While writing blogs for the upcoming release of Outcast, I began thinking about why we write what we do—why certain themes appeal to us and then find their way into our writing. The question is, is it intentional? Do we set out to write a story about redemption (men who have shady pasts and whose lives are turned around by love), or salvation (women who have been wounded by love and then find the one person who can heal them) or vengeance (man sets out to kill those responsible for the death of his family and finds love)? I remember wondering if the interpretations we studied in literature classes were really what the author intended, or if it just looked that way after the fact. I can't always tell you what I had in mind when I began, but I can tell you what feelings I take away from a book after I've finished it. Sometimes meanings are obscure, and sometimes there are none that I can identify, but there's a feeling that I associate with each of my books—something that was relevant to me at the time and came out in the telling.
Even though having deeper meanings can be very important to a writer, I think we must be very careful when we consciously insert one, so as not to hit the reader over the head with it. Everyone likes to get up on their soapbox about something, but it must be a natural enough part of the story that it doesn't make the reader say, “Oh, no, she's spouting off about that again!” Our beliefs and values will always find their way into what we write, but it's best to know when to say when and not let them usurp the story.
Another question I've sometimes pondered is, Do romance novels really need to have a deeper meaning? Can't they just be stories about falling in love? I remember seeing an interview with John Lennon where he was talking about a fan who claimed to understand the true meaning of a particular song. John insisted that the lyrics didn't mean anything; that they were just nonsense and that he was drunk when he wrote them. I don't think any romance can be called nonsense, but looking for deeper meanings is pointless if they aren't there.
Or is it? Do a writer's deepest feelings emerge when there's nothing between them and the keyboard? Are they hidden within what we've written whether we know it or not? Do the ideas pouring out of our heads have special significance, or are they just there to entertain? I don't know the answer to that, but either way, it's something we need to do. Writers need to write and readers need to read. Maybe it's just that simple.
End of blog.