It’s hard for me to believe that four years ago on this day, with a succinct, autogenous “Hello, World!” announcing its quiet arrival on the heavily populated, cyber literary landscape, Archetype was launched. Conceived originally to chronicle my journey through Chapman University’s dual Master of Arts in English and Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program and provide a forum for peer critique and camaraderie, I promptly posted passages from one of my short stories (“Windmill Ridge”) and my novel-in-progress Time of Death and invited classmates to contribute their work. I also posted original essay excerpts on Jonathan Franzen and the waning of a literary America (“Antisocial or socially isolated?”), mirrors and reflective imagery in world literature (“Masks, Manipulation, and Madness”), and the notion of the invoked doppelganger in fiction (“The Self We Seek”), all of which I was studying in those first few months of back-to-school bliss.
Like any creative endeavor, the site evolved as I did and now reflects my deepening involvement in and abiding commitment to literary and academic pursuits. In addition to promoting Chapman fiction and poetry readings and publication opportunities, I mine journals and the Internet for interesting and informative local events taking place beyond the university’s borders. Details regarding local and national writing contests and Calls for Submissions are also posted regularly, which I think my small but dedicated audience appreciates. Most recently, I’ve added a section for the growing number of my guest blog posts, my interviews, and other places where I’ve stumbled pleasantly upon my own work.
Followers know that I most often post poems and passages that have timely personal significance. From my occasional struggles with insomnia and feelings of isolation to my simple delight in a book or summer peach, each post, like a journal entry, suggests precisely where I am intellectually and emotionally. Early on I rejoiced to find pictures, particularly eighteenth and nineteenth century oil paintings, that evoked or complemented the literary piece I was posting, and I now spend nearly as much time searching for corresponding artwork as I do on literature.
Thanks to my passionate professors and their fascinating courses on Oscar Wilde and the Aesthetic Movement, the life and works of Virginia Woolf, female enchantresses of modern British literature, and Gothic and fantastic fiction, Wilde, Woolf, and the works of A. S. Byatt, Katherine Mansfield, Angela Carter, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Edgar Allan Poe were frequent early Archetype subjects. Posts on Wilde culminated in November 2009 with the writing of my course thesis on The Picture of Dorian Gray (“The Act of Creation,” “Wilde Irony”), while Woolf reigned in the fall of 2010. (Click on these links to review excerpts from “The I in the Portrait: A Bakhtinian Analysis of The Picture of Dorian Gray” and “On the Wings of Angels and Butterflies: The Chaotic Journey to Woman in Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse.”) My penchant for Russian literature and philosophy was also soon discovered, and I immersed myself and, by extension, Archetype in Gogol, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and Nabokov and began to examine just about everything through the lens of Mikhail Bakhtin. Later courses exposed me to the intriguing life and works of Gertrude Stein (“Back to Bakhtin: The ‘I’ in Ida”), Junot Díaz, Ralph Ellison, and many others, and every newly encountered author was explored here to some extent.
The craft of writing is another recurrent theme on Archetype; “In Celebration of Technique,” “Last Writes,” “More is More,” “Not Quite Write,” “Drafting Perfection,” and “A Sense of Style” are a few of my personal favorites. However, it is the angst of writing about which I tend to muse and articulate most freely; “Why Write?,” “One True Sentence,” “Bird by Bird,” “Write About Now,” “Demons and Darlings,” “The Reality of Rejection,” “In conclusion…,” “A New Summer of Writing,” and “The Write Stuff” all convey my own grapples with the creative stall and feelings of inadequacy.
With the MA in English recently attained, a few modest awards under my belt, and conferral of the MFA degree scheduled for next spring, I can’t help but consider what’s next – for me academically and literarily and for this site. It’s no secret among those who know me best that PhD programs in both English and Comparative Literature are especially enticing next prospects. However, with applicant admission rates of approximately four to five percent at local universities, I’m keeping the likelihood of acceptance in perspective. Nonetheless, the pursuit of admittance will be next summer’s undertaking and will, of course, be recounted here. For now, my focus will remain on completing and defending my MFA thesis, submitting my short fiction and nonfiction work to various conferences and journals, and preparing for the Graduate Record Examination. Oh, yes…and there is still my novel to finish (“This is the Year”).
During the last 48 months, I have published 487 posts about literature, critical theory and writing technique, literary figures and events, submission opportunities, favorite poems and passages, articles of interest, books I’m reading, papers I’m writing, other literary blogs I’m following, conferences I’m attending, and demons I’m wrestling. Archetype celebrates holidays, welcomes new seasons, and even gives the occasional nod to lunar activity. Finally, personal aspects of my affective life and literary journey are memorialized and shared (“Write of Passage,” “Cartwheels Under the Arch,” “Pathetic Fallacy,” “Beyond Words,” “On the Write Track”), even when the discovery and healing are mine alone. The site maintains a small but seemingly loyal band of subscribers and blogroll partners, to whom I feel completely accountable and utterly grateful. I hope you will all follow me through this final chapter at Chapman and into the next – wherever the next may lead.