Write On: Students’ express creativity through fiction writing

Riley Neil, Features editor

It all started with a blank Microsoft Word document and a few cool fonts on a bulky 2008 computer that got senior Andrew Gillihan into creative writing. He had wanted to try out all the different fonts, so he started messing around and typing out words. His messing around soon turned into him actually writing something real, typing out a story that had been in his head full of sci-fi features and lots of guns.

“I play a lot of video games and listening to the narrative through those games really inspired a lot of my science fiction thinking. That, along with reading a whole lot when I was younger, made me want to make a story,” Gillihan said.

That first idea that Gillihan typed out is the same storyline that he works on today. This story idea has inspired him to write a series of books that are science fiction based and take place in the future. The story has developed and grown over eight years.

“I’ve always been working on this wide spanning idea of this book series I have planned out my head. I also will get little, cool ideas that will make me want to write a short story,” Gillihan said.

Gillihan shares his work with trusted people around him. At times when he has just finished a part that he cannot keep to himself, he will share the writing to get feedback, mainly from teachers around him. This year he has shared his work with both his English teacher and Yearbook teacher because he feels comfortable around them and knows they will give him feedback.

“My dream goal is to be to publish the book and then grow off of that and make writing my career,” Gillihan said.

When it comes to publishing one’s own work, junior Sophia Gibson is in the process of trying to get her own hand written novel, Battle First, published. She hopes it will be available in 2018 or 2019.  

“It is a young adult, science fiction novel about a girl who loses her family in the weirdest way possible. She rediscovers a new family that she thought she never had. Through this process, she goes through a lot of dark times but she finds many strengths in herself,” Gibson said.

Right now, the novel is in the process of having final edits done by Gibson’s editor, her past middle school teacher, Ms. Lacy. Lacy was Gibson’s science teacher, but has helped Gibson through the years by giving constructive criticism and got her introduced into the Love Fayetteville Community, a group that meets in Fayetteville and shares inspiration.

“My imagination keeps me writing. Just today during creative writing PrimeTime, the prompt was carnival. I automatically turned it into a ghost story. I try to write the opposite of what people think is going to happen,” Gibson said.

The PrimeTime that Gibson takes part in is a PrimeTime option that is offered every week in English teacher Erin Jones’ room. The class allows students interested in creative writing to practice their writing in class and then share to a community of other student writers if they choose.

“A lot of times the assignments we give students do not allow students to express whatever they want however they want. In creative writing club, you get to take that very minor structure of a broad prompt and turn it to anything you want. I think that is empowering for students,” Jones said.

Jones has a creative writing degree in fiction from the University of Arkansas, which has the only four year master fine arts program in the country, and has written a collection of short stories.

“I encourage students to read, read, read and steal time for writing whenever you can. The more you do it now and unencumbered, the better you are going to be. When you are younger you have much more time and you need to be reading, reading, reading and writing, writing, writing,” Jones said.

Junior Caroline Lonneman finds herself signing up for the PrimeTime activity because she can find satisfaction in the club that she can not find in English class.

“They don’t teach you how to write creatively in class. Instead of just learning how to write a cookie cutter essay, it allows you to create and share your own ideas,” Lonneman said.

All agree that being able to write down stories is a way that lets them express themselves and is something that grows with practice.

“If you are into writing, I encourage you keep writing and write what you want. It doesn’t matter what you are writing, if you find it fun do what you can to get yourself writing,” Gillihan said.