I hate mission statements, but…

Stephen R. Covey (or is it Lex Luthor?)

Stephen R. Covey (or is it Lex Luthor?)

First of all, if I could look like Stephen R. Covey does in that picture, I would shave my head and never look back. Holy moly, I love that picture. But that’s not why I’m writing.

James Maxey is a writer who I respect and whose comments on the boards of Codex Writers often make me think or laugh. He recently started a thread about writing mission statements.


I groaned when I first read the title of his topic. I know first-hand how useful goals are. I know how vital it is to identify what’s vital in any endeavor. Heck, I’m a Covey-lover through and through.

But every mission statement I’ve seen has either been useless corporate toilet paper (because they’re printed on stuff that’s too stiff and rigid to be of any help in the bathroom) or it’s a personal artifact that has a six week half life, after which it turns into something like that singing fish you bought and can’t for the life of you figure out why or where to put it now that you realize you could have eaten a steak for just as much money and the pleasure would have lasted longer.

And yet consciously thinking about how you want to live is so powerful. I think the corporate world ruined the term for me. I cannot bring myself to write a “mission statement.” I know what I want to do in my various roles in life. I know how I want to live. But I cannot use that label. Alas.

So here’s my “what I want to do” as far as writing is concerned. It’s not crisp and clean. And if I had to write it again, it would come out differently. But it has the gist.


I want to make people fall in love like I did when I first watched the Sound of Music–that sweet, pure yearning. And when they’re out of love, I want them to see a way back.

Every once in a while I want the ground to shift under the feet of my readers like it shifted under mine when I first watched Les Miserables with Anthony Perkin.

I want them to laugh.

I want to give them the wonder and adventure that was given me when I read the Hobbit.

I want them, at least once, to shout in triumph.

I want to share my delight in people who are fascinating, flawed, salt-of-the-earth, odd, funny, strong or a hundred other wonderful things, but who show some courage, a little or a lot.

I want readers to weep at the hope of redemption. I want them to despair at loss.

I want the sun to shine. I want the world to crack.

And when my readers are done, when the book’s closed and they sit back, I want the story and people to linger, I want my readers to want to go back. I want them to feel it was, not only a surge of living, but a good thing to have once been lost in the pages of my book.

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