Is Writing Fun?

Earlier this week, the Irish novelist Colm Toíbín told an interviewer for the Guardian (MJ Hyland, herself a novelist) that he found no enjoyment in writing:

“Oh there’s no pleasure. Except that I don’t have to work for anyone who bullies me,” he said in response to Hyland’s question about how writing makes him feel. “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.”

The only aspect of writing he liked, he said, was getting paid. Now other writers, including AL Kennedy, Hari Kunzru, and Joyce Carol Oates, are chiming in with their stories of what they like or dislike about their profession. I think AL Kennedy sums up my feelings when she says, “The joy of writing for a living is that you get to do it all the time. The misery is that you have to, whether you’re in the mood or not.”

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