I have finished writing another short story. The world is not waiting for this story, I do not anticipate payment (certainly nothing commensurate with the effort), and readership will likely be modest, assuming I find a publisher. Still, I am elated.
Why? If not for payment or acclaim, why do we write? What sustains us? What accounts for the gratification?
It is not hope. When we are fully engaged in our writing, what time is there for hope? What use is hope?
Nor is it pride. While we may be pleased with our stamina and resolve, we know that our talent will always fall short of our vision, and we accept this. We write anyway.
Spiritual leaders teach us that pleasure dependent on nothing is the only pleasure that lasts. I think our writerly thrill comes from this mysterious, inviolable place, beyond the reach of fame and fortune and everything else that comes and goes. This is the answer to our effort, this very private bliss. For as long as we live, for as long as we write, we have access to it.
I once attended an excellent reading by a famous author. Afterward, someone in the audience asked this woman if she had a blog. The author said no, explaining that she had made a promise to herself to never write anything for free. You have to admire that kind of integrity, but I wonder: How can she resist?