I cringed. My feet were soaking in sneakers that would never be the same. My choices were to go back, though I was nearly at the end of the loop, or to move forward and slosh my way through the trail. I ran. I couldn’t help but think, “Am I being persistent or stubborn?” The rest of the run wasn’t that bad. Yes, it was wet, but the trail opened up on the left, giving me room to run on the less wet grass. I made my way around the wet stuff as best I could, and ended up back at my car feeling energized and happy. I decided the difference between being stubborn and persistent was simple—stubborn meant not deviating from my road, trudging doggedly forward even though there was an obvious side way around. Stubborn people attach themselves to one way of doing things, one way of being successful, clinging to an image of themselves and the way the world is supposed to work for them. I have been stubborn in my writing. Persistent people have a goal, but they head toward it with awareness and thoughtfulness and a mind to change course if the way they are going isn’t working. As Samuel Delaney told a room full of aspiring writers at Boskone, “Go around, over, under and through to reach your goal.” He also suggested we lie, steal, and cheat, but that's another post.
I’ve recently started screenwriting. Adapting my novel into a screenplay has been an interesting learning experience. It has taught me to look at my work in a different way and to fight my way past the fear of what lies ahead on the road. It has helped me to add another trail for myself as a writer, so even as I slosh my muddy way off the beaten path, I keep moving forward.