The Writer’s Well Episode 175: What is your impossible?

J. asks Rachael to share one of her scary dreams. The good kind that get us out of bed in the morning. Also, J. introduces his upcoming free 5-day writing challenge.

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61 thoughts on “The Writer’s Well Episode 175: What is your impossible?”

  1. Great question J.
    Well done Rachael for committing to the Dharma thingy. No idea what it is so I looked it up and I’ve still no idea what it is, but good luck with it 🧘‍♀️.
    It’s great that you’re getting into running J. One tip, make sure you have rest days, at least once a week. Your mind may tell you to run every day but your body won’t like it and will let you know by giving you injuries.
    I slept on the beach at Marathon, back in 1975 when I hitch-hiked around Europe. I also watched the New York Marathon from Central Park in 1979 when I hitched and Greyhounded the East coast. That’s where I caught the virus (no, not that one, the running one) so I ran New York in 1989.
    Wouldn’t hitch-hike today; I’ve seen too many movies about what happens when hitch-hikers get picked up by strange people.
    So what is my impossible? Maybe running another marathon.
    Or I’d like to write a book that reaches bestselling status because it is so good that word-of-mouth marketing kicks in.
    Great show.

  2. Amazing question!
    This is one of those cosmic moments for me, where signs from everywhere come to lead me to an epiphany I already knew. I made myself a runner some years ago, then kids happened and I never really reclaimed the “runner” title. But it’s always something I say I want back in my life. A revelation recently left me thinking “just f***ing make the time and run!” And so I did, and I’ve been loving it!
    I read Murakami’s memoir years ago in a time when, for health reasons, I was neither running nor writing and aching to do both. I promised I would read it again in a time I was doing both. Guess what I started reading two days ago!
    Then came “I wonder if I could run a marathon one day?” A thought I’ve been unable to shake, but also unable to believe…. you see where I’m going with this?
    Guess I’ll be joining you on the track, J. But not actually in Marathon. That’s a level too huge for me. Congrats to you for holding that one up!

  3. Rachel Stumblingbear

    My impossible is traveling. I want to see the whole world and my husband was on board when we first married, but due to health issues, travel has become harder. So, I lived in Guatemala for a short time. I would like to take the husband there and share with him this country. We are working on being healthier overall and more active. And we are seeing what can be done for his health issues.

  4. I love this question so much. For a long time now (I don’t remember when I started) I’ve been keeping a list of “Impossible things” I want to do. I’m routinely adding things and crossing them off. I think of it as my “If I had JK Rowling money, where would I invest myself” list. Here’s what’s on it right now:
    1. Hold an annual conference in Baltimore for Baltimore creatives that has kick-ass hosts, music, and presenters (a super awesome extravaganza of creativity). Give free admission to all inner-city high school students who want to come and scholarships to anyone who applies.
    2. Win a Pulitzer Prize for fiction.
    3. Get a Ph.D. There are multiple topics I’m interested in pursuing this in from a general Philosophy to leadership to Instructional Design. So many great things to study.
    4. Read all of Karl Barth’s Dogmatics. I own the set. I’ve read sections. Someday, I’m going to read all 12 volumes.
    5. Write something that is turned into a streaming series or movie (I’m not picky about which streaming service).
    6. Own an apartment in Manhatten that my wife and I can go stay at whenever we feel like it.
    7. Start a scholarship fund for kids from my high school in New Orleans that is big enough to pay for students’ tuition, room, books, and boarding.
    8. Start a writing studio in Baltimore that will fund several artists to live and write without worrying about work for a year.

    That’s what I’ve got right now. I’m excited about reading other people’s! Thanks again for the great question.

  5. A runner’s tip for men: Band-Aids on your nipples. A sweaty, heavy shirt will rub blisters onto your nipples, and they’re absolutely awful.

    My impossibles: Living apart from my parents (I’m 46 fucking years old, ffs, and I can’t stay gone. I hate it so much!). A PhD in geology. I don’t have the money, and I don’t have the math. Making a living from my writing.

  6. First, I have to say one of the reasons I love this podcast is the honest and trusting relationship between you two. 🙂

    My impossible is I want to spend a year living in Sweden to do research. I have extended family there (who I didn’t even know existed until two years ago!) and since most everyone in the country speaks English, the language wouldn’t be an issue. One of the main reasons I don’t do it are family obligations here. My mother and my in-laws are in their 80’s, and I don’t want to be so far away from them at this time. I also have a job I love that I’d hate to lose.

    What I’d love to do is find a place to live in Sweden, study there, and then use it as a base to travel around the other Nordic countries, as well as the U.K. and Europe. I have no idea how it would work. I don’t even know if I’d be allowed to live there for a year. I have thought about starting out with a month to see how it would go. I could spend a month away…

    Fun question!

