A book is like a painting

"A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself." Abraham Maslow (1908 – 1970)


Spring and summer 2020 went by with the work on a book about social informatics and some other smaller projects. (Excerpts of the book will follow here in the blog after I will have received the comments of several colleagues on version 0.4) Why should I write another book about social informatics, organization development or didactics, when there are already so many on these topics? Abraham Maslow gives the answer. 


The painting

A book comes into being with a number of steps. There are first sketches and several versions. Mostly a writer works on several projects at a time. In an artist's workshop there are several paintings and sketches in different stages. Some of these are already finished, others will never be. Some are for sale, some are a gift for a certain person and some paintings the painter will keep to herself. Once and a while colleagues, friends, galerists and other customers will pass by, ask questions and give feedback. Some of these may be annoying but mostly they are a source of inspiration and confidence.


The artist's workshop

A writer can just take her computer, some books and a diary. She will find in many places an internet access for the communication with colleagues and friends and for research during the writing. Since several years I can retreat to a small village near the North Sea. That is a gift, for which I am grateful.


Search for meaning

Viktor Frankl (1905 – 1997) was the founder of logotherapy (logos, Latin: word, meaning; therapy: healing). He postulated: We, each of us is always free and thus has the responsibility, to decide how we live and act. He describes three ways in the search for meaning.


to love someone or something and to foster through this love the potential of these

to create something: to build something, to make music, to write, to paint, to organize …

to go with dignity through hard times


Viktor Frankl was absolutely aware what especially the third means. He was a victim and survivor of the Holocaust and spent several years in concentration camps. A colleague commented recently on the COVID19 pandemia: "Frankl brings me back down to earth. To cope with physical distancing and some other manners, to reflect on my and other's current way of life and to perform complex projects is not difficult anymore. These are just tasks."


One task is writing a book.


Contemplative work

To a friend I said recently: "Working on a non-fiction book is contemplative work. For instance to create the index is meditation. You go through the text again and again, find several points you want to clarify and sometimes even the book gets a different structure. This contemplative work is wonderful, when I'm sad and when I'm happy." - His comment: "So, you are doing brain therapy." - "Not in the sense of cognitive therapy, but in the sense of focusing on creating something useful, that is not related to my daily routine. Autumn 2019 was a turmoil. The winter filled with a move to northern Germany and then the pandemia came. I was very lucky to be able to retreat and work on an book. In addition I learn a lot about the topic I'm working on. Furthermore the comments and encouragement of colleagues and friends are a source of joy and social interaction, even when I am retreating from the everyday world."


A joy for the reader

The goal is: the benefit for the reader is to learn something about a certain topic and to enjoy the reading of the book. And perhaps he will have a look once and while again into the book, like looking with pleasure on a painting again and again.


To one of the colleagues, who will give her feedback, I wrote: "The reading of a book should be like a fantastic ski-run in fresh deep snow. Smooth and clear. The sky bright, the vistas wonderful. So, please tell me: Which chapters or paragraphs should I skip? What do you miss? What should I explain more thoroughly? What should I transfer to another part or chapter of the book?"


I'm sure: the colleagues, especially she will tell me. And if then the book is not like a fantastic ski-run, it is the responsibility of the author.


Christa Weßel - Thursday, 03 Sep 2020


Reading material

There are several books of Viktor Frankl in English. I started in German with:

Frankl V. Der Mensch vor der Frage nach dem Sinn: Eine Auswahl aus dem Gesamtwerk Taschenbuch. Piper Taschenbuch Verlag 1985.


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