Georgina Roberts won the First Chapter competition in 2017, selected from 700 entries from aspiring female writers. Award-winning, bestselling author Maggie O’Farrell, set up the story, called ‘Always The Quiet Ones’, unfolding into a relationship drama in Georgina’s finished chapter – which set up a promising story of betrayal and intrigue with the potential to unfurl into a novel.

Georgina is Head of the Digital team at the innovation foundation Nesta, responsible for publishing and promoting research and content. She has been creating online content and managing digital projects for the last ten years and writes fiction in her spare time.

Although I have written and edited content throughout my career in communications, my entry to the First Chapter competition in Grazia magazine was the first fiction I had written since my school days. I decided immediately that I would enter. I didn’t think about winning, I just needed a challenge. I was going through a difficult time and needed something to focus on. I was looking for a distraction from work where I felt frustrated and I wanted to push myself in a more creative direction. That first paragraph from Maggie O’Farrell sent me on my way.

So, I wrote the entry on my phone each day while commuting on the underground. And when I found myself feeling stressed about my work situation I would redirect my thoughts to think about the latest challenge in my story instead. Aside from being a good distraction, fiction writing became a passion. It was unlike any writing I had ever done. The story unfolded before me and I loved feeling that I could take it anywhere but also that I didn’t know completely where it would go next.

Winning the First Chapter competition was a wonderful experience. It gave me confidence in my fiction writing and in general and the Women’s Prize and Grazia teams really made it a wonderful experience.

I still write, tapping away into my phone on my commute. However, my baby son arrived a year after I won the prize; so my priorities have shifted. Now I’m back at work after maternity leave and lead that same team that I’ve always been in, as a jobshare with another new mum. Some weeks I consider myself lucky to get to read, let alone write! But following my discovery of Naomi Alderman, the winner of the 2017 Women’s Prize for Fiction, I’m currently enjoying her novel Disobedience!

I think the Women’s Prize is a great and accessible way to discover fiction writing – it’s so important that women’s voices from all backgrounds are heard and their stories are told. Writing fiction is so much fun and I love that it is there for me to pick up again when I have more time to myself!

Follow Georgina Roberts @Grrobertz on Twitter.

Click here to read more about how to enter the Women’s Prize for Fiction x Grazia First Chapter competition.