For the human.

Want to donate to the scholarship fund? You can do so HERE.

Need a scholarship to participate? Contact me HERE.

“Isabel uses words that cut, without being cutting, claiming for all a fierce clarity and bold kindness while offering a darkly comforting refuge for the lived, the living and the pain/joy of being human.”

- Janelle Hardy