Not Quite A Room of One's Own

The winner of the 2014 Affirm Press Creative Writing Prize, Suzanne Hermanoczki, reflects on the creative process and finding an opportunity to sit down and write.

More than six months ago, my scholarship ended. My PhD thesis submission date was looming, and I was not quite finished. In the midst of thinking how I was going to support myself and complete my thesis, which included finding the time and a place to continue writing my novel, I came across the Melbourne University collaborative prize with Affirm Press. Here was a prize in the form of editorial support and mentoring from a publisher which included the promise that someone would read my entire working manuscript. There was no cash involved. But there was to be a desk provided.

Like all good writers fighting a deadline, I managed to submit my application that day, at 5pm on the dot.

At this years' Melbourne Writer's Festival, Hannah Kent explained how crafting literature, based on research and fact, involves turning data into something beautiful and lyrical, which is a highly difficult task. She quoted Margaret Attwood who described the act of writing as driving at night in a dark tunnel with no headlights on. As a writer, winning this prize was like catching a glimpse of light (this time from a John Medley tower window). Since receiving my room key, I have been able to dedicate a large part of my time solely to crafting. My gratitude for such a prize comes from recognising the need for writers to be given a room outside of one's home, in order to think, research, create, and write.

One completed rough draft, several meetings, and a couple of pages of notes later; I still have eight editorial hours left, and a second draft to go. The difference is I know there are people in the industry waiting, and that the novel I am working on, might one day be read by others.

Congratulations again to Suzanne, we wish her all the best as she continues work on her manuscript.

Applications for the 2015 prize will open later in the year. To learn more about the other prizes and scholarships available to Faculty of Arts students, visit our scholarships page.