Katia Raina

The Magic Mirror

Writing Under Pressure

fireworks! Celebration! Fireworks!

Last night I sent in the second packet of writing work to my Vermont College of Fine Arts advisor, the tough, ther wise, the formidable Tim Wynnne-Jones.

Two down. Only eighteen more to go. Ha! And yet, everyone who has been through the program  says these two years and twenty packets pass so fast.

Very soon Tim will send back a letter with feedback reading which will feel both excruciating and illuminating. I will question myself — and this whole crazy adventure — I will take a moment to whine and wallow, and then the work will start again.

Right now, I am just enjoying the time off. That, and catching up — there is always more research, more reading, more outlining. But after the last four weeks of intensity, it feels like a vacation.  Nothing compares to the pressure of frantically honing your craft, learning fiercely and writing your brains out in the middle of a VCFA packet.

And that, in the end, is how we learn best.

I know I have to have my down times, to be there for my amazing family, to be in the world, to take care of my body, to sit back and remember what it’s like to do nothing at all. During these times, it seems so easy — keeping the balance of work and life with small, steady little page-steps.

But then, I also need these other times, the maddening and thrilling night-day cycles when I get possessed, drunk on the work and slightly panicked, when I start believing that sleep is for mortals, when it feels like the pressure of the work and the learning takes everything out of me. Believe me I feel so relieved today, catching my breath with gratitude.

And yet, nothing is as glorious, scary, frightening, sickening, dizzying, empowering, as writing under pressure. And I am grateful for it, too.


March 19, 2013 - Posted by | VCFA Adventures, Writing Mirror | , , ,


  1. Whew! Deep breaths. I can feel your exhilaration, exhaustion and relief.

    Comment by Joyce Moyer Hostetter | March 19, 2013 | Reply

    • Thanks, Joyce! Yes, deep breaths is right. Still feeling so ridiculously happy right now.

      Comment by Katia Raina | March 19, 2013 | Reply

  2. Congrats on getting that second packet in!

    Gosh, Katia. Please get some sleep. As tempting as it may be to try to do it all, you can’t do any of it without sleep.

    Comment by Joanne Fritz | March 20, 2013 | Reply

    • That’s what my husband tells me, Joanne. My mom, too.
      But really, I know how right they are and you are. FYI: this afternoon I took a lovely, delicious nap! Oh, and off to bed I go right now. 😉

      Comment by Katia Raina | March 20, 2013 | Reply

  3. This program sounds so rewarding, yet exhausting. Many times when I’m working real hard the time does pass by fast.

    Comment by Medeia Sharif | March 21, 2013 | Reply

    • Rewarding, exhausting, amazing. I know not everyone can or wants to (or is insane enough to) enroll into an MFA program like this — and fthat’s why I hope my posts can provide some DYI inspiration!

      Comment by Katia Raina | March 22, 2013 | Reply

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