Monday, August 1, 2011


I HATED this thing!
When I was in the Army, I ran a few obstacle courses. Oddly enough, I didn’t do one in Basic like most soldiers do (my MOS training kept me away from that particular day, along with bayonet training and the big, long road march at the end). But, during my second enlistment, my platoon would occasionally utilize the rickety old obstacle course at Ft. Polk, LA. There were about 10-15 stations, and only a couple of them were in such disrepair that they were deemed unsafe (scary, I know). When running this course, it was for time, and you got :30 added for any obstacle you bypassed. I think we were only allowed to do so on one or two. For me, there was one that I routinely bypassed. Imagine a house roof without the top, just the rafter beams set about two feet apart, and going up to an apex and down. The point was to go over the first beam, and under the next, and then repeat all the way up and down. For some reason, I could never do it. So, I got to where I would just run up the beams and down, and take a hit on my time.

Why do I bring this up? Mainly because I like remembering some of my experiences in the Army. But also because it seems relevant to other areas of my life. Particularly writing. To me, writing can be like an obstacle course.  There's usually a time-limit (deadline), there are intangible obstacles that will hinder your progress that you must conquer (fear of heights/writer's block), and there are certain steps that should be adhered to, and if you bypass any, there will most likly be consequences.  But in the end, when you cross that finish line, you can look back and feel a sense of accomplishment.

As of now, I have crossed only a couple of finish lines.  For me, the first was to write a complete story.  Believe it or not, that part has always been very difficult.  I'm great off the starting line, but I tend to stumble sometime after the opening scene.  I can see the finish line, but there is so much in my way.  And even though I have conquered that first step (completing a story), each new project seems to be plagued with new obstacles.  Right now, they are mostly external.

My home-life is not conducive to writing; I am beseiged by small children who demand so much attention, personal obligations (both mine and others') get in the way, not to mention working full-time, and now looking at a new Grad School.  There are even physical barriers.  My desk is built in such a way that typing is uncomfortable.  I don't have a reliable mobile writing platform (ie: laptop).  In short, sometimes I feel that Fate is trying to tell me to give it up.

Screw you, Fate.  Kiss my ass.  Suck it.  I'm not quitting.  Even if I never make a dime from writing, or even finish a major project, I will continue to work on doing so when I can, however I can.  Why?  Because I like it.  It's in my blood.  I can't see a movie poster, or a book cover, or a painting, or even some interesting person on the street, without wondering what the story behind that is (or could be).  And I feel compelled to explore the possibilities through writing.

I've become a semi-habitual blogger.  And I think this is a good way for me to become a better writer.  I get in the habit of writing a blog, and it will only be a short hop over to getting into the habit of writing fiction.

So, what obstacles do you have?


Paul R. McNamee said...

The same - kids and other commitments.

I still have time to write, but what I need is energy & focus during that time! And the willpower to avoid 'Resistance', as Steven Pressfield says.

Tom Doolan said...

Paul, it's like we're the same person living the same life. Kinda creepy sometimes. o.O

Charles Gramlich said...

At some points in life, and it seems you may be at that point, you just have to keep pitching, even knowing you don't have time to do as much as you want. But it will get better and the time will come. And if you've honed your skills then you are set.