Edina High school writers pursue writing as a means of expression, independence


Dedeepya Guthikonda

A passion, a vocation, occasionally, just a way to pass time—writing serves all three purposes for sophomore Katerina Duda and junior Sabrina Rubenstein. “I think my writing, it’s an expression of a lot of things, like, you know, in my soul,” Duda said. “Sometimes it turns out really dark, and sometimes, it’s a means of light.” 

This past year, Rubenstein and Duda both received awards for their fiction writing. Rubenstein was the first place winner of the creative writing contest hosted by the Peer Tutor Center this winter; Duda received a Gold Key from the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards—the highest regional award students can receive. 

While the results proved worthwhile, both students submitted to these contests “on a whim,” as Rubenstein put it. For them, writing extends beyond the recognition; it’s a craft they’ve developed for years. Rubenstein has participated in National Novel Writing Month, an annual challenge for authors to write 50,000 words in a month, and currently has a novel in the works. Duda can’t recall when she first began to write; it has been a constant in her life for as long as she can remember. 

“It’s been a long, ongoing process, figuring out what types of writing and what styles I’m most comfortable with and then building my own voice,” Rubenstein said. Rubenstein’s winning story was inspired by “marshmallow math,” a tradition her family practices every holiday season. “It was kind of going through that process and the emotions that come with that,” Rubenstein said. Her work is largely influenced by history, culture, and art.

Duda tends to veer towards science fiction and fantasy. “That’s the kind of stuff I like to read,” she said. “And I always think [when writing]: What would I want to read?” Duda views the escapism these genres provide as a method to “get much deeper messages across.” For someone who once found the “the idea of writing an original story really, really daunting,” Duda has made strides in her journey. “Writing is very much my thing,” she said, although making time for it in her life—on top of busy coursework and other extracurriculars—can prove to be a challenge. “I usually write whenever I feel like it,” Duda said. “But sometimes it helps if there’s a contest. Writing on a deadline, honestly, I think it’s effective.” 

Rubenstein notes a similar challenge with balancing her time. And while both of their future careers span a wide range, they are hopeful about continuing to write. Rubenstein hopes to do something with writing, although she’s yet to decide what that may look like. Duda is interested in entering the STEM field. Regardless of where the future takes them, though, both echoed a similar sentiment: “I don’t ever want to lose my love for writing,” Duda said. 

A self-led endeavor and a self-taught art, both writers are dedicated to the craft that is often overshadowed, or neglected, in typical high school extracurricular activities. “Imagination is a skill and if you don’t foster that, you’re squashing a full level of innovation that you wouldn’t have had access to if you don’t work at it,” Rubenstein said. But both continue on self-guided paths to pursue the art that’s become such an integral part of their lives. 

“Getting started is the hardest part,” Duda said. After that, it’s only a matter of continuing the act.