But somehow my mind is vapor-locked, and so, instead of doing that work, I spent a rather long time looking for this interview between Steve Almond and Patrick Thomas Casey on The Rumpus. I finally found it. The thing is comic gold, but the part I really wanted to remember was this advice to aspiring writers from Casey:
I would also say not to be afraid of ambition, which is not the same thing as being a jerk-off and showing everyone how smart you are, but is in fact the simple idea that you may be both worthy and capable of engaging straight-faced and straight-forwardly with the big, important truths. Of course, you will always fail, but this may be the one human endeavor in which proximity to success counts.
I just think that's great. How many of us writers are shying away from "big ideas" because we somehow don't think we can handle them? Dostoevsky was a wreck and he could handle them. Why can't we?