“If I can only concentrate myself: this is the great lesson of life. I have hours of unspeakable reaction against my smallness of production; my wretched habits of work – or of un-work; my levity, my vagueness of mind, my perpetual failure to focus my attention, to absorb myself, to look things in the face, to invent, to produce, in a word. I shall be 40 years old in April next: it’s a horrible fact! I believe however that I have learned how to work and that it is in moments of forced idleness, almost alone, that these melancholy reflections seize me. When I am really at work, I’m happy. I feel strong, I see many opportunities ahead. It is the only thing that makes life endurable. I must make some great efforts during the next few years, however, if I wish not to have been on the whole a failure. I shall have been a failure unless I do something great!…”
– Henry James, 11 November 1882, from A TREASURY OF THE WORLD’S GREAT DIARIES.