Melissa Bank '82 returns to campus for President's Forum
Melissa Bank '82, author of The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing and The Wonder Spot, returned to campus as the first alum of the Colleges to participate in the President's Forum. This was her first visit since 1999, when she read from her first novel; it went on to spend 16 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and was translated into 28 languages.
Bank preceded a reading of her latest novel, The Wonder Spot, with words of wisdom and encouragement for other writers. While writing comes easily to some, she said, it took her ten years to write Girls' Guide. “Writing has always been hard for me,” she explained, “but I write for the times when it's going well… there's honor in overcoming something that doesn't come easily.”
After reading a chapter from her new book entitled Teenage Romance, Bank took questions from the audience. She discussed her writing processes and the struggles that sometimes ensue, such as the pressure for an author to perform on a second novel after their first is a great success. “I can't read anything while I'm writing,” she said, “I'm so desperate not to write like myself, I'll write like anybody.” The key, though, is to “find material where you belong, what belongs to you. Find inspiration everywhere and turn it into your own thing.”
Majoring in American Studies at William Smith, Bank went on to earn a Masters in Fine Arts for fiction at Cornell University. Her other literary honors include the 1993 Nelson Algren Award for her short fiction, plus pieces in many publications. Today, she splits her time between New York City and Sag Harbor.