I know an author who, catching sight of one of those “why not be a writer?” advertisements, made a scornful noise and then said, “for the following reasons . . .”, rattling off an impressively long list of harrowing psychological and financial pitfalls. The writers interviewed here are or were at the top of their game, or the top of the pile, but even they can express discomfort or unhappiness with their chosen profession. Writing fiction “involves stuff that isn’t agreeable”, says Norman Mailer; “It seems as if I was fated to write,” says Jean Rhys, “which is horrible”. (Joyce Carol Oates does enjoy writing, which is just as well, considering how much of it she does.)
Read Nicholas Lezard’s review of The Paris Review Interviews, Vol. 3 here.