Saturday, April 18, 2015

P is for Purpose

The Purpose driven life is one in which all things, when applied to your purpose, align. When we have purpose we have power. 

“Those who have a 'why' to live, can bear with almost any 'how'.” 
― Viktor E. FranklMan's Search for Meaning

This is one of my favorite quotes. Viktor E. Frankl - was a writer who wrote Man's Search for Meaning - here is a wiki on that book.

Man's Search for Meaning is a 1946 book by Viktor Frankl chronicling his experiences as an Auschwitz concentration camp inmate during World War II, and describing his psychotherapeutic method, which involved identifying a purpose in life to feel positively about, and then immersively imagining that outcome. According to Frankl, the way a prisoner imagined the future affected his longevity. The book intends to answer the question "How was everyday life in a concentration camp reflected in the mind of the average prisoner?" Part One constitutes Frankl's analysis of his experiences in the concentration camps, while Part Two introduces his ideas of meaning and his theory called logotherapy. 
So how does that work with our revisions? I do think when we are attempting something with such a broad scope - like writing a novel or book length memoir or non-fiction - we need to constantly go back to our purpose. Your purpose needn't be highfalutin   - it can be to entertain but there is usually something deeply personal and meaningful in why we write at all and in what we choose to write. It might be to show your third grade teacher that in fact you aren't a dummy! It might be to share something - a way of life - a part of the world - a personality - that most people don't really know about.

I have different purposes to why I write different stories or in different genres. I like writing mysteries (though I have ignored my finished and half-finished mysteries lately) because I like the puzzle of creating them (sort of like quilts) and because I think they are a good way to feature a part of the world most people know squat about. I have written my literary novels because I'm interested in the psychological effects of certain events on people. I want to understand how family works and how doesn't.  I write poems for a way to show how I see the world and its meaning to me.

All of them and everything else falls under another purpose - my overall purpose in life is to wake up and help others wake up. I happen to think we spend too much time in our past and future and I know when I write I'm actually in the present - I hope others get that too but it is actually secondary.

When I'm revising and the hot rush of getting words down is over I really need to remember why I want to finish and perfect each manuscript. I need to touch down on my purpose to energize getting through the million details of such a large work.

How about you?

Here's a photo of the Canadian Babes - my close buds. They will be just arriving in Cuba right about now and I'm not with them. Gah! Next year I hope. And no we don't always wear plaid shirts a la Bob and Doug but it was a special Canadjun moment, eh?


Shirley Corder said...

Good one Jan. And you're so right. It's easy to get caught up in the moment of the book and lose your sense of purpose.

Karen Jones Gowen said...

I was recently lacking in purpose with my project and it was frustrating me no end. When I finally realized I was working on the wrong book, it explained my lack of purpose. I set that manuscript aside for another time and went back to the one that gave me purpose. Even when I have bad writing days and accomplish little, if I'm working on the project I feel right about, then it's okay.

Trisha F said...

Having that purpose is definitely what drives us forward, but in the right direction too.

Margot Kinberg said...

I love that 'photo, Jan! And you're so right about purpose. I think if we keep that overall purpose in mind - the central reason we're writing - it keeps us going and keeps the story in focus.

Joanne said...

great post and Viktor Frankl's book is full of purpose and inspiration. Just visiting from A to Z.

Susan Scott said...

Thanks Jan for this pertinent post. We do forget our purpose sometimes for writing the book or whatever - our purpose in life can seem so elusive. Though as you say waking up and helping others to wake up and live in the present. I love the Viktor Frankl quote and your analogy to our revisions.
Pretty photo of your pals!

Words A Day said...

this is so pertinent for me at the moment Jan, so good to read your post. I've forgotten the why of my novel, moving through it turgidly, thinking what does it matter really - sometimes the work to be done is off the page. Off to do that today :)