Melanie Bishop

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Back by popular demand: Playa Summer Lake opens a Second Modern Love Retreat in October


October 21 @ 4:00 pm – October 24 @ 10:00 am


Over the last fifteen years, the reader-submitted essays in the The New York Times Modern Love column have elevated many writers’ careers, leading some to agents, book deals, and even film adaptations. The column has led to a Modern Love Podcast (2015) and, most recently, a web-based anthology series on Amazon (2019), evidence of its continued popularity. With all that it has spawned, the column has become something of a cultural phenomenon. With 2.6 million readers, there is no greater exposure for a writer than The New York Times. This three-day retreat will provide plenty of time for immersion in the Modern Love column, while also giving participants unstructured time to work on their ideas and drafts. In our first class, we will study essays published in the column, analyzing them to discover their range of topics, writing styles, and narrative strategies. Each of us has within us the material for an essay appropriate to the column. (More likely, we all have several.) Once we’ve become more knowledgeable about essays that found their way into print, we’ll devote our second class to generating ideas through in-class exercises to discover our own Modern Love material. The love we explore can be romantic, platonic, unrequited, or familial. With feedback from peers and guidance from instructor, we will get started on a first draft. On our last evening together, before and after a shared dinner, we will have read-aloud workshops of essays-in-progress.

Open to writers of all levels. Some familiarity with the Modern Love column is assumed.

$575 includes instruction, lodging, welcoming Meet&Greet, one dinner, one lunch. (All cabins have kitchens and participants bring provisions for other meals.)

Playa Sept 4th 015

Rest, Write and Reboot in Your Private Cabin

Playa Sept 4th 011

Shed Worries from Home on These Walking Paths


Find Your Muse by the Pond

Learn more and register here.

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Three Upcoming Retreats at Playa Summer Lake in Oregon


Modern Love Weekend Retreat: October 11th through 13th. [SOLD OUT!]

“What We Write About When We Write About Love”

5-Day Memoir Retreat: October 14th through 19th.

“Finding and Shaping Your Original Material”

3-Day Modern Love Retreat: October 21st through 24th.  Because the first Modern Love retreat had a waiting list, Playa opened a second one.  Details here.

Click above for details and registration links.  

Find my Modern Love essay, from November of 2018 here: “I Would Have Driven Her Anywhere.” 

And an interview from 2014, by Vela Magazine editor Amanda Giracca:Crafting Memoir and Doing Grief.” Amanda studied memoir with me at Prescott College.


Find Your Muse by the Pond.


Playa Sept 4th 015

Rest, Write, and Reboot in your Private Cabin.


Playa Sept 4th 011

Shed your Worries from Home on These Walking Paths.





Melanie Photo for FB Page for Stanford class


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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…

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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.


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.


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.