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by [?]

I don’t mind telling you that I consider myself a very, very wonderful man. Nobody but a most remarkable man could spend so much time in the goat-feather groves gathering goat-feathers and still keep his family from starvation. I actually gasp when I think what a great man I should have been if I had stuck to business instead of being drawn aside by every sweet odor and pleasant sound. Then I actually swear when I think how many hours and days and weeks I have given to making myself look like a cross between a llama and a stuffed owl, when I might have been writing things the editors never have enough of, and buy as soon as they read the first paragraph.

It is all right! I’m not jealous! I’ll sit in the front row every time Ade or Tarkington or Chambers pulls a success, and I’ll applaud as whole-heartedly as any one, but I reserve the right to kick myself when I get outside. This article is one of the kicks, and I hope it will have a good effect on me. I hope it will teach me a lesson. I doubt it; I’m too old; I’m too accustomed to chasing goat-feathers to give it up now.

So there you have the story of what is the matter with me. You know now why, when you think of me, you think of a story I wrote twelve years ago. I had a main goal, but I liked too well to investigate all the cross-roads instead of keeping straight on. That’s bad; that’s gathering goat-feathers. It has been bad for me, and bad for my success as an author, and bad for my success in the only life I have to live, but it is apt to be much worse for you to gather goat-feathers than for me to gather them, because I can, occasionally, weave some of them into a story, while you can’t do anything at all with those you acquire.

The time we waste in excursions off the main line of our road to our goal is the difference between success and half-success; often it is the difference between success and failure.