“What little I’ve accomplished has been by the most laborious and uphill work, and I wish now I’d never relaxed or looked back—but said at the end of The Great Gatsby: I’ve found my line—from now on this comes first. This is my immediate duty—without this I am nothing.”
– F. Scott Fitzgerald (in a letter written to his daughter)
These words were written to his daughter at a time when Fitzgerald was considered washed up. Desperately in debt, he was living in Hollywood, trying and failing to write screenplays he could sell, and trying and failing as well to complete his final novel—The Last Tycoon—before his heart gave out.
This passage haunts me as much as anything I’ve ever read. For years I’ve kept these words taped to my computer to help me remember what’s at stake.