"I hate painting. I love having painted."
"I hate singing. I love having sung."
"I hate acting. I love having acted."
"I hate dancing. I love having danced."
You never hear those phrases, do you? I don't recall ever hearing a creative person profess the absolute detestation of the process in favor of the outcome. People who strive beyond all reason to achieve success in a creative profession never tell you they can't stand doing it, but are thrilled they went through the process in order to have the finished product.
Among those of us who make a living with words, the statement, "I hate writing; I love having written" is now something of a universal axiom. In popular culture the depictions of those who write for a living, in addition to being almost universally wrong, are close to uniformly torturous. When I told a trainer I was working with that I wrote for a living, he said the first image that came into his mind was of me, probably wearing a fedora, sitting behind a typewriter with a bottle of cheap whiskey at hand.
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting for one second that writing is more difficult or requires more self-analysis and psychological manipulation than any other creative form. I couldn't paint a decent square if there were a gun to my head. (To be fair, I think I'd have a rough time doing anything well other than weeping if there were a gun to my head. But I digress.) I sing as well as anyone as long as nobody's listening. I couldn't act or dance my way out of a paper bag, although it's hard to come up with a plausible scenario under which I'd be required to do either of those things while imprisoned in a paper bag.
The point--and I'm sure you're relieved to know I have one--is: other creative types seem to expect a level of enjoyment that will accompany their endeavors. Even tortured artists like Vincent Van Gogh (and find me a more tortured guy than that, or better yet, don't) find some solace in their talent, in the process. I'm told painting is a relaxing activity. Actors will sometimes say they can lose themselves in a character and that releases their inhibitions. Dancers... I don't know any dancers, but I figure they leap around like that because they really want to.
Writers? We sick bastards do something we will readily disclose is the least enjoyable part of our days and we keep doing it even when nobody is making the slightest move to encourage us. I spent 20 years writing screenplays. Look up my page on Imdb.com. You'll find that I don't have one. Nobody wanted me to write screenplays. But I didn't quit doing it until I stumbled into writing a novel and found some level of success and approval with it. So now I do that on a daily basis.
Is it fun? People ask me that. "Are you having fun writing this book?" Geez. No. I'm not having fun. I don't look forward to writing today's 1,000 words any more than I look forward to exercising (I hate exercising) or making dentist appointments. I do those things because I have rational reasons to do them. Writing is something I do because I feel like I have to get these stories out whether anyone wants to read them or not, and because--this is important--I literally don't know how to do anything else that will provide me with even a rudimentary living.
But having written? I couldn't love that more. Holding that first book in your hand, the one that just came off the press, is about as satisfying an experience as I can imagine. Having people tell you they read your work? And enjoyed it? Doesn't get better than that. Makes the dreaded 1,000-a-day bearable.
So yeah. I hate writing. I love having written. The only thing I can't figure out is what keeps the painters going.