Rachelle Gardner brought up an interesting question that I want to answer--why do I want to get published?
You must understand there is a difference between "why do I write?" and "why do I try to get my writing published?" I wouldn't be wasting my time with the montony of submissions, keeping track of magazines, and engineering my prose to be publishable if I wanted to just write. You can find out why I write on my "Obligatory About Me" post. If I couldn't get published, I would write anyway. I would probably write fan fiction because it's a little easier, there's an established fanbase/audience, and you get your accolades immediately.
There are many reasons that I want to get published that are secondary to my primary reason. Getting a little cash for my work, there's nothing wrong with that. If I can get paid for my art, I'd like to be. And the prestige is pretty nice. It's probably one of the few jobs in entertainment where you can get famous and still maintain a fairly regular life. I never hear about Stephen King getting mobbed by the paparazzi, and I wouldn't be able to pick J.K. Rowling out of a crowd to tear off her scabs and eat them so I can absorb her strength.
Whoa, that went to a weird place.
Anyway, all that combined with the ability to get a message out, maybe making a difference in people's thought patterns, and the medal of honor that I get for making it past 98% of the other writers out there is pretty nice. That's a good category to be in.
But the real reason I want to get published is that I'm afraid of dying.
I've always been afraid of dying. When I was little, I would think about dying when I was trying to go to sleep and get scared. My parents would have to come in and comfort me. The idea that your consciousness, your self, could wink out like you were sleeping but without waking up or dreaming, is terrifying. I cannot fathom the idea of not living anymore, of being shut down forever. You fade from life, you no longer exist, and life goes on without you.
So that's why I write, to leave a legacy for myself. It's the same reason I wrote diaries and drew pictures. Not just because I was creative or bored. But I wanted to make sure that something of me still lives on, even if I'm dead. I wrote my diaries from when I was in elementary school up to the point when I had kids. That's not a coincidence--now that I have kids, I feel like part of myself is set to live on after I die. so I don't feel like I need to write a diary anymore. Plus, the diaries are a record of who I was before I had kids. Now that I have kids, they know me as I am, so a record is no longer necessary. But I still write, because they are a small part of the world, and things can happen to them.
If someone offered me immortality, I would take it (you know, as long as I'm not tricked by the devil and get a debilitating disease or life in prison). Even if I have to watch all my friends die. Even if the world kills itself with war or pollution. Even if I would never be able to have a relationship or relate to people because I'm too old (I can't relate to people now anyway). The only disadvantage for me is that I will never know what happens when I die, if I go to heaven or reincarnate or what have you. But I figure that's a fair trade-off--the devil you know.
However, no one's going to offer me immortality on a silver platter. I am going to die. But you know, that's okay. Because then I will find out the answer to one of the greatest mysteries of all time. Whether it's a complete shutdown, some higher consciousness, or a trial of my sins--it doesn't matter, because for me, I will know the answer to something no one else in this realm can solve.