'Maybe some people get pleasure from it but I would call it pain...' Colm Tóibín on Writing

In the Books section of The Guardian today there is an interesting video of Irish author Colm Tóibín talking about reading from The Empty Family, answering the inevitable audience question of 'what did you mean?', and both the pain and pleasure of writing and reading. (Listen to the video here.)

Listening to Colm talk as I replied to emails, flicked through my notes from yesterday's meeting and scanned my 'To Do' list for today, I was suddenly apprehended by this quote:
'Pleasure is swimming in Majorca in August, on a beautiful evening when it's nine o' clock and the sun hasn't gone down yet, and you're going to a beautiful dinner later. That is called pleasure. Writing is not pleasure, it's just not. And you're pulling things up from the depths of memory and feeling that really should be left alone; most people leave them alone for very good reasons and they should be left alone. 
Because a novel is a thousand details and you find those details in the strangest places and the imagination is a haunted house. Maybe some people get pleasure from it but I would call it pain. I suppose some people get pleasure from pain. Reading is pleasure...'
I immediately thought of both Liberties Press authors Elizabeth Wassell and Declan Burke who at their recent launches shared how long it had taken them to write Sustenance and Absolute Zero Cool respectively. Neither Elizabeth nor Declan seemed to suggest the decade-long writing process was a gruelling one, rather painstaking and obviously lengthy! 

Would they call it pain? If so, is this experience unique to writing fiction, or could the same be said of non-fiction? 

Author Shirley Lanigan who took on the colossal task of choosing The 100 Best Gardens in Ireland said in the Introduction, 'I am constantly told that I have a great job, visiting gardens. But it is not true. Visiting gardens is no job. It is pure pleasure.' Visiting gardens may be a pleasure, but is writing about them? 

Perhaps writing is only painful when it involves that 'haunted house' of imagination? At first glance, that seems to suggest it therefore is unique to fiction but doesn't all forms of writing involve imagination, even if it is a piece of journalism or a reference text on staplers? 

I think we are all agreed that reading is pleasure. Unless forced to read a reference text on staplers perhaps.
Thoughts? Please leave a comment...