Whenever I fret about writing fiction as a worthwhile pursuit for a grown man, or whether journalism will survive another decade, I go back and read Andre Dubus on what's at stake when we sit down and write:
"An older writer knows what a younger one has not yet learned. What is demanding and fulfilling is writing a single word, trying to write le mot juste, as Flaubert said; writing several of them, which become a sentence.
When a writer does that, day after day, working alone with little encouragement, often with discouragement flowing in the writer's own blood, and with an occasional rush of excitement that empties oneself, so that the self is for minutes longer in harmony with eternal astonishments and visions of truth, right there on the page on the desk, and when a writer does does this work steadily enough to complete a manuscript long enough to be a book, the treasure is on the desk.
If the manuscript itself, mailed out to the world, where other truths prevail, is never published, the writer will suffer bitterness, sorrow, anger and more dangerously, despair, convinced that the work is not worthy, so not worth those days at the desk. But the writer who endures and keeps working will finally know that writing the book was something hard and glorious, for at the desk a writer must try to be free of prejudice, meanness of spirit, pettiness, and hatred; strive to be a better human being than the writer normally is, and to do this through concentration on a single word and then another, and another. This is splendid work, as worthy and demanding as any, and the will and resilience to do it are good for the writer's soul.
If the work is not published or is published for little money and less public attention, it remains as a spiritual, mental and physical achievement; and if in public, it is the widow's mite, it also like the widow, more blessed."
Andre Dubus, Meditations form a Moveable Chair
Novelist, journalist, aficionado of all things Appalachian.