I have heard from a lot of people that writing is one of the most strenuous and lonely pursuits that us humans can undertake. Of course its not as extreme as tight rope walking or mountain climbing or cross country swimming but its a very taxing thing to do. I have been (posing as) one for some time now and I can totally vouch for the lonely and stressful bits.
And unlike mountain climbing or tight rope walking or tennis, the rewards of writing are rather scarce, to say the least. If you have conquered a high peak, you are at the top of the world, literally. If you have walked on a tight rope, you have conquered, not one but two of man's greatest fears - height and nature (gravity, wind, nerves etc). If you have endured a long swimming route, you have pushed your physical limits and placed yourself in top 0.001 percentile of all humans to have walked on the Earth.
But writing, even if you manage to finish a short essay, what do you achieve? I dont understand at all why would someone want to write. Take me for example. Why do I write?
One may argue that once your have finished something, you get a shot at immortality. At least temporary immortality. This is true for all artists actually. If not for The Count of Monte Cristo and other such brilliant pieces of work, no one would have known Dumas. If not for Godfather amongst others, no one would have known Puzo. So on and so forth. So writing gives you an opportunity to create something that outlives you. And if you do it well, it can outlives your next few generations as well.
I, being a religious follower of the Society for Hedonist Indians, believe in instant gratification. And I know that things that give me fame, money, notoriety, etc after I am dead are of no use to me. So what could the pursuit of writing get me in this life time? From a few friends who have been able to do so, I think the right answer is audience. In this connected world, where every human has not just one mouth but multiple outlets and platforms (blogs, twitter, facebook etc) to rant about things, being a writer gives you access to certain audience. And that audience allows you to create something that may outlive you, even when you are alive.
There are no guarantees mind you that there would be audience, glory, riches or anything else. For every piece that gets successful, there must be 1000 others that rot in anonymity. But I think that shot at immortality is too tempting to let go. No?