theme: what is it?

Hey, y'all. I'm off this morning to St. Paul, Minnesota, where I'll be speaking at Hamline University about THEME in literature. Have a great weekend, and play nice with one another! I leave you with this fabulous photograph of the shelves at Riley's Reads at Vineyard Haven in Martha's Vineyard. Thanks to my friend Marianne for snapping and sending this, and thanks to Riley's Reads for hand selling Countdown and displaying it so prominently. What fabulous company it's keeping! Whoo-hoo! And... doesn't that cover POP! Pick me up!
This speech on theme was hard for me to write. I've been at it for three weeks, and I'm not sure that what I've got is what will best serve my audience, MFA students who want to write for children and young adults. As I say in my speech opening... I learn so much when I sit down to write about what I know... I especially learn how much I don't know.

And it occured to me, as I sat down to write about theme, that I had barely given it a serious thought in years. Maybe I had even forgotten about theme, as I wrote and wrote and wrote. Oh no!

Let's pretend I haven't forgotten about theme... I've just internalized it, right? Then what would you say are the themes in my writing? What do I come back to, over and over again? What is important to me, as a writer? What is the theme of, say, Countdown? Is there more than one theme? Are there right answers to this question? Let me know, will you? And I'll share my speech with you, when I'm home.

Home Saturday, just in time to figure out what we're cooking on Sunday for the season four premiere of Mad Men! Remember last year's dinner, very heavily influenced by Julia Child? Don't know if we can top this. But we'll have fun.


  1. Every day that I board MARTA, I observe a new theme around me. Every day we tell a new story with how we say hello to others, or how we stand. I often have to ask myself what kind of story I want to tell that day.

    You should have TV dinners for the season premiere of "Mad Men." Can you make TV dinners with peas and carrots and Apple Brown Betty in aluminum compartments?

  2. I rode MARTA tonight from the airport to home. I agree.

    I love the notion of deciding what kind of story to tell each day. And, of course, our story changes and morphs as we grow older and our perceptions change.

    TV dinners, Jef? They'll have to be really GOOD TV dinners! I did buy some old cafeteria trays recently....

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