Latina writer Victoria Arena, LatinasinBusiness.us Editorial Assistant (internship) recently was awarded with the Carter Ross Flash Fiction Award at Montclair State University. The daughter of a dear friend, I’ve known Victoria since birth. Her stand out intelligence is surrounded by a gentle personality and a kind soul. I’m proud to see her blossoming into her passion of becoming a Latina writer. – Susana G Baumann
Victoria Arena is a Latina writer and student at Montclair State University where she is majoring in English with a focus in Creative Writing. She is actively involved with the university’s literary magazine “The Normal Review” and will be the new fiction prose editor for this upcoming 2018-2019 school year. Writing, or really it should be said storytelling, is her passion.
“It’s more than just writing,” she says, “It’s the act of creating -building worlds and complex characters– that I truly love.” Recently, Victoria was honored by receiving the Carter Ross Flash Fiction Award from Montclair State University for her piece “The Unsolved Case of Jack McKinnon.”
Flash-fiction is a category of short fiction where a complete story is told in 1000 words or less. Victoria’s winning piece– a science fiction story about a boy that goes missing under mysterious circumstances– was just over 300 words. She celebrated this win with her mom and sister at the university’s English Department Awards Ceremony on May 9th.
“It was such an honor to have my work recognized in this way,” she says. “It’s my first official award and I’m just so proud and grateful to have achieved this.”
Her love for storytelling reaches far back to her childhood and Latina roots. “I’ve always loved hearing family stories from my mom about our family in Spain and Argentina. I also feel incredibly connected to my great-grandfather, Manuel, who was also a writer and who my mom has always spoken of with high praises.”
As a child, Victoria would make up elaborate stories with her friends during recess and play with her Barbie dolls like it was an ongoing television series–always picking up the story-line where she left off playing the day before.
One fun memory that she shares is when she was in third-grade and her class was having an event called Ellis Island Day. “We were learning about Ellis Island at the time and that day we all came dressed up like our ancestors and pretended to go through Ellis Island to learn about the process immigrants went through,” she explains. “I dressed up as my great-grandmother, Amalia, but I of course took it to the next level. I created a journal filled with stories of my fictional voyage to America. All my classmates were super impressed at the “book” I had written. It was my first major piece of writing.”
From then on Victoria became known as “the writer” of her grade at her small Catholic school. She continued to write throughout her years in school before deciding that she wanted to pursue English and Writing in college.
“I feel like being a writer is a huge part of who I am. I spend so much time reading and writing– both for school and for fun– and it’s just what I love. But it definitely isn’t always easy.”
One of the biggest obstacles Victoria mentions is the dreaded “writer’s block.” Every writer has probably experienced it at some point– that moment when suddenly the mind goes as blank as the page in front of you and no words will come out. “I’ve definitely felt that,” says Victoria. She explains it as a “restless feeling of frustration where you just want to give up and scrap your whole story.”
Whenever this feeling strikes she takes it as a sign to step back from her writing and do some “recharging” activities such as reading, drawing, going out with friends, watching a movie, or simply taking a walk. “All of these things help get your head out of the writing zone and back into your life– which I find usually leads to inspiration for when you finally dive back into your writing.”
Another great tip she shares is to find a writing group or buddy– someone that you can share your work with and who can cheer you on when you fall into a rut. “I’ve been fortunate to be a part of a great writing group for over a year now. We all help each other to stay on track with our writing goals and it’s great to just have other writers to talk to about our processes and challenges.”
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Despite the obstacles and the often solitary nature of the writing process, it is ultimately rewarding when the finished product is complete and can be read and shared with others. Her recent achievements have shown her how gratifying it is to have others read and appreciate all your hard work.
To all aspiring writers, Victoria hopes that you continue pursue your passions and tell the stories that are in your heart. “Don’t wait for the ‘right time’ and don’t worry too much about the first draft. The first draft is never perfect! Just get that story on the page, and never stop believing in yourself! You are your own biggest fan.”