I FEAR I'd never make much of a novelist. The skill and dedication to the minutia of the novel is too daunting.
It's not just the chapter that must fit the overall theme, not just the paragraph either, but every single sentence, which must be so composed, balanced and weighted that it draws the reader along.
The problem with journalism is you never make a mistake; the first draft is always absolutely spot-on and cannot be improved (cough, cough).
There is the famous anecdote ascribed to Irish writer Oscar Wilde, who most likely appropriated the wit from French novelist Gustave Flaubert.
Being grilled about what a waste of time the pursuit of any artistic expression was, Wilde said he had spent all morning working on proofs of his poems.
When asked what he had achieved, Wilde responded, "Well it was very important, I took out a comma".
"Is that all?"
"By no means," Wilde replied, "On mature reflection, I put back the comma."
So what an incredible feat for Tasmanian author Richard Flanagan to win the Man Booker Prize for his novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North.
Flanagan took 12 years to write the book, throwing out five drafts and coming close to leaving them in the bin for good.
Winning the richest and arguably most prestigious literary award is a fantastic recognition of his talents and tenacity.
Flanagan was born in Longford, the fifth of six children, and grew up at Rosebery on the West Coast.
The story of his father Arch, who was a prisoner of war working on the Burma Railway, forms the basis of the novel.
Flanagan became the fourth Australian and first Tasmanian to win the $90,000 award for the best English language book.
The final draft was finished and sent to the publishers the day Arch died, aged 98.
It guarantees The Narrow Road will become an international bestseller, but, significantly, it will focus the attention of the literary world on Tasmania and its environment.
Tasmania's landscapes feature heavily in Flanagan's works from his debut 1994 novel Death of a River Guide and subsequent works The Sound of One Hand Clapping, Gould's Book of Fish and Wanting.
It is a peculiar Australian trait that we don't see the great stories and characters in our own landscape. Anything interesting, beautiful or of worth, happens somewhere else in the world.
And that view is probably stronger again in Tasmania where perhaps our subservient colonial history makes us long for, or look towards, someone to tell us what good literature is.
For me, reading Death of a River Guide really brought home that Tasmania is a wild and beautiful place.
Adventure, drama and excitement were no longer something that existed in the offing or in the imagined "over there" - it was in the very place I lived.
For a teenager, that was an exhilarating feeling, much the same as I experienced about Australia through David Malouf's Remembering Babylon.
Flanagan's win will inspire Tasmanian writers to keep writing about their home state; to explore its beauty, contradictions and problems.
It will also inspire readers to pick up not just his work, but the novels of so many talented Tasmanian writers whose stories also explores the history, landscape and zeitgeist of their home state.
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