Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Persistent or Stubborn?

We’ve had a lot of rain here lately. It’s swollen rivers and muddied lawns and closed my favorite trail along the Perkiomen. The other day I decided I was going to run. I took the one open trail, the Audubon Loop—a five mile trail that swings back along the Perkiomen with access to the Schuylkill trail. It was an enjoyable run right up until the point that I got back to the Perkiomen and ran across another “trail closed” sign. Someone had moved the sign aside, but it was there and obvious. I kept running. I wasn’t far along the trail when I realized the swollen river had overflowed the banks and was covering chunks of the trail. I sloshed forward. I ran into a jogger coming from the other direction. I warned him, “It’s really wet that way.” He returned the favor, “I know. It’s worse up ahead.”

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.


  1. Good for you for venturing off the path! My goals are spreading out in all kinds of directions lately. I think I need a trainer.

    (the trail sounds beautiful, even if soggy. It's nice to have a good place to run)

  2. Yes, Linda, it is beautiful. I love the trail. I actually saw a goat on it once! A group of people were trying to catch him. Oh, and once I almost ran on a snake. Floods, snakes, goats, it doesn't sound so nice, but mostly it is beautiful and serene.

  3. I guess even when its the right path - it can get nasty :) thanks for stopping by my blog!