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Author Jaina speaks with students at Bay Port

By Ben Rodgers

SUAMICO – An author and musician came to Bay Port High School on Friday, April 20, to tell students there is no set path to future success.

Nick Jaina was in town as part of the Untitled Town book festival.

One of his messages for Bay Port students was to go out and make their own path and not to get bogged down in someone else’s definition of success.

“When I was a kid I didn’t get the message that demanding critical thinking was important, and that I could choose my own path,” Jaina said. “I want to convey that reading and writing can be joyous.”

Jaina’s first book “Get It While You Can,” published in 2015, earned critical praise and was a finalist for the 2016 Oregon Book Award.

The Portland-based author has also made a living playing music, releasing several albums on HUSH Records and Fluff and Gravy Records.

Jaina hasn’t sold out any auditoriums for his concerts, and hasn’t made the New York Times Bestseller List, but he still called his work a success.

“I do it because I love it, but where is the tangible success of what I’m doing? How do I know I’m not crazy?” he asked the class.

In “Get It While You Can,” there is a section about flying a kite, where both the string and the kite are unseen.
Jaina said there is no right or wrong way to interpret what that means, but that it could be used as a metaphor for success.

“Just because I don’t see something doesn’t mean there is nothing there,” he said.

The author and musician also encouraged students to be creative and have fun with words.

Part of that is to read and write as much as they can, if they want to become writers.

“It’s a flow of the same things and that’s the case with music,” he said.

Jaina writes everyday, as he is working on a new novel. Sometimes he told the class that he just opens up a document on his laptop and writes dialogue between two people, even though they may or may not have a place in his book.

“It will be a place where I can play without the gravity of this whole thing, like I’m listening to a conversation,” he said.

For him writing is one way to escape and use his imagination, like little kids do when playing make believe.

“For me writing is getting back to that part, because I was free,” Jaina said.

One of the best parts is when his characters come alive on the pages and take on a life of their own.

“There’s characters there I technically created, but to me they’re real characters I’m just entertaining,” he said.

His message to students was to have fun reading, and have fun writing because it opens up new worlds.

“It should be fun, it should be joyous,” Jaina said. “To me it really should be joyful. Daydreaming is essential to writing.”

Vicki Quinn, the English teacher who hosted Jaina, said his talk was a fresh perspective for students in attendance.

“Both from a reader’s perspective and a writer’s perspective it helps students understand the craft and the importance of words,” Quinn said. “I knew he could comment on the arduous task of writing and yet the fun it could entail.”

Students in the class enjoyed the experience as well.

“He was good at destroying barriers and making us comfortable to discuss big ideas,” said Lucien Petit, a junior in IB English literature.

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