Does your book have a theme? If not, consider including one because the theme (or themes) is an essential component of the story. It connects the protagonist’s internal journey, their concerns and passions to the external plot and gives readers something to care about.
Theme helps a good story become a compelling one.
I have just finishing reading for the second time The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by one of my favourite authors, Maggie O’Farrell. It’s a fabulous read for many reasons, not least if you are interested in the human spirit and how it can endure suffering of the most horrific kind.
One of the themes in the book is disassociation and in my opinion is the primary driver for the choice of the book’s unusual title (only Maggie O’Farrell can confirm or deny).
Disassociation is a mental process that causes a lack of connection in a person’s thoughts, memory and sense of identity. It’s technically a defense mechanism where we separate out of our memory things that we don’t want to or can’t deal with. If we experience trauma, this can obviously be a very useful coping strategy in the short term. In the long term however, disassociation keeps us disconnected from ourselves and limits our capacity for self love and self actualisation (maximisation of potential and fulfilment of needs and desires).
I grew up in a dysfunctional and unconventional home and as a child disassociation became my way of coping. In my adult life many of my relationships and choices were influenced by dissociation and it wasn’t until I understood this mental process that I could begin to do something about it.
Many people never discover they disassociate and live their whole lives in a fragmented state. In the worst cases, like Esme, they vanish completely.
The truth is I vanished.
Fortunately I found myself and disassociation is a thing of the past. I now live my life fully present and aware moment by moment. I monitor myself, I am my own observer, always totally congruent and emotionally intelligent.
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