BY CARMEN ANDERSON
For aspiring authors, the help and support of other skilled writers is invaluable. Learning a craft can only truly be achieved through working with other craftspeople and this goes as much for writing as it does for other art mediums.
In March this year, as Gibraltar was slowly easing out of the worse days of lockdown and we celebrated the joys of writing through World Book Day, Gibraltar Cultural Services launched an initiative to give aspiring writers that ideal opportunity to learn to craft a work to make it ready for publication.
The initiative offered the opportunity to young writers between the ages of 14 and 25 to apply for a yearlong mentoring programme. The successful applicant would be given the chance to develop their writing talent by working with local authors, being guided through the idea generation, planning, writing, and editing stages of producing a book. The programme will culminate in the young writer’s work being published for World Book Day 2022.
Jared Cruz entered his writing as an applicant for this initiative and was selected for this new Mentorship Programme. He successfully negotiated a shortlisting process and an interview and is now embarking on his writing journey. He will be guided through the challenge of taking a work from inception to publication by local writers and literary figures.
Over the next few months, Jared will be meeting with various local organisations and experienced writers and literary professionals to support him through the development of his writing skills. Jared plans to write and publish a novella during this time and he will be working alongside several individuals who have substantial experience in this field. Writing is a broad field that requires multiple skills and a substantial breadth of knowledge, and Jared will be learning about various linked processes such as editing, typesetting, printing and publishing.
Before sending in his application, Jared had no professional writing experience and had not submitted any work to any other competitions except when he was in school. However, he felt inspired to apply, saying; “I had never seen an initiative like this before in Gibraltar. I thought it would be great to apply as I had always thought that I would need to look for external assistance and guidance (outside Gibraltar) so it was fantastic to see something like this being offered in the local scene, especially with the backing of the Gibraltar Cultural Services,” Jared said.
Jared has been writing all his life, however he decided to take this up at a more serious level during the past five years. Separate to this Mentorship Programme, Jared has also written a full-length novel manuscript that he hopes to publish soon. “I am sure that this mentorship programme will also help me understand the final stages of publication, which will definitely assist with my manuscript’s publishing and any future book I write,” Jared went on to explain.
“My writing tends to stray into dark themes and psychological horror”
Whilst for Jared, the application was straight forward and there was nothing he did not expect, he was still surprised at being selected; “My writing tends to stray into dark themes and psychological horror, which I thought may have hindered my submission as these genres are not necessarily loved by all readers (although, you can never please the entire crowd). Instead of trying to write something that could be more appealing to a larger audience, I kept to my strength, and it seems to have worked!”
In the future, Jared hopes to be able to function as a writer/author in his spare time; “With the experience from this mentorship programme I hope to conjure up stories and publishing at will and have the complete understanding to do these projects from start to finish professionally.” Jared also works at Prior Park School and thinks it would be a shame if he were to keep this experience to himself. “I would love to share my knowledge and understanding with aspiring students too so they can have a chance at publishing their own stories one day! Perhaps creating a workshop or club of my own where students can learn the craft and kick-start their writing career,” Jared enthused.
Overall, Jared is looking forward to meeting people in the business and having the experience of going through the whole process – “Nothing beats experience! Normally, writing is considered quite a solitary job, so being able to have a team of people to converse with will be a real change of pace and I am already loving it. I will try to act as a sponge for my entire journey in this initiative so that I can take in as much as I possibly can, and hopefully in the future share that knowledge with others too.” We can’t wait to read Jared’s work!