Student writing out homework.

Students on Stories

Written by Caroline Welton

Claire Wilkinson, Anne Rolfe, and Lynde Leatherwood, all freshmen at Hillsdale, count writing fiction among their mix of activities. Here they discuss their experiences and thoughts on writing for fun.

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How does storytelling impact your life as a student?

Claire: I love stories. I see them everywhere. I always look for the most interesting way to explain something, whether or not that is necessarily accurate. “Have you seen this person?” “Oh, they probably got kidnapped by aliens!” And I like to tell the story of how I was viciously attacked by a coffee cup. It doesn’t feel dishonest because I’m pretty sure everyone can tell I’m making it up, and that’s the fun of working in fantasy and science fiction. I also create motivation to finish tasks by balancing homework and stories. I record whatever story ideas, inspiration, interesting words I hear throughout the days, and then go back to flesh out the stories once I’ve done my homework.

Anne: I guess writing stories is one of the things I do, just like being a student. So they both impact who I am, more than impacting each other.

Lynde: Sometimes when I’m walking, and it’s just the right weather, I can look around on the Quad and go, “Oh, that would make such a really cool description!” And I’ve actually had a few description ideas for books. Being here, where it’s really cold and snowy, helps to visualize the snow blanketing the earth.

How does academic writing compare to fictional writing?

Claire: I get asked all the time if I’m going to do journalism. But it’s really very different. When you want to write stories all the time, it really is hard to balance writing and scholarship. But I find that putting off a story actually makes it better in some ways, because you have more time to mull it over.

Lynde: Sometimes it’s hard for me to organize my thoughts in a logical, succinct fashion, because you have to pack so much information into a very short piece. And for me, I prefer to spend my time describing very long scenes, intricate settings, using more poetic and beautiful language than argumentative language.

Anne: I enjoy writing in general. Even though essays aren’t necessarily my favorite type of writing, it’s still writing. I learn things about the writing process from studying other authors in Great Books, and comparing myself to them.

What kind of stories do you write?

Claire: I write mostly science fiction and fantasy. But mostly it’s explorative fiction. I enjoy worldbuilding, and if you can think of a type of story, I’ve probably tried it. My current project is Paradox, a science fiction story that takes advantage of time travel to explore biblical love and friendship.

Anne: Fanfiction on The Iliad. I’m inspired mostly by characters I love. Writing stories about them gives me a chance to interact with them more.

Lynde: I write young adult high fantasy fiction. The Lost Queen is the story of two brothers whose lives get uprooted, and in trying to find their uncle and a way to get back to their old lives, they end up going on a quest they never expected.

How are stories important for everyone, even for people who aren’t interested in writing them?

Claire: Everyone should learn to analyze stories, because that’s how you read the Bible. Symbolism and foreshadowing is important, especially in the historical Old Testament books.

Anne: I tend to write about the things that I think really matter, and that helps me stabilize some of my own values. Reading stories with characters who are going through similar things can help you process them.

Lynde: Our society, and most societies, are built on stories. Our culture, our way of life, are all based on stories, whether they be fictional, or legends, folk-tale, or history itself. It impacts everyone’s life, no matter what you want to go into. Most things we do involve story in one way or another, whether you like it or not.

Caroline Welton ‘22, plans to study Politics and Latin, and thinks one can always choose to have a good day. This is primarily done by laughing at oneself a lot, but is of course aided by pleasantries such as rainstorms, Beethoven, Russian literature, and long conversations with friends.

Published in April 2019