Mark Farrington

Mark Farrington is the Associate Program Director of the Teaching Writing Program at Johns Hopkins University and also is Senior Lecturer in the Hopkins MA Writing Program.

He has published several articles on the teaching of writing in the NWP Quarterly and Voice. His short fiction has appeared in CARVE, The Louisville Review, The New Virginia Review, and many other journals.

A native of New England, Mark now lives in Alexandria, Virginia, with his wife Christina and their springer spaniel Maddie.


Chapters, Excerpts, and Readings From Mark's Fiction


ivy creeping over a manor house
Manion In Darkness

This is the first chapter of a novel I have very recently finished and for which I am currently seeking an agent or editor. The novel grew out of the orignial short story "Motherlove," and if you read both it and this chapter, you'll see a lot of similarities.

Grown now and alone, Manion reaches for this one childhood memory: Eleven-years-old, trudging up a muddy mountain road on an afternoon of false spring, his feet sucking and slapping through the caramel mess, his unbuttoned coat flung open like a gunfighter clearing side arms.

Watch Mark read Motherlove at the Johns Hopkins Faculty Reading
father and son snowboots
My Father's Court

Recently awarded an Honorable Mention in the Momaya Short Story Review and soon to be published in their 2018 edition.

If you like this story, you might want to read the interview I gave to Chrysalis Editorial about writing the story. The process of writing it definitely brought me closer to my father.

There was a time the boy stood beside his father. Eight years old, ankle-deep in fresh- fallen snow, on the wide concrete step outside the back door of the high school gymnasium. A few straggling snowflakes flitter from an oatmeal sky. The boy’s father takes off one glove, pins it in his armpit, and searches the brass key ring attached to his belt, isolating each key and holding it up to the diffused light of the street lamp behind them, because the light above the back door isn’t working...

woman swimming in lake at night
The Lower Forty

“You hoped the summer before senior year would be uneventful, but your father ruined it by running off with a twenty-three-year-old to an artists’ colony in New Mexico. Your father isn’t even an artist. The twenty-three-year-old makes Native American jewelry, but you glimpsed her once, waiting beside your father’s car: blonde hair falling to her waist, blue eyes and rosy cheeks - hardly a Native American look. . .”

rocky path through autumn woods
What Splits Us

Things were going well with my girlfriend. Surprising, since we were both near forty and had never been married. Sara had one serious relationship, but the longest I’d been involved with a woman was five months. My fault, probably.

Something gets in my head, I can’t let it go. Like that piece of meat stuck between two teeth when there’s no floss handy; you pick and suck but never free it all...

coiled snakes in the dark
The Nest

Published in October Mountain: An Anthology of Berkshire Writers
Paul Metcalf, Ed.

She has an irrational fear of snakes. He wants to protect his new bride at all costs.

Better watch out for what’s hidden under the steps.

cemetary statue
Your Mother Should Know

Published in Stress City: A Big Book of Fiction by 51 DC Guys
Richard Peabody, Ed.

“Jay’s mother died seven years ago, on Mother’s Day. . . . Her death raised myriad feelings in Jay. He felt abandoned and betrayed. He felt as if the earth had turned to quicksand beneath his feet. Like some medieval surgeon had carved a hole in his gut, reached in and grabbed the thing at the core of him, yanked it out and tossed it onto the scrap heap. And this: relieved...

“Now she stood in the middle of the living room of the house she’d died in. Jay had no doubt it was her, although he couldn’t say why, exactly. Her looks, of course. And something else that went deeper. She was his mother.”


Mark has taught at Johns Hopkins since 1998, first as fiction advisor, then as assistant director and finally, as program director of the MA in Writing program. In 2016 he also became director of the new MA in Teaching Writing program. Although Mark still teaches fiction as a Senior Lecturer in the Writing Program, he currently focuses most of his efforts on Teaching Writing.

Johns Hopkins University
M.A. in Teaching Writing

The Master of Arts in Teaching Writing Program is a flexible, part-time program of online classes and face-to-face residencies, infused with the prestige, quality and value of Johns Hopkins University.

The goal of the MA in Teaching Writing Program is to improve the teaching of writing and student writing at all levels, K-University, and in all disciplines.

Follow the M.A. in Teaching Writing Program on Facebook.

Learn more about the M.A. in Teaching Writing Program
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Johns Hopkins University
MA in Writing Program, Fiction and Nonfiction

The MA in Writing Program offers concentrations in Fiction and Nonfiction and a myriad of courses in everything from Travel Writing to Novel Writing, and Screenwriting to Poetry, Memoir and Investigative Journalism.

