Amye Archer has an MFA in Creative Writing from Wilkes University. Her work has appeared in PANK Magazine, Twins Magazine, Provincetown Arts Magazine, The Ampersand Review, and Boston Literary Magazine. Her first chapbook, No One Ever Looks Up was published by Pudding House Press in 2007. Her new chapbook, A Shotgun Life, was published by Big Table Publishing in 2011. She currently adjuncts at 9,000 different schools, and is the Reviews Editor for [PANK]. You can read her blog at www.amyearcher.com.
Tell us about your relationship to your art.
My art and I first met as freshmen in college. He was dangerous and unkempt, and I knew if I let him in, he would destroy me from the inside out. So, I danced around him a bit, for many years, until I found a place we could be together and survive one another. That place was motherhood.
What's a project (yours or another's) that has been exciting you lately?
I've been working on a full-length poetry manuscript that started off revolving around 80's hairband music, but has come to include reflections on my own musical lineage. My father is an accomplished drummer, as was his father. Also, all of the women in my family have, at one time or another, been married to or in a relationship with a musician. So it's turned into an examination of the way music has been intertwined in my life even at a very young age.
As far as other projects go, I am very excited about the renewed interest in the short story. I feel like there have been some really good collections released lately, with more on the way. With my schedule being what it is, short stories have always appealed to me, plus it's usually all I have time for.
Tell us a little of your motherhood journey.
My journey to motherhood was an unusual one. I was married before and tried in vain for a few years to get pregnant, it never happened. Then, after I met my current husband, I was the proud owner of a surprise pregnancy...of twins! So, whether it was Karma or something else, there was a reason things worked out as they did. Now, I am mommy to Samantha and Penelope, five year old identical twin girls.
What are some crucial elements of your process? How has that changed since having children?
I just finished a full-length memoir, which took me about two and a half years to write. So, my process when I'm working on a book is very different than when I'm writing essays or poems. When I'm working on a book, I have to monitor myself carefully. It's very easy to become consumed by that fire inside of you.
When I was writing my memoir, I found that I wrote better in the morning, and for short bursts. I would take the girls to daycare and write for about three hours straight, then, I was done. Some days, when it wouldn't come, I wouldn't force it.
Another thing I would like to address here is that I made a conscious decision to put my daughters in daycare when they were three years old so that I could teach and write my book. I would often cry at the large amounts of guilt that piled themselves up inside of me, but in the end, I knew that I would be a better mother if I was writing and doing what I loved, even if it meant they had to go to daycare for a few hours a day.
What are some of the ways your family and your art interact?
I write about my children all of the time. If I'm not writing about them, I'm reading to them. Sometimes I let them "help" me with a story and we write one together. Usually it's very character driven and there's no plot, but, I give them a pass sine they can only scribble in crayon.
I was a very big reader when I was growing up, and I'm working hard to foster that same love of books in them.
Do you find your attitude towards your art might be different because of your parenting / has it changed since you became a parent?
My situation is a little different in that my art did not begin until my children came along. It was having them that allowed me the ability and justification for quitting a very monotonous 9-5 job and to pursue my writing full time.
However, I will say that having children has given my art a new and deeper meaning. Whereas I used to write poetry and small pieces for the masses, I find I am always writing with my girls as an audience. I am always aware of the fact that I am preserving some sort of legacy for them.
Are your children ever subjects in your art?
(I think I answered this earlier)
How does travel figure into your art? Do/did your children come along? How has that worked out?
I'm very lucky to have a wonderful and supportive spouse, and a very helpful bunch of grandparents who stay with my girls when I need to travel for my writing. Whenever possible, however, I do want to start taking them along...now that they're five and don't projectile vomit in public anymore.
What about promoting the arts with your own children--any fun projects to share?
I would say the library is the best place to start. My local library always have arts and crafts for children of any age. I started taking my girls when they were two, and they have loved it ever since.
How do you escape?
I don't. I haven't figured that one out yet. If you have any suggestions, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
What advice do you have for expectant mothers in your field?
I think the biggest and best piece of advice I could give is to shed yourself of that wasted emotion of guilt. Your children will survive if they have to go to Grandma's house for a few hours because you have a poem in your gut that you are just dying to meet. It took me a long time to come to this realization myself. But my writing is who I am. It's as instrumental to my existence as breathing. To be deprived of that makes you flat somehow, and no one really benefits from that.