David Coventry (Writing for the Page, 2010)

I never stopped writing once it was over. And it was something I had no way of writing before the programme started.

David writes: 'Such a grand thing to be told, that you can sit in a room for a couple of terms and talk about writing, write and read and meet these people. Ten of us with me as the old guy. We sat and said barely a word when left to our own devices. A leitmotif for the year, a quiet bunch flummoxing visiting Americans. The poetry stream had gone out for drinks before our group had even had our first class, and then it took a further three weeks to get together. We were on a slow burn.

'Two workshops aimed directly at your work. Three hours where you must be silent and listen to the absence of all the things you'd been telling yourself to keep you stationed at your desk: "This is just, wow, great!" "You kill!" Absent because in reality, you aren't and you don't. The reality is much more complex and that is one of the great things about the course, you get to slowly figure out what you can do, and what it is you are doing.

'The book I completed once I had abandoned the piece I'd worked on during the year was a direct result of the course, basically because I never stopped writing once it was over. The weight of all that learning finally emptied out into something. And it was something I had no way of writing before the programme started. The years after the course were vital to keep developing. The MA lent me the skills to keep learning about the craft. Vitally, I learnt how to judge my own work; I learnt how to read what I wrote; I learnt how I construct and how to trust my red pen (it's better than the other one).

'Two of our ten have published books, two others have gone to prestigious MFAs in the US. The rest are waiting on something, and that maybe time, that maybe change, all I know is they will all produce something of worth because that’s who they are. These are people I will keep in my life. I'll keep their words in my head too; they're still telling me what to do.'

Bio: David Coventry was born in 1969 and currently lives in Diamond Harbour. He has an Honours Degree in English Lit and in 2010 completed his MA at IIML. David's first published work was the novel The Invisible Mile. In November 2015 he received the Todd New Writers' Bursary, administered by Creative New Zealand. The Invisible Mile was shortlisted in the 2016 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards and was awarded the 2016 Hubert Church Award for Best First Book. It has since has been translated into five languages and published in the US, UK and Commonwealth. His second novel, Dance Prone, was published around the world in 2020.

In 2022, David completed a PhD. His thesis was awarded a place on the prestigious Deans List and the resulting novel, 2024's Performance, has been described as a 'masterpiece' and compared to the work of Virginia Woolf and Thomas Bernhard. He was the 2022 Ursula Bethell Writer in Residence at Canterbury University and has two new books near completion. He is thinking about getting a cat.

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