Rose Lu (Writing for the Page, 2018)

Workload wise, the course can be intense…but spending a year reading and writing is also a total dream.

Rose writes: 'I remember emailing the IIML office a few weeks before applications closed for the MA, asking for the exact time that my application needed to be in by. Putting together the writing portfolio was a frantic exercise. I had no body of work to draw from, as I had not studied creative writing, or even English literature – my undergraduate degree was in Mechatronics Engineering. This open application policy is one of the strengths of the IIML.

'In my MA cohort I found scientists, jocks, artists, principals, musicians, and of course writers. Everyone had lived such different lives, and as the year progressed we all got to know each other closely through our work, and the workshopping of our work. Chris Price did a fantastic job convening our course. It was a safe environment in which to receive the necessary criticism to grow as a writer, and the compliments that keep you going in hard times. There were so many rich conversations about the nature of life and literature, many that eventually made it onto the page, and some best left in the workshop room.

'The MA taught me how to read and critique, which is such a crucial part of writing. We were exposed to a broad range of texts which helped me build a picture of what effective writing looked like across different styles and mediums. There were readings that I hated, or found boring and pointless, and learning what I didn’t like was good kindling for what I did want to create.

'Workload wise, the course is quite full on. The sheer amount of writing and reading you need to do every week to keep up can be intense. I was in the minority of people that kept up paid employment, and I was mentally prepared for the fact that I wouldn't have any evenings or weekends free for the duration of the course. In saying that, spending a year reading and writing is also a total dream. It's a lot of fun, and I made amazing friends with my cohort, and with other people connected to the school.'

Bio: Rose Lu was awarded the Modern Letters Creative Nonfiction Prize for her essay collection ‘All Who Live on Islands, published in 2019 by Te Herenga Waka University Press. Parts of the collection have been published in Sport, The Pantograph Punch, Starling and Turbine Kapohau. Her undergraduate degree was in mechatronics engineering, and she has worked as a software developer since 2012.

Read more:

Te Herenga Waka University Press

Rose on 'All Who Live on Islands', (Pantograph Punch, 3 September 2018)

Listen to 'Cleaver' (Radio New Zealand's Page Numbers 2019)

'Red Packet' (Starling Issue 8, Winter 2019)