David Mitchell (the novelist, not the comedian) on Italo Calvino’s If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller, which is a book I love:

I’ve never understood why writers who write on writing get charged with creative onanism when artists are allowed to paint themselves until the Rembrandts come home or a work like Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra - music about music, right? - is fine with everyone

– David Mitchell, Enter the maze

It’s a fair point. There’s nothing wrong with a writer writing about a writer. I think the practice gets criticised because it became so common in literary fiction as to be a cliche.

The article also contains the revelation that Cloud Atlas was at least partly inspired by Calvino’s novel.