The JHU graduate writing program reflects the school’s international reputation for academic rigor and creative innovation.

Follow the M.A. in Writing Program on Facebook.

Learn more about the M.A. in Writing Program
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Mark's Career
Program Director, Sr. Lecturer

For more than twenty years, Mark has been a Teacher and Consultant
with the Northern Virginia Writing Project (NWP)
as well as a member of their advisory board.

Three times he received the MA in Writing Program’s
Outstanding Teaching Award, and has also received
the Outstanding Faculty Award from the Advanced Academic Programs.

Mark has recently completed a novel, Manion in Darkness. Read the first chapter here.

Read Mark's Full Bio

On Writing and Teaching Writing

“Fiction Techniques”
Journal of the Virginia Writing Project, Fall 2014
Read Article
“Four Principles Toward Teaching the Craft of Revision”
The National Writing Project Quarterly (NWP)
Read Article
“Note Taking and Note Making in Freshman Composition”
The National Writing Project Quarterly (NWP)
Read Article
“A Short Take on Revision”
The NWP Voice
Read Article
Try a Writing Exercise
An Exercise in Structure

This is the nonfiction version of the fictional short story, “The Nest,” which was published in October Mountain: An Anthology of Berkshire Writers. I’ve also used this piece to build a writing exercise on teaching revision. You can access it here.

Try Exercise
Download as PDF
Summer Residency
M.A. in Teaching Writing Residency | Bar Harbor, Maine

Every July, the Teaching Writing Program offers a 7-10 day residency on the best practices in the teaching of writing. The location changes year to year, and most years, Teaching Writing joints with students in the M.A. in Writing Program and the Science Writing Program for the Johns Hopkins Summer Conference on Craft. In 2017, the conference took place at the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine.

Check out the media below for more info

Photos from the 2017 Summer Residency in Bar Harbor, Maine

A short video with the participants in the Teaching Writing Residency


Interviews and Community


On the Writing Process

“When I first started writing fiction, I was young, and I told myself I wanted to write fiction but looking back, I’d say what I most wanted was to have written fiction. I cared about the product but didn’t much like the process. I tended to write only when I felt guilty, and I’d write only long enough until I no longer felt guilty. Then I’d stop writing and go do something I enjoyed.”

“Those feelings came mostly from the pressure I put on myself, and from wanting to be more an author than a writer. Things started to change when I stopped putting so much pressure on myself to produce something that would make others proud of me...”

Q & A After Winning Editor's Choice Award

“This was a difficult story to write, and I had no idea how it would be received. Someone once called me an “emotional writer,” which I agree with in the sense that of primary importance to me is capturing the emotional truth of my characters and the story.”

On Writing Inspiration

“My father passed away a few weeks before Confessions: fact or fiction? came out. He was 88 years old and had been sick for several months, so his death was not surprising. What did surprise me was the intensity of the sadness and sense of loss I felt. My father and I had always been friendly toward each other, but we had never been close...”

Some Favorite Writers, Publications and Writing Educators

Tim Wendel
Tim Wendel is the author of 13 books (novels and narrative nonfiction) and a writer-in-residence at Johns Hopkins University.
Visit Tim's Page
Leslie Pietrzyk
Leslie is the author of the novel Silver Girl, released in February 2018 by Unnamed Press.
She often teaches in the MA Program in Writing at Johns Hopkins University.
Visit Leslie's Page
Michelle Brafman
Michelle is a filmmaker and author who teaches creative writing at The Johns Hopkins MA in Writing Program and smaller workshops throughout the D.C. area.
Visit Michelle's Page
Dave Housely
An editor of Barrelhouse magazine, Dave is also one of the founders and current primary organizer of the Conversations and Connections writer's conference held each year.
Visit Dave's Page
CARVE Magazine
Carve has published HONEST FICTION online since 2000 and hosts the annual Raymond Carver Short Story Contest. Print and digital quarterly issues feature poetry, nonfiction, interviews, illustrations, and more.
Northern Virgina Writing Project
The mission of the Northern Virginia Writing Project is to improve writing instruction, writing practice, and learning at all educational levels; to develop teacher leaders across the disciplines and elevate their professional standing; and, to provide support for young writers and their families.
Visit the NVWP
National Writing Project (NWP)
The National Writing Project focuses the knowledge, expertise, and leadership of our nation's educators on sustained efforts to improve writing and learning for all learners.
Visit the NWP


Have a Question or Comment? Get in Touch with Mark