William Gaddis in an 1980 interview:
LECLAIR: A common criticism of long books is self-indulgence, as though the writers had written at such length only to amuse themselves.
GADDIS: In JR, Gibbs complains about Schepperman's having to sell blood to buy paints and about Van Gogh's cutting off his ear. Hyde says, "Who asked him to paint?" That's a central question. If you're going to write a book, who asked you to? It is, in fact, quite an act of ego to sit down in a room, while others are getting on trains and subways, and put one's vision on paper, and then ask others to pay to read it. Not only to pay but say, "Isn't he brilliant." It's an act of audacity.