No enjoyment. No, none.says Colm Toibin when asked by M.J. Highland which of his novels he enjoyed writing most, in an interview at The Manchester Review [via]. (The whole thing is altogether so fascinating I urge the writers among you to read it). :
Oh there’s no pleasure. Except that I don’t have to work for anyone who bullies me. I write with a sort of grim determination to deal with things that are hidden and difficult and this means, I think, that pleasure is out of the question. I would associate this with narcissism anyway and I would disapprove of it.And he says that he came close to breakdown when writing certain passages.
The best thing about writing, he says, is the money (!), though clearly he is an author who has no choice but to write :
Because I have things that will not go away. Some of them are true, some slowly become imagined. They do not disappear just because I write them. If I don’t write them, I find that suddenly I am writing them. They make their way into sentences and I feel a need to finish what I began, to formalise it and then publicise it. I emphasise that it heals nothing.Is writing for a living a joy or a chore for other authors? On The Guardian blog nine novelists, including A. L. Kennedy, Joyce Carol Oates, and Amit Chaudhari talk about their feelings re the process.
Most don't find writing a barrel load of laughs. Though Will Self declares:
I gain nothing but pleasure from writing fiction; short stories are foreplay, novellas are heavy petting – but novels are the full monte.There is some lively discussion from the blog readers, many of whom don't seem terribly impressed with whingy writers!
BTW, there really is so much good stuff to read in the second edition of The Manchester Review. Do go read.