Introducing #MWW24 Faculty Melissa Fraterrigo

Meet Melissa Fraterrigo

Melissa Fraterrigo is the author of the novel Glory Days (University of Nebraska Press, 2017), which was named one of “The Best Fiction Books of 2017” by the Chicago Review of Books as well as the story collection The Longest Pregnancy (Livingston Press, 2006). The University of Nebraska Press will publish her forthcoming collection of essays, The Perils of Girlhood. She founded the Lafayette Writers’ Studio in Lafayette, Indiana, and also teaches creative writing at Purdue University. Find out more at

Melissa will be teaching “As I Live: Writing the Every Day” and “Revision & Reviving: A Revision Workshop” (bring something to revise, if you’d like!) and participating in the panel, “Tuning out the Noise.”

Check out the Full Faculty and the Conference Schedule

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Q&A with Melissa

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Melissa for a few years now, and I’m delighted that she’s a part of this year’s faculty. As the head of the Lafayette Writers Studio, editor, and author, Melissa is a powerhouse and has a discerning eye for what works in writing. Her classes and her wisdom are excellent resources for MWW attendees.

MWW: I know you’ll be teaching an entire session on this, but I love this idea of “writing the every day.” Can you please provide an example of something you’ve taken from an ordinary day and turned into a scene, story, or essay?

MF: I love cookies. Making them, eating them, and pondering new recipes. When my daughters were younger, we routinely made cookies together. They were so small then that I’d let them sit on the counter and add ingredients to the mixer. During the pandemic, we did a fair bit of baking, but now my daughters are older, the pandemic has mainly ended, and yet I still crave the process of the three of us making something sweet together. I ended up turning this notion of cookies into a whole essay. It includes scenes with my diabetic grandma and our relationship, information about prediabetes, what it’s like to be a mother of teen daughters, and different cookies, obviously!

MWW: In The Writing Life, Annie Dillard says “Several delusions weaken the writer’s resolve to throw away work.” Tell us about a time you edited something out of a book that was difficult. Why did you make the decision to remove it and how did it change the story?

MF: I don’t know that I believe in throwing away work. Often it simply needs to be repurposed or placed elsewhere. Case-in-point, my forthcoming essay collection, THE PERILS OF GIRLHOOD. One of the reviewers noted that the concluding essay placed too much emphasis on my husband when the book as a whole is more about my daughters and my process of mothering. Yet the book ends with this beautiful paragraph in the second person that really completes the book as a whole and helps it come full circle. I realized that that concluding paragraph actually worked well as an ending to another essay, one that more firmly spotlighted my daughters and what it means to be a girl, so I spliced that ending and placed it onto this other essay and wrote a new ending for the essay that lost its initial ending. Still, I had to be open to rethinking both of these essays rather than remaining married to the original versions.

You always have to be committed to writing your very best no matter how challenging that is. Sometimes it just takes another reader (or three!) for such insight to sink in.

MWW: What is one “trick” or method you use to help get you to the page even when life is overwhelming you from all sides?

MF: I try to keep the stakes low and make the writing appealing. One way I do this is to set up my writing space the night before so that even when I am bleary eyed and have a trillion things to do, when I sit down at my desk, I can focus solely on my work. Just this tiny act reminds me that my writing matters.

MWW: What are some books on craft you’d recommend to our attendees?

MF: Big Magic- Elizabeth Gilbert; Writing Past Dark – Bonnie Friedman; The Mindful Writer– Dinty W. Moore; The Situation and the Story – Vivian Gornick; Telling Stories– Lee Martin

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