Advice for aspiring writers

Professor Patrick Evans has officially retired from his role at UC where he specialised in New Zealand Literature and Creative Composition. Here he shares his advice for aspiring writers.

Pat teaching crop– If you want to be a writer, commit to it or give up now. It’s hard work and particularly so in New Zealand where there’s so little money in the publishing industry. There are so few readers and the reviewing and literary-critical system is so primitive.

– Few successful writers I know have managed to write full-time; the crucial question is how you will support yourself as a creative writer by doing something that doesn’t draw from the same well writing draws from (hint: avoid school teaching: all that spare time you think you’re going to use for writing will be taken up in marking and therapy).

– Marry someone rich and naïve, someone who ‘believes in you’; around them set up a supportive network of friends who will read your work and criticise it intelligently, honestly and kindly.

– Don’t have kids, as they will suck up all your time and money. Or do, and be prepared to write less and on cheaper paper.

– Remember that writing can be a selfish and lonely existence; be aware of what you’re doing to those around you. Write about them, not you, and learn what it is as well, and how to write about it.

– Remember that novels in particular are hard things to write, particularly if they’re going to be any good. You might think you’ve written a novel, but you’ve probably just written 80,000 words of stuff. Be patient. Life is long. You might not be a writer now, but you might be a writer then.

– Learn to write out of love, not hate – out of the gratitude you feel for being allowed to live in the wonder of the world (see R.K. Narayan for this). You think the world is two gin-and-tonics below par (see Humphrey Bogart)? Then why do people want to live in it as long as they can? Learn to recognise that wonder around you (this will take you the rest of your life). Learn to read the Book of Life (Allen Curnow’s idea). You will know what that means when you find you are starting to do it.

– Avoid meetings.

Co-curricular Record – Connecting with people & my degree

My experience with the CCR began in my first year at UC when I began a Student Success Internship on Diversity. My supervisor suggested I sign up to the CCR to gain official recognition for my internship. I was surprised how easy it was to sign up!

One of the greatest moments during my internship was being able to apply what I had learned in my Psychology classes (about the human need to belong) to the Diversity plan I was working on. As a student I think there is nothing more rewarding than knowing that after my degree I will have applicable skills and knowledge I can apply to a career.

Through the CCR there is opportunity to connect with UC staff around campus. This is an enriching experience for both staff and students, and in reality we learn from each other. As a result of such connections I was lucky enough to get a reference for a scholarship to help me when I go on study abroad to UBC in semester 2.

The CCR has been a great way for me to get involved at UC and I would recommend you sign up!



Wherever you go, Samoa will always be your home

Born and raised in Samoa, UC Bachelor of Science student Victoria Faalilo says moving to Canterbury in 2012 was a challenge. She says reconnecting with her culture through the UC Pacific Development Team and CUSSA has been a big help. She shares her thoughts on the importance of Samoan Language Week.

Talofa Lava,

Around this time every year, the Samoan communities around New Zealand celebrate Samoan Language Week. They celebrate through dance, songs and sharing stories, or even over a Samoan feed such as Sapasui (Chop Suey). This week is not only about the language but also about other aspects of the Samoan culture. The theme for this year is E felelei manu ae ma’au i o latou ofaga – “Birds migrate to environments where they survive and thrive.”

Being a Samoan is not about the tattoos or how well and graceful we perform the Samoan Siva. God, respect, love and family are some of the values that the Samoan people strongly believe in and that lie within the beauty of Fa’a Samoa. These are what we should value as Samoans and we should let them be our priorities.

Victoria_photopreferenceThe younger generations are so afraid of speaking because they’re scared of people looking down on them when they are not quite on their level, which is why I choose to quote this: “Learn to speak Samoan, not so you may sound Samoan but so you may feel the essence of being a Samoan” – Lemalu Tate Simi.

Wherever you go, Samoa will always be home.

Soifua ma Ia Manuia.

 – Victoria Faalilo