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The DVD of the movie “Runaway Jury,” starring John Cusack, Dustin Hoffman, and Gene Hackman, contains an interview with Dustin Hoffman in its “Special Features” section. Hoffman speaks about the privilege of working with Hackman, particularly within the context of one scene in which their two characters have an intense angry encounter. After that scene was shot, he and Gene went out together for a drink, and while they talked they admitted to each other the same thing: whenever they finish a movie they are sure they will never again be able to accomplish another, nor even be asked; that what they've done was a fluke (my paraphrase). Listening to the interview, I was stunned but encouraged. Here were two movie giants who I imagined cruised from success to success without any personal fears or doubts. If the greats can feel this way, there’s hope for the rest of us.

I’m playing around with a new writing project. Not sure whether my idea will turn into anything but the blank pages are in front of me. In light of Hoffman and Hackman's admission, it's not so terrible to have self doubt when looking at a blank page or a pile of random thoughts that need shaping or to wonder if a finished piece is the last before I'll fizzle or am discovered as an imposter. It's just the way it is. In these creative enterprises there are no rules that you can follow, 1 to 10, and be assured of an outcome, and so it may always feel like beginning for the first time.