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.’’

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