Yesterday, I posed the question, "Why do you (or don't you) want to get published?" I thought I'd try and answer it for myself today...
There are many reasons I'd love to see my novels in print. I think the biggest reason is actually to SEE it in print. I've talked before about how much I love the tactile experience of holding a book, the olfactory experience of smelling that "new book smell." Well, the thought of having my own words, my own thoughts/ideas/characters grace the inside pages of a new book makes me giggly. It just does. To see the cover of a book with my title, yes, even my name, would be one of the most thrilling experiences I could think of. If that makes me a nerd, then so be it. :-)
Another reason I'd love to get published is - okay, I admit it - for validation. No, getting published doesn't make me a better writer. It doesn't magically take words I wrote maybe 2 years ago and transform them into "legitimate, acceptable" words. But what it does do is to, hopefully, show those people in my life who doubt me, who are completely disinterested, who even shake their heads and tell me with their silence that I'll never reach my goal - that I can do it. If that makes me sound petty or ridiculous, then so be it.
Finally, I'll give Alex's answer - I love the idea of other people reading words I wrote. I like the notion that someone, somewhere, maybe in Maryland or New York or California, will browse a bookstore, pause at seeing my cover (if they can find it amongst the other thousands of unknown authors), pick up my book and flip through it, and decide, for some reason, to spend their hard-earned dollars to purchase it. Even more, I like the idea of that person going home after a difficult work day, maybe even with personal burdens, and ESCAPING their lives, momentarily, through reading my book. Because that's partly the reason that I read. I would love for someone to experience what I experience through books - escapism, sheer joy over the written word, even a reflection of oneself through a character or situation. The thought that I, somehow, was a part of that process for someone else is an amazing concept.
By the way, notice I didn't mention money? That's because the likelihood of someone like me (an unknown) becoming a Maeve Benchy or Debbie Macomber is slim to none. Which means that - if I ever do get published - the advance will be small, and I'll probably struggle to publish a second one. That's just reality. But the bigger reason I didn't mention money on that list is that I don't write for money. I write for ME. I'm selfish, that way. I write because something in me wants to put words on the page. I get enormous satisfaction from brainstorming characters, plotting their life paths, making decisions for them. And, with each book, I (hopefully) get to grow as a writer, stretch my muscles, challenge myself.
I'll even take it this far: if someone had a crystal ball and told me, without question, that my novels would never be published, I'd be a little saddened (okay, more than a little). But it wouldn't stop me from writing. Publication would be a lovely by-product, but it is not the main goal. It is not why I write. God willing, I will write until I'm an old woman. Whether published or not.