General · Writing

The Forest for the Trees: Obsessions

Most writers have very little choice in what they write about. Think of any writer’s body of work, and you will see the thematic pattern incorporating voice, structure, and intent. What is in evidence over and over is a certain set of obsessions, a certain vocabulary, a way of approaching the page.

I read this in The Forest for the Trees by Betsy Lerner and it makes me wonder.

I’ve noticed for years that somethings appear over and over again in some writers work. The Irish in Nora Roberts novels; I think almost everything she wrote has something Irish, a character, an ancestry, the country, something! Mercedes Lackey uses the word ‘perfectly’ over and over and over again. It’s really annoying!. Plus, she has similar characters, the poor child with bad or missing parents.

But I think I only truly realized that most writers stick with certain themes 18 months ago when I read a book by Marguerite Duras and a watched a movie whose screenplay she wrote. Despite being two different mediums, they were eerily similar. It wasn’t the same story, but they were similar enough that you knew (I knew in any case!) that it had to be based on her life.

Anyway, that line makes wonder: what are my particular obsessions, my certain vocabulary, my way of approaching the page? I don’t know. Beyond the obvious fantasy factor, I’ve yet to notice any similarities in my stories.

I am wondering: what are everyone else’s obsessions?