So how could I justified seeking to put my messages in there? Theme was nice and cute, but it didn't matter much to me: all I cared for was the story.
Looking back (but not that far back, really), I know I was both right and wrong. The story is what matters, but it will always carry a theme.
Either I leave it there, dangling awkwardly, misunderstood and misused, or I learn to use it and blow even more life in my stories through it.
I woke up to them reading Donald Maass' Writing the Breakout Novel, which had a few great suggestions to find out what mine were. At that point I could tell what my theme was, but my grasp of the concept of them was still shifty.
The following day, Larry Brooks posted about the elusive theme on Storyfix. I love his way of explaining theme:
Theme is how a story touches you. What and how it causes you to think about. How the story mirrors and/or comments upon real life. Theme says something worth saying, even when it’s obvious.I can roll with that definition of theme. Suddenly it doesn't seem like trying to force a message and preach. It's the universal impact the story has, and through what it can reach your readers. I might not be the best at incorporating it yet, but you can bet I'll be playing with theme in the coming writing.