A Silent Abyss

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by Michelle Arch

Last month I published my 500th post on my literary weblog Archetype. When I created the site in 2009, I had recently begun the dual English and Creative Writing graduate program at Chapman University and wanted to maintain a virtual writing workshop or MAB (multi-author blog) for artistic experimentation. At the time, I was immersed in the process of literary coursework, reveling in each newly discovered or rediscovered text and learning to conduct scholarly research and master’s level composition. And, most importantly, I was writing fiction again and risking what seemed the ultimate rejection and ridicule by (gads!) sharing my work with peers and professors. I was a first-year MA/MFA student, and I was terrified and exhilarated and self-conscious and buoyed. It was glorious.

My classmates spoke often of graduation, calculating with anticipation how much longer until they finished their degrees and could get on with their lives. I understood their eagerness to graduate; it is the objective, after all. But my situation was different. Pardon the cliché, but I was there for the journey, not the destination. For me, graduation signified the end of a creative existence I had spent half a lifetime trying to resume. I was high on academia, and degree conferral loomed like an ambiguous buzzkill. Consequently, I took my time through the program and didn’t think about finishing; I wanted merely to be in the moment, sitting in classes and attending readings and flying to conferences and looking for hidden treasures in the library and studying and writing in blissful perpetuity.

Just as I never imagined actually graduating, I couldn’t foresee beyond perhaps a year of posting when I launched Archetype. I didn’t have a long-range plan for the site or even a vision of an audience; I simply wanted a space in which to articulate the moments of joy and angst I was experiencing and share the poems, passages, and images that have moved me in some grand way, a probable void accessible to everyone and accessed by no one. In the beginning, I was well aware that many of my posts lived in the blogosphere unread. And, oddly, I was okay with that. There was a satisfaction of simply knowing that my words were out there…wherever “there” was.

Until very recently, my compulsion has always been to write, not necessarily to be read. My beloved Poe referred often to this intrinsic value of art without function. Ah, yes…l’art pour l’art. I get it – I truly do. So here I am, over four years and five hundred posts later, both trapped and liberated by “an unseizable force” that impels some of us to observe and question and reflect and write in a silent abyss with no end in sight. I work, I attend classes, I read, and I occasionally vacuum. Outside of those hours, I write. When I like something I’ve written, I celebrate with a glass of champagne. And when I really like something I’ve written, I post it on my blog for the world to read. Or not.

It is thus that we live, they say, driven by an unseizable force. They say that the novelists never catch it; that it goes hurtling through their nets and leaves them torn to ribbons. This, they say, is what we live by – this unseizable force.

~ Virginia Woolf, Jacob’s Room

Michelle Arch)Michelle Arch is a graduate student at Chapman University who is completing the MFA in Creative Writing degree in May 2014. She holds a Master of Arts degree in English, a Master of Business Administration degree, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre and English. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, the Modern Language Association, the Association of Writers & Writing Programs, and the Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society. An excerpt from her novel in progress, Time of Death, won First Prize in the Fiction Writing Contest sponsored by The Editorial Department, Second Prize in the WestBow Press Writing Contest, and Third Prize in the Beverly Bush Smith Aspiring Writer Award competition at the 2012 Orange County Christian Writers Conference.

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