Marian Evans (Scriptwriting, 2004 )

It was hard. I struggled to believe I was a writer...And then one day I realised that I was happier than I’d ever been.

Marian writes: 'I missed out the first time I applied. Went off to do an LLM, make a feature doco, organise a women's film festival. Then, because my thesis was on parental responsibility, I went to Ken Duncum's Cherish (am not a theatre-going girl). Wow! I thought. I could learn so much from this writer. So I applied again. Got in.

'And it was hard. I often felt undereducated: one classmate's favourite book was by Nabokov; all I knew of Nabokov was Sue Lyon's heart-shaped shades. I struggled to believe I was a writer. I wasn't used to sharing stories with men. Everyone seemed more skilled than I was, and faster at finding ideas. They'd seen every film in the world, were also actors, playwrights or novelists, had television and debated programmes vigorously (the last programme I'd enjoyed was MASH).

'Then we had - horrors - to write a play. What did that have to do with the story I wanted to tell? On a quick trip to a French women's film festival I typed away in airport lounges; and was re-inspired when I saw couples watching DVDs on their laptops.

'Things got better. I learned how to give and receive feedback; and heaps from reading and responding to the others' work. It was easy to love my classmates, the tree outside our classroom, and our teacher. And one day I realised, as I chatted with my characters, that I was happier than I'd ever been (though I cried later, when Ken told me I'd won the class prize).

'Then from a placement at Natural History New Zealand to fast-turnaround children's television at Cloud 9; writing with Cushla Parekowhai; a stunning IIML masterclass with Linda Voorhees and the joys of its Bluebird group. And now here I am again at the IIML, doing a PhD about women's low participation in feature script-writing, writing three features to develop in three different ways and a chickflick metascript about the processes. Feeling very very lucky.'

Bio: Marian Evans is a cultural activist, member of the Spiral Collective that published Keri Hulme's Booker Prize-winning novel the bone people, and was a senior research associate at Gender & Women's Studies (VUW). She is the recipient of an Orangi Kaupapa Award; an Embassy Trust Prize for her MA feature script, Mothersongs/Chansons maternelles; a Women in Leadership PhD Scholarship; a Grow Wellington scholarship;and three beautiful sons. She blogs as Wellywood Woman.

More about Marian's Creative Writing PhD and post-doctoral projects.

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