Tuesday, December 25, 2007
I've been thinking about the themes in my novels lately. Whenever people asked, I always blithely said, "Escape. My novels are all about escape."
And, on the surface, that seems true. The two novels I've finished (as yet unpublished) and the one I've started on all have people fleeing their homes. In DEPARTURE, a mother takes her three children and runs away to Europe. In TRAIL MIX, two women leave behind their husbands and teenage children to hike the Appalachian Trail.
So, obviously, escaping from their humdrum lives is the point. But if I look at the end, they return to that life they were escaping from. It's not the life they want to avoid; it's themselves they need to change. So the escape is a search for an opportunity to change, to improve. In TRAIL MIX, my characters have to get over superficial worries and find the beauty in living again. In DEPARTURE, Annie must become a stronger person, find out what she enjoys, before she can be the wife and mother she wants to be.
And thinking about that search for beauty and the true person on the inside, made me think about Christmas and how my family and I probably didn't need any of the presents that made us shriek with joy. Maybe we just needed to stand for a minute in the sun beaming through the window and feel it warm on our face, to realize that we don't have to escape to find beauty.
Friday, December 07, 2007
Suppose a mother took a mid-morning break from grading papers during finals week and toasted an everything bagel. She slathered on creamy swiss cheese and the savory smell filled the kitchen. She could almost taste the crunchy bagel as she tapped the spoon against the side of her tea cup and moved toward the table. Then, her 11-year-old, who'd already eaten a whole bagel on his own, asked if he could share hers. She'd look at the still warm bagel, a golden brown around the edges, the cheese melting just slightly.
"Okay," she'd agree to share.
But when the grimy hand reached for the top of the bagel, the one that was covered with sesame seeds and poppy seeds and salty goodness, she had to put her foot down.
"Not that side."
Perhaps, she's not quite the perfect mother after all.