I’ve realised recently that I write a lot about a certain theme. The way Jodi Picoult writes emotional controversy or the fact Joanne Harris writes about communities, the one thing that runs throughout my writing is loss.
I don’t know why this might be. Perhaps it is because I find the psychology of losing someone, or something, interesting; maybe it’s linked with the poignancy that is associated with loss; or it could even be related to the fact I lost someone very close to me when I was just six years old. Whatever the reason, I’ve begun to notice that this thread can be found in the majority of my writing. It takes on multiple forms, has a variety of different roots and is explored through a myriad of circumstance, but the consequence is always the same – somewhere, someone, somehow is experiencing a loss.
Take my first novel – NaNo #1; aptly named That which is left is lost – Madeline is dying; loss of the physical sense. Yet, Madeline has made a career out of ‘Found Art’, pieces made from the objects people lose. My protagonist, Dr Whalley has lost both his parents and now guides people through the last days of their lives – yet, he is also facing the possibility of losing his wife due to an impulsive mistake. Cecelia lost an entire childhood thanks to the troubling influence of her father – a teacher convicted of sexually abusing his students. Penelope has lost the man she loved and was threatened with losing the life she had built up, not to mention the loss of her privacy if the blackmailer ever went public. Betsy, a minor character in some ways, gives up her own child by choice – mirroring Madeline’s own loss from years before.
I’ve also recently written stories about a woman struggling with dementia – losing the life she has lived and yet not remembering that this is what is happening; a mother who loses a daughter only to end up embracing son; a man whose original form is lost and then loses control of the body he has been given instead. So many different ways to interpret that one idea: loss.
How else might it seep into my writing, seduce my characters and weave it’s way into my narrative? It’s a worthy topic to investigate, that much I know; there is so much scope, so many possibilities and opportunities to explore. Despite the maudlin atmosphere that might taint my words because of it I also believe that loss can be liberating and allow us the freedom to become someone we could not imagine we might become. So, even if this realisation of my theme is more by coincidence than by design, I’m happy with it. Perhaps through this I will find my voice; the one that expresses the myriad of emotions that are connected by this topic; the idea of loss.
What do you write about? Have you identified any themes in your writing? Are there any writers you admire who explore particular themes in their writing?
Let me know in comments or, as usual, Tweet me.