I have just read a wonderful essay on writing by Paul Robinson. You can find the book containing the essay through this link: "Opera, Sex, and Other Vital Matters".
The essay: "Why Write?" is an insightful piece laced with wit. I won't try and sum up Robinson's work, other than to offer some lines that made me pause. Robinson quickly dispels the idea that people write for money. They may think they are writing for money, but when the majority of writers pause and consider how many hours they spend and what the return is for their efforts, that concept quickly evaporates. Likewise dispelled is the idea that writing is something that professors do for tenure. Robinson points out that many professors continue to write long after they've achieved that end. So why? Why write?
One thing Robinson proposes is that "Writing is an act of self-clarification, in which we bring order to those ideas and sentiments that otherwise would remain muddled and inarticulate". I love that. Of course, writing isn't a guarantee that the muddled becomes unmuddled, but the act is a way to express thought in a manner that stimulates further thought.
Robinson goes on to note that "Actual readership is less important to the writer than imagined readership." I love that idea. Actual readership. In some cases my readership is me. Too often my work never goes further than my harddrive. But of course, Robinson would nod with understanding.
"The writer reads his own work with greater pleasure than any other reader." This narcissistic logic, according to Robinson, protects the writer from insanity.
It really is narcissism, isn't it? The idea that what we think is important enough to engage people is fascinating. Of course, being a frightening egomaniac, I have no problem at all with this concept. I can't imagine people NOT wanting to hear me.
Someone else pointed out that a writer must be an egoist to deal with the rejection that is part of the writing experience.