3 July 2012

Not Attempting Too Much

Samuel Butler, The Note Books of Samuel Butler (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1917), p. 103-4.
The greatest secret of good work whether in music, literature or painting lies in not attempting too much; if it be asked, "What is too much?" the answer is, "Anything that we find difficult or unpleasant." We should not ask whether others find this same thing difficult or no. If we find the difficulty so great that the overcoming it is a labour and not a pleasure, we should either change our aim altogether, or aim, at any rate for a time, at some lower point. It must be remembered that no work is required to be more than right as far as it goes; the greatest work cannot get beyond this and the least comes strangely near the greatest if this can be said of it.