Skip to main content

Review: Modern Love: 50 True and Extraordinary Tales of Desire, Deceit, and Devotion

I ordered Modern Love: 50 True and Extraordinary Tales of Desire, Deceit, and Devotion from for a simple reason: I'd like to place an essay in "Modern Love," a column that runs every Sunday in the New York Times that has to do with -- you guessed it -- love.

I've tried before, and after re-reading those essays, I saw why they weren't accepted: they were angry and jumbled, more the rantings of a broken heart that something someone who doesn't know me would want to read. I've been trying to write about the same relationship since it ended almost three years ago, but I don't think I had enough distance from the break up to write about it clearly.

I touched on this topic in my review of Cleaving. If I didn't have enough distance years after a break up, I doubt Powell should have been writing about the dissolution of her marriage while it was still happening.

The capper on trying this project again: the October ASJA newsletter interviewed Daniel Jones, who edits the column, about how to land something, too. Best way to land the assignment is to read what's already been published, right?

There is no right or wrong thing to write about, it seems -- the anthology includes essays on being a gay teenager at a prom, the don't ask, don't tell policy, the death of a child. Some essays are simply "here's my story."

Reading the anthology of past essays has helped me write out my story I was only into the second essay that I started re-writing the story I've tried so many times to write before. I kept getting back out of bed to type up what I thought would be a few notes about what I wanted to say. An hour later, I'd finished the shell of the essay, long before I finished reading all 50 entries in the book. I didn't feel angst-y in writing about what happened, or re-living those events in my head. That's a good sign that it's finally time to write about it.

So far, I've gone through five drafts, and I think I have a few more to go. I'll send it to a few writers to get their take, too, to tell me where they see flaws, where I need to expand, and what I need to cut. The revisions are the tedious, craft part. I could say writing it was easy, though I've been trying to write this story for so long. Maybe time will make this draft the right one to make it into print.

If my essay is not selected for the column, I'll keep reworking, revising, and sending it to other publications. Essay writing is unlike any other writing I do. Not only am I writing about myself, but I finish the essay and ask someone to publish it, rather than asking for the assignment and then writing. This is probably why I don't write as many essays anymore. I'm so busy with work that I know will pay that it's hard to carve out time to take a risk on something that might not ever see the light of day.

But I'm glad I tried. I like writing essays. I think I have something to say. I'll keep you posted...


martha said…
you could become a real-life Carrie Bradshaw :D
Unknown said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jen A. Miller said…
This comment has been removed by the author.

Popular posts from this blog

Welcome Back to Book a Week with Jen!

Hello hello! Yes, the rumors (that I started) are true. On New Year's Day, I fired up the old Book a Week with Jen blog, gave it a new domain, and I'm going to be writing about my reading habits once again. If you don't know me, my name is Jen A. Miller , and I'm a freelance writer and author. I've been freelancing now for 17 years, and in that time, have written hundreds of articles, three books ( two about the Jersey Shore and one about running ), and two ebooks ( both about freelance writing ). If you're not new around here, wow a lot has changed. I wrote a memoir , picked up a regular running column for the New York Times , and put that back down again. I ran a lot of marathons, and got into ultra marathoning, which lead me to run my first 24 hour race on New Year's Eve/New Year's Day 2020/2021 . My first dog, Emily, died in 2017 . I sold my first home, lived out of my car for a year traveling the country , scooped up a scruffy cattle dog mix in Ida

Book 5 of 52: Stormy Weather by Carl Hiaasen

I don't always try to match my reading to what I'm doing, but when I go to Florida, I try to pack at least one Florida weird book. There was no better novel to bring with me to read on a ferry from Key West to Dry Tortugas National Park , than Carl Hiaasen's Stormy Weather . Hiaasen was writing about #floridaman before #floridaman was a thing (and when this - # - was the pound sign).  Stormy Weather is set in 1992 in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, which is still the most destructive hurricane to have ever hit Florida, and only one of four hurricanes to make landfall in the U.S. still at Category 5 strength. According to the Miami Herald , Hurricane Andrew destroyed 63,000 homes and damaged another 101,241. Such disasters bring out the best in humanity but also the worst. F raud flowed into South Florida in Andrew's wake . That's where  Stormy Weather comes in. From an advertising executive who yanks his new wife away from their Walt Disney World honeymoon to r

Book 11 of 52: The World Without Us by Alan Weisman

In my travels, I've accumulated photos in what I call the "Plants Where They Shouldn't Be" series. They're of weeds, flowers and trees growing in places that look uncomfortable: poking out of lava that's OK to walk on but warm enough to generate steam, growing around a mile marker on the road, sprouting on the back of a parking sign - that kind of thing. On the cheesy side, they're reminders that we can flourish in the most unlikely circumstances. On a more realistic end, they show that humans are constantly battling back nature, and that someday we'll probably lose the fight. I thought about those photos when I read  book 8 of 52 Station Eleven  (and watched  the HBO Max adaptation ), which show a world without 99.99 percent of our current human population. The story focuses on people, of course, but set them in a world where the things humans have created - electricity, internet, buildings, bridges, roads - are being taken back by nature. A Jersey Sh