Name: Rebecca Kokitus
City: Media, PA
Main Hustle: I am currently a college student! I attend West Chester University of Pennsylvania, where I am working toward a BA in English, with a concentration in Writing.
Side Hustle: I am a creative writer, specifically a poet, and I devote a lot of my time to writing, submitting, and publishing my work.
I love the idea of building communities around shared passions, and with so much of our lives being online now, community-building is more accessible than ever. With the emergence of online literary journals, literature is more accessible than ever.
I love being a part of the literary community both in the Philadelphia area, where I sometimes participate in readings and open mic events (I’m still so new to the lit scene here, but so far, I love it!), and online, where I use social media to connect with other writers and indie literary journals.
I am also currently volunteering at several online literary journals–I am a poetry editor at Awkward Mermaid Literary Magazine, a poetry reader at Homology Lit and TERSE. Journal, and a contributor for Rhythm & Bones Magazine and Pussy Magic Lit Mag + Coven. I love that all of these journals I am a part of are so focused on empowering others and raising awareness on important issues. I highly recommend checking out any or all of these journals.
How did you get started?: I actually have been writing since a pretty young age–probably since middle school! I was obsessed with Stephen King stories and was certain I wanted to a novelist, but later realized my true niche was poetry.
Poetry has always come naturally for me. It helps me understand the experiences I go through and the world around me, and it helps me understand myself (as corny as that sounds!).
When/where do you work on your Side Hustle?: I try to write every day–even if it’s bad writing or just a stream of consciousness or a list of observations. I write wherever and whenever I feel the need to, but I also like to put aside time for my duties as an editor and time for submitting work/working on compiling poetry for chapbook length collections. I like to be a typical writer and get caught up on this stuff in coffee shops, but I also do a lot of my work from home.
What are the challenges of your Side Hustle?: There’s an obvious “FOMO” (fear of missing out) within the literary community.
Sometimes I feel like I’m never doing enough or like I’m not as successful as I should be. I’m constantly reminding myself that I am only 22 years old and didn’t even start publishing work until less than a year ago! It’s so easy to get caught up in comparison.
What are the rewards of your Side Hustle?:
There’s nothing better than knowing my words have resonated with someone. What I love about poetry is that it makes me feel something, and to have that effect on another person just blows me away.
Also, seeing my work in print is still so surreal to me! I don’t want to lose the excitement that comes with each publication.
Who is your greatest supporter?: My boyfriend is my best friend and biggest fan–he is always there to reassure me when I start doubting myself and my abilities.
My sister and my mother are also very supportive of my work.
My mom actually came to the city to watch me perform at a reading recently, and it was one of the happiest nights I’ve had in a long time. I’ve always wanted to share that part of myself with her but have always been nervous to do so–my poetry is very raw and vulnerable.
Who/what is your greatest source of inspiration?: I don’t have many specific influences in terms of poets, but I remember being particularly moved by Sharon Olds’ work the first time I encountered it. I remember thinking, “Wow, I want to be this honest in my poetry.”
I am also so inspired by nature and by the world around me. Like I said in a recent interview, “It’s easy to […] forget that your senses are always experiencing poetry.”
Have you received recognition for your work?: As of right now. I have been published in thirty-three (mostly online) literary journals. All of these publications are listed on my website!
I have also been a featured writer on Maudlin House’s website and have been interviewed by Lauren Walsburg at The Cerurove.
Here are the links to those features:
Maudlin House: https://maudlinhouse.net/
The Cerurove: https://www.cerurove.com/
What is your dream for your Side Hustle?: Right now my goal is to publish a poetry chapbook, which is essentially a short collection of poetry.
Someday I would love to start my own literary journal and publish a full-length collection of poetry (or several)!
I would also love to experiment with other genres of writing, because you never really know what you’re good at until you try it, right?
Do you have any advice for others working on a Side Hustle?:
Whether your passion has any financial promise or not, definitely still pursue it! In the seven months that I have been publishing writing, I have made a total of thirty dollars, and I’m fine with that! To me this isn’t about making money; this is about getting my name out there and following a dream I’ve had since childhood and making time for something that makes me happy.