The Highlander reached out to past writers for “Feature Fiction” to find out more about the creative machinations of their works. We conducted a Q&A with the newly hired Assistant Features Editor Alexandria Esteban, who provided insight into her writing process and short story titled “Meadowsweets and Zinnias.”

Q: Where did you come up with the idea for your story?

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A: I came up with the idea for this piece last year. Originally, it was a backstory for a character in another story I was working on. I never wrote it down, but it was always in the back of my mind: this idea of a young girl being lured into a maze and losing something important to her as a result. This quarter, I was working on a setting exercise for my creative nonfiction class and Rion Estate was born. I created new characters and let the story unfold from there.

Q: Is there any message that you aimed for your story to send, or is more open-ended than that?

A: I wanted to send the message that abuse can take many forms, but that it is never the victim’s fault. The girl in my story took a long time to learn this lesson and that is okay. Everyone learns to overcome trauma differently and at their own pace. For the girl in my story, she found peace with her situation and moved on to a better life because of this. She did not forgive her abuser, but she learned that he did not break her so much that she couldn’t rise again.

Q: Have you been writing like this for a while now? Or is it something new?

A: I’ve been writing stories for as long as I can remember. Writing has always been a passion of mine, which is why I became a creative writing major. Someday, I hope to pursue a career in writing fiction, whether it be in the form of a novel or script.

Q: Was it easy or difficult writing the story? How so?

A: I think it is always difficult getting the words onto a page, but once they are there, the writing process is much easier. That is not to say that editing is not difficult, but at least with editing, there is something on the page to work on. I had to revise this story multiple times before I was satisfied with it. Good writing takes a lot of work and it is not something that can be completed within a day. 

Q: What do you enjoy about writing creatively?

A: I enjoy the challenge of it. I love how the words can fit together like puzzle pieces to create something beautiful. My writing isn’t flawless. I know it can always be better and that constant drive to improve is always a challenge that I am willing to accept.

Q: Any ideas for upcoming stories?

A: Tons. Usually, I get inspired by old stories and then twist them around. I love fairytales and Greek myths so most of my ideas are just spin-offs of those. It starts with a “what if”: what if the Little Mermaid was part bird instead of part fish or what if Helen of Troy was not divinely beautiful? How can I build a story from there? Being in quarantine, I have had a lot more time to work on a play and some short stories, but the process is still slow.

Q: Anything else you would like to share about your creative writing?

A: For other writers out there, your teachers and all professional authors are right: practice makes perfect. Keep writing, don’t stop, and don’t be afraid to share what you write with the world (maybe, start by sharing some of your work with The Highlander).

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