I was watching a video blog post about the real work an editor does in preparing a book for print when the author speaking out of my Youtube mentioned the “central observation” of the work.
And my brain did a worried stutter.
What about Bloodline? I wondered. Does it have a central observation? If so, what is it? If not, does it even need one?
Every piece of “serious” writing (a.k.a. homework) I’ve ever done needed a theme, a single important point, to hold it together. It stands to reason a work thirty times the length of a research paper might need one, too.
One question down.
The trouble is…I wasn’t thinking about a thesis statement when I was pounding brain to keyboard. I didn’t hack and slash through edits based on any one theme, aside from realism.
Then, what is the thread holding Sven’s story together?
I recall addressing the fallacious notion that people are a monolith and knowing one detail about them can tell you everything else you might need to know. Which is really as simple as creating complex characters with their own motivations and emotions.
Throughout the novel, Sven (Bloodline’s narrator) points out the pervasiveness of racism in the Empire. I also went into detail about the real ways this harms marginalized individuals.
I also address the myriad ways in which Sven values and devalues himself, the criteria by which he measures his worth. (A struggle I deal with, as well.) If anything, this is the only thread I’ve ever thought about in any significant way before now.
Yet, when I look back at the manuscript, all three of these themes see equal attention.
Then again, all three share their own common thread: the manifestation of personal bias about both the self and others. Bias is what tells a person that anyone with X trait is automatically going to be like Y. Bigotry is bias’s disgusting cousin, which comes about when unchecked bias refuses to change when presented with evidence refuting its claim.
One’s self-worth can also be affected by biases about what it means to be a “real man” or a “good person” or “strong” or any other desirable trait. And what traits are considered desirable are also based on bias.
Thus, despite some desire to examine self-worth through Sven, it seems my hemispheres colluded to create a much broader analysis within the text.