In the midst of an afternoon discussion with my mom and cousin, the topic of finding a purpose in life came up. We wondered: What does purpose mean? How does one find it? Why is it even important?
Well, we didn’t come up with any concrete answers other than: You know when you got it and you know when you don’t.
Hint: The Dutch shoes only came later when I had time to think it over.
Anyway, I often find that defining something is a good starting point to conceptualizing it. It lays a foundation on which an idea can stand.
Everyone, get out your thinking caps. (Just for a second, a promise.)
According to Dictionary.com, “purpose” is defined as:
(noun) –the reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc
–an intended or desired result; end; aim; goal.
So, in finding your purpose, it takes determination and resoluteness to achieve a desired goal, which represents the reason why something exists. Pretty serious talk for a Saturday chat!
After defining, my next step in tackling a concept includes self-reflection.
My conclusion? I often go through the day, checking off appointments and meetings as I go, moving forward without giving my greater “purpose” any conscious consideration. Why not? There’s no time! Intensive psychotherapy and medication management with patients, marathon meetings to discuss implementation of a training grant a handful of colleagues and I work on, and implementing said trainings (I even acted in a video demonstration, eep!)—it all adds up to a ten hour day! And that’s before I get time to devote a few hours to writing! A tired mind is not capable of determining purpose. It just wants sleep, amen?
Let me get back to the Dutch shoes…and the overall point of this topic.
When I spend time with my characters, I must be more aware of their “purpose.” I’m making them up, after all, so showcasing their character traits, as well as their interactions with friends, family members, and environment all requires attention and care.
Why are they walking to the library in the rain to check out books about the history of Dutch shoes? Who’s willing to risk ruining their non-waterproofed suede moccasins by going with them? Does this have anything to do with the overall plot of how the Great Danes plan to beat the Saints at a basketball tournament?
Bottom line: What gives my characters(s) purpose?
Figuring that out would no doubt lead to tighter plot lines, more concise chapters, and “cleaner” writing. Any detour, so long as it reflects a character’s purpose, would be enjoyable to follow. Implications of consequences would carry more tension. A reader would learn and care so much more about the characters.
And then they’d want to buy Dutch shoes.