Doug Dillaman (Writing for the Page 2014)

If you are a writer, there is no greater gift you can give yourself than a year at the IIML. 

Doug writes: As someone not known for concision, I'm tempted to keep it short: if you are a writer, there is no greater gift you can give* yourself than a year at the IIML.

It may not seem that way in the doing, of course: I remember one day, not far from our final hand-in date, where more than half of the course members cried at one point or another. There is nothing more confronting than the distance between the ideal form of your passion project and the actual jumble of words you're facing on paper - or having trouble getting there.

But also: regardless of the outcome, there is nothing more valuable than the space and time to try to bring your creative baby into being. That is, except for a group of people going through the same experience who can provide you a fresh perspective on your work, a shoulder on which to cry or laugh, and - of course - tasty baked goods to help absorb the blows of (always constructive!) critique.

Add to that a time-tested course structure, an impossibly supportive teacher (bless your endless tolerance, Emily Perkins), advisor (the calibre of advisors is breathtaking - Jane Parkin did wonders for my sprawling ideas) and staff, and a classroom with an unbeatable view of Wellington and a storied history, and you have a unique confluence that means I'll always remember 2014 as one of the most charmed years of my life, even without a prize or publishing contract to show for it. Because what really matters is not fame, recognition, and glory, but the knowledge that you've pushed yourself to do the very best work you can. And the IIML is optimised to help you do just that.

*Of course, as IRD reminds me periodically, it's not really a gift. But it feels like one.

Bio: Doug Dillaman just got back from a trip to America, for what he swears is his final research trip for the novel he wrote during his MA year of 2014. He wrote and directed the feature film Jake, produced a spoken-word poetry film for Loading Docs 2016, is a contributing writer to The Pantograph Punch, and edits television and film for a living. Based in Auckland, he's developing a number of projects for both page and screen, but has learned his lesson about talking about them before they're ready.

Read more:

NZ Onscreen profile

The Pantograph Punch writer page