Katia Raina

The Magic Mirror

Back to School — and More News!

BACK TO SCHOOL. Be it memories, starting work again, or sending kids off to yet another school year, those three words mean so many different things for so many people.

For me, they now mean late mornings and afternoons when I can truly focus and go for it, making each hour count. (Yay!)

Please forgive my rather infrequent posts lately. I have to be really strict with myself as far as how much time I spend here vs. revising the book and working on a new one. It’s almost like, the more time I have, the more seriously I need to take this now. You know?

So “Magic Mirror” and social networking and such goes way to the bottom of the priorities’ list.

But first, I have another piece of news to announce. This year – and what an amazing, eventful year it is turning out to be – “back to school” means something else for me. It took me a while (um years, actually) to come to this decision, but finally I am diving in. In January 2013, I will be starting my studies at the Vermont College of Fine Arts, pursuing a low residency MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults.

My friend, Patti Brown, a Vermont College alumni and a brilliant writer who I predict has the capacity to make great things happen one day in the world of children’s’ literature, was the first inspiration for this decision. And then another friend of mine, author of sporty YA fiction Keri Mikulski kept telling me “you’re an MFA. I can just see it.”

“Nah,” I told two of my dearest writing friends. “Not for me. No time. No money.”

“I’d love to,” I told them. “But I can’t, just can’t.”

But even then, deep down I knew, my friends were right.

Here is the thing about such a degree, if any of you ever consider it. You need to realize it’s not an automatic thing: get an MFA — become a published author. I think most people know it — sort of — but it bears repeating anyway. An MFA is not going to solve all your problems. It isn’t cheap, either – no one can afford the loans, if we could, we wouldn’t take them out in the first place, would we? The connections you make there will only be as good as your latest manuscript. Some programs can hurt you more than then can help you. And — a program of formal writing study doesn’t work for everyone.

Despite all this, I am pretty positive, it will work for me. :)

First, I am a student by heart, I’ve always done well with studies (even though I swear this is the last degree I will get — or attempt to pursue: I have tried going for a teaching degree a few years ago. But the truth had been: it wasn’t something I wanted, not really — just something I told myself I desired — not the same thing at all). Secondly, I love analyzing a well-crafted novel, taking it apart, scene by scene, then putting it back together again to get a real feel for how the masters did it. Also, in my writing, I aim for a fusion of the fast-paced and the literary. I think every great book can be both at its heart, and this kind of thinking seems to be in line with the Vermont  program.

I think I am going for the right reasons. I am going to Vermont to seek out an even bigger community of writers — and anyone who loves young adult books. I am going because I need a degree in  order to teach creative writing someday — something I think I will love doing.

Finally, and most important of all, I am going to work on my craft, to push myself as far as I can go.

I can’t wait, and of course I will keep you posted on my MFA adventures here when the time comes.

Meanwhile, happy Back to School to everyone, whatever it means to you!

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September 9, 2012 - Posted by | Personal Mirror, Writing Mirror | , , ,

8 Comments »

  1. Congrats to you Katia for pursuing a dream and also a future in teaching. It’s nice to know that you go into it with a novel in the pipeline already! For me, back to school means hearing the school bus go by my house twice a day. I love that rhythm. But I also love knowing that I am no longer teaching. I am writing and very happy doing so.

    Comment by joycemoyerhostetter | September 10, 2012 | Reply

    • Dear Joyce. The future in teaching is a bit different from doing it on, like, a middle school or high school level, the way you used to — and the way I once considered doing. For me, I think college-level writing instruction would be a nice complement to my true passion. And you know what that is :)
      P.S. I love the way you describe what back to school means to you. I can just see it — a lovely feeling of freedom. :)

      Comment by Katia Raina | September 10, 2012 | Reply

  2. Katia, I am thrilled and excited for you! I wish I could go back with you–I loved VCFA that much! VCFA has changed since I’ve been there. There were some significant ‘birthing pains’ that it had to endure as it separated from it’s mother school to become an independent college. But those changes have only made it more fabulous than ever. I can’t begin to describe the wonderful experience that you will have or the incredible people you will meet. (I was a mentor to an incoming student once, and by the end of her first semester, she punched me and said, “Why the F^&! didn’t you tell me how GREAT this experience would be!” ) It will be different for you, I am sure, but no less wonderful. And you, my dear friend, deserve no less than the best! I recommended you without reservation. You’re going to do well and in what feels like a couple heartbeats, you’ll be Katia Raina MFA. :) Best of luck and have a great time!
    -PB
    PS Thanks for the kudos. You’ve been an inspiration all along!

    Comment by Patti Brown | September 10, 2012 | Reply

    • I wish you could go back there with me, too, my dear P! But you will be there with me, in spirit. I’m sure I’ll talk your ear off — I already have a gazillion questions I’m dying to ask you. I think I’m going to need a notebook to start writing them down soon. :)
      Thanks for your excitement, your recommendation — and like, EVERYTHING.
      XOXOXO

      Comment by Katia Raina | September 10, 2012 | Reply

  3. I’ve thought about going to school, but I hesitate. I don’t think I’m going to do it, but I admire those who do. I’m sure your program will be awesome.

    I’ve been back to school teaching for a few weeks now. It’s draining by the end of the day–with less time for reading and writing–but in the morning I arrive early eager to work.

    Comment by Medeia Sharif | September 10, 2012 | Reply

    • Thanks Medeia, for your encouragement. As long as “less time for reading and writing” doesn’t translate into “no time,” then you’ve still got game! And eager early mornings is definitely a good sign :)

      Comment by Katia Raina | September 10, 2012 | Reply

  4. I did the same exact thing–originally went back to school for teaching. I was accepted into Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA and about one week before registration, I withdrew. It was the hardest decision to make because it was an honor to get into their grad program without having an English undergrad. But, like you, I knew teaching English wasn’t what I wanted to do. And here we both end up at VCFA. :-)

    Comment by Jess | September 28, 2012 | Reply

    • Thanks for stopping by, Jess — can’t wait to meet you in person!

      Comment by Katia Raina | September 28, 2012 | Reply


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