In The Field: Conversations With Our Contributors–Katrin Arefy
1. Tell us about your essay in Volume 20. How did it come to be?
“On the Other Side” is the result of a lengthy contemplation. It began when I heard the news about my cousin, and it took about two years for me to finish the thinking process, find what was there for me to find, and shape the writing.
2. What was an early experience that led to you becoming a writer?
I am not sure if there was a particular experience. I am a classically trained piano teacher, but I have always found writing to be my strongest creative outlet. In my late thirties, as I was about to finish a piano pedagogy book that I had been working on for ten years, I knew that my next, lifelong project would be creative writing.
3. How has writing shaped your life?
Writing is a way of thinking for me. It is a tool that leads me to discover what is hidden inside or around me.
4. What books, writers, art, or artists inspire you and your work?
I learn a lot from painters. I love seeing [Claude] Monet’s work in museums. I learn a lot from the way his art progresses throughout his life, and the way he repeats the lilies and the cathedral themes in his late work. I learn from [Henri] Matisse how to write. You see how he leaves the shape of that dancer’s hand unfinished in his Dance? You might ask yourself, “If he is not trying to paint a hand, what is it he is trying to show me?” Inthe same way if an essay is not trying to tell you a story, it might make you think what is the writing trying to tell me? And I am very interested in that question.
My other source of inspiration is my best (deceased) friend, Ludwig. I play Beethoven’s music and strive for the perfection that he achieved in his music. The fact that I am very far away from it encourages me to work harder, keep revising, and not be satisfied quickly. That is how he wrote music.
5. What projects or pieces are you working on right now?
I am working on another play, and I am revisiting an old piece of nonfiction I wrote about eight years ago. I feel that there is more for me to discover in that piece.
Katrin is the Artistic Director and Head Teacher at the Golden Key Piano School in Berkeley, California. To learn more about her musical work and books, click here.