Melanie Bishop


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What We Write About When We Write About Love

Writing the Modern Love Essaybrian rea illustration modern love
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.
ENROLLMENT LIMITED TO 21. REGISTER HERE:

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…


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Appreciating Modern Love Readers

In the last ten days I’ve received so many wonderful letters from people who read the NY Times Modern Love essay, “I Would Have Driven Her Anywhere.”  Some readers wrote comments here on my website, some emailed me directly, and some emailed the editor at the NY Times, who forwarded them to me. I APPRECIATE THEM ALL SO VERY MUCH. Here’s one I just received today, from Whitney in Portland, Oregon.

Melanie:

I just wanted to thank you. Like so many of the people who have commented on your blog, I am a regular reader of the Modern Love column; however, I cannot think of the last time a piece has made me cry. In fact, I’ve read your column a handful of times, and I cannot make it to the last couple of paragraphs before feeling the lump in my throat.
My family lost my grandma to dementia nearly ten years ago, but she only passed away last June. I emailed your column to my dad (he confessed the emotional impact it had on him too), and I really enjoyed getting to reminisce with him over Thanksgiving – she too would cry “Ow!” whenever my dad lifted her into his car, and my sister and I drove her Ford Escort station wagon until it finally died a few years back.
I cannot believe how often I am reminded of her by the silliest, smallest things. But thank you so much for the opportunity to think of her again.
Sincerely,
Whitney


10 Comments

Thank you, kind readers.

The emails and texts and comments here on the site are such affirming evidence that we are not alone in the trenches of caring for a parent with dementia. When you’re in it, though, it feels alien and isolating. Thanks SO MUCH for sharing reactions and ways the Modern Love essay resonated with you, thereby drawing us all together in this common human experience.

For those of you who said you wanted to read more, here’s a link to an earlier essay I did on grief for Vela Magazine: “In the Form of Birds”

And hoping soon you will be able to read “Final Instructions for Princesses,” a piece of longform nonfiction about my mother. Circulating! Fingers crossed!

Thanks also to Modern Love and New York Times for bringing this essay to readers.

           —Melanie


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James River Writers Conference

James River Writers

Writing Across Genres and Mediums
Speakers: Melanie Bishop, Clay McLeod Chapman, Sona Charaipotra, Pamela Samuels Young
Moderator: Douglas Jones
Room: E10A-B
Track: Methods of Storytelling
From short stories to screenwriting, this panel offers a primer on the techniques, tools, and discipline needed to be successful with different forms of writing, in case you don’t want to write just one.

 

Stop Shortchanging Short Stories
Speakers: Melanie Bishop, Lina Maria Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas, Virginia Pye
Moderator: Kristin Swenson
Room: TBA
Track: Methods of Storytelling
Have you heard of the New Yorker story “Cat People” and the seven figure deal the author landed? This panel explores why short stories matter, what writing them can do for emerging and established writers, and where to send them.

 

First Pages

Speakers: Melanie Bishop, Moe Ferrara, Dara Kaye, Latoya Smith
Moderator: Bill Blume
Readers: TBA
Room: E10A-B
Three agents and one editor across a broad spectrum of publishing listen to and critique first pages, read on the spot so the audience can hear their initial reactions. First pages should grab and not let go. Listen to the insights and gentle criticism from the experts. Will someone be “discovered” this year?

 

Coping with Deadline Hell

Speakers: Melanie Bishop, Tyree Daye, Virginia Pye
Moderator: Michael Paul Williams
Room: TBA
Track: 21st Century Self-care
Looming deadlines can make your anxiety feel like it is on steroids. Mistakes easily occur when time is running out. Learn techniques, tips, and the essential checklists to review before hitting send.