Of course, I have an idea for a novel. It has been swimming in my head for some time now. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to writing it. Sometimes, I think the idea so magnificent, so original, so dazzling, and almost (dare I) comparable to those other great novels which I have read. And so, if I had only willed myself to begin writing, then to finish the novel and have it published, it shall receive quite a huge sum of attention and praise, and shall be placed on the topmost shelf of the literary cabinet, alongside the greatest books; it will be studied by students and academics, and they will live in my shadow just as I now live in the shadows of the greats. Do you understand, reader, the immense, the intense rapture and fulfillment that comes from knowing that one has emerged from the shadows to become for oneself a monument of admiration?

But other times, I think my idea indelibly stupid, and I lose all the mood to write.

Sowing the seeds

Do we not all believe that we are in some way special; that we are meant for things greater than the humdrum of paper-mining; that we have something hidden in us, hitherto undiscovered, which manifests little by little, yet unappreciated by everyone. We tell ourselves that the passage of time shall nurture these promising seeds, and eventually we shall rise, pierce the doubtful sky like an ambitious redwood. Of course, we must work hard ourselves; for if there were anything that could dampen the thrust of talent, it would surely be indolence.

But have we been too eager to prestige, to the distinguishing of ourselves from the plebeian lot? – such that we overstate our capabilities. “There is in fact nothing special about myself. Everyone is equally capable, equally talented. But how ever can I live knowing that I shall eventually disappear into the marching lines of laborers; that nothing else shall be recognized of my life other than the diligence with which I played my role, my mediocre role? No happiness can be found in such savorless life. Thus, I must create my own happiness! I must for the moment cast aside reality and conjure an illusion of a capable, talented self. I must deceive myself.

Indeed, I am special, and I am meant for great things.”

Ambition as an impulse

It often happens that one feels an urge to create incessantly, abundantly, insofar as to let something else other than reason leash his words. He has nothing to meaningful to say, nor has his pen any passion infused in its ink; and yet he rages to craft something, anything. “For what purpose?” He asks himself – but he cannot quite figure. Perhaps it is a fear that, in his climb to the top of Parnassus; that were he to slacken and lose his pace, he would tumble back down to the foot of the mountain and there have to make the great effort of beginning the climb again. How this threatens his ambition; and it is for this reason exactly that his mind shall refuse to admit of wariness, to surrender its pick to the cold, freezing insipidity of the moment.