Last weekend I did something I never do and got up early Saturday morning to attend Writefest’s lecture, The Broken Mirror: Writing, Healing, and Community by Thomas McNeely, a former Stegner Fellow and faculty member at Emerson University. Everyone who knows me knows that I reserve Saturdays to work on my novel, but this subject piqued my interest because it was geared toward three of my favorite topics: writing, healing, and community.
McNeely did not disappoint.
He began the talk with an honest assessment of his early acclaim, then personal events that delayed his novel’s progress, and finally the misfortune of having completed the manuscript at the peak of the housing bubble’s burst in 2008. I was trying to publish my poetry collection at the same time, so I know what a crummy time that was for publishing and how demoralizing it is to know you wrote something great and then have publishers to throw it back in your face. He could have quit, as I did by 2011, but instead he changed tactics after a life experience caused him to reassess his publishing objectives. That change found him as the Gival Press Novel Award winner with a book deal by 2013.
You don’t have to be a writer to learn from his experiences. He drew clear lines between events in his life and choices he made that affected his professional work. By refusing to stay mired in personal tragedies, nor to hold himself responsible for events outside his control, he used emotional intelligence to take stock of his options and choose one that gave his book access to an audience. For him, that meant leaving the major publishing house slush piles and finding a smaller press that cares more about quality than the author’s blog and twitter followers.
He ended his talk with an assignment that I want all of you to do when you feel like you are beating your hands bloody against a door that refuses to open. Here are the questions with my own example.
1. What is getting in the way of achieving my objectives?
I want to build my dream company immediately, but my business needs to be solvent for two years before I will be a good small business loan candidate.
2. What does this blockage have to do with the project itself?
I am unreasonable with my timeline and need to revamp my business model and offerings to line up with the reality of when I can apply for a loan and seriously scale up to what I know this business can be.
3. How can I use this knowledge to move ahead?
I changed my offerings and created a new timeline that is geared toward building the arms that I can strengthen now, without a big cash injection, and strategically build up so that when I reach that two year point, I should be in a great position to get the loan and already have the business I need to necessitate the growth I envision.
When something is of foremost importance to us, we will do whatever is necessary to achieve our purpose. This might mean more hard work, patience, perseverance, and it also might mean changing course.
Please answer your 1, 2, 3, and post them below. If you need any help, just ask me! Have you ever faced a disappointment and then made a change that opened new doors?