This Week's RTW: Recurring Themes

From YA Highway:

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This week's question: What themes, settings, motifs, scenes, or other elements do you find recurring in your work?

Empty Shoes ~ Lake Superior


The last quarter of my senior year of college was a bit of a joke.  I had enough credits to graduate a quarter early, but because I was employed by the University as an RA I didn't want to leave mid-way through the year.  So that quarter I took some less-than-challenging classes.  Media and Persuasion.  Recent Political Thought.  Transpersonal Psychology.  

Transpersonal Psychology turned out to be one of my favorite undergraduate classes and the professor made a lasting impression.  We meditated.  We went on vision quests.  We journaled liked crazy.  We spent one entire day (Earth Day) on a bus driving around the South Shore of Lake Superior in Wisconsin, stopping at random places to do random things, like pick up trash along the lakeshore on Madeline Island, climb to the mouth of the world's largest Muskie in Hayward, watch Searching for Bobby Fischer, and soak in a hot tub at the end of a long day.  Our professor, Bud, played a song for us, Cool Change by the Little River Band, and then asked us, what do all of our activities today have in common?


When I thought about today's Road Trip question, when I thought of recurring themes in my writing, that day came to mind.

Most of my characters live near water.  Lakes, rivers.  Many of my stories are set in Duluth, Minnesota, along the great Lake Superior.  I find peace, comfort, cleansing, solace in the water around me; so do my characters.  I grew up and live in the land of 10,000 lakes, I was bound to find meaning in at least one of them.

From Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse:
But out of all secrets of the river, he today only saw one, this one touched his soul. He saw: this water ran and ran, incessantly it ran, and was nevertheless always there, was always an at all times the same and yet new in every moment! Great be he who would grasp this, understand this! He understood and grasped it not, only felt some idea of it stirring, a distant memory, divine voices.


  1. Hmmm,what does it say about me that the two recuring themes in all of my novels are art and sanity? My main characters are always struggling to make sense of their lives.

  2. Wow, college credit for a vision quest is pretty awesome.

  3. I LOVE this post. And Lake Superior really is one of the best places I've been (though it was on the shores of Traverse City, Michigan). So worth a 9-hour drive.

    Thanks for sharing this. Sarah xx

  4. Lovely post! The Great Lakes are really something special and hold such deep meaning for those who live on or near them. Cool Change by LRB...LOVE IT! (...I was born in the sign of water...and it's there that I feel my best...the albatross and the whales they are my bruuuutherrrrs...) Swoon.

  5. Mmmm... I'm not really happy unless I've got a large body of water nearby, so I can relate. :)

  6. Sounds like a great class! i wanted to drop by to let you know there is an award waiting for you at my blog - Congrats!

  7. I honeymooned in Duluth! Nice to see fellow MN girl on the Write Campaign.


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