Anya Ngawhare’s Online Journal

Te Papa Tupu Journal Entry 1 – Wednesday 15 August, 2012

People thought I was joking when I said I was giving up on my veterinary dreams to become a writer. When they realised I was serious they decided I was mad, a silly girl making a rash decision. And most people were kind enough to bite their tongue and express their opinion behind my back, while others, well, others were a little crueller. “Writing’s not a real job,” they said, “You’ll regret this decision for the rest of your life.” Nineteen and labelled a failure before I even had a chance to try. Great.

My parents were confused, struggling to wrap their minds around such a sudden change, and, me being me, I assumed that they were disappointed like everyone else. I thought they were going to discourage me until I caved and did what they wanted, and the mere idea of them doing that broke my heart a little. It hurt me.

But I was wrong, a victim of my own wild imagination, and one nasty comment in my mother’s presence made me realise the truth in a split second. She straightened up in an instant and said, “My daughter’s going to be a famous author, just you wait and see,” before she turned on the spot and walked away, head held high like the stubborn Maori woman she is. I couldn’t help but hurry after her with a grin on my face.

That night my parents and I had a serious talk, and, within a week, I started my Creative Writing diploma with NZIBS.

I stopped writing altogether just after I turned twenty, too lost in my own head to concentrate on reading let alone writing, but I picked it back up again just over four months ago when a family friend gave me a leather journal for my birthday. “For your writing,” is all he said with a smile.

I found out about the Te Papa Tupu Incubator Programme a few days later, and I toyed with the idea of entering. In the end I decided that it would be better to focus on my writing again and enter next time when I felt a bit more confident. That wasn’t good enough for my parents, though, and I entered at the last minute with a piece entitled ‘Eventually’ that I’d been writing for my friend.

I honestly had no expectations, so you can imagine my surprise when I found out that I had gotten a place in the programme. My parents were more excited than I was and mum was on the phone the second I gave her the okay to tell people.

Going to Wellington for the first Hui was a massive shock to the system – first trip to Wellington, first plane ride, and first stay in a hotel alone all in the same day. It was a big step for me, and, although I was anxious beyond belief, I had an amazing time. I learnt so much in such a short time and met a group of amazingly kind, talented people. People with a passion, people like me.

I returned to Auckland inspired, excited and ready to write. I emailed my mentor, Daisy, as soon as I got home and rambled about my trip. I just… words can’t describe how good it felt to meet people who actually get me and what I’m trying to achieve, what I want in life.

This is my dream, my future. I want to be writing books for people to enjoy when I’m fifty, beyond fifty, and I feel like this amazing opportunity is a huge step in the right direction. I can’t thank everyone involved enough, and I hope that come December ‘13’ will be ready for everyone to enjoy!

Te Papa Tupu Journal Entry 2 – Monday 08 October, 2012

I’ve never been good at taking orders, and, to me, a deadline is an order. A command. Do this in this way and have it done by then. Well, my brain doesn’t like that and decides to go against it completely. And where writing’s concerned, that means me freezing up. Hitting a wall and shutting down completely, unable to write a single sentence.

It’s a ridiculous habit, annoying and unwanted, but… it’s a hard habit to fight. Hard to overcome.

Over the last month and a half – 18 days late, see, deadlines! – that’s been my biggest problem. Meeting the deadlines assigned to each chapter. And they’re not even deadlines set by Daisy, but deadlines I set myself. Timeslots that, for how quickly I usually write, were ridiculously big.

And yet, nothing.

The story was originally set in America – Long Beach, California to be more specific – but I decided that it would be best to set it in New Zealand instead. Write what you know, and all that. Daisy agreed, and I soon came to the conclusion that I needed to start from scratch in order to make the story believable.

I reworked the chapters and made a schedule that suited me perfectly.

And then I shut down.

And the whole thing is maddening, it really, really is. Like a never ending migraine. I feel like all this planning has taken away the spark. It’s not a creative outburst anymore, it’s serious. I have to think seriously. When you’re writing for yourself, for fun, it’s okay to leave the odd thing unresolved. When you’re writing for someone else, well, leaving something unresolved is almost cruel.

I hate it when writers do that, so I most definitely don’t want to do it myself.

No, I just need to find a way to push through.

No one ever said chasing a dream is easy.

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