  7. As someone on the Millennial/Gen Z border, it’s deeply tempting to say that my ‘impossible’ is owning a home. ^^;

    But I tend not to use ‘impossible’ in my thinking. I understand if there are barriers to me doing something that would be too much of a sacrifice to move, but that’s not ‘impossible’ as much as ‘not right now’.

    Like, if I know (through experience, not guessing) that going on a diet will negatively affect my concentration at work to the point of being a problem because I rely on copious amounts of sugar to deal with being an introvert with sensory issues in an open-plan office, and I rely on keeping my job to pay rent, then a diet isn’t ‘impossible’, I’m just prioritising paying my rent until I can get out of the open-plan office. (Which happened with lock-down, and my need to snack vanished within a week.)

    1. If you have any flexibility in location, I encourage you to look into small towns in the rural midwest. Where I live, you can literally buy a home for less money than a used full-size SUV. Christopher Ingraham of the Washington Post moved to a small town near me in Minnesota. He recently wrote a book about it called “If you Lived Here You’d be Home by Now.” I purchased it from him at a library speaking event, but its on my TBR pile.

  8. Another next to impossible question to answer. I’m thinking I want to attend World Con as an author rather than just an attendee. I want it right there on my nametag and I want to sit on at least one panel.

  9. I want to the Isle of Wight walking challenge. It is 106KM. Joanna Penn did it a while back and I heard about it on her show. It inspired me to want to do it as well it looks beautiful.

  10. My impossible to possible is not ready to share yet, but your question did get me to think about what my block is. I shared mine with my husband and based on the level of squirm I felt, I’m going to dig a little deeper, maybe even publish a piece about how it’s physically stuck in my body when I understand it more. I truly love the level of discomfort your discussions push me towards lol!

  11. Hmm… hard to dream for me – but I will share the first thing that popped into my mind hearing the question; spend a year living in Ireland solo to write a novel and just… wanderlost. Never even been there but my bones feel like it is home for some reason and has since I was a kid.

  12. Hey!

    Long time listener, first time poster…

    Rachael, as soon as you told us about your dharma plans, my first thought was “Holy shit! I hope she does that!”

    The world is full of Karens who offer superficial spiritual teachings that are the equivalent of a meal at Taco Bell. They are superficially satisfying, but not authentic or truly life-changing.

    Real spiritual work is authentic, uncomfortable and scary. You’ve proven yourself to be authentic, and to have the courage to offer something real, even though at times it might be uncomfortable.

    So go for it.

    Jay, we all want to see pictures of you with bandaids on your nipples.



  13. great question, great answers too! I’ve run marathons and run every day even in lockdown in my courtyard (I’m Italian, live in the North of Italy, serious lockdown), I understand the joy of it; Rachel’s reply opened something within me, made me go deep, I totally shared her dream and would like her to keep us posted on her ‘research’ (I also listen to ‘how do you write’).
    best encouraging wishes to both of you and thanks for the podcasts!

  14. If anyone needs to hear this… the impossible can happen! Our family did the impossible a while back. I could not even have imagined that what we did would be possible. It was hard, it was scary and we had no guidebook to help us through it. Fast forward to today… and my impossible is writing the memoir on how we did the impossible! I’m trudging through it but I still can’t even imagine our story being out there in the world. Luckily I have surrounded myself with people like Rachael and J who believe in me until I can believe in myself.

  15. This is such a humdinger. I’m been thinking about it for an full 24 hours now, and I just can’t think of one. I have goals (becoming a writer/yoga instructor who travels to Bali to study and winters in warm locations) but I know people who do this, so it doesn’t seem impossible.

  16. Always been listening but hardly ever comment. Trying to do better with that and very motivated by this question to reveal my never-spoken-aloud impossible, just between us…
    I would go to drama school, if the stars aligned. We’d have to move to an English-speaking city big enough to have a high-quality drama school, but still in our current situation where my OH’s income is enough, and I’d have to pass the audition, and ideally be not much older than I am now. It’s a tiny window and very unlikely. But I’d love another stab at the life I maybe said no to when I picked a Saturday job over my drama classes. (Had to have record-buying money.)
    And I’d still be writing because (OF COURSE, Rachael 😉) I’d write a stunt memoir about being a starry-eyed middle-aged drama student. 😊

  17. My impossible is creating a sustainable system of published works and art that generate enough revenue to quit the day job and work for myself full time.

    That impossible leads to the next one, which is to no longer be geolocationally anchored. I dream living a nomad life, I just need to convince my partner that I’m serious. 😁

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