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I’m a recent arrival in Northland, having moved here from the Kāpiti Coast north of Wellington just after lockdown in 2020. I’m enjoying meeting students and staff of NorthTec as part of the writing community here.
My writing life really started at Whitireia Polytech, with a one-year course where we studied different genres of writing. I loved learning in the Polytech way which was supportive and closely linked to writers in the community. You’d call these writers ‘the industry’ if you were a chef or a builder. These ‘senior’ writers gave me heaps of encouragement and I’d like to pass that on to new writers. This experience has left me with a lot of loyalty to Polytech as a way to learn writing, or other skills and crafts.
After that year at Whitireia I was hooked on writing and went on to do an M.A. at the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University, and then a Ph D there.
I’ve published three books. One is poetry (Dear Sweet Harry) about the life of Harry Houdini. One is about things and people who are lost. That is called Lost and Gone Away. The most recent is Peat, a collection of essays and poetic glossaries, about New Zealand poet Charles Brasch and, at the same time, tracking the construction of an expressway in my suburb.
I mostly write non-fiction, often creative non-fiction essays, but sometimes articles and poetry and, since I came to Northland, I have joined a group that writes flash fiction. Right at the moment I’m exploring the idea that there could be a thing called flash NON fiction. I like to keep developing new options and not get into a rut where I always write in the same way.
In my last year of the course I was offered a place in Level 7 which requires students to complete a major project...
“Professional writing was the easy part for me when I enrolled in this course. My big challenge was attempting to break into fiction in my late sixties. Papers like Myths, Legends and Folk Tales, Short Story, and Novel opened up a whole range of possibilities for me and I revelled in the chance to write creatively.”
“The fact that the course was online was ideal for me because I’m a retiree, and there was the added bonus of several local tutors who I could meet with personally. They kept me motivated.”
“However, I wasn’t an easy student. Because my background is in education, and in curriculum and professional development writing in particular, I was critical of some of the content and structure of the course. The great thing was that the tutors embraced my input, so it was a real win-win situation.”
“In my last year of the course I was offered a place in Level 7 which requires students to complete a major project. It was a perfect opportunity for me to write my 82,000 word novel. It is the story of a young woman being sent to a remote community to teach, who finds that she herself gets an education. We had expert online tutor input plus we were matched with professional mentors and assessors relevant to our genre. I was delighted with the assessment and feel I’ve gone from being a professional writer to a writer of fiction.”
“I’m a lot more secure in my understanding of how to write fiction now, and my confidence in my own creativity has grown enormously as a result of this learning journey. I’m keen to carry on writing creatively, and my dream is to see my novel published.”