Interesting piece here a few days ago in the Guardian. Authors respond to the question Is writing fun? with varying degrees of pretentiousness.
Most delightful, and surprising, was Will Self’s unabashed glee at writing novels – perhaps he’s being his usual brilliant, perverse self by taking a position so at odds with most of his long-suffering colleagues, for whom the very act of switching on the computer seems akin to ripping strong adhesive tape off their private parts.
It’s true that when I was writing books full-time back in London, I wasn’t very happy. That had nothing to do with the act of writing, though – it was to do with other stuff, like bastard publishers, fear of impending penury, and guilt at having left my job as a corporate lawyer. Suddenly what had been a mildly glamorous hobby became an extraordinarily badly-paid job. It’s interesting that none of the writers interviewed for the Guardian piece moaned about shitty publishing executives and the stress of discovering that your ability to earn money suddenly depended on the decisions of faceless moneymen in suits who had never read your book. (You get a better class of literary interviewee at the Guardian, see.) But writing down the stories that were in my head – that was still fun.
I think many writers like to imagine that their calling has nothing to do with anything so frivolous as fun. We are often told that they have no choice but to write, as if their muse is holding a gun to their delicately perspiring foreheads. Fatuous poppycock, of course. To pretend that telling stories is some sort of unendurable burden is patent guff. I now realize that when I sit down at my computer with my cup of espresso at 5.06, ready to attack the next paragraph, I am looking forward to the next couple of hours with nothing but relish. Now, by the time I wake up the children things may not be so rosy – fifty not-very-good words in two hours will do that to you – but each morning I sit down with fresh anticipation. Writing – for me, anyway – is an endlessly renewable source of hope, and escape. And it’s free. What’s to moan about?