Will Self on the pleasures of writing

I gain nothing but pleasure from writing fiction; short stories are foreplay, novellas are heavy petting – but novels are the full monte. Frankly, if I didn’t enjoy writing novels I wouldn’t do it – the world hardly needs any more and I can think of numerous more useful things someone with my skills could be engaged in. As it is, the immersion in parallel but believable worlds satisfies all my demands for vicarious experience, voyeurism and philosophic calisthenics. I even enjoy the mechanics of writing, the dull timpani of the typewriter keys, the making of notes – many notes – and most seductive of all: the buying of stationery. That the transmogrification of my beautiful thoughts into a grossly imperfect prose is always the end result doesn’t faze me: all novels are only a version- there is no Platonic ideal. But I’d go further still: fiction is my way of thinking about and relating to the world; if I don’t write I’m not engaged in any praxis, and lose all purchase.

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