Here I am at five in the morning, posting because I can't sleep, not sleeping because I picked up a cold with a really bad sore throat over the weekend. Here I am also writing about my writing for the first time in forever! My apologies for all the rants lately, and thanks for sticking around.
One of the unexpected discoveries of my birthday bash/reunion weekend last month was that one of my old friends is/was working on a novel of his own. This came up when someone asked me, "How's the writing going?" and the almost-inevitable follow-up, "What do you write?" This second is a question that I stumble badly with, as I think I've mentioned before. After stammering my way through a plot summary and trying to find a way to define it ("It's not a genre, but it's not quite literary, but blah, blah, blah"), my friend mentioned his novel, something he started working on a few yeas back when he was commuting via train. He said his novel was currently 400 manuscript pages, that he expected it to top out around 800 (!) when he was finally done--and then he would cut it from there. The problem for him, he said, is that he is no longer commuting, so he's not really writing.
At this point, he gave us a good, solid plot summary (and it sounded pretty interesting, I have to say) and then talked about what the book is actually about--"It's about personal responsibility," he said, and then some more that I don't quite remember, but he was very clear, and I was very jealous because I still find it extremely difficult to talk about what I write without feeling overly self-conscious and a little pretentious. And, there is a certain degree of mushiness in there. He's writing a book that's themed around personal responsibility--what is my theme?
Well, as it turns out, there are themes that run through my writing. Looking back over the manuscripts I've completed--and even the one I didn't really finish (my first NaNo) and the one I haven't really started yet, I can see a couple of themes running through. The trend is for main characters who are--or feel like--outsiders. They're trying to find acceptance, trying to find their place in the world, whether that world be within the confines of society at large, a small, somewhat insular town, or their own family. It's not, I suppose an uncommon theme, and maybe I can drill down a little deeper and define it even more than that, but maybe it will be enough, and the next time someone asks, I'll be able to answer without sounding like a fool.
Editing to ADD: Critique Time Over at Carrie's! Submit your query for a chance to be critiqued! Great opportunity!