One of the many things I’m grateful for is my ability to think of more than one thing at once. It can make for muddles and difficulty, but for the most part, it’s truly a gift.

It’s been a gift this week as I continue the wrestling match with the “I suck” demon. The demon’s been very noisy and persistent, insisting that the work-in-progress is an unsalvageable mess and, really, I should just quit because I suck. When the voice is very loud, it’s hard not to give into it, but some odd thoughts have been saving me.

One is about the Red Sox. Before the season began, Boston sportswriters assessed the team and came to the conclusion that the offense was suspect, but the team could be carried by its starting pitching, which was, for the most part, stellar. A quarter of the way through the season, starting pitching has been less than expected, offense greater. The other is something Hedrick Smith said in his book The Russians. When Moscow correspondents were asked the meaning of something that had happened, their response was that you couldn’t tell what something meant until you saw what happened because of it.

Between those two things, I’ve decided that you never know what you have until you actually have it. There’s no way to know if a novel is unsalvageable until it’s written, and you’ve let it rest for a month or so. Resting it gives you distance; distance gives you perspective. When you come back to the book, you’ll find problems (because there are always problems), but you’re also likely to know how to fix the problems you find as soon as you see them. So, really, I have to finish the book to know if it’s as bad as I fear or as good as I hope, and that means writing, no matter what the demon says.

After all, it might be wrong.


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