Artist's fame is the most monstrous of all, for it implies the idea of immortality. And that is a diabolical snare, because the grotesquely megalomaniaic ambition to survive one's death is inseparably bound to the artist's probity. Every novel created with real passion aspires quiet naturally to a lasting aesthetic value, meaning to a value capable of surviving its author. To write without having that ambition is cynicism: a mediocre plumber may be useful to people, but a medicre novelist who consciously produces books that are ephemeral, commonplace, conventional--thus not useful, thus burdensome, thus noxious--is contemptible. This is the novelist's curse: his honesty is bound to the vile stake of his meaglomania.
Milan Kundera, What is a Novelist?, The New Yorker, Oct. 9, 2006