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Six 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 in 2009 to chronicle my academic 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 published original essay excerpts on Jonathan Franzen and the waning of a literary America (“Antisocial or socially isolated?”, “‘Tis the good reader that makes the good book”), 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.

362px-Th_Richter_Dame_in_der_BibliothekLike any creative endeavor, the site evolved as I did and soon reflected my deepening involvement in and abiding commitment to literary and academic pursuits.  In addition to promoting Chapman fiction and poetry readings and publication opportunities in those first years, I mined 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 were and still are also posted regularly.  In 2012, I 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 in the cybersphere.

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 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 compelling 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.  My essay on chaos theory and the butterfly effect in the works of Virginia Woolf remains my SophieAndersonTakethefairfaceofWomanproudest literary achievement to date and will serve as my Ph.D. application writing sample next year.  (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; “Genetics-Based Grammarianism,” “In Celebration of Technique,” “Last Writes,” “More is More,” “Not Quite Write,” “Drafting Perfection,” and “A Sense of Style” are 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,” “The Joy of Ending Well,” “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 attained two years ago, a few modest writing awards under my belt (“Praise for Time of Death,” “On the Write Track”), and conferral of the MFA degree this past January, I’ve been in the process of considering what’s next these past few months – for me academically and literarily and for this site (“A Silent Abyss,” “A Beginning and an Ending,” “Writing in the Afterlife”). As I’ve mentioned recently on Archetype (“Это правда?”) and in an interview on TreeHouse, I’m planning to apply to various Ph.D. programs in English, Comparative Literature, and/or Rhetoric; however, with applicant admission rates of approximately four to five percent at local universities, I’m keeping the likelihood of acceptance in perspective.

GOTTHA~1Nonetheless, the pursuit of admittance will be next year’s undertaking and will, of course, be recounted here.  For the immediate time being, my focus will remain on submitting my short fiction and nonfiction work to various conferences and journals, launching a part-time freelance writing and editing career, and preparing for both the General and Literature in English Graduate Record Examinations.  (A list of my current study resources is provided in the sidebar to the right.)  And there is still the full novel to finish and market (“This is the Year,” “This is That Summer,” “Writing in the Aftermath”).

During the last seventy-two months, I have published 695 posts about literature, critical theory, 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 gives the occasional nod to lunar activity – and much-needed sleep.  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,” “Finis”), even when the discovery and healing are mine alone.  I hope you will all follow me as this new narrative begins.

 

Levitan_Sokolniki_Autumn_1879

 

 

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April is National Poetry Writing Month, also known as NaPoWriMo, an annual creative writing event that challenges participants to write a new poem each day from April 1 through April 30.  NaPoWriMo coincides with National Poetry Month, which is celebrated annually in America and Canada.

The project was founded by Maureen Thorson in 2003 and modeled after NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, which challenges participants to write 50,000 words of a new novel in the month of November.  Since its inception, the number of registered participants has grown steadily every year, and many writers’ organizations coordinate NaPoWriMo activities.

For a comprehensive list of FAQs, guidelines, and daily prompts, visit the website at http://www.napowrimo.net.

Have fun, and good luck!

 

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With the first of November just around the corner, writers everywhere are stockpiling food and saying farewell to their family and friends as they prepare to hole up in their writing caves until December 1. November is National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo, an annual internet-based creative writing event that challenges participants to write a new 50,000-word novel in thirty days.

The project was founded by Chris Baty in 1999 with twenty-one participants, and the official NaNoWriMo website was launched the following year. The number of registered participants has grown steadily every year, and the affiliate Young Writers Program and official podcast were developed in 2005.  In 2010, over 200,000 writers registered for the challenge, and nearly three billion new words were written.  A summer version of NaNoWriMo (Camp NaNoWriMo) was introduced in 2011.

Many of us in Chapman University’s MFA program have impending thesis deadlines, and the NaNoWriMo challenge gives us the perfect opportunity and support to complete this critical component of our degree requirements, particularly if we have decided to start a new project for the thesis or complete a novel rather than a collection of short stories.

The novel can be on any theme and in any genre. However, it cannot be a project already in progress.  Writing of the new novel cannot have commenced prior to midnight on November 1, and the 50,000-word mark must be reached by 11:59 p.m. on November 30.

For a comprehensive list of FAQs and guidelines, visit the website at www.nanowrimo.org.

Have fun, and good luck!

 

NaNoWriMo

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Presented annually by the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program, the Writers Studio brings together a community of writing students to workshop with some of Southern California’s most esteemed professional writers and teachers.

Participants select one of ten intensive four-day workshops in creative writing and screenwriting planned for the 2014 Writers Studio, including Courage and Craft: A Writing Workshop to Jumpstart Your Creativity, Writing the First Novel, Writing the Young Adult Novel, Novel Revision Techniques, and Writing Memoir and Personal Essay.  Enrollment is on a first come, first served basis, and each class is limited to fifteen students.  Early registration is strongly advised.

