Monday, 8 June 2009

Looking For The New World

Today I’m reading through the shortlist for the 2009 Apprenticeships In Fiction scheme. The opening chapters of twelve novels, four for children, eight for adults, have been weeded out from the original long list of submissions. We don’t have to settle on a fixed number who will qualify as apprentices; just as many as we think are good enough.

Sometimes the task is enjoyable; sometimes it isn’t. You can recognize that a manuscript is good without liking it yourself. And of course someone else can think something is marvellous that you think is dreadful.

I’ve just finished one that I really liked, one that I was compelled to keep reading from the very first line. There were things about it that need to be improved but there was a great deal of potential there. And that’s exciting. A writer beginning to explore her own talent.

I don’t believe that anyone can be a writer. It’s just not that simple. It needs a special combination of qualities. But one of them is definitely a desire to discover new territory in your own imagination.

That’s what I thought I saw in that manuscript. Like Columbus setting off from Spain in search of the Indies. No proper map, an incomplete understanding of the journey he has undertaken and a crew that are not all quite as convinced as their master. But the captain stares out at the huge expanse of ocean with a hungry look on his face.

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