Writing is a very silly business at best. There is a certain ridiculousness about putting down a picture of life. And to add to the joke — one must withdraw for a time from life in order to set down that picture. And third one must distort one’s own way of life in order in some sense to simulate the normal in other lives. Having gone through all this nonsense, what emerges may well be the palest of reflections. Oh! It’s a real horse’s ass business. The mountain labors and groans and strains and the tiniest of rodents comes out. And the greatest foolishness of all lies in the fact that to do it at all, the writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. An he must hold to this illusion even when he knows it is not true. If he does not, the work is not worth even what it might otherwise have been.
— John Steinbeck, Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters
Read more quotes I enjoyed from the book here.