17 October 2018

Meet the 2018 Scribe Nonfiction Prize Shortlist – Georgia Rose Phillips

In the lead up to announcing The 2018 Scribe Nonfiction Prize for Young Writers, we’re introducing you to every name and face on the shortlist. These are some of the brightest nonfiction minds in the country and they’re all aged 30 and under. Read their profiles on the Express Media blog to learn more about their writing journeys, love of nonfiction and their tips and tricks to writing the best real-life stories.

Georgia Rose Phillips, 25, NSW
Holocene: A Short Story

How did you begin writing?

It is difficult to remember the exact point I began writing. We did, however, in our last move discover a bunch of my childhood story books from early primary school years. I remember always being fond of story telling. I have also always been highly imaginative and frequently get stuck in daydreams. Most of the content of the early story books detailed the adventures of myself and all the creatures from my Microsoft Dangerous Creatures CD that I was completely obsessed with.

Why do you write nonfiction?

I write nonfiction because of the age old adage that truth is stranger than fiction. The world around us is unpredictable, and at times trying for the human spirit. If you can catch that in the net of language, if you can really grasp the process of finding sense in the mess of reality; I believe you can produce something profoundly insightful and beautiful. I also enjoy how creative nonfiction allows writers to examine the socio, cultural and political ramifications of our everyday interactions and encounters.

Tell us a bit about your submission to the Scribe Prize:

Holocene: A Short Story is told through Astrid’s stream of consciousness as she meditates upon the experience of losing her gay male best friend, Silas, to suicide, after his mental health declines sharply during the Same Sex Marriage debate. As she walks through the quaint Strand Arcade building to purchase a dress for his funeral, her mind instinctively recoils from the present to guard her from the psychological and emotional pain of his absence.

Astrid pulls us into her world of grief and longing as she begins to see Silas and the fleetingness of life in everything around her. Her memories are quickly ruptured by the visual cues of the debate pulling her back to the present. The rainbow flag in the shop window, the black silk of the funeral dress, the physical remnants of the political present impose with an insistence which emulates the inescapability of the SSM debate. Holocene: A Short Story reveals the power of friendship and mourns the losses of members of the queer community both before, during and after the SSM debate.

Why did you choose to write on this subject?

I wanted to capture the highly nuanced but suffocating experience of being queer and living through the Same Sex Marriage debate in Australia. More specifically, I wanted to focus on what it brought back for so many of us. For some it was the ghost of friends who hadn’t made it. For others, it was more a matter of  being pushed back into a place of self doubt or loathing that many had or were/are working so hard to distance themselves from.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

My honours supervisor, Stephanie Bishop, suggested I read Virginia Woolf’s diaries, I took her advice and read all 27 years. Woolf’s process is intensely self-reflective. She agonised over form, temporality, voice and perspective. There are a lifetime of lectures in the volumes of her diaries alongside an intimate study of an artist’s process and character. The parts which I found particularly influential in my composition of Holocene were her meditations on the relationship between emotion and temporality. More specifically, Woolf’s most memorable reflection to me is, “The past is beautiful because one never realises an emotion at the time. It expands later and thus we don’t have complete emotions about the present, only about the past”.