The Third Boulder
The youngest brother doesn't go very far and stops by the sea. He doesn't mind that he can't see much, at least he will be able to live on the fish.
The second brother stops a little further on, half way up a mountain in a forest. Again he says that he can't see much but can live on the fruit of the forest.
The third brother goes right to the top, there is nothing much here, and all he has to eat is moss, but from here he can see the world.
Putting the book down I picked up the latest edition of the Author and read a piece by Derek Johns, a literary agent at AP Watt, who has recently also published two novels: Wintering and Wakening. He wonders, given the low probability of 'success' (in terms of money or prizes at least), why people write novels, specifically why he writes novels; and decides it is because he likes creating something, and that he believes he is doing something worthwhile.
It is all to do with the view from the mountain, I think. It seems to me that novelists are like that third brother and feel compelled to push their boulder as far as it will go. Even though we know we will find only moss to eat when we get there, we are happy to keep pushing for that view from the top.