Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Finding My Theme - Redux

Several years ago, I wrote about an occasion when I found my theme. I was asked, "What do you want to share with the world through your writing?" I formulated my response in this sentence:

"I write to help people find hope amidst their trials, to learn to overcome, not just to wallow in misery."

That became my writing theme or purpose. My works have continued to follow that theme because it is part of my values and view of life, but I recently realized that I have an additional purpose for writing, that of showing marriage as a viable, honorable, worth-while state.

So many people around me think about marriage as an option, a not-necessary part of life, even though they live with another person. They will say, "I don't need a piece of paper to make me feel good. I'm fine as I am."

Since I adhere to a set of beliefs that includes the teaching that sexual relations rightly belong in a marriage between a man and a woman, and only then, I feel an obligation to do my best to pass that belief along.

I also believe that marriage can and should endure beyond the I-can't-take-any-more-of-this stage of every-day life, and in fact, can last beyond the until-death-do-us-part vows made in most Christian wedding ceremonies. To achieve that end, I submit that marriage is a partnership that takes the work and commitment of both parties, along with love, affection, and admiration, to be sustained and enjoyed.

Since I'm basically a nice person, and quite shy, I don't go around preaching my beliefs to everyone who may follow a different life-style. No, I do it another way. I put it into my fiction, which I didn't always realize I was doing, because, you know, I just write according to who I am.

That is why I have two characters in my Owen Family Saga novels that are as firm as bedrock in espousing similar beliefs. Rod and Julia Owen are not going to entertain thoughts of a divorce when the going gets tough. They may hold different theories of child-rearing, or of entertainment, or the proper role of the master of the house, but they love and cherish each other with a fervor that keeps them together and facing the trials of life with a solid unity. They made their vows some 25 years ago, and they are not about to abandon them now. Instead, they work at their relationship, even though it be in a 19th century sort of way. Even with the burdens of frontier living making the exteriors a bit worn, they will always see each other with youthful eyes . . . and that's as it should be.

I hope you've enjoyed the journey with them thus far, and will continue to do so in my next novel of the series, Gone for a Soldier.
Marsha Ward is the award-winning author of the acclaimed novel series featuring the Owen family. Her latest book, Spinster's Folly, won the 2013 USA Best Book Award for Western Fiction. A former journalist, Ward has published over 900 articles, columns, poems and short stories. She is the founder of American Night Writers Association aka ANWA.


  1. Marsha, how great that your theme is so positive and needed today. I'm sure your books have inspired a lot of people.

    1. Thank you, Cathy. I hope so!

  2. So interesting that you should post about this, Marsha. I've been thinking about the hero and heroine in the WIP I'm working on now and how, for them, their goal isn't just to fall in love with each other, it's to marry and raise a family. I may not come right out and say it in the story--or maybe I do, I'm not sure what a reader will see--but I know that theme is there, I feel it in the hearts of my characters. And I wonder if some of today's readers won't think that's a little old fashioned or even a "weak" motivation for modern-day-medieval characters, but that's what they want and I say, "Good for them!" ;-)

    1. Good for your characters, Joyce, and good for you! I think our values just come out, whether we consciously write them in or not. We can hope today's readers go away with a "Huh. That sounds good," attitude.

  3. I want to purchase a copy of your first book in the Owen saga. Do I go through amazon? Which title is the first one? Thank you -- I loved this post.


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