Discovering my writing theme in the middle of everyday life
My life’s themes have centred around emotional highs and lows—love, depression, excitement, anxiety. Love for my husband and my four children has been on ongoing theme for sixteen years. Depression stemming from chronic illness has been a theme for most of my adult life.
The excitement of discovery, new experiences and growth has also been an ongoing theme, as has the theme of mental illness, in the form of a Generalized Anxiety Disorder diagnosis. Although these themes don’t control or define me, they inform much of my thinking and writing.
I first thought seriously about my personal writing theme while at InScribe’s Fall Conference in 2019. Writers I met there rattled off their concise writing themes in sessions and conversations as if they had spoken them hundreds of times before. I was intrigued. I knew that a writing theme would benefit my own writing as well.
Once home from the conference, I began brainstorming a list of ideas that I enjoyed writing about.
-Homesteading and food
-Mental health and wellness
-Parenting and family
From here, I came up with a list of options that I felt were broad enough to cover my interests.
-Beauty from Ashes
-Beauty in Brokenness
-Beauty in the Ordinary
I spent time praying over these phrases and pouring over scripture for confirmation. I wanted my writing theme to give present and future readers an idea of my writing in a way that was honest and genuine as well as encouraging. As I continued to pray, I began leaning toward the third line: Beauty in the Ordinary. But it still wasn’t quite right.
During this time, I had asked a friend to help me set up my website. We were working on the final details and she asked what I wanted my tagline to be. In that moment, with all the brainstorming, praying and pondering behind me, I blurted out, “finding beauty in the everyday.” In that instant, I landed on the phrase I needed to describe the theme of my writing.
This theme, Finding Beauty in the Everyday, sums up my experiences and writing perfectly. My life from day to day may be filled with joy, love and excitement, or it may be filled with the mundane, or even the struggle with mental health or chronic illness. Whatever the case, I seek to find Jesus in the midst of it, and the beauty that comes from knowing and following Him.
Whether I’m writing haiku about the beauty of creation, or free verse about life, injustice, or anxiety, I seek to find the beauty of Jesus present within. When I write devotionals about everyday struggles and joys, I point to the beauty of knowing and trusting Jesus; even when I wrote my homesteading memoir-- although I didn’t overtly talk about my faith--I wanted my belief in Jesus, in His goodness and creative splendor to shine through.
I haven’t been writing on this theme long, but it’s nice to have a goal I can set my writing compass towards. And it turns out, most of my previous writing also fits into this theme. Looking back, I realize there was already a writing theme on my heart; it simply took time and effort to find the words to describe it.
Caran Jantzen, her husband Mr. Green Thumb, their four sprouts and their animal menagerie live in Southwestern BC, Canada on their five acre homestead. Caran isn’t afraid to try anything homestead-related at least once—all in the name of learning. When not working around their acreage or on her laptop, Caran can be found relaxing with a good book, or entertaining family and friends with her husband while serving up their homegrown food. Caran enjoys writing prose by day and poetry by moonlight. She recently published her first book, Grow. Cook. Eat. Share. A Memoir, which can be purchased from amazon as both a paperback and an ebook. Follow her musings on Instagram and Facebook at @caranjantzenwrites and visit her website, caranjantzenwrites.com.