Recently, I posted a quote by George Bernard Shaw on my status update on Facebook and got quite a response. Here is that quote that I found from Jon Winokur's "Writers on Writing" (Running Press): "If you do not write for publication, there is little point in writing at all." As expected most of the comments took umbrage to that statement, believing that writing is often more for the soul than for the pocket. I absolutely agree-in part.
For me, when I first began writing, it was a strong desire to communicate, to get a point across by selecting just the right word. It initially began with my writing poetry and most of it just plain awful. But I was pre-adolescent and if it rhymed, my audience of family and friends was impressed and most often seemed to understand what I was attempting to express. As I got older, I then dabbled with short stories and playwriting, but once I married and had children, I put my pen down for quite some time, thinking it had been a hobby I'd outgrown. How wrong I was.
By the time my children were all in school, I had an overwhelming need to write a novel about a family struggling with their strict, forbidding upbringing and making sense of their adult world. While I spent hours writing until two in the morning and then again after sending my children off to school, I began to realize that I needed to justify the time I was spending on this work of fiction by getting it published. I kept thinking, what will it matter if it sits in a drawer? That was almost twenty years ago and even though I published a different novel, as well as a how-to book for author events, that initial novel has yet to find a publisher. In spite of the fact that it has been almost two decades when I first started it, the story still resonates and I am determined to see it in print. (You may find the links here on Red Room for the seven installments that make up the first chapter of that novel, Of Little Faith.)
So Shaw's question, on first look, seems arrogant. After all, I have dozens of journals that I have no intention of making public; however, even though it's less about the money and more about the message, I whole-heartedly believe that my time-intensive efforts merit a bigger audience than just myself.