Thursday, March 8, 2012

Thursday is Chicken Little When It Comes to Themes

Remember in English class when you had to read a classical novel and your teacher preached about how the author specifically added in certain themes, you just sat there like wow you have put way to much thought into this. The author probably didn’t even have to think this hard about the themes, right?
I always feel like this. I love classics, but I stink at finding themes, and symbols and those pesky little things the author weaved into the story. Sure after a couple reads, I’ll notice things I didn’t before, but I don’t actively think about that stuff. I hate writing essays for class about themes because I just sit there like I was just told the sky is falling.
When I write, I don’t think about themes either. I feel like I should curl under a rock after admitting this. You would think themes would come to me like breathing, but then I got back to being Chicken Little all dumbstruck. I mean how can I ever expect to be a good writer if I don’t utilize themes?
The thing is I do without realizing it. While I was writing this, I was thinking about all the themes in my current WIP. I never actively thought about the themes, but somehow I wove themes into my story without realizing it. Are my themes perfect? No, but I can go back and strengthen them in revisions or add more with some creative thinking.
I think with natural skill and creativity, themes start to weave themselves. Are themes easy? No. Themes take hard work to get right, but even though themes are important, I don't like to stress over them during a first draft. The story being written is more important than going WWJAD (What would Jane Austen Do?). During the revisions, you can add themes, strengthen them and go all Jane Austin amazing with your writing. Maybe you'll find out you were already adding themes to begin with.
Were our teachers right about authors putting that much thought into themes? I don’t know. I don’t when I write, but I wish I did. Themes are so important to great works of literature, and I wish I could master themes. I wish I wouldn’t fell like the sky is falling when I think about themes, but right now, I'm trying to focus on writing the story and letting the themes weave themselves until revision time.
What makes you feel like the sky is falling?