I curate a Tumblr of writing articles here. One piece that I’ve been hearing for days:
“…when a writer named Julian Tepper waited on Roth at a Manhattan deli, and, with pride and fear, gave him a copy of his first novel.
(Note, please: Tepper has published a novel with a legit publisher, and he is waiting tables in a deli. I believe that’s one point to Mr. Roth.)
As Tepper later wrote in the online Paris Review Daily, Roth congratulated him, thanked him for the book, and then offered this advice: “I would quit while you’re ahead. Really. It’s an awful field. Just torture. Awful. You write and you write, and you have to throw almost all of it away because it’s not any good. I would say just stop now. You don’t want to do this to yourself.” A few weeks later, Roth announced he would write no more.”
Now, maybe I’m young in the field, but if I ever become this cynical please put me out of my misery.
On closer thought, this isn’t an age thing. Robert Silverberg still writes (he’s in his 70s), the late Harry Harrison and Philip Jose Farmer were both in their 80s and still wrote; only declining health made them stop.
We all write because we enjoy it. It’s not mining coal or bungee jumping.