Nick Bollinger (Writing for the Page, 2015)

Sharing my work was daunting but incredibly valuable. The vigorous discussion always helped me improve whatever was on my page.

Nick writes: 'Bits of a book had been rattling around in my head for a couple of years but I couldn't figure out how to fit them together. I wasn't sure I had the necessary tools. This book had to combine history, memory and music criticism. I'd known for years about the IIML's Creative Writing MA, had read great things that had sprung from it, and now I wondered if the book I was imagining was creative non-fiction? It turned out to be one of the best things I'd ever wondered.

'I found myself in a class with ten of the most generous, eccentric and congenial individuals one could hope to meet, including our tutor, Cliff Fell. These were people committed to writing, to thinking about what makes writing good and what makes good writing better. In their company I began to feel that what I was doing might have some worth.

'Sharing my work with them was daunting but incredibly valuable. They would tell me when something was working, and could explain why; they would let me know when my words were dull or unformed, or failed to hold their attention. They didn't always agree with each other, and I didn't always want to agree with them, but the vigorous discussion always helped me improve whatever was on my page.

'I learned from reading and discussing their work too. I was inspired by their curiosity, the surprising ways they saw the world, how they thought and expressed themselves, their toughness and willingness to take their own work apart, to rewrite and replace.

'They also recommended other books or pieces of writing that might make useful models, authors who had already solved some of the problems I was pondering, or whose writing they thought might excite me. The recommendations were usually spot-on.

'The year went fast and by October I had something resembling a manuscript. I knew I'd need to do some more work before taking it to a publisher, but I also knew that had I not done the course, it would still be just a few loose ideas rattling around.'

Bio: Nick Bollinger is a writer, broadcaster and musician. He worked as a postie and trained as a teacher before finding an outlet for his musical obsession as a journalist and critic. A music columnist for New Zealand Listener for over twenty years, since 2001 he has also written, produced and presented music review programme The Sampler for RNZ National. He is the author of How To Listen To Pop Music and 100 Essential New Zealand Albums (both published by Awa Press). He won the 2015 Adam Foundation Prize in Creative Writing for the manuscript Goneville, which was published the following year.

In 2020, Nick was awarded the Copyright Licensing New Zealand (CLNZ) and New Zealand Society of Authors Te Puni Kaituhi O Aotearoa (NZSA) $25,000 Writers' Award, to work on a book about the counterculture in New Zealand. In 2021 he held the JD Stout Fellowship in New Zealand Studies at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington and completed Jumping Sundays: the Rise and Fall of the Counterculture in Aotearoa New Zealand, which was published by Auckland University Press in August 2022.