Melanie Bishop

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What We Write About When We Write About Love

Writing the Modern Love Essay
Stanford Continuing Studies
July 13 and 20, 2019
On Campus
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Course Description:
Many writers who have had their essay accepted for The New York Times ’s “Modern Love” column have said that the experience changed their lives: Agents and publishers were calling, essays were optioned for films, and the experience was oddly more exciting than having a first book published. There are few greater exposures for writers—the Sunday New York Times has 2.6 million readers, and “Modern Love” is one of its most popular columns. In this two-day intensive, we will first discuss and analyze readings from Modern Love: 50 True and Extraordinary Tales of Desire, Deceit, and Devotion, the anthology of “Modern Love” essays collected by column editor Daniel Jones. Students will complete exercises to unearth their own best “Modern Love” material—romantic or familial love—and get feedback on which ideas pique classmates’ interest. Students will leave the first class with the beginnings of an essay, which they will develop over the next week. For the second week, we will read and discuss drafts-in-progress. This workshop, open to new and experienced writers, can help strengthen your skills and confidence in writing short personal essays, regardless of where you ultimately seek to publish. Each student will leave with a working draft, encouragement, suggestions for revision, how-to-submit info, and an expanded awareness of this thing called love.

Melanie Bishop, Faculty Emeritus, Creative Writing, Prescott College

Melanie Bishop’s “Modern Love” essay I Would Have Driven Her Anywhere appeared in The New York Times in 2018. Her novel My So-Called Ruined Life was a finalist for the John Gardner Fiction Book Award. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in The Huffington Post, Vela, Glimmer Train, The Georgetown Review, Valley Guide, and elsewhere. After teaching college writing for twenty-two years, Bishop now offers instruction, editing, and coaching through Lexi Services.

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Featured in “The Writer’s Spotlight,” Stanford Continuing Studies

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The Writer’s Spotlight

“The bit that ended up published in ‘Modern Love’ was originally part of a much longer essay about my mother, titled ‘Final Instructions for Princesses.’ I started it during a month-long residency at Djerassi1 in spring of 2016 and finished a draft in the spring of 2018, holed up in a studio at Arcosanti2. It was long and unwieldy, and I knew it needed more pruning than I’d already done, but I was too close to the material to do the necessary cutting. So I hired an excellent editor, Dawn Raffel. Her comments were enormously helpful, and one thing she said was, “I feel like the mother/daughter car wants to be an essay of its own.”   Read more…