Am back in the thick of the PhD. For those of you who don’t know, I’m doing a PhD in Creative Writing at La Trobe. I've finished the creative component and written a novel about a young Bosnian-Muslim girl surviving under the siege of Srebrenica during the Balkan Conflict of 1992-1995, which turned out to be a trilogy and a series I want to continue.
Some background: Srebrenica is a city in Eastern Bosnian that the UN declared a safe zone, and yet its citizens were still subjected to starvation, shelling and shooting. The siege of Srebrenica ended on the 11 July 1995 when it was taken by the enemy and 8372 mostly Bosnian-Muslim men and boys were massacred and buried in mass graves.
I’m now completing my exegesis and looking at other fiction novels about Srebrenica, thinking about who is writing them, what is the perspective being shared, how does storytelling shift based on the background of the author, whose stories are told and how from the Srebrenica conflict, and what is my story contributing.
I’m not rushing with the publication of the novels as I’m leaving some time for them to marinate before going into editing, and also, I want to complete my exegesis before I return back to the editing process. I am also using this time to learn marketing, publicity and book launch so I can use all these lessons for the trilogy.
This PhD has been a long time in process, and I’ve had to take breaks due to life and grief, and everything in between. What has made this a wonderful process has been the support of my amazing supervisors, Paddy O’Reilly who was my supervisor during the fiction process, Claire Knowles who has been there since the beginning, and Catherine Padmore who took over after Paddy left and is now supporting me with the exegesis.
I also am so lucky to have the Antigones, my fellow PhD buddies, Kimberley Starr and Vicki Petraitis. All three of us are teachers and writers and it has been such a blessing having them to share this journey. We’re now knuckling down to support each other in finishing our exegesis and it feels so much easier having them with me to uplift me during the process.
This is a bucket list item and I feel so good when I get back into this headspace and move forward with my goal. This is the kind of homework I love combining all of my passions: reading, thinking, writing and teaching.
Amra Pajalić is an award-winning author, an editor and teacher who draws on her Bosnian cultural heritage to write own voices stories for young people, who like her, are searching to mediate their identity and take pride in their diverse culture. She writes memoir, young adult and romance under the pen name Mae Archer.
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