Student Feature: Lily Rockefeller

Is the pen mightier than the sword? If you were to ask Lily Rockefeller ’14, a three-year Senior, New York City native and creative writer, the answer to this question would be a no-brainer.

“[Last year for Spanish class], I was doing this research for an essay, and I was reading this semiotic linguist, and he was saying that the word for table and the table itself are inherently linked. What’s cool about that is that you can’t separate the word and the thing. In a way, words can describe everything. Ink can connect the entire world, and when you’re a writer, you can tap into that,” said Rockefeller.

For Rockefeller, who initially wanted to be a visual artist, her interest in creative writing began around age 11.

“I had read a lot of mostly fantasy books, so I just kind of realized ‘why don’t I make my own work?’ After that, I got really into it — I continued writing the story for about three years. At the end, I realized that it had been a good experience, so I just decided to keep doing it,” said Rockefeller.

Rockefeller’s three-year project, a parody of the fantasy genre, served as her introduction to writing fiction, which continues to be her primary genre. Her main literary influences are Neil Gaiman, author of “Coraline,” and Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel García Márquez.

During Spanish 401 last year, Rockefeller studied Márquez’s novel “One Hundred Years of Solitude.” The novel sparked Rockefeller’s interest in metafiction: fiction that acknowledges and plays with both fiction and magical realism, a genre that incorporates fantastic elements in realistic settings, both of which are woven into “One Hundred Years of Solitude.”

As a Senior, Rockefeller is months away from graduating. At this point, she is unsure of whether she will pursue creative writing as an undergraduate course of study or not, given the unusual nature of writing in comparison to other art forms.

“Painting — so much of it is creative, and it’s part of your own mind, so it’s creative, but at the same time, there are techniques that you have to learn. You know, this is how you handle the brush, this how you create this stroke. With writing, there are techniques, but they’re so varied in how you can apply them to the work,” said Rockefeller.

“You can major in creative writing, but is it necessary? That is something I want to know,” she continued.

In spite of her uncertainty about majoring in creative writing, Rockefeller has always envisioned herself pursuing writing as an occupation in the long run, despite having interests in foreign language, linguistics and international relations.

“They say that every single thing you experience is good for your writing. It’s good to get experience doing other things — maybe working as a linguistics professor. That sounds cool. But everything would funnel into being a writer. That’s what I really want to do,” said Rockefeller.