According to the much celebrated author du jour George Saunders, there are three big pleasures in the life of a writer. He shared them in a recent interview I listened to during my daily walk (that’s a white lie: I don’t walk daily, something is holding me back) and now I share them here.
The first joy is the attention you get. I have thought about that a lot, but I can’t silence the little voice in my head that says that our attention economy is a zero-sum game. There is only a limited supply of attention going around, a limited number of eyeballs to tickle, as the marketing department would say.
Then there is the joy of travel for the sake of a book. I can imagine the sweetness of a journey undertaken for a story, and I know the satisfaction first hand of others retelling my stories. It must feel like being a traveling storyteller of medieval times, people showing up just to hear some fiction you created, some world you invented.
The final, and most lasting, joy of writing according to Saunders is the feeling of the hunt. A feeling you get better at tuning into, the more you experience it. The Eureka-moment when you know there is a story somewhere, something not quite like anything you know (even if that could be an illusion, because millions of stories exist). It is the filtering function of our mind in full swing, making sense of the full world, including all of our imagination. The hunt for stories appears to be satisfying until the end. That’s some consolation.