The greatest thing about blogging and using social media are the connections and people you meet along the way. Today, I wanted to share with you an interview and photo shoot I did with Carina at the Providence Athenaeum. You may remember Carina when she interviewed Kelly and I for her blog – The Curious Cat Project. Although in her early 20’s Carina is an old-soul with a deep passion for books, writing, and the environment around her.
Like Carina, I encourage you to pursue what you love and find community with those that love the same things you do.
Without further adieu ladies and gentlemen, Carina Sitkus…
where are you from and where do you live now?
“I was born in Tampa, Florida. I lived in Rhode Island up until sophomore year of high school, which is when I moved to New Jersey with my family. I moved back to Rhode Island after college to work for Teach For America.”
when did your passion for writing begin?
“It’s always been there, even when my writing sucked. And it might still. But it started at the kitchen table with my mom saying; “Write it over. That can be better.” Writing has always been a huge part of my life, as has reading. I tend to keep that tidbit about myself close to my chest, though. Sharing your writing, or even the fact that you write, can be a vulnerable experience. That’s partly the reason why I’m obsessed with this idea of creating a close-knit community of writers online. I want it to have the feeling of familiarity that is having a coffee conversation with a friend and the potential for anonymity that comes with the online space.”
what type of writing do you do?
“A little bit of novels and poetry, and neither. I’ve tried novels, but I’m drawn to the way words and phrases sound on the page, rather than the plot they create. So I would say poetic narrative is the poison I’ve picked. On my bad days, and there are many of them, I struggle to call myself any kind of writer, and I believe it’s important to be honest about that.”
You have a blog for writers by writers, describe The Curious Cat Project!
“The Curious Cat Project is an online community designed to connect and inspire writers. I’m particularly interested in connecting full time “something else” writers. Poets who are engineers. Novelists who are dads. Short story writers who are teachers. Writers are a generous bunch. For the most part, they want to make one another feel welcome and help each other make connections. I thought, “but what if you’re too busy to go to a poetry reading? To attending a writing workshop? Too short on cash to go to that week-long conference? At work when that conference is happening?” You get the idea.”
what made you decide to start the Curious Cat Project?
“Writing– just like teaching in some ways– is a solitary endeavor that can often leave you feeling lonely and wondering if what you’re doing is making any difference at all. I can’t say I’ve found the answer, but I decided to start The Curious Cat Project so that the question was on the table (at least). How do you know if what you’re doing will make a difference past a day let alone a year? Let alone a decade? Century? These are the questions any writer– any human, really– asks on a daily basis. What is my purpose? In many ways, writers are super-sensitive to finding the answer to that question. At any rate, that’s what I hope to explore in my own writing.”
What would you say is your big vision for the Curious Cat Project.?
“I simply want my readers to feel like someone “gets them”, or to at least walk away feeling inspired or curious about something. I’m a firm believer that you aren’t growing if you aren’t learning or exploring.
Shorter-term, I also really hope to get together a small group of great people for The CCP’s first-ever online writers workshop, which will kick-off this fall.”
tell us about how you came up with the name: CCP?! It’s so cute!
“It’s playing off of the idea “curiosity killed the cat,” although of course I’m asking my readers to be curious, so take that for what it’s worth. I didn’t want to name it something boring like “The Writer’s Connection,” although that may have been easier to market. I wanted to be able to tie imagery to my posts, and I happen to have a very cute cat that I can feature. My goal is to simply be honest with my readers while also coming across as professional, engaging, and fun.”
what do you do full time besides the CCP?
“I am the External Affairs Associate for Blackstone Valley Prep (BVP) Mayoral Academy, a network of charter schools serving Cumberland, Central Falls, Pawtucket and Lincoln, RI. My role encompasses a lot of cool projects, but is largely communications-focused.”
I live my life by inspiration, tell me, what inspires you?
“You inspire me. Strong women who follow their dreams, are genuine and kind and support other women.”
“Also, what inspires me is the thought that life is short, and that death washes away any stupid thought you’ve had or word you’ve said. I’m someone who tends to worry about absolutely everything. But there’s only so much you can worry about before you think, “that’s enough.” I’m not someone who thinks you should life only to fulfill your own happiness, but I do think it’s important to recognize how short life is. To see the 20-year old in that 90-year old body sitting in your grandmother’s chair. You don’t grow old, even though your body does. I’m not sure the 20-year old gets that.The morbid inspires me because not many people want to think about it until they’re in their 90-year-old chair. By then, it’s too late, and it hits you like a freight train. You just have to go after your dreams and not worry so much. It’s not worth it.”
if you had to chose one person in your whole life that has inspired you, who would that be and why?
“Impossible to choose just one!”
describe Providence in a few words.
“Friendly. Artsy. Close. Familial.”
how would you describe your fashion style?
“I love observing fashion. I admire it. But, quite honestly, I hate shopping, which is kind of a prerequisite to having any kind of fashion sense. That being said, I would say I have a classic style– I’m not one to really give a hoot about the current trends, although I’m getting better at that. I think sticking to the basics works all day, every day. Simple dresses, professional tops. On weekends I prefer a regular sports t-shirt with a pair of jeans.”
if you could drop everything and do ONE thing, what would you do and why?!
“Write something that:
1. creates something that never existed before and
2. helps someone one else.”
what is your favorite season, why?
“I go back and forth between fall and spring. I love the imagery of falling leaves and warm cups of coffee or cocoa or what have you. But I also love the smell of spring and rain. It’s a toss-up.”
when do you feel the most creative and excited to write?
“After a glass of wine. Seriously, though, after reading. I like to read and simmer and read some more, and then my mind gets moving and it won’t stop until I’ve written it all down.”
what is one thing you can’t leave your house without?
“A book (even if it’s on the kindle app on my phone).”
when do you feel your best?
“When I feel heard– really heard– and when everything I’ve said has come out the right way, and how I meant it. That’s part of the reason I love writing so much. I feel like I am able to really craft what I’m saying without messing up the meaning behind my words. Being productive also feels pretty good. I like staying busy and spending my time purposefully.”
what is the best place you’ve ever traveled to?
“The ocean is an important part of my life. My favorite spot is this one rock at Beavertail in Jamestown, RI. I have a painting of it in my apartment.”
“The short version of the Jefferson quote, “I cannot live without books.” I really might die without them.”
any words of advice would you give to our readers wanting to write but don’t feel confident enough?
“It’s impossible for someone to think your same words; therefore, your words carry weight. Write them. Share them. Write every day, even if it’s just a sentence. And start calling yourself a writer, or no one else will.”
what kinds of social media can we follow you on and how can our readers contact you?
“Thanks for asking! “Readers can:
follow @carinasitkus on twitter
like The Curious Cat Project on facebook!
email email@example.com. I love emails!
I also write on the Medium! https://medium.com/@carinasitkus
A special thanks to the Providence Athenaeum for allowing us to do this photo shoot in their beautiful space!
// all photography + editing by Olivia //