Late last year, I had the brilliant idea of doing a Master of Arts in Creative Writing.
The University of Auckland offers an equivalent MA and is only a couple of hours drive south of Fortress Mamea, but there was a certain je n’ais se quoi that an MA from the International Institute of Modern Letters at the Victoria University of Wellington held for me. Part of it was the cachet IIML has. A larger part of it, to be honest, was that the IIML is in my hometown.
The Lovely Wife, gods bless her cowboy boots, arranged her whole year’s work schedule so I could commute between the winterless north and the windy city. I planned a sub-48-hour travel itinerary for each of the 24 workshops that were spread between March and October:
- 3:30am–6:30am — drive from Fortress Mamea to Auckland Airport
- 7:30am–8:30am — fly from Auckland to Wellington
- 8:30am–9:45am — buses from Wellington Airport to Victoria University
- 10:00am–1:00pm — Tuesday workshop at IIML
- 10:00am–12:00noon — Wednesday workshop at IIML
- times varied according to cheapest flights booked but —
- bus to Wellington Airport
- fly to Auckland
- drive to Whangārei
- — with arrival times as early as 7pm and as late as midnight.
I looked at that itinerary and thought, How hard could it be? It’ll be fun — I’ve got several years worth of podcasts to catch up on. It’ll be a blast!
The novelty of that commute wore off after the first week. Six and a half hours of travel each way will do that. But I did it, and I’m here to blog about it.
On the very first day, programme director Ken Duncum had a bunch of portfolios to show us greenhorns what we’d be producing by year’s end. One of them was for my favourite New Zild television show:
I took it as a sign that — commuting aside — I’d signed up for a year of awesomeness.