Renowned author visits Chanel College
‘‘If you're prepared to take a risk, you have to be prepared to fail.’’
Want to succeed? Get ready to fail.
Lloyd Jones, widely regarded as one of New Zealand’s finest writers, didn’t mince his words when he visited Chanel College on Monday.
An accomplished public speaker, Jones spent around an hour and a half talking to senior English students following an invitation from teacher Claire Hills.
‘‘If you’re not very good at fail- ing you probably shouldn’t be a writer, because you’ll fail more than you’ll succeed,’’ he said.
‘‘If you’re prepared to take a risk, you have to be prepared to fail. But if you don’t [take risks], then you’ll just end up doing what everyone else does. And who wants to do that?’’
Jones is arguably best known for his 2006 novel Mister Pip, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2007.
Facing questions from students about the book - which he said he hadn’t read since 2009 - he admitted there were some questions he couldn’t answer. It was up to the reader, he said, to put their own spin and understanding on it.
‘‘Readers bring a sense of com- pletion,’’ he said. ‘‘They bring their own individual world to novels. There’s often no right or wrong answer.’’
‘‘We’re really getting in touch with ourselves when we read. To call reading an act of escape ... it is and it isn’t. We get taken to this place, but we return to ourselves in a slightly different state.’’
He described writing as ‘‘like receiving a personal letter from someone.’’
‘‘It’s not very often you sit down and write a whole book from start to finish,’’ he said.
‘‘As a writer you’re in train to the event as it happens on the page ... what takes you to those places is that voice [in your head]. That voice makes it all possible.’’
Above all, he singled out the importance of reading.
‘‘The imagination has to be fed,’’ he said.
‘‘It helps develop that critical faculty. In life - with jobs, with family - we have to make imaginative leaps, and we feed that by reading.’’