“I am a writer.”
I first heard this statement in a workshop presented by Laurie Scheer in conjunction with UW Madison Writers’ Institute. Then, I heard it again from Jeff Goins in his blog, in his books, and at Tribe Conference 2017. Since then, I have heard it numerous times. It is a statement that has had such an impact on me that it stares at me from under the glass top of my writing desk.
What’s in a name?
I must start with this:
Rebecca Kojetin is Karna Tecla AND Karna Tecla is Rebecca Kojetin.
For several years, I was a split-personality writer. No, that doesn’t mean that I have a split personality. What it does mean is that I gave myself a pen name while I was still teaching high school in the public school system.
When it came to writing fiction (a short story or a novel) or poetry, I wrote as Karna Tecla. Why? I was working to develop a career (an encore career, if you will) in writing while I was completing my last few years of teaching. I found I had a number of reasons to adopt a pen name.
- One day, a student came to my class one day and asked if I had Googled myself. (I had not. – He had Googled me and told me I should go home and Google myself.)
- The teacher me and the writer me were often in conflict for my time. (Mentally separating the two me’s and the two careers helped me focus.)
- The school district had a clause in the contract regarding the income of a teacher/writer. (Since I taught writing and creative writing, the union advised to use a pen name. During my last years teaching, however, that never became an issue. Even though I was getting published in some anthologies, I never got paid for my work.)
I retired from teaching high school in 2014 and dropped the pen name by 2018; however, I do have a handful of published short stories and poems under the pen name Karna Tecla.
So, who is Rebecca Kojetin, the writer?
- I am a writer, teacher, and speaker, but I am so much more. (Then again, aren’t we all?)
- I am a multi-faceted creative who is driven to explore the wide variety of opportunities, experiences, and adventures that come my way.
- I am a life-long learner in search of ways to encourage others to become life-long learners.
- In my fiction and my poetry, I write to challenge, question, and motivate people to rise and be who they were meant to be.
- In my non-fiction, I write to present the facts, explore my position and opinion, and motivate and educate others.
My love affair with writing
I began a love affair with writing in kindergarten. How do I know? Because of this picture.
The dress is a dead giveaway that this picture was taken in 1964 because it was the dress I work for the kindergarten spring festival Maypole dance and program. As usual, I could be found sitting on my grandparents’ couch with a pencil in my hand and notebook on my lap writing something.
Like most people, I learned about writing during elementary school, junior high (middle) school, and high school. I composed numerous short stories, poems, and plays as well as those dreaded research papers and essays during those years. During high school and college, I also took creative writing courses, helped with the creative writing anthologies, and learned how to write for the school newspaper.
In 1980, I graduated from college and accepted my first teaching position. During those 34 years of teaching, I developed the philosophy that I wouldn’t expect my students to write anything that I couldn’t, or wouldn’t, write.
I wrote the assignments and creative writing prompts that I assigned or that the department or district assigned. I allowed me to recognize the difficulty of what was being asked and the stumbling blocks the students might encounter. It also gave me a wide variety of pieces in my writing portfolio.
I retired from teaching in June 2014, freeing me from writing lesson plans, teaching units, and other required formulaic pieces; and from reading student essays, research papers, and creative pieces.
Where can you find my work?
Non-fiction & Blogs
I publish articles and such on Medium.com
I also maintain the blog Coffee on my Porch: Conversations on life and living with Becky.
Short Stories & Poetry
I have published several short stories and poems under the name Rebecca Kojetin in several different editions of The Rockford Review, an anthology published by the Rockford Writers’ Guild.
I was also published in The Word of Art, a writer/artist collaboration conceived by Mary Lamphere of InPrint Professional Writer. The project had artists choosing from written submissions and creating a work of art inspired by the written word. One of my pieces, “The Immigrant” received the Judge’s Choice for the Written Word.