Katia Raina

The Magic Mirror

Own It

Hi all,

vermont july 2013 009It felt a little surreal to come back to Vermont for a second residency as a seasoned second semester. The ten days flew by. Friends, teachers, dancing, writing, soaking in new knowledge and old, soaking in the love. Yes, love. This was mainly what this residency, known as “summer of love” was all about: a great reminder that love is why we do what we do as writers, as humans. (We hope 🙂 )

Some of my teachers graciously gave me permission to talk about their lectures, so I will be doing that in the coming weeks. I’ll be discussing craft  (and love), more specifically at that time.

Meanwhile, here is a quick little list of my main, more global takeaways from this residency — the big picture.

1. Think about why you write

Sure, I want to succeed, to contribute to the well-being of my family; I won’t hide that I wish to do well in this crazy trade I have chosen, this crazy trade that has chosen me. But that’s not the main reason I write. It’s not even that I have things that need saying (even though maybe I do). Mostly, for me, writing stories is a kind of a crazy search, an exploration of myself and humanity. Writing is answering impossible questions, most of which hold no answers anyway. Writing, for me, is a way of loving this imperfect, incredible world and its inhabitants.

Also, to me, writing is playing. Each new project is a puzzle, a fun and an occassionally frustrating exercise of trying to fit the pieces in. Except, unlike with real puzzles, a story puzzle is never going to be complete. I don’t think there is a book out there that doesn’t miss several pieces — maybe a whole bunch of them. I think that’s what makes stories even better than puzzles.

I have asked my classmates why they write, really. Each one gave a different answer — each one gave a great answer.

How about you?

Why do you write?

2. Write for yourself

Sometimes we forget to do that. I know I do. When you have a great talented writing community, it’s easy to get caught up in writing for your writing friends, or writing to impress your advisors, your children, your audience, the reviewers, your agent, the editor. We must remember — well, I must remember — not to let my writing live or die by the approval of others. During this residency, unlike my first one, I didn’t participate in many readings. I suddenly found myself shy. I was afraid to share. I fretted about what my classmates thought of my writing this time around. I felt the need to prove that I have been improving, that all the hard work was not for naught. I had to catch myself, had to stop that. I had to remember, that’s not what this is about. In the end, you’re the only one who can measure your own progress.

3. Own it vermont july 2013 011

A fellow writer from my workshop complimented my outfit one day. She said, I love how the skirt you’re wearing isn’t supposed to match with the top, but it does. I love your outfit because you own it. Her compliment stuck with me. Later, closer to the end of the residency, I shared some doubts with one of my workshop advisors. There is so much talent around me, I whined. Am I actually getting better? How do I know if I am? She shook her head. She reminded me that fears never go away, and that sometimes growth brings more fears. She said, “You are talented. You have to believe that. You have to own that.”

So, that’s what I say to you too. Own your writing in all its mismatched imperfection. Own it.

Thanks for reading.




July 23, 2013 - Posted by | VCFA Adventures, What I've Learned Series, Writing Mirror | , , ,


  1. Great post. As usual, Katia, you are very wise.

    Comment by nan marino | July 23, 2013 | Reply

  2. I love every single word of this. Yes, you are talented because you said some universal things and did it so beautifully.

    “…writing stories is a kind of a crazy search, an exploration of myself and humanity. Writing is answering impossible questions, most of which hold no answers anyway. Writing, for me, is a way of loving this imperfect, incredible world and its inhabitants.”

    Oh and the outfit comment – that is precisely how I want my writing to be. Like it doesn’t quite fit into the YA/MG literature norm, but then again, actually it does. I want my writing to be unexpectedly crazy pretty.

    Comment by joycemoyerhostetter | July 23, 2013 | Reply

  3. As always I enjoyed your post and am glad you’re moving forward with your education. I especially liked “Write for yourself.” All too often I find that I’m try to write for others. Thanks for reminding me to take time to write what I WANT and NEED to write.

    Comment by Doris Stone | July 23, 2013 | Reply

  4. Wonderful post and it sounds like a wonderful experience this time around. I love the left-handed compliment you received. It put a smile on my face. Keep on keepin’ on.

    Comment by Rosi | July 24, 2013 | Reply

    • Thanks, Rosi. It really was a great compliment, wasn’t it? The kind that sticks. 🙂

      Comment by Katia Raina | July 24, 2013 | Reply

  5. Three excellent points. I love how we can contemplate writing and what it’s all about. We make so many discoveries.

    Comment by Medeia Sharif | July 25, 2013 | Reply

  6. Great post, Katia 😀 Thank you for sharing their tips and your thoughts. OWN it, baby!!!! 😉

    Comment by writersideup | July 25, 2013 | Reply

  7. Katia, I’m looking forward to hearing more from you soon. In the meantime, I hope you’ll be able to join the Poets of Barnegat at our next reading at Barnegat Library Tuesday, July 30th, 7 pm. Maybe you’d like to read an excerpt of your recent writing during the open mic session. We’d all be interested in hearing it–no, I mean we’d love to hear it–in keeping with your current theme!


    Comment by Norma Paul | July 25, 2013 | Reply

    • Hi Norma, wait to put me on the spot! 🙂 I’ll try to make it, but this is a poetry night, and I haven’t written poetry in years, though I’d love to get back to it! Maybe I can try to come up with something just for Tuesday… But oh, the pressure! 😉

      Comment by Katia Raina | July 26, 2013 | Reply

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