Adele (MSt Creative Writing) won the prize with her short story The Best Time to Swim. Read about her journey as a creative writer.
Could you tell us about yourself and your studies, and how you got into writing?
I am currently in the first year of the MSt in Creative Writing course at Cambridge ICE. I'm Australian, but have lived in Germany with my family for the past eight years, having moved when my husband was awarded a contract as an opera singer with the Hessisches Staatstheater in Wiesbaden. Although his contract is long finished and he now works as a baritone for hire! We have stayed on in Germany. I work at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in administration.
I have always written or created imaginative worlds since childhood. Sometimes, I prefer the worlds I create in my mind. I can control everything that goes on in there and I'm usually the heroine of my own story, defeating the dragon, getting the gold etc. Fun!
I decided to take this writing malarkey a bit more seriously during the first lockdown. With the encouragement of a dear and talented friend who also happens to be an astounding poet, I decided to really give it a shot and started submitting work, attending workshops and then applied for the MSt at Cambridge.
It has been an amazing and enriching experience so far and I am loving, not only writing, but talking about writing, thinking about writing, agonising over writing with like-minded people who 'get it'. It's a wonderful experience.
What is your short story about?
My short story is about the strain in a relationship between a mother and daughter. About all the things that are not spoken about as much as those that are. About the ways we sometimes fail to show our love in a translatable way and about the choices that follow on from becoming a mother and how those choices can be unwillingly repeated from generation to generation.
How did it feel to win the prize?
I was thrilled just to have been shortlisted for the prize, so winning was completely unexpected! It feels like an important first step in what I hope will be a long and enriching career, but even if I never win another prize or even get published, I will still love writing and be compelled to do it. At least my husband always has something new to read at bedtime. My first and much treasured reader.
What would your advice be for someone else who wanted to try creative writing?
My advice for anyone wanting to try creative writing is to read, read, read and then read some more. And then to write, write, write. Don't worry about how 'good' it is. My philosophy is: if I have enjoyed writing a piece, if I feel I have learned something about myself as a writer, if I am satisfied with the piece I have produced, then everything else is just icing on the cake. Why write if it isn't something that gives you some pleasure and that takes you to unexpected places within yourself? Enjoy it. That's the most important part.