RTW: What's with All the Nautical Metaphors?

Road Trip Wednesday is a "Blog Carnival," where YA Highway's contributors and followers post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on their blogs. You can hop from destination to destination through the YA Highway site and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

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

Ooo, what a great topic! I think it will be interesting to see how many of the universal themes crop up in all of our posts. Motifs were easy to come up with for my books: nautical references and metaphors, crows, things that are not what they initially seem, music as symbolism, etc.

For themes in my books, I thought I would need to address my two books separately, but after I thought about it, these three themes run throughout both books:

1. Forgiveness, of yourself and others.
It seems that most people have the hardest time learning to forgive themselves. Forgiveness of others is difficult enough to put into practice, and to truly mean it, but it seems like people (especially perfectionists) hold themselves to higher standards, and are therefore harder on themselves when they don't meet those standards. Or maybe that's just my characters (okay, and my younger self).

2. Finding your strengths (and they may very well be traits you considered weaknesses at one time) and deciding your own path in life.
In Spirits from the Vasty Deep, Olivia has always considered her ability to hear spirits as a curse. When a wiser person suggests that it's a gift, it's very difficult for her to wrap her mind around that concept. After all, how could something that always brought her nothing but trouble actually be a power for good?

3. What survives after death?
In Spirits from the Vasty Deep, this is an obvious question. Some of the spirits Olivia encounters become fragmented and incoherent over time, but others actually gain power from their connection to the living--sometimes enough to influence or physically affect them. As in possess them or harm them.

In Crow's Rest, the MC's boyfriend is declared brain dead and his parents are following his wishes to serve as an organ donor. Avery (MC) was always for organ donation in theory, but when it comes to Daniel suddenly it's more than a theory. Here's a tiny excerpt (and this is a WIP, so it's still a bit rough):

His organs could go to some secretive serial killer or child molester, for all I knew. Someone who looks fine and upstanding from the outside, like Dexter. Do they do background checks on organ recipients?

My anxieties shifted into overdrive now, and my brain whirred with other scenarios. How much of Daniel would still be in those parts? Would there be scraps of him or his psyche, trapped and voiceless, while some scumbag went on a crime spree? Is that what organ rejections really are—cases where a psychic echo from the donor just can’t assimilate into the new person’s life?

Whew, I had a lot to say on this topic! Hope you all stuck around for all of it. What are your recurring themes and motifs?

P.S. Check out yesterday's post for some pictures taken on our real-life road trip last week.


Katy Upperman said...

I favor forgiveness and finding strength as themes as well. I think they work very well in YA lit. :)

Kate Hart said...

You know, so many books tiptoe right up to "what's after death" and then run away from actually saying anything interesting, or creating something new. Yours sound intriguing.

Crystal said...

I love your idea of organ rejections, and your character struggling with the donation of her boyfriend's death. And I think forgiveness strings throughout a lot of my work as well. It's such a major part of teenage life.

Sarah said...

I'm fascinated with new spins, questions and ideas regarding death. It's the big mystery, after all!

Francesca Zappia said...

I love exploring the idea of what happens to us after death. Like Sarah said, it's a big mystery, and writers are the ones who get to do what we want with it. :D

Tracey Neithercott said...

I love that excerpt, and love that your MC is struggling with the idea of organ donation. It does sound like a great thing until someone you know might sort of live in someone else. I'd also wonder whether the organs would go to the same person or if he'd be scattered around the country living inside other people. This sounds like a great story!

Angelica R. Jackson said...

Whenever I mention that aspect of Crow's Rest (coming to terms with organ donation) it gets a lot of interest and comments! Thanks so much for taking the time to chime in, everyone.

I think writing about death and what comes after can be intimidating--you never know if you're going to offend someone or even reopen old wounds. It's fascinating to me because it has both philosophical and real-world aspects to explore.

Kris Atkins said...

I'm really intrigued by your excerpt from CROW'S REST. I never had thought about that.
It's been fun to see everyone's "hang up's".

beck nicholas said...

Really interesting post! Thanks for sharing an excerpt. It really does create questions and I'm interested to know more.

k said...

Oooh "what survives after death?" So intense and intriguing! I've never thought about writing something addressing that. Very cool.

Alison Miller said...

I have forgiveness all over my last WIP. And seeing "curses" as gifts - got a bit of that going on myself.

Love the pics!

Angelica R. Jackson said...

Ooo, more comments, thank you! I'm planning on working on another hospital scene today, so thanks everyone for letting me know I'm on the right track.

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