And I love the times when the edits are sharp and everything is clicking together and I'm sweeping away the failed attempts for a new, clearer version, and I can see it starting to coalesce all sparkly and whole.
But I don't ask for them all the time. I couldn't bear them all the time. This, what I have tonight, this is what I want most days: quietly putting word after word and having it move. I don't need to feel brilliant all the time. I don't want to feel brilliant all the time. Tonight I feel moderately competent for the first time in ages. I like competent -- especially because part of my feeling of competence is feeling that when I find what I screwed royally up in tonight's work, or when someone else finds it, I will have enough sense of proportion to accept it and attempt to fix it if it can be fixed.
When I'm in the middle of writing a book and I'm feeling low and incompetent and lacking in all writerly virtues, I don't ask the people I love to tell me that it'll be a good book. I ask them to promise me that they'll help me spot what's bad about it and see if it can be fixed. I have written six books now, or nine if you count the nonfiction. I know how this part of the process goes. I know that I am not a person whose every word falls off her fingers as purest gold. But I also know that I can revise myself and can get help with revisions from people who say smart things, and that's so comforting, so much more comforting than trying to talk myself into being perfect.
If I didn't like the way things are tonight, word following word, I couldn't do this. But I do. I like it a lot.