A reason to write

Writing can be a demoralising experience. For all the highs, the euphoria at finding the right turn of phrase and the love you have for your characters, when you finish a book you can’t help worrying that it may fall into a black hole in space.

I wrote Zarconi’s Magic Flying Fish between 1998 & 1999. It was published in November 1999. That’s a little short of thirteen years ago – the entire span of someone’s childhood. And yet it is still finding its readers.

Towards the end of last year, I received a series of emails from a Grade 4/5 teacher in Hobart, Tasmania who had been reading Zarconi’s to his class. He initially wrote on the offchance I might be passing through Tasmania as his kids were loving the story. I was sorry to not be able to meet his class. Peter was obviously a passioante teacher. I couldn’t help but wish my Grade 4/5 teacher had dedicated a big slice of fourth term to reading a novel aloud in class.

Just before Christmas, Peter sent me the following comments from his students:

· I really loved the book it was awesome and funny-Olivia

· I loved your book it was funny and some of it was sad but it ended really nicely, by Rachel

· I love the book and I enjoyed the story by Sam

· I think it was a very good book I am going to get it if I find it, by Tyler

· Please make a new one .my rating 1000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000/10 by jayden.

· Hi great book but did Gus stay at the circus? And will there be a part two? From Amy

· I loved the because it makes me want to be in a circus. By Matthew.

· I really liked the book because it was funny at times. From Brad

· I think the book really funny. by Raegen

· I liked the book, it was funny happy, exciting, and sad. I really want you to write a part two so please, please can you from Ella!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

· I loved the book because it tells a great story of guss I give it a 10 out of 10 FROM MONIQUE!!!!!!!!

· I really liked the book it was really funny 10/10 by MATTY.

· Best book I have heard in a while I would give it way over 10/10 from the best student Aidan

· I loved the because it makes me want to be in a circus. By Matthew.

Some authors, particularly those who write for adults, say they never think of their audience when they write. In some ways, I understand that. I understand being caught up in the story so absolutely that you feel possessed by it. But then, at some point as I write, I remember what it was like to be a kid. I think of the way I felt when I was read to and the pleasure I had in reading in secret. And I want to meet my reader in that place where everything becomes possible and the story becomes part of the way we both understand the world.

Writing for children is different to writing for adults in many ways. But perhaps the greatest difference is that children’s authors never quite let go of the pain and pleasures childhood. Not least the pleasure of having someone offer you a story that you can love without reservation.

Kirsty is an Australian author of books for children and young adults.

“Books are windows into other ways of being.”

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