I’ve been reflecting on this more than will be apparent from the post, but in connection with the many changes in my personal and professional life in recent months, I’ve come to see that I have several go-to themes. I write about these a lot, implicitly or explicitly, though I rarely intend to write about them. I’m too lazy to look it up, but I think in On Writing Stephen King talks about theme and how it grows out of a story rather than the other way around, and how writers tend to go to a limited number of key themes.
Anyway, whether King said it or not, it’s been my experience.
So here’s a non-exhaustive list of ideas that recur in my writing. They must be important to me:
- The limited nature of knowledge.
- Inheritance from one’s ancestors.
- The selfishness inherent even in good people.
- The good seeds inherent even in people who do terribly wicked things.
- Governance by secret powers.
- Resistance organized in secret alliance.
- The joy of language.
- The importance of song.
- Humor as a defense against despair, defeat, and lack of meaning.
- Spiritual truths hidden in plain view.
- The necessity of endurance.
- The beautiful sameness of the Other.
- Unforeseen consequences.
- Knowledge, and especially self-knowledge, as power.
What themes do you write about?