One of the fundamental lessons I was given on Guadalupe Peak (the pivotal moment in On Sacred Mountains and also in my life) was that I should let go of ambition. Writing was fundamental to my life, but striving to become a 'famous writer' was a silly irrelevancy. Such an ambition, I suppose, should be replaced by writing as true a book as I can manage then trusting it will find its way in the world.

I can follow this principle when I'm writing. It's harder when a book's complete. A book's your own offspring and you want to fight for its right to survive on its own. Maybe it's like the baby birds that are brought by their parents to suck our seed tubes empty within hours each day. For a month or two you fight for them, then you let them fend for themselves. You're ready to pick up their case again if they come calling for help (ie 'sure I'm up for interviews'), but you move on.

Ambition slots into perspective as my mother continues to battle for her life in hospital. I don't have the heart to start a new writing project just now - though the part of me with books to sell wants to 'do it for Mum', in the sense that she has been the greatest proponent of my writing all my life. Mum gave me life and the way I have to pass that on is through my books. Perhaps though a span of life is best marked not by the degree of renown this crooked world serves to give you, but by the quality and constancy of attention one manages to give the world - if I follow my mother's example in this, I'll be doing fine.

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