When I write, I like to write the small stories. I don’t write about epic heroes. I don’t write about an individual changing the world single-handedly. That stuff just doesn’t interest me much, and besides, I’m not sure I believe that the people who’ve drastically changed the world for the better ever set out on purpose to do so.
Charles Darwin didn’t. He was, in fact, pretty uncomfortable with the idea of changing the world.
Darwin was actually a lot like the people I do like to write about. He had his pet obsessions that he pursued at length, but his real work started when the world intruded on those obsessions in a way he couldn’t ignore. And it was work—no single moment of brilliant insight that solved everything, but years of doggedness.