As a reader, I delight in finding the theme of a work. Especially for a story I love, the Theme reaches me at about 80% of the way through - a beautiful, sweeping, unexpected crescendo of Big Meaning that hits me in the chest and takes my breath away. And, once in a blue moon, makes me weep with its truth and beauty.
As a writer, I write a story. I write from my heart, and I write from my gut. I see characters, and I hear them, and I try to capture who they are with words in black and white.
I don't intentionally write to communicate a theme - mostly because I don't believe that books should be in the business of constructing and sending messages to readers. More than that, because I have a deep, unwavering trust that any story that comes from my heart is going to communicate a theme that resonates as true to me, and hopefully lots of other people, too.
So. I've always written the book first, and then thought about the themes later. This third book, though, is a story that is thousands of years old. As I find myself in the role of retelling the story, as opposed to discovering its basic plot, I'm finding myself in a different relationship with the characters than I ever had been before.
You see, to write about characters, you have to invite them to speak to you. When I ask the main character of this story what motivates her, what confuses her, what makes her hurt, she always comes back with the same answer:
She doesn't know where she belongs.
Maybe she doesn't belong anywhere.
When I hear that, I nod my head, sit back, and try to communicate that into every one of her thoughts, words, actions and reactions. And then I realize - that's been a problem, maybe THE problem for all of my MCs so far. How does one find out where she belongs? Does it already exist, or must she make a place of her own? Is belonging a place, an ideology, a mission, a group of people, a single person?
These questions choke me up, and they tear my heart out. And I think, sweet readers, that this theme of searching for belonging, is a theme that speaks to me on such a deep level that not only is it present in all of my books, but also that books that carry the same theme get a special kind of love from me.
So...do you have a meta-theme? One that chokes you up again and again, so much so that you write about it all time, or latch on to books that hit it extra hard? I'd love to hear.