There are no guarantees in life. If a formula existed for becoming a best-selling author the market would be flooded with best-sellers to the point that “best-seller” would cease to have the meaning we presently give it. I’m certain there are successful writers who followed a path to fame and fortune, who sought publicity first, placing the goal of being a “best-seller” above the deeper goal of communicating profoundly with other members of the human race, and I’ll bet some of them are quite satisfied with their choices, but it would not be my advice to you to follow that path. Perhaps a better goal would be to write books on subjects and themes you care deeply about. Dig down into your material, dig down into your understanding of yourself and of the world. Understand that there are mountains, beyond mountains, beyond mountains, that the superficial has its place but may not be as enduring, or as gratifying as the longer view. Write what’s in your heart, write what’s on your mind, and if it becomes a best-seller, you have that, too, to celebrate at the end of the process.
Life is a challenge. It tests us each day, whether we’re aware of it or not. Some days we disappoint. Some days we do so much good. Most days are a mix of the two.
With each decision we make, we have the opportunity to grow. It takes courage to live. But the rewards are so numerous and so diverse. They can be as minor as a “good job” offered by someone you respect. Or something more public like scoring in a game, or performing at a recital.
It would be foolish to submit an assignment if you hadn’t done the work. It takes courage to share that assignment with your peers even if you know you’ve given it your best.
Have the courage to make mistakes and then the courage to learn from them. Reading provides an excellent space where you can witness characters making choices and suffering through the consequences of those choices. How many times have you wanted to yell at a character, “NO! DON’T DO THAT!”?
Listen to that voice when it’s trying to guide you. It is very wise. It will help you to be brave without being foolish.
First we have to consider the difference between the subject of a book and the theme of a book.
It seems to me the subject of a book is the engine that drives the book’s plot; the theme of a book is the engine that drives the reader to a greater understanding of the world and his or her place in it.
It’s funny that I’d never really thought much about the overarching themes in my work. This question sent me scrambling. I made a list of my titles. Beside the titles I attempted to distill the theme of each book. I was surprised to see how often the same themes recur.
The theme of privation drives many of my books. So does the theme of man’s inhumanity to man. My books often explore loss, adversity, and forgiveness.
I suppose the deep themes a writer returns to again and again give the reader insight into the author and his or her greatest concerns.
I’m not certain what my themes say about me. It will be interesting to see if any readers are inspired to examine my collective themes and share their conclusions.