When Caley McPherson scrolled down her Facebook newsfeed and stopped on a short story competition, she never thought she’d find herself accepting first prize a few months later.
But the Eden Marine High School HSC student, decided to give it a crack anyway, and it’s paid dividends.
“I’m from a small community where we like to support those sorts of community competitions and events,” Caley said.
“It just came up on my Facebook feed, and I had a short story that I just expanded and entered in the competition.
“It’s called The Escape, and it’s based on finding your individuality and stepping out of conformist society.
“I ended up using it as part of my English Extension 2 major work, which was a collection of short stories that explore similar themes.”
The theme is one that would surely resonate with Caley and her HSC classmates.
Having finished lessons this week and staring down the barrel of exams next month, they’ve all got one eye on life after school.
Caley is no different, and will be putting her $200 prize as the Mallacoota Arts Council’s ‘Just Write’ winner towards a tool for her future.
“It’s going towards a MacBook Pro for next year,” she said.
“I’ve got a dinosaur of a computer that’s been dying slowly over the last five years.
“I’m hoping to do a Bachelor of Arts and Policy Studies at the University of Melbourne next year, and it’d be great to explore a career in writing, but I think writing will just be more of a hobby.”
During such a big year, the award has come as welcome news for Caley.
“I’m very grateful, and it was such a huge boost to my confidence this year.
“With the massive workload of the HSC there was a lot of stress, so it was really nice having that glimmer of sunshine within it all.”
The ‘Just Write’ competition, which is open to students in the Bega Valley and East Gippsland shires, also featured a fan fiction short story category, taken out by Mallacoota P-12 College student Bryce Owen, for his story, ‘Dear Scarlett’.
‘Just Write’ is just one of several competitions run by the Mallacoota Arts Council, including the 750-word ‘Gabo Prize’, and 2500-word ‘Mallacoota Prize’.
Named in honour of local poet and political thinker, Edwin James Brady, the competition recognises Mallacoota's long-standing literary and artistic traditions.
The E J Brady short story competition is contested throughout Australia and beyond, with the major short story category, the ‘Mallacoota Prize’, carrying a first prize of $2000, and $300 for the runner-up.
The newly named ‘Gabo Prize’ is worth $500 for the winner.
Entries are now open for these two competitions, which close on January 31, 2015.
The cost of entry into the competition is $12 for the ‘Mallacoota Prize’, and $8.00 to enter a story in the ‘Gabo Prize’.
To enter and for more details, visit www.artsmallacoota.org