In case I don’t see you during Thanksgiving…

Lately I’ve been reading an ugly idea: that Thanksgiving dinner is an ideal place to argue politics — as if we don’t have enough fertile ground for shouting matches with relatives. I just can’t partake in Thanksgiving politics, although I admit if I see that photo of Al Franken one more time my stomach will empty for another plate.

On this holiday, I prefer to feel gratitude — as old-fashioned as that sounds — and I have a lot to appreciate this year. It was an unusual year for me, in that I had four major goals. I accomplished them all. Despite that, I went through a three-month period of misery. It’s startling to achieve dreams and still be dreadfully unhappy.

Those three months were my last in Florida. I know what caused it. I prefer not to go into it.

So for openers, I am thankful for the people who sensed I wasn’t happy and reached out. They know who they are. I am thankful for you. I hope you have a most joyous holiday season.

I am thankful for the friends I did make in Florida, too. It is a fun state, fascinating and gorgeous. Regrettably, I didn’t make many lasting friendships there. The ones I did make? The people there I appreciate their humor, their intellect, their quirkiness. Sorry the rest of it didn’t work out for me.

Living on the east coast afforded me the chance to see most of the country at a slower pace. I am thankful for what I learned about America. What an amazing nation. My senses overloaded on the hues of our culture, which varies from state to state. It would take months to fully recall and appreciate what I’ve taken in. I savor those memories daily. The music of Nashville. The art museums of Philadelphia and Chicago. The architecture of Baltimore. The alcoholism of Kansas City.

I must admit, though, that I am extremely thankful to be closer to my friends and family here in Las Vegas. I’ve already made road trips to Los Angeles, Arizona, and I can’t wait to see my parents tomorrow. Thanksgiving is a time for overloading on comfort food, but eating all of that grub is merely a symbol. Thanksgiving dinner is a metaphor of how our lives can be delicious and bountiful. My life is abundant for the friends I have. The relationships you create lead to lasting comfort and joy.

My best friends? They know who they are. People I’ve begun to cultivate relationships with, I hope you know I value you.

Finally, I am grateful for those of you who have purchased my latest novel, “Assumption Day.” I want to keep that brief because I don’t want to make this blog post sound like a sales pitch. Thank you.

Let’s all have a warm holiday season. There are far more beautiful things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in political philosophy.

What’s the point? Or, why do authors get so hung up on theme?

About a year ago I flew to New York City to wow somebody in the publishing industry with a murder mystery novel I created. While most agents are women — which, by the way, is a good thing since women tend to make up most of the people I see in a Barnes & Noble — I happened upon a male rep in the restroom of the Midtown Hyatt in Manhattan.

“Thing I hate the most is authors who can’t stop talking about the theme of their books,” he muttered to the wall paneling just above the urinal. Then he looked over at me and added, “Pitching to me in here taking a piss I hate even more.”

Like most everything I’ve learned in the publishing industry, that simultaneously made sense and made me wince. Oh, it’s not the only thing that came across as useful and insipid. I had an agent tell me my book would stand a better chance of getting published if I could squeeze “girl” in the title. Girls on trains and with dragon tattoos kicking over hornet nests and falling into spider webs. That sort of thing.

But I digress.

My point is beyond mentioning there will always be a disconnect between authors and agents. That’s apparent. It’s also obvious to mention that agents are the first bona fide readers of a writer’s golden prose. Your friends and family may think it’s brilliant, but nobody else is going to know if it doesn’t land on a bookshelf. That’s an agent’s job. If the agent doesn’t care about theme, chances are most readers don’t either.

But I must suggest that agents let their crabby little wordsmiths prattle for 45 seconds about the brilliance of the theme.

Themes — as hoity-toity as they come across — are what push a writer across the finish line. No matter how strong that first inspiration permeates a writer’s alleged soul, in my opinion there is no such thing as a muse for a novel. I have to have a compelling reason for why I’m writing in order to finish. My current novel, “Assumption Day,” checks in at about 300 pages. It’s not exactly as long-winded as “War and Peace,” but compare that to the average article in USA Today, and that’s a hefty amount of quality time at the laptop.

Most writers that I know don’t like to wing it. (As an aside, that’s called “pantsing” in publishing, another phrase that simultaneously makes sense and creeps me the hell out.) The writers I hang with, read, etc., they want to have a reason for slogging through the process.

Theme is that reason. They want to make a point. The story, the character, or just one particular scene, can make that point.

I write murder mysteries. The point is not to say “killin’ is bad.” If the Ten Commandments didn’t convince you of that, neither would Agatha Christie.

In the case of “Assumption Day,” I studied the lengthy and turbulent history of Northern Ireland. I appreciated its music. I shook my head at its petty divisions. I learned bombmaking, not hands-on, of course. I went through the research and filled notebook with ideas came because of one salient point that has more to do with the United States than it does about the Emerald Isle.

That there’s only one Martin Luther King, Jr.

In my mind, I wanted to use Ireland to illustrate the point.

Many have tried to stake a claim to King’s mantle, and yet nobody else has even come close in Western civilization. Not in America. Not in Europe, either. Definitely nobody among the legions of social justice warriors online. Perhaps that’s why things continue to be divisive among us.

If you enjoy “Assumption Day,” maybe you will pick up on that. Maybe not. I hope not to make things that obvious.

But “Assumption Day” wouldn’t be possible without that little point I wanted to make.

Having said that, I wouldn’t want to disrupt your time in the bathroom to tell you that.