As the year draws to a close, do you find yourself looking back over what you have achieved? I do, although I am not sure it's a good idea when you are a writer. Any writer is bound to feel they haven't written as much as they should have. This year, I had a good excuse. I have been a judge for the Man Booker Prize
, the UK's leading fiction award. During the most intense reading period, I was reading a novel a day, seven days a week, for around three months. If I took a weekend off to, say, talk to my family, then that meant there were three books to get through on the Monday.
How is it possible?
Well, it's surprising how good you get at speed reading and quick judgment ? and with some of the books it was obvious very quickly that they weren't serious contenders. I also had the great advantage of being completely freelance, so I could stop all other work to do the reading. Although it was terrifically hard work, it was hugely enjoyable, too. The great thing about being forced to read widely like that is that you come across all sorts of books you would never otherwise pick up, and that reminds you what a wonderful object a novel is. In a novel, you can take a reader to the other side of the world, or a distant planet, if you like. You can make them look through the eyes of a man or a woman, a child, an elderly person, or even a dog. There are, quite literally, no limits.