I'm stubborn. I like to think of it as "steadfast," but stubborn is probably more accurate. I don't like to change:

-- how to load the dishwasher

-- how to put the toilet paper on the roll

-- in what order to read a newspaper

-- how and when to change lanes and use directionals while driving

-- my resistance to instruction of almost any sort

Yes, I see that last one there. Yes, I know that's a very stubborn trait. Yes, I know it's silly. But there are some benefits.

I got to thinking about this today, in a very roundabout way, when I saw that someone I am acquainted with is writing his first screenplay. He knows enough about writing to know that it probably won't be great, or even close to great, but it is something, and something, a start, is a good thing. I think when you are attempting to write in a new format, you may not at all know what you have until you are finished with it and hand it over to someone else to look over. Were you able to tell your story? Were you able to get what was in your head and make it come to life? Were you able to make something that will be compelling and interesting?

This is far harder than you would imagine. The connection process, vital to the success of any creative project, often breaks down between the vivid imagination and earnest heart of its creator and the intended audience. You can be bright, competent, with good ideas, yet not know exactly how to make it translate. So how do you accomplish this? The typical route is through the very lengthy process of revision, revision, revision. You read books about how to write, attend schools to learn how to write, have as many eyes on your work as possible to give criticism and encouragement, notice the work of others you admire. This is all very smart, and reasonable, and if you have any kind of natural talent at all, should work at the very least of improving your work.

My natural instinct is to run like hell from all of it. I would go so far as to say I feel almost repelled, physically. What is that about???

It is certainly not at all a fear of criticism. I am a big girl, quite solidly imperfect, and accept that there is not one piece of writing that cannot be improved upon. I have strongly profited in the past by listening to feedback from others about things I have written. Sometimes it was as small as changing a word or two; sometimes, perhaps a whole passage was unclear to the reader and needed to be restructured. I have sometimes let pieces sit, sometimes for years, then come back and fix them, wondering how I could have thought it was ever OK. Sometimes I change nothing. Sometimes I bag the whole thing. If someone else can find something I missed, that's nothing but good, and I am very appreciative.

My fear is getting lost forever in the Land Of The Endless Revision. It is a real problem I think for many writers, as when you know and accept that your words can never be perfect, you also have to know and accept that you have to let go at some point to an imperfect work and let it go public, and some cannot do it. They hang on, thinking and wondering and rewriting and reviewing and reading and and and and. If they ever had something, they rework it to death, where anything original, spontaneous, or unique is hammered out of it, until it is safe and acceptable and properly Englished to those people Who Say So.

These days, the typical way for a creative writer to get any notice whatsoever is to get published in the top literary journals and to have been through one of the top MFA programs. Take the same classes, read the same books, write the same papers, use the same constructs, meet the right (write?) people, jump through the same hoops.

I. Can't. Do. It. I can't. I just can't. Whatever it is that is me, good or bad, I want to keep it, even at a cost, even at not progressing as much as I could or missing out on some valuable information. I don't trust the insiders, and I don't want what they have. Sigh. I would rather just keep writing, try to stretch out the boundaries once in awhile, have a few people I know and respect and trust give me dead honest feedback, and most critically, that I keep open and observant to the world around me. The more I see and feel and do, the more I am able to find the best words to color all that, the better my writing will become, seen or unseen by anyone else. That is a great challenge, and very exciting to me.

There are people who sit down to write the Great American Novel, spend thousands of dollars in instruction, who toil over it for years and years, and it still might be a total piece of swill. There are people who can bang out their first screenplay with almost no doctoring, and win an Oscar. There's no set way to go about it all. Perhaps any effort is worthy, if you enjoy the process and do your best. If you like it, well good for you. Just don't whine if no one else does, though -- there's nothing more tedious than a precious writer. Really.

Good luck to all you writers out there. I'll be here, being stubborn.