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Life & Work with Tatiana Orr

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tatiana Orr.

Hi Tatiana, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I moved to Los Angeles when I was 17 for college. It was far from my first choice and LA was not my ideal city to live in, but to my surprise ten years later it still holds a special place in my heart. I grew up in Sacramento by way of Brooklyn. My family is from New York, so I lived there for some years then moved to California. I always had so much pride in being a Brooklynite, so I never wanted to stay in California. My ultimate goal was to get back to New York so I could live the Carrie Bradshaw life I dreamed of. Growing up, I was a bit of an outcast a lot of people thought I was weird or strange. I was picked on and bullied at school, and even though I always stood up for myself, it affected the way I saw myself for a very long time. I have always been incredibly introverted, yet simultaneously a social butterfly. I was artistically inclined but still very focused on academics. The older I got the more it felt like I had to choose one or the other if I wanted to be successful, so I found myself giving up all the artistic activities I loved to focus on my grades and programs that were more serious.

Once it came time to choose a university, I was going through depression and out of frustration for not getting into my dream school NYU, I decided to go somewhere that was the exact opposite of what I wanted to sort of punish myself for my inadequacies. And that’s how I ended up in LA. Los Angeles is where I grew from a caterpillar into a butterfly. I came of age here and was able to build a meaningful life. I am still striving for greater and pushing myself beyond the limits I set, but I also accomplished things that felt so far away when I was just a 17 years old girl who didn’t know herself. I graduated from California State University, Northridge in 2016 after many changed majors with a degree in English Creative Writing and a minor in Journalism with an emphasis in Public Relations.

So many of my professors had a huge part in discovering who I was as a writer, but Professor Stephanie Satie is who I credit for igniting an indistinguishable flame in me. Books were an integral part of my life and the only consistent interest I never gave up. Once I examined what I wanted out of life fully and really leaned into who I already was so much clarity came, and with it I was able to be more myself than I ever was. Discovering my true passion and being able to explore it is what brought me to where I am today. I try to separate what I do with who I am, but the two are so intimately intertwined in the best way. I am an artist, an author, a short stories writer, a poet, and avid daydreamer.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
The road has been bumpy, winded, and twisted about but I’m still here! I struggled in more ways than one, and it has been more difficult than I ever imagined it would be at times. I did not grow up in a wealthy family so financially there was always that burden to carry. Of course, my parents did what they could, but I have taken so many odd jobs just to get by. I have had to stay with friends. I’ve slept on couches and floors. There have been times where I barely had food or ate one meal a day just to afford to get to and from work. I even used to walk home from work in West Hollywood all the way to Koreatown just to save money. I am no stranger to the struggle. Things get heavy and the weight of the world is hard to carry, but I repeat the poem “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost to myself and it motivates me to never give up every time.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I am a writer that specializes in short stories and poetry. I published my first book My Amerikkka, a collection of poetry, in 2017 the newest edition was revised and published in 2019. It was a special experience because it was my first time putting myself out there as an author, but until then I had mostly written short stories so it was new to me to be writing so much poetry. The book is also one that is based around my emotional response to social and political issues when I normally write romance and realistic fiction so I was way out of my comfort zone writing it. I am currently writing my second book which will be a collection of poems and short stories. I also write articles from time to time and have other small projects in the works that I’m really excited about. I am my own worst critic, so while I am proud of all my work there is nothing I have out yet that I feel showcases who I am as an artist yet. I think what sets me apart is also what sets everyone else apart. We all come from different backgrounds and see life through different lenses so that is the beauty of the human experience. I also think my style is one that lends from older writing conventions. I tend to gravitate towards elevated language and almost everything I write comes from a personal space. I’m a little neurotic so I write everything by hand before I type it.

We’d love to hear about how you think about risk taking?
It is necessary to take risks if you wish to make progress. I am a firm believer in taking calculated risks, so weighing your options before you do it and make a plan if possible. Sometimes plans go awry so it’s a gamble either way, but risks on any level are something that will contribute to your personal growth. I have taken a few major risks some worked out better than others. For instance, I finally moved to New York (briefly) recently. I planned it out saved some money and took a leap of faith. The first month I got there was one of the most magical times in my life, but the months that followed were the hardest. The job I had lined up fell through no one would hire me no matter how promising the interviews were, I was so stressed out I lost over 20 lbs in a few weeks, and above all I was miserable because of all the pressure I put on myself. Then COVID happened and I had to find a way to survive after just going through all that. My life has been everything but easy. I have failed many times due to the risks I took, but I also got back up every single time and will continue to.

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Photo by Anthony Evans

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