I am arrogant, and I’m also intemperate. I’m trying to be honest here. I’m not going to pose as a caring novelist. Art is a hard business. It’s a matter of sentiment, but not sentimentality. I do it for myself. The coincidence is that what I do for myself chimes sometimes with the experiences and emotions and desires of other people. This is a kind of miracle, but I don’t intend for it to happen—it just does. Art is like sex: when you’re doing it, nothing else matters. Away from his desk the novelist can care deeply about the social, political, moral aspects of what he is writing but when he sits down to write, all those concerns fall away and nothing matters except the putting down of one carefully chosen word after another carefully chosen word, until a sentence is finished, then a paragraph, then a page, then a chapter, then a book. When I’m working I don’t care about anything, not even myself. All my concentration is directed towards the making of the thing on the page. The rest is just stuff—even though it is the stuff of life.
— John Banville, interviewed by the Paris Review