Why do we re-read?

I’ve been thinking lately about what it is that makes someone re-read a book.

Someone who picks up a book and reads the first paragraph and is hooked to keep reading is looking for a different experience to the person who knows what’s going to happen yet still picks up the book and delights in the page turning, again.

Should we write then with the goal of the story being so rich in language and experience that a person will crave to ‘live’ it more than once?

In his essay On Stories, C.S. Lewis said, ‘The re-reader is looking not for actual surprises (which can come only once) but for a certain surprisingness … The children understand this well when they ask for the same story over and over again, and in the same words. They want to have again the “surprise” of discovering that what seemed [to be] Little Red Riding Hood’s grandmother is really the wolf. It is better when you know it is coming: free from the shock of the actual surprise you can attend better to the intrinsic surprisingness of the peripeteia.’

Journal Entry

My Writing Journey

They say that “everything happens for a reason”. At Christmas 2008, my mum passed away from a short but nasty illness.

About three weeks later, I was travelling in Tasmania with my husband who was on business. A vortex began inside a bookshop and sucked me inside. I found myself rummaging in the ‘specials’ bin. I must add that this vortex problem is a common experience for me when I walk near bookshops.

Anyway, a book leapt out at me and it appealed to me in that hefty moment of time.

The book was called “Celtic Prayer”.

The title words spoke to me separately: “Celtic” made me think of misty, ancient Ireland. “Prayer” spoke to my Christian faith.

Over the next weeks, I gained a lot via each of those title words as I read through the book cover to cover. But something else whispered to me in the text – a paragraph or two about a boy named Maewyn who lived in northern England around the fourth century AD. One day pirates attacked his family’s farm, kidnapped him, and sold him in Ireland as a slave. It took six years for the boy to escape and return home.

But his heart had grown for the people of Ireland and within some short years he had returned there.

He became the well-known St Patrick.

“Celtic Prayer” brought together three things:

  • my love of history
  • my faith
  • a desire –sudden and real – to tell a story.

And the story of St Patrick’s life became something I wanted to tell to children.

So I waded in to the world of writing for children, with no idea how to do it.

The story I wrote about St Patrick has not been published but it gave me a kick start.

Over the years, I’ve learned about words and writing and the publishing industry. I’ve completed several writing courses and read numerous books about writing.

One of my favourite words to do with writing is “Wordsmith”. I absolutely love trying to find the best word or combination of words to make a strong sentence, then building sentences into a great story.

I’ve written several novels, self-published one, and been shortlisted for two awards, the Ampersand Prize and the CBCA Aspiring Writer. I also was one of the winners of the Australian Society of Authors Mentorship Prize 2020.

I’ve self-published one book that’s in libraries around Australia, in random Indi bookshops, and on Amazon as a physical book and as an ebook.

Everything I write is historical fiction for children or YA, either Celtic, Medieval or Australian. I keep going back, making them better when I can. I particularly love the research side of all of this type of writing.