Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I Have a Theme! -- Robin

Something really amazing happened to me this week. While I was revising my middle grade manuscript, I realized…my book has a theme! And the strange thing? The theme wasn’t what I thought it was going to be.

About half-way through writing the first draft of The Happiness Project, I decided the theme of the story would be about the importance of having opinions, and how having different opinions can be a good thing (in relationships and especially in society).

So, okay. Fine. That’s a fine theme.

But then this week, when I was working on approximately draft #347 of the book, I came across a sentence that jumped out at me. It was one line my main character said to her mom while they were talking about the family dog. And I realized: that one line is my theme!

It was one of those moments where fireworks went off and angels sang and chocolate was eaten quickly! I had heard of this happening to writers before—they write a story and many, many drafts later the theme presents itself to the author. Like magic! Then these lucky authors write another draft where they strengthen the theme and make one of those...you know…awesome books. I just never thought I’d be one of those authors.

Just like I never thought I’d consider myself a runner. I usually describe myself as someone who “moves her feet rapidly 3-4 times per week.” Not a runner. But I guess technically I can now call myself a runner because I've experienced that one thing that all real runners have experienced: Runner’s High. Know what I’m talking about? That moment where you’re running and you realize that your brain is not attached to your body and your lungs are on auto-pilot and you feel so good you think you could run forever…or at least all the way from Sarah Palin’s house to Russia and back!?

Well, it happened to me! (Once.) I was running on the beach in Morro Bay, CA and I literally ran so far I ran all the way to the next town. I ran so far the dog leash law changed!

So, I guess I can kind of call myself a real runner. And now I feel like a real writer. I wrote a story and the theme presented itself to me like magic!

Now that’s Writer’s High!

- Robin


Katie said...

Ooo!!! That's so much fun! I literally can't wait to read this happy book!

beckylevine said...

Robin, YAY! And when you wrote that line originally...who knew?! Sometimes, it's just so wonderful doing this job.

Suzanne Young said...

Run, Forrest! Run! You know, I bet that's how he felt. "I just ran." haha

And you were always a writer. Now you're about to become a published author!!

Yay for themes that appear and running!

Disco Mermaids said...

Suz- I AM Forrest!

"I am not a smart man, Jen-nay...but I know what love is."

Oh, I could quote Forrest Gump all day!

"...sometimes there just aren't enough rocks..."

"He hates these cans!!!" (Oops...The Jerk)


Suzanne Young said...

This may seem lame to most, but my friend and I used to have the entire movie memorized and we'd read off lines when we were out. Yep. Cool, huh?

Imagine how excited I was the first time I ate at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company! haha. I think I scared them!

Keep runnin', Robin! And writin'...

LizR said...

Very cool! I'll be on the lookout for The Line With The Theme when I get to read your book, hahah :).


jenni said...

That's exciting! Thanks for letting us see into this process. Yay for you!!

Disco Mermaids said...

Suzanne- I went to the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company in Monterey. And I knew the answers to ALL the waiter's trivia questions. My husband was mortified. (I should've taken you! Ha!)

And hi Liz! Hi Jenni! Thanks for your encouragement. This book has been the most fun to write. Lots of serendipity. I just love when that happens.


laurasalas said...

You're gonna tell us the sentence, right? We don't have to wait for the published book?


Laini Taylor said...

Robin, yay! Your enthusiasm here is so exciting. I can't wait to read the book and know what that magical line is. It's funny, I was JUST commenting on another blog about what it's like to discover at a relatively late stage what your book is really "about" -- and how I sort of slap my forhead and wonder how I missed it all along; and yet how wonderful it is, because things fall into place. I hope that was the last little thing you needed to make draft #348 PERFECT!

P.S. my word verificatino word is "gimpin" -- you guys always have the best ones. Tell the truth -- that's what you really do in the Brainstorm Sessions, isn't it??

Rita said...

That is sweet!!

Now here is my question:
Did recognizing your theme make you let go your original theme? Because my book keeps presenting "themes" to me all the time, but when I look back at my original intentions, I get confused.