It is a huge pleasure to be here with you all today, albeit slightly jetlagged, on the other side of the world! I hope you have enjoyed taking part in the writing workshops – it has certainly been fascinating for me to have a glimpse of your work, and I must say I am very impressed by the amount of talent in this room. One of the most famous authors from Christchurch was the wonderful “queen of crime”, Dame Ngaio Marsh. She had some very wise counsel for aspiring writers like you: You must have respect for, and a mastery over, words. Having seen your work this morning, I can confidently say that your respect for, and mastery over, words would impress even the great Dame herself!
Now, as the proud Vice-Patron of the Royal Commonwealth Society, I am particularly delighted to launch The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay for 2020 in this lovely city of Christchurch. This is getting to be something of a habit, as I launched last year’s competition in Ghana, and the year before in Singapore. I can now reveal that the subject for next year’s Competition is “Climate Action and Commonwealth”. I hope that title will set your brains and your pens whirring.
Now, I don’t want to put you under any pressure, but after I launched the Competition in Ghana last year, the number of entries to the Competition from that country doubled. Let’s see if we can more than double the numbers of entries from New Zealand this year – I’m depending on all of you to spread the word about this Competition. After all, you have had a head start on the title, and some expert advice from today’s workshops too! I am looking forward to reading the winning entries – and perhaps welcoming one or two of you to the awards ceremony at Bucking Palace next year…
And now, let me conclude by turning again to our Christchurch author of the day, Ngaio Marsh, for a final piece of advice that might just spur you on your way.:
You may be able to write…, you may not. You will never know until you have worked very hard indeed and written at least part of it. You will never really know until you have written the whole of it and submitted it for publication.
So please – work very hard, write part of it, then write the whole of it – and then submit it! Good luck!