Rosie McCrossin is the overall winner of the Swinburne Microfiction Challenge with her story, ‘Mudflat Summer’.
As part of the Digital Writers’ Festival (DWF), the Swinburne Microfiction Challenge provided a one word prompt each morning to inspire writers. Participants were then given 24 hours to submit a response of up to 500 words before the next prompt was published.
Swinburne writing staff members Dr Carolyn Beasley, Nic Brasch, Julian Novitz, Jacqueline Ross and Christina Yin (Sarawak) read up to 170 stories each day.
Ten daily winners were chosen and published on Seizure Online, an online publication specialising in flash fiction. The challenge received 922 entries in total.
“The DWF and Swinburne Writing wanted to come up with an event that was more than just the usual panel of writers sharing tips so we thought up an online competition that let people submit a short story every day for 10 days. We were all over the moon with the enormous number of responses,” Dr Carolyn Beasley, Writing Program Director and (Acting) Department Chair of Media and Communication says.
At the conclusion of the challenge, an overall winner was chosen from the daily winners, winning a grand prize of $1,000.
Poetry to microfiction
Ms McCrossin grew up in Brisbane, and now lives in Canberra studying economics and international relations at the Australian National University.
“I remember writing from a very young age,” Ms McCrossin says.
“At first it was a lot of poetry. I read a lot when I was young too and I definitely think that writing always follows reading.”
Ms McCrossin wrote ‘Mudflat Summer’ in response to the prompt ‘play’. The story is told by an unnamed protagonist as they reminisce on a carefree summer day in their childhood.
“It is very directly based on my childhood around Sandgate and Deagon (bayside suburbs of Brisbane) with my sister and best friend… I feel a lot of nostalgia towards how easy it all felt then.
“You need to just take moments, and let the reader superimpose their experiences onto it. It’s not really about me; it’s that universal feeling of that one summer holiday or visit to your grandparents. Really, it’s about how hard it is to know you gave that up.”
Ms McCrossin also wrote another story which was chosen as the daily winner of the day six prompt, ‘lost’.
‘Brick and Mortar’ shifts away from the natural setting of ‘Mudflat Summer’ into a housing estate and the monotony of life as a young adult.
“I see a lot of my friends graduating and feeling this lack of fulfilment and direction. I think it’s the way society pushes us, we have these rigid paths for a world becoming less and less structured.
“A lot of people have that fear of moving back home, ending up in a life like their parents’. Just trudging through with no big goals. But in a way, there’s something really liberating about that.”
Despite struggling to fit writing in her schedule after commencing her university studies, Ms McCrossin hopes to continue writing in the future.
“I hope one day I can write a coming of age novel about a kid in a state school. If one student got to do an assigned reading that was about them and their life, and it really resonated with them, that would be a big achievement for me.”
Swinburne Microfiction Challenge was held from 24 October to 2 November as part of the Digital Writers’ Festival.