A fable: In ancient times, a king had a boulder placed in the middle of a roadway. Then he hid himself to see if anyone would take the time and trouble to remove the huge rock which blocked the way of any and all who traveled the road. Some of the king’s wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. As the king hid, many people passed by and loudly complained about his failure to keep the road clear, but did nothing to remove the stone.
Then a farmer came along carrying a load of vegetables. When he saw the boulder looming in his way, he laid down his load and tried to move the boulder out of his way and to the side of the road. After much heaving and straining, he succeeded. As he was picking up his load to travel on, he noticed a purse where the load rock had been. The purse held many gold coins, along with a note from the king saying that the purse belonged to the person who removed the boulder from the roadway. The farmer learned what many of us fail to see: Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition. Author Unknown
Love this simple tale and its takeaway! So often, we do what most people in the fable do: We avoid obstacles or complain about them, instead of tackling them with energy and extracting the opportunities they offer us to grow and improve. Mining obstacles for the “gold” they offer us takes intention and ingenuity, but as writers, we have plenty of chances to practice this:
When we’re entangled in a thorny plot snag, we can respond by getting creative and dreaming up three or four fresh scenarios to make it work.
When our dialogue seems flat and dull, we can challenge ourselves by finding a story where the exchanges between characters sparkle and reveal, and then bring that same energy to rewriting our own words.
When our stories are rejected by editors or agents, instead of folding our tents and putting them on a shelf to languish, we can see turn downs as an opportunity to expand our submission horizons and reach out even more aggressively and/or revisiting our writing to make it deeper, stronger, and truer – and then keep going until we find someone who loves it as much as we do.
Opportunities are all around. Let’s mine them for gold as we all write on!
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