I always wanted to teach, and by high school, the subject I loved most was English. After 7th Form, clutching a suitcase and wearing my best outfit, I boarded my first ever plane and set out for Otago University to begin a B.A. Six years later, I emerged with an M.A. in English and a teaching diploma.
I loved teaching – just loved it. As my career porgressed, I realised that I loved teaching writing most of all. I loved reading students’ writing and helping them to write to their potential. I loved that, as I read, I was experiencing something that hadn’t existed in the world previously. I especially loved helping people who thought they couldn’t write – sometimes even regarding it with fear and loathing – produce work they were proud of.
As time passed, I realised I wanted to try creative writing again, myself. For years (since 5th Form, in fact), all my writing had been academic. University, task writing and planning, work on the national NCEA standards and tasks, articles for the English teachers’ association = lots and lots of writing, but none of it for my own satisfaction or exploration. I enrolled in a Graduate Diploma course, extramurally from Massey. Over a few years, a paper at a time, I completed the diploma in Media Studies and Creative Writing.
I found the creative writing papers, particularly the poetry, deeply satisfying. It felt like a part of me had woken up. So I took a deep breath and applied for the M.A. in Creative Writing from the International Institute of Modern Letters- the IIML – at Victoria University. I still can’t quite believe I got in.
After a year of sweating, cursing and battling my inner critic, I came out the other side with another M.A., this time in poetry, and some published work. More importantly, I knew writing, how to write and how to teach writing, in a more fundamental way.
When I left teaching at the end of 2016, I had these two things: a knowledge of writing, and a passion for coaching writers. Doing some contract work for Ian Hunter’s extraordinary programme, Write that Essay, honed my skills further.
My working life, now, feels like luxury. I get to use my skills and experience other people’s joy in writing well. And I get to read what they’ve written. I love helping budding writers find their voice and their community. I love it.