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Master of Creative Writing

Jillian Sullivan

I started university in 1977 and left six weeks later to live in a Kombi van and travel with my husband. When we eventually settled in a rural area with small children I was unable to return to university when I wanted to study. Massey’s distance service gave me the opportunity to finish my degree. I could fit study in between raising five children, working various jobs and writing.

I had such wonderful lecturers throughout my undergraduate and honours degree I wanted to continue on with them for my Master’s. Even when I had the option, by then, to attend another university, I wanted to keep studying through Massey and stay with those lecturers who had supported and inspired me.

When I started my first novel I realised I needed to know more about writing and literature, and that’s when my love of taking Massey papers started. Between my first writing paper at Massey, The Theory and Practice of Writing, and finishing my Master’s, I’ve published novels, short stories, non-fiction and poetry.

During my Master’s research thesis, I learnt more about the English language than in any other time of my education. The level of carefulness in my writing and editing my supervisor Thom Conroy required of me was remarkable, and I am so appreciative of that. The knowledge I gained has been hugely beneficial not only when producing my own creative writing, but also when working with others on their writing. As an editor, manuscript assessor, and teacher at the Highlights Foundation in America, I’ve been able to bring my knowledge through into these roles and help other people develop their skills.