Let’s face it.
As authors, most of us probably harbour dreams of penning the next Great Novel, of being feted in Franzenesque fashion by literary peers and purveyors of popular culture alike, of having our names mentioned in the same sentence as Tolstoy, Steinbeck, and Joyce – though in some other verbal construction than, “Yeah, (s)he’s a perfectly adequate writer, but (s)he’s no _____”.
Sure, there’s the nobleness of the act of writing itself that drives us. Similarly, the notion that sometimes a story fairly demands to be written is what impels us towards completion. And yet … and yet … I think a generous portion of delusional grandeur – of unshakable faith in our consummate greatness – is the unspoken motive force behind our literary output.
And this is a good thing. I’ve had conversations with my PhD colleagues about our respective research projects, many of which are fairly well-advanced but by no means assured of any useful payoff (read: publication). Invariably I come back to the same point, on which we all seem to be agreed:
If I didn’t think that this was one of the most potentially revolutionary, game-changing, insightful ideas ever to come along in our field, I never would have been motivated to see it through.
I’ve thought about this more and more over the past week or so, now that I’m putting together my job market package with the hopes of landing an academic position in a North American business school. Of course I believe I’m the best, the most intelligent, the most promising candidate out there. Otherwise I could scarcely summon the energy and the inspiration needed to write all the breathless prose extolling my virtues to the selection committee.
And of course I feel the same way about my fiction writing. I couldn’t have slogged through the long hours that I devoted to The Consistency of Parchment if I didn’t have at least some passing notion that the finished product would set the world on fire. (You can judge the result for yourself, dear reader – Download a free copy today (July 14th) on Amazon).
Still, some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them. Less fortuitously, some harbour notions of greatness that remain entirely lacking in any plausible basis in reality.
I’m not sure which category I fall into. But until someone can prove otherwise, it’s just as easy – and infinitely more pleasant – for me to assume that I’m destined for big things.