Cakes and Ale, Maugham
"I stifled a sigh. I have noticed that when I am most serious people are apt to laugh at me, and indeed when after a lapse of time when I have read passages that I wrote from the fullness of my heart I have been tempted to laugh at myself. It must be that there is something naturally absurd in sincere emotion, though why there should be I cannot imagine, unless it is that man, the ephemeral inhabitant of an insignificant planet, with all his pain and all his striving is but a jest in an eternal mind."
Maugham tells of a writer Driffield's life, through the first person narrator, a writer himself who reflects back on his childhood and early twenties. Largely the narrator is reflecting on the life of Rosie, Driffield's first wife, who was innocently beautiful and a combination of selfishly and selflessly promiscuous. Ted Driffield lived as a poor man until in his later life he received much acclaim, largely due to the social pushes and control of Mrs Trafford and then his second wife. His talent was never recognized in his hometown, but only the scandals of his first wife were relished and rebuffed.
The narrator examines the wraith of the Driffield he knew, the Driffield who wrote the novels and the hidden Driffield in between. He studies the life of an author in comparison to the clamoring of the world, in the demands of fame and lack of fame.
In reflecting I come back to the "All is meaningless" from Ecclesiastes. The attitude of the narrator would agree, but also concludes that only the writer is free. For after he has captured the heartache and rage on paper, he can finish with the emotions playing him and can continue onwards in freedom.
So on a separate note - writing is also a tool of therapy...