Katia Raina

The Magic Mirror

Homework Update

still winter Spring? Yeah, right! What was I thinking?

Two days ago the world around me was wind, the sky lashing rain, and now the yard is covered with soft, beautiful, unwelcome snow. Oh, the foolishness of premature celebrations!

As one Russian proverb says, “Don’t say ‘hop!’ before you jump over.”

I don’t have time for a long or particularly thoughtful post, so I’ll give you guys a little update on all that crazy homework.

— I sent out the second-round revision of my first novel to editor! Yay! Am I getting close? I’ll find out soon enough! Fingers crossed.

— I finished the research — for now. Halted it is the better word. Here is what I have learned all over again: conducting research for a historical fiction project is incredibly gratifying. Immersing yourself in a period (1930s USSR), hunting for knowledge among books, movies and old photographs is pure fun. Unearthing details, making new discoveries. It does make you sort of forget your own world a little. You start hearing old-fashioned music in your head. You start constructing your sentences differently. Still, you feel like you’re only getting started. You want to see more. Learn more. There is so much more. And then you realize, your second VCFA packet deadline is fast approaching and those essays are not going to write themselves. Sigh.

—  While I am getting ready to revise my creative work for my Vermont College of Fine Arts advisor, I am frantically writing two essays on craft. One has to do with the use of imagery in world-building. The other is about a fantasy story “earning its portal” into another world, before introducing the reader to the magic. I have always prided myself on my essay-writing skills. Now, suddenly, I feel like a sloppy kindergartener. The going is slow.

— I am also reading, reading, reading.

— With fresh knowledge and insight, next week, I am hoping to tackle the novel again. Yes, it’s time. My packet deadline is early next Thursday! Aaaaaah!

When you attend VCFA, your life quickly gets divided up into what the college calls “packets.” There are five of them, each semester, one due roughly every month. Each packet includes essays, thoughts on books you read and creative work. This crazy second packet I am in the middle of right now is sometimes making me wonder, what was I thinking, when I imagined it would be easy? Sometimes, another cowardly thought crawls in: what were they thinking? The VCFA admissions staff who accepted me? What were they thinking when they decided I could handle this — that I belonged?

But the thought makes me feel better, too. Because sometimes it’s easier to defer to the wisdom of others. And also, because Vermont is my place. I had known it for a long time, even if I was afraid to admit it. I would have been heart-broken if those doors slammed in my face.

So, even with the craziness right now, I remind myself that yes, I can do this. And more importantly, there is nothing else I’d rather be doing, anyway.

Okay, time to walk the dog under the relentlessly falling snow. And after that, back to homework!

my daughter's portrait of me :)

my daughter’s portrait of me 🙂

Love to all,



March 8, 2013 - Posted by | VCFA Adventures, Writing Mirror | , , , ,


  1. Love your daughter’s illustration! Butt in chair as it should be for a writer.

    Comment by Wendy Greenley | March 8, 2013 | Reply

    • Thanks, Wendy. I love it too. Glad I saved it in a photo before it got erased from the dry-erase board 😉

      Comment by Katia Raina | March 8, 2013 | Reply

  2. Yes, you can do it. It’s a lot, but the end results of everything you’re doing will be worth it.

    Comment by Medeia Sharif | March 10, 2013 | Reply

    • Thank you, Medeia. Really needed to hear that today!

      Comment by Katia Raina | March 10, 2013 | Reply

  3. Katia, Keep working and believing in yourself. We all feel like party crashers sometimes, but we keep in the group, knowing deep in our hearts that we should stay. I’m sure your next packet will be great. I have a writer’s retreat coming up, and I feel the same way.

    Comment by Jessica | March 30, 2013 | Reply

    • Am trying, Jessica! The second packet worked out okay. Now of course, working on the third. Thanks!!

      Comment by Katia Raina | March 30, 2013 | Reply

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