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Reading our own ways



Isn’t it brilliant that when we read fiction, you and me, we each do it in our own unique way? I don’t only mean the details we might fill in differently, or our odd responses to the same adjective. I mean that reading is an act of creation and we have different processes. We are making different things.


Visualisation, for example. We are not all directing movies in our heads. Take your favourite scene, or setting. The ways readers will visualise it stretches along a spectrum from no mental picture to images so intense they create physical reactions.


The same goes for conjuring other senses. Some readers are smelling that night garden's jasmine, hearing that character’s Australian accent, feeling the mountain cold bite on page 47, tasting the wedding cake at the happy ending. Other readers are doing some or none of that.


Meanwhile, also or alternatively-


Some of us are collating new learning about a place, time, business or philosophy. We're growing!


Others are mainly or slightly keeping track of which character thought, wanted, and felt what and when. We're creating minds not our own.


We might be making new buddies, finding heroes or our latest crush.


Undoubtedly, many are seeking arousal or the buzz of being terrified. A giggle or a belly laugh. While there are those reading to make peace and quiet and space.


I’m one of us who collects beautiful words and plays along with wordplay and does a little mental jig to the right sentence. You might be too, only sometimes, or not at all.


Are you perhaps stitching together the plot twists, foretelling endings, solving puzzles? Me, not so much, but I'm glad you do.


My point is, I love that we each read in our own way and that nobody taught us to do it. Hey, nobody knows precisely what you and me are up to as readers. Which means for every story written there are wildly different versions read and wildly different unknowable experiences – and that pleases me deeply.