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“Words – so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.”
Danger or misfortune and opportunity often make strange but powerful bedfellows, don’t they? When Nathaniel Hawthorne was fired from his comfortable government job in the custom house where he’d been working, he went home and despondently told his wife. She listened to his tale of woe, then set a bottle of ink and a pen on the table, lit a fire, put her arms around him and said, “Now you will be able to write your novel.” So Hawthorne sat down and wrote The Scarlet Letter.
Now that was writing dangerously! A pioneering classic, The Scarlet Letter is still read and admired for its style, sense of atmosphere, and journey into the human heart.
We’ve all been in Nathaniel’s shoes to one degree or another — caught in a situation in our writing that seems difficult or even hopeless, but which contains an opportunity for something golden to happen. To buoy ourselves up today, let’s consider a few of these turnarounds:
We start writing a story and it peters out and seems to be going nowhere. We put it away for a while and a month or two later, an idea flashes through our head that energizes our words and gives them new life, rekindles our excitement and sense of purpose.
We are feeling that a character we’re writing about doesn’t seem lively or sympathetic enough. In desperation, we conjure up a sidekick and suddenly both our characters gain a heart and soul.
Our submission strategy is fizzling. Our novel or story has been rejected and we’re feeling lousy about it. We nurse our wounds for a day or two, but something in us refuses to quit. We believe in the value of what we’re writing. So we use the rejections as fuel. We go back to the drawing board and suddenly everything cracks open. We come up with changes that make our tale stronger, truer, deeper.
Parting words from my friend and mentor Dr. Rob Gilbert:* ” Inside every problem is a possibility. The possibilities are staring you right in the face. In every problem, there’s a possibility. In every problem, there’s an opportunity.”
Have a problem? You have just entered “The Land of Possibilities” — write on!
* Be sure to check out Dr. Gilbert’s wonderful Success Hotline: 973.743.4690.