"I'm not an assiduous writer."
I have a bit of a commute and I like to listen to audio books. I recently listened to the Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein. Rather than being a true audio book read aloud, it turned out to be an old BBC radio show. It was excellent entertainment. The really good part was at the end, when they had an old interview with the author himself.
Tolkein is asked what he will be remembered for? He responds that he isn't so sure he will be remembered for anything, being "a small sort of person." But, he supposes, "If I am remembered for anything, it will most likely be The Lord of the Rings, I should think." (I don't have the tape anymore, but I think that's how he put it.) He also mentions, "I'm not an assiduous writer, I'm an assiduous lecturer." I had to look up "assiduous" to make sure I really understood him correctly. Yes, "assiduous" really is hard working and paying attention to details and all that. The old fellow really didn't believe he was an assiduous writer!
You can hear Tolkein lighting his pipe a few times.
As if that weren't enough, I serendipitously found this quote today from the Futility Closet:
'From a letter from J.R.R. Tolkien to his publishers, February 1950:
My work has escaped my control, and I have produced a monster; an immensely long, complex, rather bitter, and rather terrifying romance, quite unfit for children (if fit for anybody); and it is not really a sequel to The Hobbit, but to The Silmarillion. Ridiculous and tiresome as you may think me, I want to publish them both — The Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings. That is what I should like. Or I will let it all be. I cannot contemplate any drastic rewriting or compression. But I shall not have any just grievance (nor shall I be dreadfully surprised) if you decline so obviously unprofitable a proposition.
At 150 million copies, The Lord of the Rings is now the third best-selling novel of all time.'
I guess it just goes to show, "Even the smallest person can change the course of the future."