The Writers Studio fee of $895 ($815 through January 6, 2014) includes enrollment in one four-day workshop February 6-9, a continental breakfast on Thursday, a special Saturday guest speaker event, and a Sunday reception.

For more information and to register, visit the website at http://blogs.uclaextension.edu/writers/programs-services/writers-studio.

 

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With the 1st of November just a few days away, writers everywhere are stockpiling food and saying farewell to their family and friends as they prepare to hole up in their writing caves until December 1.  November is National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo, an annual internet-based creative writing event that challenges participants to write a new 50,000-word novel in thirty days.

The project was founded by Chris Baty in 1999 with 21 participants, and the official NaNoWriMo website was launched the following year.  The number of registered participants has grown steadily every year, and the affiliate Young Writers Program and official podcast were developed in 2005.  In 2010, over 200,000 writers registered for the challenge, and nearly three billion new words were written.  A summer version of NaNoWriMo (Camp NaNoWriMo) was launched in 2011 and was held in April and July this year.

Many of us in Chapman University’s MFA program have impending thesis deadlines, and the NaNoWriMo challenge gives us the perfect opportunity and support to complete this critical component of our degree requirements, particularly if we have decided to start a new project for the thesis or complete a novel rather than a collection of short stories.

The novel can be on any theme and in any genre.  However, it cannot be a project already in progress.  Writing of the new novel cannot have commenced prior to midnight on November 1, and the 50,000-word mark must be reached by 11:59 p.m. on November 30.

For a comprehensive list of FAQs and guidelines, visit the website at www.nanowrimo.org.

Have fun, and good luck!

 

NaNoWriMo

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In perusing the application requirements of local Ph.D. programs in English and Comparative Literature ever so nonchalantly two years ago, it came to my attention that one (note the indefinite pronoun) must be proficient in at least one foreign language (typically French, German, or Latin) and have an adequate competence in another to even be considered for candidacy.  Is this true? I wondered, feeling instantly defeated.  As it turns out, it is true for nearly all literature programs and is certainly required early in the English program at most universities.

It would seem, therefore, that, in addition to completing the course work for the Master of Arts in English program (check), passing the university’s comprehensive English exam (check), writing the book-length MFA thesis (um…working on this still), scoring well on both the General GRE and the GRE Literature in English Subject Test (yes, some programs require scores for both exams), obtaining three letters of recommendation, and submitting a truly superior writing sample, a master’s student would have to pick up French or Latin and, say, Russian (how else would “one” get to wallow in Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, and Nabokov for months on end?) at some point between graduation and selecting a target Ph.D. program.  Какая сумасшедшая идея!  Or, in English, it is madness!

While reading the dual-language edition of Crime and Punishment provides its own measure of reward, it’s not going to suffice if fluency in Russian is the objective.  And there is the required Latin or French to be learned, as well.  My writer friend Ian Prichard has recommended the Michel Thomas Method for learning to speak a foreign language; however, it doesn’t provide training in reading and writing.  One Chapman professor has suggested Duolingo, which offers extensive writing lessons and dictation, and I’ve read favorable reviews about the widely known Rosetta Stone Version 4 TOTALe for serious language students.  I plan to research them all and report back with my own experience.

Most would argue, of course, that the best and possibly only way to truly learn a language is to immerse oneself in the culture and dialects of a country by exploring its regions in person.  Alas, I may therefore have to schedule trips to St. Petersburg and Paris for crash courses in their language and literature.  Well, if “one” must…

 

Anichkov Palace Library in St. Petersburg, 1869

Anichkov Palace Library in St. Petersburg, 1869

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Betsy-Amster-jpg-e1360621744716-150x150The Pen on Fire Writers Salon is pleased to present an evening with literary agent Betsy Amster for a discussion on “How to Catch an Agent’s Attention with a Great Query Letter” on Tuesday, April 23, at 7:00 p.m.  This monthly salon is hosted by Barbara DeMarco-Barrett and features authors, literary agents, and others involved in the field of writing.  The events take place in the atmospheric Scape Gallery in Corona del Mar and entail readings, literary discussions, and book signings.

Amster is president of Betsy Amster Literary Enterprises, a full-service literary agency located in Los Angeles and Portland.  Before opening her agency in 1992, she spent ten years as an editor at Pantheon and Vintage, two divisions of Random House, and two years as editorial director of The Globe Pequot Press.  Her clients include bestselling novelists María Amparo Escandón and Joy Nicholson and authors Will Allen, Kim Boyce, Linda Venis, and many others.

Amster specializes in literary fiction, voice-driven mysteries and thrillers, narrative nonfiction, memoirs, and a wide array of practical nonfiction.  Her agency works with both first-time and established writers with expert attention to every aspect of the publishing process.

Advance tickets are required to guarantee a seat at this event, which typically sells out fast.  To read more about the speakers or the Pen on Fire Writers Salon and to purchase tickets, visit www.barbarademarcobarrett.com.

 

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