When I was a kid, I wanted to belong. A desire common, probably to all children, and adults for that matter. But for reasons that still escape me even now, I never felt like I did. No matter where I was or whom I was with, I always felt a little outside of the circle. Not because of any particular trauma or horrible family existence. Sure, things happened to me when I was a kid but it was ordinary stuff – sibling rivalry, school bullies, mean girls, rebellion, rejection, disappointment, embarrassment, break-ups, change. Normal stuff. That happens to everyone.
But this feeling of being an outsider drove me to write. Poems, disjointed blurbs, ideas, stories, alternate realities. Whatever soothed at the moment. And while writing I didn’t feel like an outsider. I felt at home. I was where I was supposed to be, doing what I was supposed to be doing. Doubts, uncertainties, and fears about myself didn’t live in my writing place. I suppose you could say writing is what brought me peace and clarity.
Not long ago I read an article or a blog post or something about themes in stories. The themes that writers employ in their stories. This particular writer had realized that his stories all had the same over arching theme – finding and connecting with his father. It was simple piece, probably not noticed by many, certainly not one of those posts that go viral. It was quietly profound. At least it made me think. Did I have an over arching theme in my stories? What was it?
I do. All my stories are about belonging. Or rather, wanting to belong.
And I’m okay with that.
And I’ve come to the conclusion that all writers have a theme. It’s dressed up in smart dialogue, breath taking prose, crazy plot lines and subplots, weird or profound characters, humor or tragedy – but it’s there. Always there.
And I think that maybe that’s why we write – to solve and to understand the over arching themes of our personal lives. To play out all the possible scenarios of that which we cannot quite conquer in life. Strive to understand but never quite do.
What about you? Do your stories have the same theme? Or do you gravitate to stories that have the same theme? Do you find comfort in that?