Talking to my friend Ashley today, I started thinking about what it means to have meaning in writing. Writers get this a lot, I'm sure. "Yeah, this is a wonderful novel-poem-play-porno you've written, but what does it mean?" I take no offense in that question, but I think it needs to be rephrased to: "Why did you take the time to write what you wrote?"
That's something of a hazy area to me. Honestly, I'd prefer to leave meaning to the reader and write for my own enjoyment. Say I'm taking a stab at writing Transformers. I'm not going into it thinking about the meaning of organic versus robotic consciousness. I'm not even going into it thinking about Megan Fox running in slow motion. I'm writing it because I like GIANT FUCKING ROBOTS BEATING THE SHIT OUT OF EACH OTHER!!!
However, I would still need to step back and ask myself what it all means because without meaning, writing (or any form of art) loses its soul and becomes another shitty Michael Bay blockbuster, although it can be argued that even Bay has soul in his work; he admits that he's no Martin Scorsese.
What's the meaning in this or that piece of writing? I don't know. I don't think anyone knows when they begin a project. Beginning with theme is too heavy-handed. You begin with the story and then find the meaning underneath it.