This is the view of Wellington from the International Institute of Modern Letters’ work room:
Contrary to The Lovely Wife‘s opinion of Wellington weather, this was how the city looked most days I met with my fellow scriptwriters.
What can I say about my year in that work room?
We all worked hard to be in there.
We continued to work hard. We shared work stories, war stories, and horror stories. We all wanted to write. We wanted to be inspired by who and what we admired and aspired to be like.
We wrote whatever the hell we wanted — prevailing and imminent zeitgeists be damned! — and Ken gave us the space and support with which to do so.
We all went through the pain of creating — actual wattage varied with each writer — but the work room was a haven where we could confess and share and not feel alone for a two to three hours.
This year was a treasure. I got what I wanted out of the course: a project I knew would be challenging — it almost got the better of me several times, I tell you — and, one month on, I’m just glad to see the back of it. I also got to know and admire and respect nine other writers, most of them half my age, all of them talented and motivated story-tellers, each with a recognisable voice — each I’m glad to know is out there writing.
So. That was my year.
Time now for a little lie down as the festive season approaches.
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.