People regularly ask why a writer writes, which seems to have a completely obvious answer because all of the answers are generally the same:
I have something to say.
I’m called to do it.
But I’ve never heard anyone ask a writer, “Why do you publish?”–why put yourself on display knowing that your work (which may contain small pieces of your soul) might be listlessly rejected? What is the point of saying, “Hey! Read what I wrote! Isn’t it great?! I think it’s great. I think it’s so great that everyone should read it and those who do will love it.”
And you will love me?
Surely, a writer doesn’t publish for the money because it’s become a commonly known piece of information that writers are not rich without some sacrifice of purity. Writers frequently experience rejection, and while rejection is a natural occurrence in life, why bother? What is the point?
I regularly ask my Self this question. Almost daily, really, when I feel guilty that I haven’t written in a few days. “Wait, who cares if I haven’t written? Nothing in my life will change if I don’t write daily. I don’t need to write or get anything out right now. I don’t have ideas for any new pieces (which I would only be writing for therapeutic fun). Fuck that. I’m not on a deadline. I’ll write when I’m ready.” Being published was once on my ‘bucket list’, but that seems to no longer be important. It’s vain. Shallow. It contributes no additional value to my or anyone else’s existence.
I want to believe publishing is more than an egocentric activity, but it is not like publishing scientific research that adds to an ever-growing body of knowledge. It is entertainment. It is art: a subjective arena with interpretive “rules” and that is fine, but why care if anyone else cares? If anyone else agrees or approves?
Why does a publishing writer think his or her work deserves to be one of the chosen? What is the point of publishing?
No. Seriously. Why? The only point in publishing this post is to answer that question.
At least this one has a larger objective.