Katia Raina

The Magic Mirror

In Honor of Breaks: A Totally Rambling Summertime Post

Me, at age 16, shortly after arrival to America“Summertime, and the living is ea-ea-ea-zy, fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high….”

Fun fact: Once upon a time, at age 14, I sang this song,  silly accent and all, and played it on the piano, on national Russian television. 🙂

Since then both the video and the audio of this little milestone had been lost in the craziness of emigration and moving and growing up and  living. But sadder than that, when I sit at the piano now, all that comes to me are the song’s first two chords. (It was a unique arrangement, nothing I can find in sheet music, or re-create by ear).  As far as the rest of it goes, beyond the two first chords, nothing comes or ever will again. It’s been too long. My fingers have lost the memory. I have no nostalgia for performing on TV ever again. But my fingers miss the song. I wish I could let my voice loose to those chords again, wish I could let my kids hear it.

This is what happens when you let go of something for too long — be it a song or a story. Right? You face the danger of losing it forever. Sometimes that’s just all right. Some stories deserve to be lost. But once in a while, you risk losing a treasure.

But there is another side to this “practice, practice, practice” coin. Once in a while, I believe we need to stop working on our craft so damn hard, stop completely. At least, I do.

It’s not easy either. Now that the semester is through, and I have finished writing and revising a novel I have been working on for (ahem) years, I am under strict orders from Shelley, my last semester’s advisor, to rest. I tried to resist at first. I kept going with some poetry, even though I could sort of feel it, my zeal and creativity grinding slowly to a halt. Now, before I go off to my next residency at the Vermont College of Fine Arts (next week!, OMG!) I am not writing. I am enjoying my family more. I am even becoming somewhat competent at our own crazy version of pool volleyball! (a HUGE surprise, trust me). Still, it’s hard. After the months of living my story, of my fingers flying over keyboard letters like they knew where they were going better than I did, not writing leaves a hole, an emptiness. Where had my super productivity and focus from the last six months go? My desk is a mess, I am waay behind on laundry, and I can barely go grocery shopping anymore without forgetting the sour cream and the hot dogs!

Look at this post, even, what am I saying here?

summer sky

All of this only proves, of course, that I need this break, don’t I?

I am doing the best I can. Taking in the lazy-making  swelter of summer, I try to just be, in the softest possible way, even if not writing makes me feel a little helpless, a little blind, a little lost.

This is all good, I know that. Seven days from  now, I will be flying to Vermont. Before loading up with new inspiration, meeting my (last!) VCFA advisor and charging up with new ideas, I need to be as empty as possible.

So, cheers, guys. Here is  to summer and to rambling. To emptiness, and to just being. Here is to floating.  To memories of music. To making new memories.

Soon I will be writing my head off again, I sure hope so!

But today, I cheer for  just listening.

Happy summer, my dear friends!

I will post again in late July when I come back from residency.




June 30, 2014 - Posted by | Personal Mirror, VCFA Adventures, Writing Mirror |


  1. Lovely, Katia, like hummingbirds at the feeder. Thanks, and enjoy your time in Vt.

    Comment by Karen Calloway | July 1, 2014 | Reply

    • Thank you, Karen. Looking forward to sharing lots of good new nuggets with everyone upon my return.

      Comment by Katia Raina | July 1, 2014 | Reply

  2. I stop working for awhile to enjoy a nice vacation.

    Have a wonderful time in Vermont with your classes–or is it just advisement?

    Comment by Medeia Sharif | July 1, 2014 | Reply

    • Thanks, Medeia. It’s lectures, workshops and readings, then in the later part of the residency, also meeting with advisors and planning the next semester together.

      Comment by Katia Raina | July 1, 2014 | Reply

  3. Here’s to laziness and organizing the desk and renewal–constant struggle of mine. I’ve begun taking Sundays away from my computer. 24 hours when I don’t write, get on FB or think about my story. Okay so maybe I do think about my story a little bit.

    I do love how it feels to accomplish physical tasks, to stand up and move, to paint something in bright colors and to weed my garden. But that desk chair is so inviting…

    Vermont sounds so wonderful. Would love to be in that environment someday…

    Comment by joycemoyerhostetter | July 1, 2014 | Reply

    • It would love you right back, Joyce. You already know what I think: if you believe it’s right for you, it’s an adventure well worth jumping into. As you say, maybe someday, 😉

      Comment by Katia Raina | July 1, 2014 | Reply

  4. You were so darned cute! I wish this tape was still available.

    Comment by Anna Craig | July 3, 2014 | Reply

    • Oops, sorry I just saw this. God I wish that tape was available too. I had curled my hair! And wore my favorite black shirt with tiny white polka dots! 🙂

      Comment by Katia Raina | July 7, 2014 | Reply

  5. I DO hope you enjoy your break, Katia. I think it IS hard to break away from it when it’s been your main focus for so long. You’re going right back, so it’s only a short break anyway. EVERYone needs to refuel, and besides—it’s from the breaks that we may also find more inspiration! 😀 Happy break! Happy travels! Happy Vermont 😀

    Comment by writersideup | July 5, 2014 | Reply

  6. As an aside, just in case you notice, I’m trying to make a conscious decision on cutting back for a while on how much time I spend on reading/commenting on blogs I love and follow, ’cause if I don’t, my own blogs will never be launched *sigh* I’m not disappearing…just fading for a bit with occasional apparitional appearances. I figure if I actually TELL everyone I’m doing this—I actually WILL!

    Comment by writersideup | July 9, 2014 | Reply

  7. Hope your last stay in Vt is as powerful for your work as previous stays. I wish I could let go and relax… I need to do that more!

    Comment by Carol Federlin Baldwin | July 9, 2014 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: