Home > authors > STORYTELLERS UNPLUGGED – Ambition


May 8th, 2007

by Mort Castle

If you wish to succeed as a writer, you have to have ambition. You’ve heard that before. Of course, there are some dissenting voices to be heard:

Ambition is the last refuge of failure.
–Oscar Wilde

It is the constant fault and inseparable evil quality of ambition, that it never looks behind it.

Ambition often puts men upon doing the meanest offices: so climbing is performed in the same posture with creeping.
–Jonathan Swift

It should go without saying, but I am going to say it: a writer has to have talent. Of course, there are different ways to look at talent.

If I have ever made any valuable discoveries, it has been owing more to patient attention, than to any other talent.
–Isaac Newton

Talent alone cannot make a writer. There must be a man behind the book.
–Ralph Waldo Emerson

As writers, we know that we must strive for originality.

About the most originality that any writer can hope to achieve honestly is to steal with good judgment.
–Josh Billings

No question, though, if you unite ambition, talent, and originality, why, writer, you can make… ART! You can be an ARTIST!

Fashion is a potency in art, making it hard to judge between the temporary and the lasting.
–E. C. Stedman

The people who make art their business are mostly imposters.
–Pablo Picasso

Well, maybe we don’t want to aim that high. We’ll settle for just entertaining, right?

The only way to amuse some people is to slip and fall on an icy pavement.
–Ed Howe

And let’s not forget, as writers we have the opportunity to teach–and there are many interesting lessons we can provide:

I teach that all men are mad.

To be good is noble, but to teach others how to be good is nobler—and less trouble.
–Mark Twain

He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches.
–George Bernard Shaw

But no matter how you view it, writing is a great business.

Every compulsion is put upon writers to become safe, polite, obedient, and sterile.
–Sinclair Lewis

Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money.
–Jules Renard

Hope you’ve enjoyed these words about words, my words of wisdom for this installment of STORYTELLERS UNPLUGGED.

Cleverness is not wisdom.

Oh, yeah? Sez who?
–Mort Castle

  1. Elizabeth Massie
    May 8th, 2007 at 09:15 | #1

    I *LOVED* this entry!! Thanks for a great laugh early in the morning, along with the chance to look at myself as a writer in the reflection of all these great sayings and think…what the hell is it really all about anyway, Alfie? :)


  2. David Niall Wilson
    May 8th, 2007 at 09:48 | #2

    It IS funny to see that great minds most assuredly do NOT think alike…and I wonder if you put them all around Frank’s Gonquin Table to talk it out, how it would play, with the quotes side-by-side.

    A good smile to start the day.


  3. John B. Rosenman
    May 8th, 2007 at 22:19 | #3

    Thanks for the Shaw quote. Cuts right to the bone.

    Some laughs here. Writers don’t see things (especially writing) the same way, do they?

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