I’ve been thinking a lot about Obstacles in the Path and Obstacles BEING the Path, because next Monday’s newsletter reflection is all about rightly understanding this sort of thing, and so I thought I’d offer a case study from my own life in case you’re a little shaky about this whole ‘The Obstacle IS the Path’ thing.
First of all, it’s a concept from Stoic Philosophy which is wisdom from ancient Greece, yes, but its so darn wise it’s still around.
Second, I’m offering this as a case study in my Perspective Widening Series because the situation literally required a widened perspective to turn the obstacle into the path (or as I’ve been reflecting on, the inconvenience into the adventure).
So the culmination of many conversations on the topic of my career/vocation with my spouse of late (read: last several years) have amounted to this: I don’t feel called to parish ministry, but I feel trapped in the continuing cycle of serving a parish, because I haven’t made it as a writer. Now, there are complicating factors, and a big one is that I do actually love the parish I serve, and I’m good at a lot of what is involved with being a parish priest. But when I sort through all the stuff I don’t want, I did come up with a statement of what I do want. (An important step.)
“I want to better monetize the writing I most enjoy doing, but I don’t have a manuscript ready for publication.”
-Sare Liz, Being Brutally Honest
And don’t you know, I had just listened to a podcast interview Dr. Karen Kan did with Kelly Moser, a High Performance Coach whose entire theme is ‘Move Your BUT’. Meaning, the ‘but’ right in the middle of that brutally honest desire up there, that’s the but I need to move. And so I followed his steps one by one and in the process of going through all the steps he laid out in the interview, I realized a bunch of things:
- My fiction writing is more like a soap opera than a novel, or series of novels. It fits better into a serial model, than a novel model and it always has – I’ve just been trying to cram it into novels.
- I recently got hooked on a very good web serial that was independently hosted/archived by the author, who is supported by Patreon, and who was able to give up her day job and just do what she loves. Looking hard at her system and how she does it… I could do that.
- I already have a Patreon set up. It would only need to be tweaked. (It has been.)
- I have been practicing writing ahead and doing weekly posts for the past three years, and I’ve gotten very good at it over the last 18 months in particular.
- I have a set of original characters and plots that have been backburnered for years that I could pull out to the front burner and explore, eventually tying in every single major universe I’ve written in the past ten years.
- I could write ahead enough on a serial such that I could then also take three months off to write on other projects, going back and forth between all the stories I love, rather than working so much I burn out.
- Writing endings has always been the hardest for me, because somewhere after I write THE END the characters are still off somewhere having adventures and only sending me postcards. If I write a web serial… I could just keep writing it for years and years.
- If I could hire an administrative assistant then I could offload the admin that makes me want to cry and spend more time writing.
- I love the model of giving the good stuff away for free and then letting those who can afford to chip in, do so on Patreon, allowing those who can’t possibly afford it to still enjoy it. It reminds me about the best parts of how church stewardship works.
So I sat down and wrote the first arc of a new story. You could think of it in terms of a novella – it’s about 15,000 words, which is about 30 pages. That first arc has shorter chapters, but I always tend to do that, and the second arc’s chapters are longer. The characters are beautiful and I adore them; they’ve made cameos in other things I’ve written, but that’s always when they’re older and wiser and have had years and years of adventuring behind them. What I’ve just written is something different – it’s the story of how they met, of how they began so that we get to see all the adventures they’re going to have.
Because how does an eleven year old steal a warship? I’ve always wanted to know… and now I know. :)
And that’s the case study. Or put more precisely:
- I hit an obstacle in the road. (I am dissatisfied with my job.)
- I redefined the obstacle in the road. (What I want is to better monetize my writing.)
- I gathered resources to turn the obstacle into the path itself. (I took the advice of an abundance coach; I changed my perspective, I was brutally honest with myself about what I could already do, what I needed to do, what I needed to learn to do, and where I needed help.)
- I started my adventure, and now my ‘obstacle’ is my opportunity. (I’m launching a new web serial at the end of the month, I’m sorting through all the changes that this requires, and the great deal of transition that is also happening.)
Does this ring true to some experiences you’ve had recently? Let me know in the comments below!
This blogpost is part of the Perspective Widening Series. You can find the first post in the series here.