DOYLE ON WRITING, BRAINS AND POVERTY…

June 7th, 2013

From The Narrative Of John Smith by Arthur Conan Doyle:

The want of money is the sun which shines on the needy genius and warms the latent powers into life. I consider the possession of a competence to be one of the greatest curses which can befall a young man of talent. How many a promising lad I have known from my student days, who had it in him to rise to the highest honors of his profession. Yet the possession of a miserable hundred or two hundred a year has removed the chief incentive to work and caused him to dawdle along in an ignoble dolce far niente, while penniless youths with half his brains, driven by the sharp spur of necessity, passed over his head and soon bade fair to have a yearly income which equaled his capital. The best and most successful writers seem to find the undertaking of a new book to be a painful effort. Carlyle talks of returning to his writing “not as a warrior going to a battlefield, but like a slave lashed before his task.” A man with brains and a competence my fail, but a man with brains and poverty must succeed. – Dr. Turner to Mr. Smith. p. 13

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