Reflections

Today we said goodbye to our minister. The three churches in the parish came together for a service and potluck to mark the occasion. There were gifts and goodbyes, and a few tears shed. She’d only been with us for a year and many of us were sad to see her go. For the year we had her we came to expect the unexpected, seeing her dressed as a church mouse on one occasion and even a clown. She made us laugh and sometimes cry. She helped us to extend ourselves in kindness and be more than we previously were. While we’ve always been a parish that cared, with her we cared even more.

For Easter I gave her a copy of my book. I’m always amazed at what meaning every reader finds in a book, what themes present themselves to that particular reader. I think it all depends upon where we are in our own lives, and if we’re looking for some deeper meaning or simply to be entertained. I’ve had different reactions to my novel. Some people saw it as an entertaining story, while others were left wondering if it was a true story or one that I had made up. Rightly so, our minister saw certain things in the book as a reflection of my life, my beliefs, and things that can only come from the heart.

As we discussed the book, she mentioned how very important the connection of the three generations of women plays in the book. “Remember that as you go ahead in your writing,” she said later. I explained that when I started writing the book, much of what came to me wasn’t at all planned. She completely understood. Of course she would.

I’m often made aware of themes popping up when I’m writing a story even though I don’t knowingly go about putting them there. It just happens, as if the story is being eased in a certain direction all on it’s own. When I started writing Bitter, Sweet, I had no plans of writing about healing plants when I named one of the children Flora. Nor did I know I would be called to reflect upon a memory I had of my father digging gold thread from the ground.

For the most part I try to ignore these things while I’m writing for fear that it will get in the way of the story, but it’s there, running in the background. I’m not oblivious to it. Later, once the story has been written, I can take the time reflect upon these things.

While some stories seem to come directly from the heart, others are complete figments of our imagination, but I’m inclined to think that every story reflects something in the author’s life– thoughts, feeling, beliefs, opinions, memories. The same can be said for any one who is creative. We put our heart and soul in our work. We make it a reflection of who we are, who we’ve been, who we will become. Even our blogs tell something about us. That something is what draws others to come visit.

Lately, I’ve had many moments of reflection in my life. Reflection is never planned. It just happens. It’s important, not just for writers but for all of us. As I think about the next book I’ll write I can’t help but wonder what parts of myself will be layered between the pages. What I am sure of is this, it won’t be planned, it will just happen.

Do you believe that our creative endeavours reflect who we are? For the writers out there— do themes show up in your writing all on their own?

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13 Comments

  1. Oh yes similar themes crop up–it was quite something when I noticed it, and what they were! Very telling of our nature, our struggles, our growth.

    Reply
    • I think our writing is more telling than we often realize. We can likely learn more about ourselves if we pay close attention. Sometimes even I try to convince myself that it’s simply fiction. While much of it is, we often tell on ourselves, don’t we? The good thing is, that unless someone knows us very well, most people wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. :)

      Reply
  2. Yes, to both questions, Laura. I think this true reflection is why some writers are shy or scared about sharing their stories; they feel it will expose too much of them. There are stories I’ve written that expose a little more than I’m willing to share right now; I need to distance myself from that time period.

    Yes, themes do show up in my writing. While writing Shadows in the Stone, I thought I was simply writing a good adventure story with a touch of romance, but after editing it a few times, I realised I kept returning to the same theme: home. I value home more than anything, and it turns out, so do my main characters. It is what they wish to keep safe and where they wish to return to.

    I think such themes which naturally appear in your stories is a great thing; something that shouldn’t be fought against.

    Reply
    • I agree with you, Diane. Sometimes we simply hae to go with the flow, bring to our writing what naturally occurs. No point fighting it, I say.. BTW Home is a great theme and something, I believe, we all yearn for in one way or an other.

      Reply
  3. Our creative endeavours reflect something of what we are because the stories originate in our hearts and heads. Our best writing comes from deep within us and draws on our passions. So yes, I think there will be recurring themes even if they’re subtle and unintentional.

    I write from a Christian worldview but everything is tempered by what I have experienced — people, places and behaviour I’ve seen or read about, even though I may not personally like them. Sometimes I’m horrified at what comes out on the page because it’s so not ME and I wonder if readers will think it is!

    Reply
    • I think this is something many of us struggle with, Carol. Not everything that ends up on the page is pretty, and yet, life not always pretty as we all know. Hopefully, most readers can tell the difference, although I’ve had people express surprise when they read my work. They expect that since I’m an upbeat person that my stories will reflect that. Sorry. So far the page has found me quite serious. Perhpas one day that will change.

      Reply
  4. I unconsciously and consciously put things in my writing that reflects my likes and dislikes but sometimes I just don’t see it. sometimes words and ideas just come up without me realizing. being creative doesn’t neccessary led to some theme but I’m sure we all unconsciously place a part of ourselves in everything we do and don’t always know it.

    Reply
    • I agree, Lissa. Not all things that end up in our writing is done so consciously. Sprinkling ourselves throughout our writing can sometimes be fun, especially when we are clever enough that no one else can tell. :)

      Reply
  5. With cartoons, it’s hard to say.

    Reply
  6. I do indeed, Laura. Stories happen when we least expect them. We college images, characters from the past, an image, a song, the sound of someone laughing, the scent of a man’s pipe tobacco … these are the threads that bind us to our past and weave our stories in the present :)

    Reply
  7. Beautifully put, Florence. There are so many ways to weave our memories into a story with out telling our story and exposing ourselves to the world. :)

    Reply
  8. We have to have a starting point with creativity, even if it is the tiniest spark of truth about us. My art journals reflect the colors, subjects and styles I favor. The written words come from past experience, or dreams of the future. I don’t know how we could create without it being a part of us. Sure, ink can be thrown on a page, a crayon scribbled, but when it has depth, it comes from the heart.

    Reply

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