Interesting snippets from an interview with Michel Houellebecq
(entitled "Writing is like cultivating Parasites in Your Brain")
that caught my attention.

"Humans generally have too complex a brain for the life they live. A large part of their brain capacity isn't used. And one life isn't enough. You need to have parallel lives, or [rather] you can't resist [having them]. So reading is really a necessity. A vital necessity.

What drives you to add something to what has already been published —which requires a lot pretension because the collection is huge— that's more difficult to say.

A desire of imitation pushes you to write initially - and you need to have a certain megalomania in order to publish. Yes it is very necessary. If you're not a bit megalomaniac, you never take action.

To be completely honest [...] I should add that: reading poems in front of an audience in cafés was quite a good way to seduce girls.

Once the poem has been read one would think that people would forget it. And the reaction when you see books written and published on paper is also one of terror. So to overcome that terror, you need a certain amount of megalomania.

[...]

When I read St Paul, I have the feeling that he's here. I can almost hear him breathe. It's hallucinating. And that's something that literature can do. Give you the feeling that a person is beside you telling their text, it's impressive.

[...]

Epicurus's famous reasoning:
"One shouldn't fear death since when we are, death isn't and when death is, we are not"
works on me. It soothes me instantaneously and it's a non-religious reasoning. But it doesn't work for someone else's death. [...] And in fact, people from my family, who weren't religious at all dealt very badly with someone else's death. In fact they couldn't bear it. Because it is not bearable in fact.

[...]

The problem is that, Every time I've been to church I believed in God for the duration of the mass. I'm very sensitive to collective emotion. But as soon as I'm out, it's gone. There's a withdrawal, a bit like with drugs. And finally, the solution... If I went to a monastery where there are six masses a day there wouldn't be any withdrawal so I think it would work.

[...]

(interviewer:) As we are in Denmark, I have to ask you f that Danish woman - who seems quite nice and intelligent - is based on a real Danish woman whom you've met?

He asks straight questions!

A little bit, yes.

But I like this character, it's one of my favourites.

It's a bit embarrassing.

Anyway, I hadn't planned initially to talk about her.

I'm going back to the literary level. But it's true, it's always a bit of an experience to write a book. You don't know whats going to come out of it. That is the fun part actually. Well fun... It's interesting. So [she] wasn't planned at all at the beginning. That's all I can say.

I think chance exists, really. It's like developing parasites in your brain when you write a book. It's like cultivating parasites in your brain. At one point I felt she was a good character. And it was good that my character made things even worse. Yes.

[...]

Writers who survive are writers who have younger disciples who are themselves good writers. That’s the way it works, really. So I watch my disciples with great interest."

Writing is like Cultivating Parasites i…