Santa Catalina School welcomed an alumna as the 2021 writer-in-residence.
Kathleen Founds '00, is the author of When Mystical Creatures Attack!, a novel in short stories that was listed as one of the New York Times' 100 Notable Books for 2014. She spoke to Catalina's English classes virtually from April 19-21.
Founds talked about her "decidedly unglamorous" journey to becoming a writer. At Catalina, she loved experimenting in her creative writing classes and crafting embellished stories for Lamplighter, the school paper. When she attended Stanford University, she struggled with self-doubt and blank pages, putting immense pressure on herself to write something Great to keep up with overachieving classmates. That all changed when she became a writing tutor at Hope House, a residential drug and alcohol treatment center for women. The redemptive stories of the women there made her realize that "even if I tried writing and failed, I would be OK." She buckled down and began a habit of writing an hour a day. "It is the only reason I ever saw a story through to the end," she said.
In talking about her inner critic, Founds invited Catalina students to draw or describe their own. Some of their imagery included chattering teeth, a big bear blocking their path, an "evil" version of themselves, a burr in their shoe, and a mosquito buzzing in their ear. Then she had the students write a message that would help a friend overcome their inner critic. The twist: The notes were actually for themselves. "Always be as kind to yourself as you would be to a friend," Founds told them.
English Department Chair Sarah Paff said it was a pleasure to host Founds as this year's visiting writer. "She offered engaging writing exercises, and her excellent insights and advice were delivered with warmth and humor," she said. "It was truly a pleasure to hear about her writer's journey."
Learn more about Kathleen Founds, who is also an illustrator, at www.kathleenfounds.com.