Celebrity Style

The ELLE Talent Contest

By Hannah Swerling

There are some moments in life when you just know that you can either grab the opportunity that’s in front of you, or let it slip through your fingers.

When the email came through that I had been chosen as a runner-up in the ELLE Talent Contest 2011 for a piece I’d written on an event that helped shaped who I am, I knew, despite the feelings of shock and disbelief, that this was a moment that could change everything.

The piece I wrote and submitted was deeply personal, about the abortion I had when I was 18 and the aftermath as I struggled to deal with a life I didn’t know how to live.

Writing the piece had been a sweetly cathartic experience and, it may sound corny, but I felt that writing and emailing it off had been an important act in itself.

I’ve always loved ELLE magazine and, while the fashion is undoubtedly exciting, it’s the features I skip to every month to find words to inspire me and show me that there are other women struggling with the same things I am.

I never would have guessed that, almost a year after writing my ELLE Talent Contest entry, my name would be in print in the September 2012 issue under my very own feature.

Since then I can’t believe that I’ve had the confidence to quit my job and do something I’ve always wanted to do: try to make it as a writer.

The ELLE Talent Contest is about more than winning a prize. The guidance I’ve had from my mentors, commissioning editor Hannah Swerling and features director Alice Wignall at ELLE, has been worth more than any amount of money.

The best thing about the whole experience though has been taking something that nearly destroyed me and turning it into something hopeful. Now that’s a prize worth winning.

The winning entry for the ELLE Talent Contest 2012 will be published in the January 2013 issue of ELLE on sale in December

Click here to read more about the ELLE Talent Contest 2012 and to watch our Faber Academy tutorials on novel writing

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