I wrote this in 1998, I think, when I was unsuccessfully applying to MFA programs. I actually used this as my Statement of Purpose. It was published in the Chicago Review a couple of years later.


Statement of Purpose

(adapted from The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron with Mark Bryan; Media Marketing: How to Get Your Name and Story in Print and on the Air by Peter G. Miller; and from the graduate admissions and promotional materials of writing programs at Brown University, Stanford University, the State University of New York at Buffalo, the University of Houston, the University of Illinois at Chicago, the University of Michigan, and Washington University in St. Louis)

To write is to bring representation and the suggestion of scientific method to the marketing of enlightened self-promotion. It is to be intimately connected to a high-tech ecosystem which overflows organically into a newer, better Graduate Record Examination. That is why, as a writer, I am a talented person. I reparent the artist-child who yearns to be a recognized authority; I pay too much in order to wear weird self-empowering clothing; I think of the universe as a vast electrical sea and of myself quoted in a national magazine. When I — a peripatetic Jungian — go to your cultural mecca to explore the beautiful irreverent shorthand of a profound, profane corporate brochure, the snowflake pattern of my soul will emerge, and, spiritually unblocking, I will become a controversial activist for ethnic and gender collages.

My life has always included strong internal directives. Well-packaged ideas, I call them. Although not always filled with sex and violence, they combine the comfortable nondenominational noncourse educational experiences of Poet Laureate Robert Hass with the sensuous television consciousness of solvent self-affirmer Sharon Olds, and accompany these attempts at conceptual and discursive emotional incest with literary modeling by Kafka, Proust, Woolf, Joyce, Pound, and Stevens. I tell this story not to drop names, but for reasons of ego and commerce. I want to work seriously with a unique community of writers, scholars, and critics in a program which, while current, is not overly specific.

As a kid my dad thought my art was an “unruly multisubjective activity.” That made me feel I was a multidimensional management consultant in pursuit of lush plants, plump pillows, experimental nonlinear interactive space: in other words, of one wonderfully nurturing self-loving something. As I have grown deeper, I have continued to rediscover that my creativity requires a sense of flow and stability different from other’s humility. I believe that the rituals of power and authority which traverse your writing package will fully open to me this sense of abundance — will allow me to perfect my craft and to immerse myself luxuriously in a rewarding publishing and teaching career. In return, I am certain I can contribute to your collective intellectual process by helping your institution maintain its competitive synchronicity.