I like this bit from an interview with Michael Swanwick in the latest issue (Fall 2004) of the Clarion West newsletter, The Seventh Week:
My first novel, In the Drift, was published in the Ace Specials line, along with something called Neuromancer by William Gibson. My main goal when I was writing my book was to actually complete a novel. Bill's was to rewrite the syntax of science fiction. We both succeeded. But because he was aiming slightly higher than I was, his accomplishment was the greater.
I've never since made the mistake of having realistic ambitions.
Though I would temper that slightly by noting that not every book has to set out to rewrite the syntax of science fiction; writing an entertaining story is also a laudable goal, as far as I'm concerned.
Unrelatedly: If you're interested in hearing what Le Guin has to say about the Earthsea miniseries, you can read her article "A Whitewashed Earthsea" at Slate. I still have lots to say about this whole issue, but it looks increasingly unlikely that I'll ever get around to writing it up and posting it. If you're interested, buttonhole me at a con or something. Oh, and I bet there are a variety of related topics that would make good WisCon panels.
One last unrelated thing while I'm here: I recently read the latest in the Ratbastards' Rabit Transit series of chapbooks: Petting Zoo. Two of the stories in it, John Aegard's "The Golden Age of Fire Escapes" and David Moles's "Five Irrational Histories," are probably among my favorite stories I've read this year. The rest of the chapbook is good too, but I loved those two stories. Nice work all around!
Okay, must run.