Is writing really that painful?

Apparently so. At least according to a number of people who do it professionally. Award-winning author Colm Toíbín kicked off the grouse fest in yesterday's Guardian, insisting that, "[T]here's no pleasure [in being a writer].... Except that I don't have to work for anyone who bullies me."

Today,  nine more writers – including Amit Chaudhuri, Hari Kunzru, John Banville, and Joyce Carol Oates –chimed in, most claiming that writing is hard and often unhappy work.

"I dread it," says Geoff Dyer. A first draft is "painfully difficult, like climbing a steep stairs, the end of which isn't in sight," says Oates.

There are some dissenters. "I gain nothing but pleasure from writing fiction," says Will Self. "Writing gives me such enormous pleasure," says Julie Myerson.

Many writers, however, seem to share the sentiments of Samuel Johnson, who wrote 300 years ago, that "no man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money."

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