Tomorrow morning I'm flying off to Writer's Weekend. Despite being neck-deep in the usual packing stress, I'm feeling pretty happy about going right now. There have been times this year when it's seemed to me that I ought not to show my face until the book was ready to send around--it was a weird fairy-tale dynamic, in which I could not return to the palace without the head of the dragon I'd set out to slay. Very silly.
After all, why is it that I want to publish in the first place? No informed person expects to make a decent living from writing, and I now have a day job I actually like. No informed person expects to achieve fame as a result of writing genre fiction. Fame's a bad deal for the people who have it, anyway. The main reason I want to publish is to make sure that, even if Something Bad were to happen--if Dan's little tech start-up went under, something like that--I'd still be able to justify spending my time on writing. Justify to whom? To my martyrdom-prone self, of course. Why publish? To preserve the pleasure of the process. If I could be assured in some other way that necessity wouldn't compel me to give it up, I'd be satisfied with Gavin Grant's famous three-step plan: write, don't publish, die.
Some smartass will now be thinking, "Didn't Johnson say only fools write for any reason other than money?" Yes, O friendly smartass, but I'll match your appeal to authority with another appeal to authority. William Blake told us that, if the fool will persist in his folly, he will become wise. And at the end of the day, whose books would you rather have written? Johnson's? Or Blake's? So that settles that.