Iris Goldsztajn, winner of the Writing Magazine Grand Prize


01 January 2021
Meet London freelance journalist and creative writer Iris Goldsztajn, winner of the first WM Grand Prize

Freelance journalist Iris Goldsztajn began writing for her university newspaper's website and contributed to Her Campus, an online magazine for university-aged women, before becoming an editor and, as her first post-graduate job, associate editor. She also writes personal essays and service-based features for publications including Cosmopolitan, Stylist, InStyle and Metro. She also has a blog, where she mainly review films. For work, I do a lot of copywriting for various wellness and lifestyle brands, writing blog posts and newsletters. She took time out to share her experience and the background to the story that won £1,000 in the inaugural Writing Magazine Grand Prize.

"I don't think I ever doubted I would become a writer one way or another. In school, I thrived in creative writing assignments, and as a child I started (but never finished) writing several novels. Later, I decided I wanted to work for a women's lifestyle magazine, but fiction was always on the table. I got serious about this aspiration in 2017, when I enrolled in my first fiction course. I then began working on my first novel in August 2018, which I'm in the final stages of editing at the moment. I have only written two short stories (including this one) as an adult — at the time they felt like the only way I could purge myself of some difficult feelings. Reading fiction, and especially "chick lit," has always been a big part of my life and I'm constantly looking for a new author whose work to devour. I'm hoping I can eventually become that author for even one reader or two!

"I have entered many competitions before and, after fielding many rejections, I'm so glad my writing could resonate with the judges this time around.  I found the listing on the Writers HQ website where they list competitions every month and I thought my story might fit the publication style. I'm very glad I decided to enter, and I'm finding Writing Magazine to be a really valuable resource for my writing now."

Did your winning story come easily and quickly, or was it something you’d been thinking about for a long time?
"The story felt very urgent. I was dealing with a lot of feelings I didn't know what to do with, and I felt very strongly that the only way I could deal with them was to let them all out in story form. I wrote it in two sittings and I found it incredibly therapeutic."
How did you come upon the distinctive viewpoint and narrative voice?
"This was the second short story I'd written in the space of a few weeks, so I think I was exploring the elements that make a story. I was going for a fairytale "once upon a time" sort of tone, and I knew I wanted to write my protagonists in the third person. It was like turning my feelings into concrete, observable characters, whose behaviour I could then explain with the detachment of a third-party narrator. The tone was the first thing that came to me; then it was a question of adding the narrative onto it."

What are you working on now?
I'm working slowly and somewhat steadily on getting my novel finished. It's a romantic comedy featuring a young woman in her mid-twenties who is trying to figure out who she is, and who she wants to be. I hope many people will be able to see themselves in her struggle for purpose, identity and acceptance. And I hope a literary agent will see something in her, too!

Read Iris's winning story here.

For your chance to win £1,000 in this year's Grand Prize, find out more here.

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