For freshman Stella Felker, writing has always come easy, been a passion


Photo Illustration by Stella Felker

Freshman Stella Felker has been enthralled by writing for years, and is using writing classes to familiarize herself with different styles, preparing for a possible career.

From a young age, Stella’s mother noticed that she had a fascination with reading, more specifically, the style of certain authors. Instead of reading from book to book, she read from author to author, enjoying the broader library of each writer she took interest in.

“I don’t think that at the time I knew,” Stella’s mother Sarah Felker said. “but looking back, it makes me think that […] when she reads, she really likes the style of certain authors, which I think led to her wanting to be a writer.”

While Sarah believes her daughter never struggled with writing throughout her early years of school, Stella did not begin to write short stories until fourth grade. It was that same year that she met Chris Colfer, a fantasy author and actor. 

Stella won a raffle and got to meet Colfer and get his autograph. She said the experience of getting to meet a bonafide author inspired her to begin writing stories. 

In fourth grade Stella was also invited to the Oregon Writing Festival, an event that takes place at Portland State University. It was there that Stella participated in various writing workshops and got advice and praise for her writing. 

“[One] thing that influenced her was, in the fourth grade she got nominated to go to the Oregon Writing Festival at Portland State University,” Sarah said, “so I guess that was another time when I was like, ‘Oh, her teachers are noticing that she’s a good writer,’ and so I liked that they were…It wasn’t just me saying, ‘You’re pretty good at this,’ it was her teacher saying, ‘You know, you’re pretty good at this, you should do this thing,’ and that she was willing to put herself out there and go do it made me feel good.”

In fifth grade, a long-term substitute teacher who went by Ms. Knab taught Stella’s class, and brought in a twist that led to Stella taking more interest in writing. She would toss writing prompts into the mix, and give feedback and encouragement to Stella. She described the substitute as “someone who got me really into writing, because I wasn’t into it.”

The next step for Stella was taking a creative writing class in sixth grade.

“I don’t think I got that focused on writing until, probably sixth grade,” Stella said, “because I went into a creative writing class, and I really liked the teacher, and every year of middle school I did that same creative writing class with the same teacher.”

In eighth grade, this amplified interest led to Stella participating in the National Novel Writing Month via her creative writing class, where she was the only one to complete her goal for the challenge and finish her story, which added up to 30 pages. Stella was awarded a certificate of completion.

“[My proudest moment was] when she finished NaNoWriMo,” Sarah said, “because that was the longest thing I’ve ever seen her write, and I read it, and it was, like, solid. So I think I was really proud that she put her mind to writing that much and got it done.”

When Stella’s close friend Lucy Shields first read her writing, she was shocked that she hadn’t shared her skill earlier. The aspect of Stella’s writing that stood out the most to Lucy was her creativity.

“I think her creativity stands out a lot,” Lucy said. “It’s…She doesn’t really think about, like, what other people have done in stories, she just kind of does what she feels would be influential to the story and, like, the things that happen, you wouldn’t expect.”

Lucy noted that Stella’s writing is “a really cool way of writing and I haven’t read it in a book anywhere.”

Similar results were yielded after Sarah read her daughter’s writing for the first time. She felt as though she wasn’t giving positive feedback because Stella was her daughter, but rather because she found her writing to be genuinely good.

“Her characters are well-developed, and I love the way she uses dialogue,” Sarah said. “And she’s, I think her vocabulary just gets better as she gets older […] You know, her writing matures as she matures. So, sometimes I’m reading it and I’m like, ‘This sounds like a novel that, you know, an author would have wrote, like, you’re using words in your dialogue that I didn’t know she was capable of.’”

Stella’s short fiction tends to follow a formula of unique timelines and otherworldly alternate universes, with the occasional dystopia set in the present day. No matter how unique the story may be, one thing connects them all, and that is their fantasy themes which stem from Stella’s passion for the fantasy genre. This love for writing fantasy undoubtedly came from her interest in fantasy books.

Stella says her biggest inspiration is Rick Riordan, a fantasy author famous for the Percy Jackson & the Olympian series, and those around Stella believe that rings true in the form of her style. Stella even started out writing by mimicking Riordan’s voice. Lucy recognizes a bit of Riordan’s influence in her writing.

“She definitely likes adding diversity into her stories,” Lucy said. “like in the Percy Jackson series, there’s a lot of people of color and part of the LGBTQ community.”

Sarah, who began to read the Percy Jackson series because of Stella’s unwavering love for it, said she sees Riordan’s influence in another way: through her humor.

“[Riordan is] funny, in his writing, […] he’s got quips and quirks and he’s funny, so it makes it fun to read,” Sarah said. “So I think she may incorporate some of that because of him, like she makes her dialogue kind of interesting and funny, because she likes that kind of, she likes to read that kind of story.”

As for other inspirations, Stella listed American author John Green and the Donna Gephart book, Lily and Dunkin. She has yet to distribute any of her writing, outside of to her family and friends.

Stella attended an open-house at Madison prior to the start of her freshman year. It was there that she was handed a copy of the school newspaper, which she read over. When Stella got to forecast classes for her freshman year at Madison, she knew that journalism would be a great elective for her.

“[I] always liked creative writing and I thought, ‘Hey, you know, journalism is writing, but it’s more something to make a profession out of,’ and I wanted to try a different type of writing,” Stella said.

Another type of writing Stella has been experimenting with is poetry, which she sometimes sends to friends.

Both Lucy and Sarah said they could see journalism as a career path for Stella, one which she herself has shifted focus onto, but that they could also see is her becoming an author. Stella is even toying with the idea of screenwriting, specifically for sit-coms, but is open to all things writing. That does not mean Stella is set on a career in writing, however; she is still undecided and open to other possibilities.

For now, Stella is a talented writer working hard to familiarize herself with new forms of writing, hopeful for what the future holds. Even if she doesn’t pursue a career in writing, that doesn’t mean that her love for it will die.

“I’d say [writing is] kind of like reading in the sense you can get lost in it and it’s a good distraction from a lot of things,” Stella said. “It’s really nice to be able to see your characters develop and become like you, and start to see yourself in a lot of your characters. It’s just something I always like once you’ve started getting more into the story, and it’s just something that’s pretty relaxing for me, it’s a good way to get away from everything.”