A Writer’s Life Is Half Ambition and Half Anxiety

A writer’s life is half ambition and half anxiety, and there has to be both. It is no good writing a novel and feeling fine, and it is no good writing a whole novel feeling miserable. It has to be both, that mixture of anxiety and ambition, and you get that with every novel, but more so when you write about these epics of human suffering. I felt that just as much when I wrote about the Gulag. Every writer knows what that is. The process goes…you have to think: “This novel I am writing is no good.” Then you have to think: “All my novels are no good.” And then, when you reach that point, you can begin.