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Obstacles v Opportunities

Obstacles – Something that obstructs or hinders progress

Lately I’ve been thinking about excuses. About obstacles. Moments of derailment where I tend to wander off down a garden path to smell the roses and forget about actually planting them first.

Today on the train coming home from work, I was reading an eBook about a female lawyer who keeps ending up almost killed when she takes on cases. Frankly, I think she should throw in the towel law-wise and take up a safer, more sensible profession like Monster Truck Driving, or sky diving without a parachute.

It got me thinking about the books and novels I read. Not just these ones, but first novels. First stories. It more accurately got me thinking “how did they do it?”

How did they find the time to write, the will to write, the freedom to just throw caution to the wind and let the cards lay wherever they landed.

I interviewed a potential staff member recently, who had just published her second novel and was working on her third. When I asked why she wanted a full time job she said “novels in Australia really don’t pay all that much, and I need something to help with the bills.” She had 2 small kids, wrote all night and was looking for a day job to help pay the bills. It surprised me. Raising 2 kids and writing all night quite frankly sounds like 2 full time careers already.

For some reason when I was coming home tonight I got to thinking about an author whose name is Scott Turow who wrote Presumed Innocent. I remember reading an interview with him when the book came out and he was saying that he wrote on the train commute each day, it was the only place he could find time in his schedule.

Stephen King wrote at night in the basement and worked as a teacher during the day, on top of raising a family with his wife. John Grisham was a successful attorney before he began writing his novels. Terry Pratchett a successful journalist before creating the Discworld and creating a legacy that will never be forgotten.

I got to thinking about obstacles, and more importantly, how I seem to have obstacles everywhere I turn, yet these people found opportunities instead of obstacles.

I don’t write because I don’t have the time. I have the time to watch TV or read a book. To hang out with friends, or just under the house updating twitter on once or twice a minute basis. I have time to watch movies but not write them.

Last week I was off work sick for an entire week. I watched TV. I watched movies. I annoyed people on Facebook. But what I didn’t do was write. I thought about it. I thought about it every day and yet somehow it never seemed to actually happen. I’d get distracted by some reality TV show nonsense on Foxtel, or I’d spend the day chatting to friends in the US online.

I realised where others see opportunities, I see only obstacles. My biggest – and frankly – only obstacle is me. I don’t write because I don’t have time, yet I have the same time as everyone else. I choose to spend it differently.

Stephen King was a school teacher and a father of a young family. John Grisham and Scott Turow were both successful lawyers. The only person dependent on me is me. I could just as easily write on the train. I have a lap top. I’m writing on it now.

Pack it in my little bag and take it on the train. Write on the commute, rather than spend the time reading other people’s dreams come true.

Will I? Who knows. I’d like to think I will.

See I came to the conclusion today that whether it’s an “obstacle” or it’s just plain old fear and procrastination, I have the same obstacles as everyone else who has had ever had a goal or a dream to fulfill. The difference is they moved beyond it and made that obstacle an opportunity to grow, to develop and to achieve.

That’s the way I need to think from now on. Over the past two weeks since I decided to stop drinking, I’ve noticed my brain seems to be picking up speed again. It’s been a while since I’ve felt this focused or driven. I know that I can achieve my goals if I do something to make it happen. It’s just getting me off my bum to do – or on my bum seeing as I’m a writer.

There’s nothing written in here tonight that is new or earth shattering. I guess the point to this post is that if you really do change your perspective, it’s easy to turn an obstacle into an opportunity. You just need to want it badly enough.

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43 year old Australian writer currently working on the first of a planned three book Epic Fantasy series. When he's not writing policy discussions, or tales of swords, Gods, and magic, he can be found making a mess in the kitchen, and turning perfectly good ingredients into crimes against humanity.

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