I am inherently geared towards originality. Among creative types that always sounds like a good thing. In reality, it's a heck of a burden on my mind. I don't know where it stems from. I don't think it's pride or attention-seeking, but I really don't know. Whatever its source, I feel compelled in whatever I do, to do something that is as close to unique as possible. That compulsion had selecting a masters thesis topic a nightmare, believe me. It's the same for all my creative endeavors, and even my everyday life. "Well, the cookbooks all stop there, but I'm going throw some coriander in, just so it's different." It's dumb. I know.
Here's the thing; I don't even like repeating myself. I write songs, and there are two songs which are perfectly good but over which I obsess because they're "too similar." I don't write down my recipes, because I want to make it just a little different next time. My signature is never exactly the same twice. Etc.
This can be a real hassle, and right now I'm bumping up into this issue in my writing, and where I'd love to hear about other writers' or readers' perspectives on this. There are certain broad themes that I know it's pretty inevitable to repeat if you write with any volume. I'm okay with, "the struggle of a person to define his or her existence in the insensible world," as a theme that I will visit more than once. It's pretty general.
On the other hand, I try to never revisit more specific themes if I can help it. I'm well-read enough to know that my themes have been visited by other authors, but my hope is that my take on them is original enough to be different. But I don't want to deal with a theme I've already dealt with.
But I am.
I'd rather not go into details right now because one of the items involved is a story that is unpublished but that I'm hoping to get out there.
In general, though, what do you all think? Is it okay for a writer to revisit themes, as long as the story isn't the same, or is that tiresome? Are your feelings about it different as a writer than they are as a reader?